About All Terrain Tires

When you go shopping for all-terrain tires for your truck, SUV or crossover, you are typically going to be looking to split the difference between good off-road capability and decent road manners, such as handling, ride and noise suppression. Manufacturers know that many SUVs and trucks with all-terrain tires are never going to stray that far away from public roads, so they carefully compromise the tire’s off-road performance with a  slight bias toward road use. So what goes into an all-terrain tire? 

  • All terrain tread is designed to perform under a variety of off-road conditions, while still offering decent road qualities. An all-terrain tire typically has smaller voids (meaning the lugs are tighter together) than a mud tire’s more aggressive tread, meaning they don’t have the off-road grip and self-cleaning design of a mud tire.
  • All-terrain tires will often be designed with sipes, the tiny slits spaced at regular intervals in the tread that offer extra traction and resistance to hydroplaning. Sipes are also common in light truck and passenger car tires, offering thousands of extra biting surfaces as the tire moves through wet, muddy or snowy surfaces.
  • The sidewalls on all-terrain tires are typically a little thicker, tougher and more rigid than passenger car tires, meaning good handling on the pavement with cut, puncture and tear resistance when the going gets tough. Some all-terrain tires now feature sidewalls that are reinforced with Kevlar and other advanced materials.
  • All-terrain tires typically have a somewhat taller tire profile, adding an extra inch or two of ground clearance for your vehicle.
  • Most all-terrain tires are radial designs, meaning they are constructed with bands of steel along the circumference of the tire. Some are still bias-ply designs, with layers of cords that crisscross each other at angles.