2012 Jeep Wrangler: Off-Road Tire Comparo With Photo and Video
February 07, 2012
We thought we could dodge the rain, but we were wrong. The plan was to bring our 2012 Jeep Wrangler to the obstacle course at Hungry Valley with both sets of tires for a shoot out.
Our goal was to see how the performance of our Jeep would change over the same stretch of ground -- see if the extra RTI and ground clearance afforded by the big 33-inch BFG tires would be obvious to the naked or camera-aided eye. Scott Jacobs came along to take stills while John Adolph shot video.
But things began looking gloomy when we finally arrived, so we dialed back our plan to push the Jeep to its absolute limit and settled for a simpler back-to-back comparison we knew we could finish before we all got dumped on.
The big BFG Mud-Terrain KM2s went first, for no other reason than they were already on the Jeep when we arrived.
I walked the Wrangler and its 33-inch BFGs through this ditch in low range, crossing at about 45 degrees. About 30 minutes later I followed my own tracks as precisely as possible with the OE Goodyear 29-inch rubber bolted on.
The rain started as we were changing tires. Even though Scott is standing in a slightly different position, he caught the Jeep at the same moment. The lower RTI value of the stock setup shows itself here as a lot more rear wheel lift.
The frame twist section is made up of alternating humps of dirt. The 33-inch tires have no trouble staying planted.
Once again, slightly different camera angle, same spot. The smaller-diameter tires look like they're working harder because they are.
And now for some split-screen video.
In general, the Jeep moves around more on the small tires, there's more head toss inside the cabin. In part that's because the smaller diameter tires dip farther into holes and hollows. And don't forget the narrower track that results from skinnier tires and a substantial difference in wheel offset.
There's also less clearance, of course. This becomes easier to see in the following Go-Pro camera shots.
The skinny Goodyear OE rubber had a tough time with the rain. Aside from the wheelspin you can see, the Jeep felt pretty greasy behind the wheel.
At this point Scott and John (not to mention their cameras) were getting drenched, so we packed it in. And even though we weren't able to push the Jeep as far as we wanted, we were still able to grab some cool photos and video.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing.