The Open Country R/T Trail is an on- and off-road rugged-terrain tire that delivers better off-road grip than a traditional all-terrain tire, most evident in sand, mud and deep snow. The tire officially hits the market Nov. 1.
The R/T Trail is the second tire to be designed by the U.S. research and development team (the first was the A/T III). The build was led by Mia Evans, who also was lead engineer for the A/T III.
The work of Evans and her team "resulted in a tire with exceptional ride quality but also superb handling," according to Todd Bergeson, senior manager, product planning and technical services, Toyo Tire USA.
The R/T Trail is an addition to the Open Country line, and Bergeson said while the company knew where it wanted to position the tire in the lineup, its planning was really a "blank slate."
The team met with customers and drove with them on trails to learn their views.
"We're part of this off-road community. These are our people," Bergeson said, adding that when they want to get some real-world testing and feedback, the overlanding community is only a phone call away.
"It's not only a ton of fun, but we have learned a lot from that," he said. "Then when we sit around after the trail run, we talk about … 'What did you think about that tire? Did it get you through the way you expected it?'
"We can take those (comments) back and apply them to the new design and development."
Bergeson said he also would bring 3-D printed tread design samples with him on the road to get customer feedback on the look.
"For us, design is so important, and we know with our customer base there's a high value placed on appearance. So, it doesn't just have to perform; it has to look the part," Bergeson said.
"We are highly focused on getting the right design. Our design is such that we appeal to the masses, but we don't offend anyone either. It's got to be that kind of fine balance, the right level of aggressiveness in appearance."
Customers for the R/T Trail are passionate about their vehicle, and Bergeson said if they are going to put the money into building up the truck, they will care a lot about the tires.
Toyo invited members of the media to Big Bear in late September to try the R/T Trail on the picturesque, above-the-clouds mountain trails.
The R/T Trail sits between A/T III and the R/T (introduced in 2014) in the Open Country lineup. The R/T Trail is a more aggressive tire than the A/T but offers a more quiet ride and better highway performance than the R/T.
"Advances were made in tread design for optimized on- and off-road durability, traction and stability, providing improvements in grip and performance in both wet and dry conditions," the company said.
The main attributes brought to this tire are its aggressive look, wet and dry traction, durability and coverage of load ranges.
The tire features staggered scalloped shoulder blocks and extra-thick sidewall lugs that dig into soft terrain and uneven surfaces. The shoulders are durable to handle low inflation pressures and contact when off-roading.
"The tire has to give confidence that it can go off road, it can do these trails, and be able to get home without any issue," Bergeson said.
"Confidence and driver fatigue are two things we were highly focused on when we develop a tire to make sure the customer has the best experience."
Other features focused on durability and off-road capabilities include wide circumferential grooves, lateral zig-zag grooves and stone ejectors, 4-way tapered notches and a rim protector. A heavy gauge sidewall also will help protect from cuts, impacts and punctures, Toyo said.
On the trail, this results in confident contact and quick front-to-back tire reaction.
"A really well-matched tire will be an extension of you, and you'll notice that when you're driving down the road," Bergeson said.
He added that the R/T Trail has "really good" sand traction. Wet traction, he said, was also important to the R/T Trail, because "you don't want to be the guy at the boat ramp just spinning tires."
The R/T Trail launches in the most popular sizes for light trucks and SUVs from makes including Ford, Jeep and Toyota. The line eventually will be expanded to 47 size and load combinations for 16- to 24-inch wheel diameters and up to a 38-inch overall diameter. Speed ratings will include Q, R, S and T; and the load range will include C, D, E and F.
The R/T Trail comes with a 45,000-mile treadwear warranty and the Toyo Tires No Regrets 45-Day/500-Mile Trial Offer.
Most of the line will be built at the Georgia plant, except for a few sizes that will be produced in Serbia.