Thursday, April 01, 2010
The Trail Grappler is Nitto's latest off-road tire for a segment it already sells four other tires in. So why offer a new tire? Strategically speaking, the Trail Grappler is positioned between the aggressive Mud Grappler and the smooth-riding Terra Grappler. The thing that really sets this tire apart, however, is its weight capacity and heavy-duty 7-ply tire carcass. Nitto also seems to be attempting the impossible by blending the looks of a mud tire with the utility and functionality of an all-terrain.
The challenge most of us face when buying a new set of tires is compromising our needs with our wants. The majority of truck owners we speak with prefer the looks of a mud tire to the looks of an all-terrain. Unfortunately, that same group of owners will almost always prefer the ride, handling, and noise output of an all-terrain tire to that of a mud-terrain. When people ask us which way they should lean, we always suggest erring on the side of the all-terrain tire. But this Nitto could challenge our logic-especially for a truck that sees everyday use in the dirt.
We mounted Nitto's new Trail Grapplers on a set of Hummer H2 wheels at a local tire dealer before hitting the highway for a 200-mile drive. The first thing we noticed is that the Trail Grapplers were quieter than we expected. They weren't all-terrain-tire quiet, but they were significantly less noisy than the Toyo Open Country M/T or Pit Bull Rocker we also tested. Evidently, the medium-sized tread blocks and tight tread spacing worked well to keep tire rumble to a minimum. In the rain, the Trail Grapplers could have benefited from more tread siping-especially when the tires were cold-but we never felt any tendency to hydroplane. While the Trail Grappler is a fairly aggressive tire, it may be an ideal candidate for a truck owner who wants a mud-terrain-style tire that will still be livable on the street. You just need to be honest with yourself about how often your diesel leaves the pavement.
On a trip through our local off-road proving grounds, we couldn't help but think the Trail Grappler would be the perfect tire for someone who lives on a dirt road. The tread design was well suited for packed dirt and its 7-ply tread construction meant it should survive heavy use over the crushed gravel commonly used on private roads in rural parts of the United States. The Trail Grappler tread provided great traction-without shredding the road surface like an extreme-terrain tire would-yet it still had plenty of clawing power for when the surface got soggy. You know, like after your neighbor gets stuck and ruts up the road in front of your house.
When it came time to hit some serious mud, the Trail Grapplers surprised us. The tread pattern provided the right balance of grip and thrust in all the gooey stuff we took them through. We seemed to run out of ground clearance long before the tire ran out of traction. For us to know the real limitation of this tire's design would require us to test a taller tire. Rest assured, these Nittos are up to the task of getting to any hunting lodge, climbing up the worst boat launch ramps, and they'll give you the confidence you need to drive down that old logging road you always wanted to explore.
NITTO TRAIL GRAPPLER M/T TIRES
Tire Type: Radial
Tire Size: 35x12.50R17
Overall Diameter: 34.84 inches
Tread: 3-ply polyester + 2-ply steel + 2-ply nylon
Sidewall: 3-ply polyester
Tread Depth: 21/32 inch
Overall Width: 13.19 inches
Approved Rim Width: 8 1/2 to 11 inches
Weight: 79 pounds
Maximum Load (tire): 3,195 pounds
Maximum PSI: 65 psi
Load Range Rating: E
HUMMER H2 WHEELS
Wheel Size: 17x8 1/2 inches
Weight: 45 pounds (approximately)
Bolt Pattern: 8 on 6 1/2 inches
Load Capacity: 3,195 pounds