Goodyear Wrangler 2019 review: AT SilentTrac
All-Terrain tyres have it tough – they’re expected to be everything to everyone. They’re expected to be quiet, comfortable and safe on-road, but also able to provide ample traction off-road. Often attempts at that combination of attributes results in a tyre that is too much of a trade-off to be truly effective at anything.
But, as in any industry, technology is rapidly improving and so is the ability of tyre manufacturers to respond swiftly and comprehensively to the needs and wants of their customers, present and potential.
And so arrives Goodyear’s new all-terrain tyre, the Wrangler AT SilentTrac, slotted into the company’s line-up to replace its outgoing AT/SA (Silent Armor) and aimed at catering to a booming SUV and ute market.
Let’s face it: tyres are a grudge purchase for many – meaning people reluctantly part with their cash for them – when, in fact, buying a tyre is one of the most important investments anyone will make for their own and their family’s safety. And a tyre should never be an exercise in compromise.
Goodyear invited CarsGuide along to a product launch drive day at Norwell Motorplex, near the Gold Coast, to show journalists and tyre-dealership owners how the new tyres performed on- and off-road.
The Goodyear Wrangler AT SilentTrac is available in 15 to 18 rim diameters in 23 sizes, including 14 for 4X4 passenger vehicles and nine for 4X4 light truck vehicles.
“Our long heritage in the 4x4 segment and proven track record in developing award-winning 4x4 and SUV-tyres enabled us to create the latest Wrangler AT SilentTrac, a tyre that allows mid-value consumers to drive confidently with increased traction and toughness for an enjoyable and silent driving experience,” Goodyear Asia Pacific President, Ryan Patterson, said.
Among much hyperbole during the launch, Goodyear officials reckoned the SilentTrac’s Durawall Technology (thick gauge rubber) “delivers strength for confident off-road driving”; its traction ridges and squared shoulder blocks “help clear mud and snow for versatile off-road traction” and redirect air to decrease road noise; and a thick under-tread rubber layer helps to better absorb road noise over their previous ATs and so provide a quiet and comfortable ride.
It doesn’t look overly aggressive – and an all-terrain tyre shouldn’t, because its city-friendly appearance is a large part of its appeal – but just how does the SilentTrac perform when actually driven?
It’s impossible to gain definitive insight into any product, let alone something as complex as a tyre, with only about 30 minutes total direct user experience of it. But, what the hell, we had a crack anyway.
Goodyear officials are, to put it mildly, pretty chuffed with their SilentTrac tyres so, in an attempt to showcase their new tyre’s positive characteristics, on-track drive events included a back-to-back tyre-competitor comparison in a Prado, and a short, winding timed drive on a skidpan in a dual-cab HiLux tray back. All SilentTrac tyres were 265/65R17.
Our first event involved steering a Prado shod with Bridgestone Duelers around a few hundred metres of race track, and then doing the same section in a Prado wearing SilentTrac tyres with the aim of highlighting the Goodyear tyre’s dominance. Both sets of tyres were set at 32 psi (pounds per square inch). Sharp steering and braking were all part of the mix.
Differences in performance between the two different tyre brands were difficult to discern over such an abbreviated course in such a short amount of time but, if anything, the Goodyear rubber exhibited minor advantages over the opposition in terms of cornering grip and control. Seemed to be pretty quiet too.
Next up, we drove an unladen HiLux on SilentTracs around a short, simple loop on a wet skidpan.
Again, it’s difficult to determine with little time on it and nothing to compare it against, but there was certainly a definite control in the rubber on sharp turns in the wet and under heavy braking.
The off-road components of our drive day were split into a ‘mild’ course and an ‘extreme’ course and provided a bit more of an insight into the tyres’ positive qualities when driven on terrain more unforgiving than just bitumen.
We tackled both courses in Jeep Wranglers, shod with 31X10.50R15 LT (Light Truck construction) SilentTracs, set at 24 psi.
The first track involved driving in 4WD low-range over a variety of terrain, including a short section of rocks, some easy uphills and downhills, a shallow water crossing, and some minor wheel ruts and moguls. Wranglers, the vehicles, are on the right side of capable, and Wranglers, the tyres, seemed to efficiently complement that level of skill.
The second off-road loop was more of a challenge for drivers and vehicles with more severe versions of the obstacles that we’d driven earlier in the day and, again, the rubber appeared to be effective in helping to maintain traction at appropriate times.
Goodyear officials reckon the SilentTrac is able to withstand “rugged off-road use by resisting cuts and tears” but I’m unable to comment on those claims with any authority because our drives were brief.
As mentioned earlier, it’s impossible to gain any real valuable insight into a tyre after such short exposure to it, and I’d want to spend a lot more drive time on AT SilentTracs before making an informed decision about them, but you have to give the Goodyear mob credit: they’re dead-set enthusiastic about their new tyres and they’re not afraid to show it.