With large truck and full-size SUV sales projected to decline in the coming years due to soaring fuel costs, Michelin North America’s BFGoodrich unit is working to fill the void in the fast-growing crossover utility vehicle (CUV) market. The launch of its Long Trail T/A Tour line, a highway all-season tire developed specifically for added performance on both CUVs and SUVs, is the company’s way of offering these drivers car-like precision and handling.
“We wanted to give crossover and sport utility owners a better choice for all-season handling and control without sacrificing comfort and wear life,” said Joe Mazur, light truck brand category manager for BFGoodrich. “The Long Trail T/A Tour tire delivers aggressive control mile after mile while accentuating the precise handling found on today’s CUVs and SUVs. After all, today’s CUV and SUV drivers are very demanding and now they have a choice when it comes to buying a tire that suits their needs of hauling more than just groceries.”
“SUV and crossover owners have been letting practicality suck the fun out of driving that ends now,” he noted.
BFGoodrich invited select media to Asheville, N.C., to test the Long Trail T/A Tour’s performance on both the road and the track at the end of April, just before the tire’s May 1 launch. Descending 1,400 feet in elevation, the tires, fitted to Toyota Rav4s, were put to the test on curvy mountain roads, highways and through the city streets of Greenville, S.C., on the way to Laurens Proving Grounds, Michelin’s test track in Laurens County, S.C. On the track, the tires were tested against a competitor’s in wet handling and wet braking exercises.
Because the Long Trail T/A Tour is designed for precision handling in all seasons, it includes several design elements that ensure top-notch performance and a long-lasting treadlife, according to BFGoodrich.
The tire’s rigid, closed shoulder design features unique contoured tread blocks for crisp handling and precise cornering, something most people don’t expect from their CUV or SUV, Mazur said. These tread features are melded with a reinforced center rib, deep circumferential grooves to evacuate standing water, and siping that addresses traction needs in all types of weather, the company said.
These features are packaged in a tough, two-ply polyester carcass that uses spiral-wrapped nylon to provide high speed durability with even ride quality, BFGoodrich said. The Long Trail T/A Tour also includes a high-strength bead that exceeds light truck demands. These features allow the tire to stand up to spirited driving and retain its shape at high speeds for a controlled ride, even on larger vehicles, BFGoodrich said.
The tiremaker is so sure of the longevity of its new product that BFGoodrich has backed it with a 60,000-mile tread wear warranty, said the company.
The Long Trail T/A Tour is currently available in 33 sizes in 15- through 20-inch rim diameters. Two additional sizes will be introduced, one in July and the other in September.
The tire’s predecessor, the Radial Long Trail T/A, will continue to be offered in select sizes. Combined, the two tires offer 95% market coverage for P-metric light truck fitments, Mazur said.