Review by Basil Lynch
Recently Yokohama Tire invited me out to Gateway, Colorado to test out the new Yokohama Geolandar G003 MT tire, a much-needed refresh on a classic mud terrain tire. The morning started with a presentation on the construction of the tires. The G003 was created with hard-core off-road enthusiasts in mind. Yokohama’s GEO-SHIELD technology, 3 ply sidewalls, steel belts, and a full nylon cap, all add strength and protection while out in the dirt, while an aggressive sidewall tread ejects rocks and mud from the tread.
3rd party testing showed a large improvement in both wear and stopping distances, over two undisclosed leading competitors. Testing showed that in wet conditions the Geolandar stopped 51 feet shorter than the competition. While long-term tests showed the tread life lasted 8% longer.
After sitting down and talking about the tire, it was time to get in the dirt. Yokohama provided us with two different situations to test the tire in. The first was a Baja style short course track with silt, jumps, rock and plenty of turns. After a short safety briefing it was time to hop in the cars and get some seat time. The first few laps I took at a slower speed, getting used to the truck, but once I was allowed to open it up I was immediately impressed with the tires.
The first few corners were deep sand, normally a rear wheel drive truck struggles a bit in sand, but the Geolandars just hooked and pulled the car right through it. The large tread blocks helped grab every grain of sand underneath. After the sand there was a long packed dirt corner, almost as hard as asphalt. When hitting the corner at speed I expected the truck to slide a bit but found myself slowing down because the tires held and the body roll was becoming a bit too extreme.
A few laps later it was time to switch drivers, I was very impressed with the tires throughout all of my laps. But the true test would be when I got out and looked to see if there was any damage to them after a few laps on the course. When I got in the car the tires had just been mounted and were brand new. The tires held up great. There was no noticeable chunking and the main tread blocks showed minimal wear. The only place you could see a slight bit of wear was on the outside edges of the tread, but even that was very small and acceptable for what I put them through
After a lunch break it was time to get back into the tire testing. Our second test was a trail ride in Jeep Wranglers. We left the valley floor immediately climbing towards the sky. The trail was previously used to reach uranium mines scattered throughout the area. The roads had deteriorated since and become a bit more challenging to drive.
While driving the fire roads I paid close attention to the tires, feeling their every move and listening to the sounds they made. One thing that stood out to me is how little they wander on the dirt roads, previous tires I’ve driven on like to grab every little rut in the road, pulling the car side to side. This makes for a bit of a nerve-wracking experience, especially when you’re driving along a thousand foot cliff. The Geolandars felt sure-footed and not once was I worried about wandering off road.
A few miles of simple dirt roads had passed by and it was time to get into slightly more technical stuff. Nothing too extreme, but it was enough to test the tires. Climbing a small hill I saw a nice washout on the side. This was a perfect time to test the grip of the tires. Cutting across it, the suspension cycled and tires lifted, I paused to take a few photos. Once I got back in and started to drive away I didn’t experience any wheel spin, and this was in an unlocked Jeep. With a tire off the ground the Jeep just kept moving forwards across the washout, the sidewalls grabbing the dirt the whole way.
A small rock section popped up on the trail, it was time to see how the tires did on some rock. This wasn’t a very technical section by any means, but it was all we had. Being the first one in the group I again found the hardest line and approached the rock ledge, giving it some gas and trying to get the wheels to spin. At first, there was a small amount of spin, but as soon as the tire was completely on the rock, the spin stopped and it climbed right up. I wish I would have had a more technical rock section to test the tires in, but with what I was able to drive over, I think they will work just as well in a more challenging scenario.
On the way back to town I was able to make a small detour and get the tires up to speed on some normal asphalt roads. Most people don’t think about it, but I’d say the average person that’s buying these tires is going to spend much more time on roads, than in the dirt. The first thing I noticed is that the ride was smooth, with most MT tires when you’re getting up to speed you can feel the lugs hitting the road, making it a bit bumpy at lower speeds. Yokohama slightly offset the lugs to help with road noise. I think this also helped smooth out the ride when traveling at low speeds. Another thing a lot of drivers are going to be concerned with is the road noise. Yokohama advertised this tire being 8% quieter than the leading competitor and I’d say that’s accurate. Driving down the road at 50mph you could hear the tires, but it wasn’t anything obnoxious. The low humming was easily drowned out by rolling up the windows or just turning the radio on.
Overall the G003 Mud Terrain tires seem to be a great addition to Yokohama’s Geolandar fleet. They worked great in every condition I was able to throw at them and held up well to the abuse. If you’re looking for a new set of tires, I’d highly suggest you take a good look at the Yokohama Geolandar G003’s. They are going to be a serious competitor in the mud terrain tire market.