May 17, 2017
Longer. Stronger. Shorter. Quieter. This is the mission statement of Yokohama's new Geolandar M/T G003, with "Go Strong" as the battle cry.
Longer entails longer tread life, with a new, Triple Polymer Blend high-density tread compound and optimized contact patch combining for a claimed 8% longer tread life than the leading competitor's Off-Road Maximum Traction tire. Stronger is handled by Yokohama's Geo-Shield construction, three polyester casing plies, two high-strength steel belts and a full-width, nylon reinforcement cap ply designed to provide durability in the tread area along with puncture resistance. The Triple Polymer Blend compound is cut- and chip-resistant, and the upper sidewall lugs and over-the-shoulder tread blocks form Sidewall Armor to deflect debris that may potentially rupture the tire while traversing challenging terrain. Optimized sipes in the tread blocks and the advanced compound deliver 40-0 mph wet braking distances that are 51 feet Shorter than the leading competitor, according to Yokohama, and the tire's block pattern and pitch variation are engineered for harmonics that result in a tire 2.3 dB Quieter than its predecessor.
To experience first-hand the performance of the Yokohama Geolandar M/T G003, select members of the Tire Rack test team traveled to Gateway, Colorado to participate in a launch event, complete with a scenic drive far off the beaten path and some hard laps around a dirt track in purpose-built, off-road race trucks.
Gateway is home to some of the most ruggedly beautiful landscape in the country, and the route planned by our hosts allowed the team to experience it firsthand. A quick jaunt over paved highway led the convoy of Jeep Wranglers to a dirt road that lazily wound its way along the base of one of the area's many mesas. This packed, red dirt had a thin layer of loose soil on the surface, but the Geolandar M/T G003 tires never felt nervous or skittish, as can happen in those conditions. In short order, the route began a steep ascent, transitioning from a dirt road, to a grassy two-track, to nothing more than two deep ruts as it continued to climb. Adding to the variable terrain, it began to sleet about an hour into the drive, turning dirt to mud and reducing available traction on all surfaces. A portion of the drive traversed the aptly named "Rocky Road," which consisted of flat, smooth rocks, loose stone, jagged, half-buried boulders, ruts and craters, with steep and abrupt elevation changes throughout. While attempting to pick the right line to navigate through this veritable minefield, the tires' capability was rarely a concern. One particularly steep incline over the face of a slick, wet rock required two attempts and a considerable amount of throttle, but otherwise the Geolandar M/T G003 never faltered. The same can be said for the steep descent back down the mesa, where, despite the grade being slick with mud, the convoy of Jeeps was able to make safe and controlled progress to lower elevations.
Though originally scheduled as a dirt track drive, steady rain throughout the morning meant the afternoon experience would be a serious test of the new tires' mud traction. The 2.2-mile track created for the event consisted of tight hairpins turns and esses, sweeping turns, elevation changes, a long front straight and six jumps. The off-road racing trucks used as test vehicles were rear-engine, tube-frame chassis with long-travel suspension and a rudimentary, fiberglass body shell. At that point, the track surface ranged from tightly packed dirt with the consistency of wet sand in most of the straighter sections of the course, to deep, loose loamy soil that managed to stay relatively dry due to the constant churning from passing vehicles' tires, to a traction-reducing thick and slimy muck on top of hard pack that felt comparable to driving on ice. The variable conditions, combined with a lack of familiarity with the dynamics of the vehicle and constant barrage of mud being thrown through the glassless front window meant the experience proved challenging for both the tires and the drivers. A healthy amount of trail braking through turns was mandatory to keep weight over the front end and provide the tires with the bite needed to change trajectory. Once rotated, the Geolandar M/T G003 was able to dig into the terrain and put the power down to accelerate away from turns. Braking in all but the worst conditions was confidence-inspiring once the driver had a feel for the rate of deceleration on various surfaces, keeping the vehicle under control and preventing excessive understeer through turns. And we can confirm that, combined with the long-travel suspension of the test trucks, the Geolandar M/T G003 provides a luxuriously soft return to terra firma after catching air over the numerous jumps on track.
In all, the Yokohama Geolandar M/T G003 allowed a group of essentially stock Jeep Wrangler Sport models access to remote locales that would have been unattainable for most vehicles. It conquered rocks of all shapes and sizes, deep ruts, dirt roads, wet grass and an off-road course that would have left many tires punctured, shredded or hopelessly spinning in search of traction.
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