August 20, 2013
First Look: Goodyear's Newest Kevlar Tire, the Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure
By Nate Matthews
I learned last week at the press premiere for Goodyear's newest product, the Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure, that the company has exclusive rights to put Kevlar, a synthetic fiber used to make body armor, in its tires. Kevlar, according to Goodyear, makes tires lighter, tougher, and more puncture-resistant, which lets the company offer a 60,000-mile tread life warranty that is 20 percent longer than the warranty they offer on their other Wrangler tires. Goodyear bills the Adventure as its "most versatile tire," a true 4-season model designed to spend 80 percent of its time on pavement and 20 percent on dirt.
This was my first time attending a tire premiere, and it wasn't quite what I expected. Instead of spending a full day putting the tires through their paces, we were bussed through a series of activities in Colorado Springs that Goodyear chose to demonstrate the lifestyle of their target market. We spent an hour casting fly lines on the lawn at Angler's Covey, a local fly shop, an hour touring the city's Olympic training facilities, an hour rock-climbing on belay up vertical granite cliffs, and another hour on photo ops along scenic mountain roads. Most of this stuff was fun, but I'm not sure what any of it had to do with tires.
The highlight of the trip for those of us interested in the tire's actual performance was what's termed a "Ride and Drive." Goodyear had set up a cone course in a massive parking lot out behind a local Chuck E. Cheese. One half of the course was covered in water, the other half dry. They had four trucks on the course, two equipped with their new tires, and two with comparable tires from their competitors (Michelin LTX A/T2s). We were each allowed four circuits around the course (which took about 45 seconds to complete), two in the Goodyears, and two in the Michelins. This was the only chance any of us had to push the limits of the tires, and it wasn't enough time to form a strong opinion.
That said, wheel slip seemed lower on the Goodyears, particularly when accelerating out of wet corners. Adventures feature a fairly aggressive tread designed to perform well in loose conditions off road, but the lugs have lots of sipes to help the tires grip on slippery surfaces, like wet or icy pavement. The new tires, which have tough sidewalls made with DuraWall rubber to prevent cuts and punctures, also seemed stiffer than the Michelins, even though both sets were inflated to the same pressure.
1. Durawall sidewalls help resist cuts and punctures; 2. "Biting edges and a rubber compound offer superior traction on wet and icy roads," says Goodyear; 3. Traction ridges and open shoulder blocks help clear mud and snow for off-road traction.
Starting MSRP is $184. Check out Goodyear's site for details on price and sizing.