February 2, 2009
2008 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4x4
While it may be the lowest speed tire evaluation we'll participate in this year, the Goodyear Wrangler MT/R with Kevlar ® experience was a demonstration that put many of the tire's off-road capabilities to the test. Our experience challenged the tire's ability to generate start-up traction and maintain momentum by combining some of the tasks normally associated with rock crawling, hill climbing and mud bogging.
In order to demonstrate the capabilities of the Wrangler MT/R with Kevlar, Goodyear invited several Tire Rack team members to join them at a compact off-road course complete with rock beds, log crossings and mud pits added to the land's natural rolling topography. Our test vehicles were 2008 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4x4s equipped with automatic transmissions and 17"x7.5" wheels fitted with LT285/70R17 Load Range D-sized tires aired-down to an off-road friendly 12 psi.
The Wrangler MT/R with Kevlar features a silica rubber tread compound molded into an asymmetric tread design that combines off-road traction with on-road handling. Goodyear's advanced mud-flow geometry tread design enhances self-cleaning capabilities while shoulder blocks (which alternate being stepped in and out) and a wraparound tread design on the upper sidewalls increase traction in mud, ruts and rocks. The tire is Goodyear's first off-road tire incorporating a DuPont Kevlar sidewall reinforcement to enhance cut and puncture resistance in an area of the tire that demands extra toughness when driving off-road (increasing sidewall cut and puncture resistance by about 35% compared to the original Wrangler MT/R). The Kevlar also helps stabilize the sidewalls when drivers return to the pavement for the ride home.
The Wrangler MT/R with Kevlar tires felt at home on the off-road course, showing they could corner on dirt, steer out of ruts in the mud, ascend a moderate blue-sky climb and competently track across a bed of large rocks. While one of the questions was whether the tire's asymmetric tread design would pull the vehicle straight in muddy and slippery conditions, the tire repeatedly showed it could establish straight-ahead momentum from a dead stop when put to the task.
We also had a brief opportunity to drive the Wrangler MT/R with Kevlar on asphalt streets. While our speeds didn't exceed 45-mph on the aired-down tires, the Wrangler MT/R with Kevlar showed it didn't abandon on-road capabilities to establish its off-road competence.
Our experience with the Wrangler MT/R with Kevlar confirmed to us that it has earned its position as Goodyear's ultimate offering for off-road driving and is worthy of consideration by serious light truck enthusiasts.
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