goodyear off-road tyre comparison - wrangler hp vs wrangler mt/r
in the thick of it
If You're Going To Be Serious About Off-Roading In Your 4x4, You Need To Be Serious About The Kind Of Tyres You Choose. Steve Walker Heads To The Eastnor Estate In The Wilds Of Herefordshire To Check Out Two Of The Most Popular Choices -Goodyear's Wrangler HP and Wrangler MT/R
Any seasoned off-road driver will happily regale you of the importance of choosing the right tyres but to many thousands of less experienced 4x4 owners up and down the country, the type of rubber they are running is rarely given a moment's thought. The nation's 4x4 vehicles tackle a wider variety of different terrains than any other category of car and having tyres that are well suited to the surfaces you travel on can save you money, improve your vehicle's handling, boost its safety, prevent you getting stuck or, potentially, all of the above. To demonstrate the point, we conducted a comparison test between two Goodyear tyres designed specifically for off-road vehicles.
If you're going to be testing off-road vehicles or tyres in the UK, there's nowhere better than Eastnor Castle. It's the spiritual home of Land Rover, a 5,000-acre estate in the Malvern Hills criss-crossed with trails and tracks of varying severity. It's the place where all new Land Rover products are developed and the perfect location for putting our Goodyear Wrangler HP and MT/R tyres to the sternest of tests.
The Goodyear Wrangler HP is an all-weather tyre designed to give 4x4 vehicles good stability and precise handling on the road while also supplying the grip they need off it. The tyre is standard fit on the Land Rover Discovery3 and so it was this vehicle that we selected for the comparison test.
The Wrangler HP has been designed to perform both on and off-road in all weather conditions. To the untrained eye, the tyre looks little different from the kind of thing you'd find on a conventional family car but there are numerous features included in its make up to ensure it's adaptable to a range of different surfaces. The HP is a dual compound tyre which means that two different types of rubber are used on different areas of its surface. The tread centre is a softer compound for enhanced grip off-road and in wet or icy on-road conditions. On low grip surfaces, the load is transferred to this centre section where the sticky rubber gives better lateral stability and traction. The shoulder blocks either side of the centre section, meanwhile, are comprised of a firmer compound which gives the tyre greater stiffness for precise handling and stability on dry roads and at higher speeds. Elsewhere, the Wrangler HP features deep, wide grooves to help disperse water and pronounced shoulder notches for improved grip in muddy off-road conditions.
Whereas the Wrangler HP tyre is definitely in the all-rounder mould, Goodyear's Wrangler MT/R is far more single-minded in its design. It's a pure off-road tyre with a classically knobbly tread pattern and bold white branding on its sidewalls. Most motorists would instantly be able to pick out an MT/R as something significantly more heavy-duty than the tyres on their own car. The wide grooves on the tyre are tapered to aid tread cleaning in mud or snow, while hi-tensile steel belts beneath the tread and in the sidewalls protect against punctures. The tread continues down the sides of the tyre in the form of jutting shoulder lugs which give lateral grip in deep mud and feature thin channels to help water dispersion.
The Goodyear Wrangler MT/R was the official tyre of the Land Rover G4 Challenge, a gruelling month-long event which took competitors and their Land Rovers around the world through various extreme climates and testing terrains. Across snow, mud, desert and rock the vehicles battled, with the MT/R taking care of the drivers' insatiable desire for traction. The G4 Challenge under its belt, the MT/R has an impressive off-road pedigree, so we were all the keener to get to grips with it at Eastnor Castle.
Before we got down to the nitty-gritty, it was important to establish a feeling for each tyre on the surface where the mainstay of all 4x4 mileage is done in this country - tarmac. The Discovery is an extremely composed vehicle over long distances and shod with the Wrangler HPs, it proved quiet and smooth on the motorways - the irregular tread pattern doing a commendable job of stopping vibrations at source. Despite being a focused off-road tyre, the MT/R also benefits from an irregular tread design to disrupt the resonance that can build up at higher speeds and extra road roar finding its way into the cabin with these fitted was negligible. Although, it must be said, Land Rover's thorough job of soundproofing the Discovery may have had more than a little to do with this. On twisty B-roads, the differences between the two tyres was more pronounced with the stiffer sidewalls of the HP doing more to aid the Disco's balance and poise through corners.
Heading up the rutted tracks across the hills and valleys of Eastnor, the Wrangler HP was surprisingly effective given its rather sedate looking tread pattern. Land Rover's latest Discovery is a remarkably capable off-road vehicle and the HP combined well with the advanced traction control systems to maintain forward progress. When the tracks took a more extreme turn, however, the MT/R tyre proved its worth. Long, sharp, muddy descents with the HP fitted dissolved into long, sharp, scary slides much more readily. Whereas the MT/R's superior traction let the brakes and Land Rover's Hill Decent Control system do their thing, resulting in a more measured but ultimately less exciting ride.
On tricky inclines it was a similar story. The more severe tracks around Eastnor are characterised by deep ruts in the fine cloying clay which have been dug out over the years by the intermittent passing of Defenders, Ranger Rovers and the other Land Rover products. Here traction is at a premium and the Wrangler HP-equipped Disco would scramble up the slopes, its spinning wheels zigzagging across the ruts, eking out morsels of grip. The MT/R tyre was far more at home on this kind of surface: it seemed to rise imperiously up the inclines with the deep tread gaining ample purchase. When traction did become scarcer, the wheels hunting in their ruts received extra help from the side wall tread which gripped the walls of the furrow and propelled the Discovery onward again.
In the final reckoning we found little in the woods around Eastnor Castle that could bring a Land Rover Discovery equipped with its Goodyear Wrangler HP all weather tyres to a standstill. What you did feel, however, is that we regularly came close to that tyre's limits. Conversely, with the Wrangler MT/R mud terrain rubber covering its wheels, the Disco looked like it was performing well within its powers as it floated over ground that would have left lesser 4x4s floundering.
Few Discovery drivers outside of the G4 Challenge will ever need to approach the potential of Goodyear's gnarliest off-road tyre and the superior on-road abilities of the HP reveal why it's standard fitment on the Discovery. The things that the test set out to show and the things that everyone took away from the trip to Eastnor Castle were the central importance of tyre selection and the difference that a set of tyres can make to a vehicle's performance both on and off-road.