Written/Edited By: Phil Hansford - February, 2001.
Tire Size as Tested: 31x10.50 R15, on a Factory 89 Montero Chrome Wheel
When I began looking for a tire, I wanted something that would perform good in mud and snow, was abrasion resistant, and had good road manners. I considered the BF Goodrich All Terrain, the Dueler AT, and a budget brand, the Michelin, "made-for-Costco" Kirkland All Terrain Radial, as well as the Wild Country Radial RVT.
|This illustration shows the large shoulder lugs and the wide voids in the tread.|
The BFG was 50% more expensive than the next tire, and was backordered for three weeks or so (here in Eastern Canada this winter, shovels, and snow tires have become a rarity in stores, with our record snow falls!). As good as its reputation was, I couldn't wait for it, and couldn't afford it
if it did come in.
The Dueler AT was a great-looking tire, but was unavailable in the size I
wanted: 31x10.50 on a 15 inch rim.
The Kirkland All Terrain got a look based solely on price, but the tread was shallow, and didn't look to have the mud/snow shedding capabilities I needed. Furthermore, when I looked at a sample on a 6" rim
(more later on this controversy!), the sidewall bulge was very disconcerting. With no air, the tire's edges felt very pliable, so I resisted the
"bargain" brand, and checked out the Wild Country RVT. This is a very aggressive-looking tire, with a stiff sidewall. It is pinned for studs, has large
tread blocks (no siping), and large voids on the shoulders. It is available from
a P205 up to a whopping 35" (in sizes above 31", the tire is called the
"Mud King", but it is essentially the same tire). This tire came
highly recommended by the members of NOVA,
(the Newfoundland Offroad Vehicle
Association), who wheel them in the mud and snow on the east coast of
Canada. After the great service I got at Andy's Discount Tire, I decided to give
them a try.
|Does size matter?|
My 1989 Montero has been lifted slightly from stock height, with a torsion bar crank in the front, and coil-spacers in the rear.
|The old tires had trouble gripping the pavement, much less mud!|
Despite this fact, I secretly wondered if a tire that was over 2 inches larger in diameter than the biggest available factory tire (P235-75 R15) would cause problems. I was also aware that a 6 inch rim is not the recommended minimum for a 31 inch boot. The garage that mounted the tires advised that I might get "slightly premature wear from the smaller rim/larger tire combination", but that safety was not an issue, unless I was running them aired down; I might lose a bead at very low pressure on such a narrow rim. With the tires mounted and balanced, it was time to take them on the road.
I performed many "maneuvers"
in the parking lot, to test for contact between the sidewall and the wheel
but could find no adverse effects with the larger rubber, in terms of fit.
|The Wild Countrys have seen mostly snow duty so far on the East coast.|
On the road, the Wild Country is loud...very loud. At city speeds, the whirr is quite noticeable, and with the window down, you find yourself looking for low-flying hueys, as you ooze down the street. This is of course owing to the large shoulder voids, and the absence of any siping in the tread blocks. If your stereo is in good working order, you can mitigate this annoyance somewhat. At highway speeds, the RVT becomes appreciably quieter; it's still not whisper quiet, but with the drive train noise, wind noise, etc, the intrusion into the cabin is minimized. Verdict on- road? If you use your vehicle mainly on paved streets, the Wild Country RVT might look cool in the parking lot, but its utility is questionable. Add the noise to the lowered gas mileage (my mileage went down by approximately 15%), and the value quickly disappears from the RVT's low initial investment.
This is where the Wild Country proves its worth. In mud and snow (which is what I have been limited to so far, with the early onslaught of winter) this tire tracks like ...well, a track! As long as power is going to the wheels, these tires track straight and true. I have driven through deep snow, slush, and some heavy mud, and have found the large voids help the tire to clean itself very effectively, even at full pressure (approximately 32 psi at all four corners, on a 2 door V6 Montero). It remains to be seen how the RVT tackles other varieties of terrain, but for snow and bog duty, these tires shine.
With 1000 kms on these tires, it is
too early to tell how they will wear, but in terms of looks, grip on snow and
mud, and price, these tires are well named; they work well in the wild
(Editor's Note: ORN does not guarantee the safety of using non-standard tire/ rim
combinations. This may prove dangerous, despite the author's experiences, so do
so at your own risk.)