More than a year in the making, Michelin North America finally took the wraps off of the BFGoodrich Rugged Terrain T/A, the latest BFG-brand light truck/SUV radial. And this new tire, said MNA, is all work and all play.
The tire was originally slated for a 2010 introduction, but production was rescheduled when demand increases and product shortages last year forced MNA to increase production of existing light truck products over new offerings.
“Our goal is to create quality products that appeal to every kind of driver,” said Marcus Baffoe-Bonnie, marketing manager for the BFGoodrich brand. “The BFGoodrich Rugged Terrain T/A tire fits distinctly between the Long Trail T/A Tour tire, which is designed for pure on-road driving, and the All Terrain T/A KO tire, which can go as far off-road as you want. The Rugged Terrain T/A tire is for drivers who want a versatile tire to go to work during the week, as well as on a weekend adventure.”
In developing the concept for the new tire, Baffoe-Bonnie said the company “listened to what consumers didn’t say” about their light truck/SUV tires, digging into their statements to find the root of their comments.
Even though most drivers were not likely to take their vehicles off-road, he said, they wanted tires that could perform in moderate off-road conditions and had a confident off-road look. “These are lifestyle consumers who want a rugged look but with on-road manners. They aren’t interested in going ‘off-roading,’ but want to be able to go off-road if needed.”
Available for purchase as of May 1, the BFGoodrich Rugged Terrain T/A was developed for light truck and sport utility vehicle owners “looking to upgrade to a tire with aggressive off-road looks combined with low rolling resistance, reduced noise and year-round traction.”
The tire is available in 36 sizes ranging from 15 to 20 inches in wheel diameter, including LRE-rated sizes for greater load-carrying capacity. Twelve of the sizes are LT-metric, and all P-metric sizes are T speed rated.
The new tire was rolled out in early March during a special tire and enthusiast media launch at The Boulders Resort in Carefree, Ariz., in the Sonora Desert.
MNA said the addition of the Rugged Terrain T/A tire fills a void in the BFGoodrich portfolio and “increases the BFGoodrich brand’s light truck market coverage to 97% in the P-metric and 95% in the LT-metric categories.”
The new Rugged Terrain T/A will replace the bulk of the BFGoodrich Rugged Trail T/A line, except for a handful of OE replacement sizes, Baffoe-Bonnie said. “The Rugged Terrain T/A is considered an OE upgrade,” he said.
Michelin said the tire’s “combination of tread design and compound development resulted in a 30% improvement over the Rugged Trail T/A in wet weather performance” compared to its product cousins.
The tread features a special noise reduction element (the tire carries Europe’s E4 label for low noise), two large circumferential grooves for water evacuation, an aggressive tread design that wraps over the shoulder “for a bold look and enhanced off-road traction,” and proprietary Equal TEnsion Containment System (ETEC System) technology for “toughness for all terrains.”
The tire also features a slightly thicker innerliner to help the tire better retain proper inflation pressure. MNA engineers said the thicker innerliner added only a tenth of a kilogram to the tire’s weight.
In rolling resistance testing, the Rugged Terrain T/A tire tested equal to the soon-to-be-replaced Rugged Trail T/A, which came as OE on a variety of light trucks and SUVs. The Rugged Terrain T/A was able to maintain the same rolling resistance numbers as the Rugged Trail T/A, despite a marked improvement in wet-weather traction and off-road aesthetics.
In direct testing, MNA claimed that the BFGoodrich Rugged Terrain T/A rolling resistance numbers were 6% better than the Bridgestone Dueler A/T Revo 2 and 8% better than the Goodyear Wrangler Silent Armor.
In terms of size coverage, MNA claimed the Rugged Terrain T/A provided better coverage compared to competing tires Toyo Open Country A/T, Yokohama Geolander A/T-S, Hankook Dynapro ATM, Goodyear Wrangler Silent Armor, Bridgestone Dueler A/T Revo 2, and the General Grabber AT2.
For consumers, the tire comes with a 50,000-mile manufacturer’s limited tread life warranty and carries a UTQG of 480 AB.
In order to create the rugged look, in which elements of the tread roll down over the tire shoulder, MNA had to develop all-new tire molds, according to Steve Calder, BFGoodrich light truck tire project manager. The seam between mold elements had to be moved down toward the bead area in order to create the clean, aggressive and functional shoulder design.
As part of the introduction program, journalists took a collection of Nissan Xterra SUVs and Nissan Titan pickup trucks on local roads and on trails in the Tonto National Forest. A snowstorm the day before their arrival gave the writers ample opportunity to run the tires through mud and soft dirt.
To kick off the consumer launch, between May 12-28, MNA is offering $50 off sets of BFGoodrich Rugged Terrain A/Ts.
To view our exclusive photo ablum of this event, click here.