The 2020 Australian 4x4 Mud Tyre Test: 5 contenders battle it out
2020 has hardly kicked into gear and the awards are already being dished out. Which is ok. We love a tyre test and the team at 4x4 Australia always does a great job with it. This year's test is a little different though. It might not seem to make sense at first glance. But it does. It really does.
Taking it to the Streets
There’s an issue with testing mud tyres. It’s pretty much impossible to replicate the conditions to ensure consistency of difficulty. Roll through some mud (or sand) and it’ll move, making it different for the next tyre (even with some raking etc). This is one of the reasons 4x4 Australia decided to take this test to the streets.
The other reason is we simply do more KMs on the tarmac. It’s also where mud tyres can show up their shortcomings. You only have to look at a few online forums, peruse the comments and you’ll see folk asking about how the mud tyres handle the in the wet. Do they corner ok? Are they noisy, etc? Yup, we might want the muddies to haul us through the dirt but we need to make sure they stick to the road too. And it’s a big concern for mud buyers.
Of course, they come in all shapes and sizes. But for this test they only came in the popular 265/65R17 size. The tyres were fitted to a stock standard Ford Everest.
The tyres themselves...in this corner (well, 4 corners) is the well known Bridgestone Dueller MT. A pretty popular slice of rubber you see on more than a few utes. The Bridgestone was joined by Sunwide Huntsman, BF Goodrich MT TA/KM3 and the Kumho Road Venture MT51. The final contestant was the up and coming battler that has had people talking, the Maxxis RAZR MT.
All contestants were to be put through their paces at Pheasant Wood Circuit, south of Sydney. Behind the wheel and pushing the limits was Australian racing champ, Paul Stockell. To enable the tyres to be pushed hard, the stability control was turned off. For assessment and scoring, a Vbox Data Logger was used. A fancy bit of kit, it uses satellites to measure G-forces, speeds, track position and angles. Yup, very fancy then.
For both dry and wet braking assessments, Paul accelerated the Ford up to 100kmh before slamming his foot down hard on the brakes. The distance it took for the Ford Everest to come to a complete standstill was then measured.
It was a pretty tight field here, all tyres doing a decent job, just a nat’s hair over 2 meters separating the entire field. The Bridgestone was the only tyre to come to a halt in under 47 metres though (46.04). Unsurprisingly (it’s ok to admit you’ve never heard of it), the Sunwide came last.
More of a pronounced difference here. Indeed, the difference between the top 2 was greater than the difference between first and last in the previous test. The Maxxis Razr was the clear winner, pulling up 1.3 metres shorter than its nearest rival (52.51 metres).
The Kumho wasn’t great in the wet braking at 55.79 metres. But the Sunwide was well wide of the mark, skating past the others and not stopping until 58.45 metres.
From the questions we get asked, we’d say wet braking performance (and general handling in the wet) is just about the top area of concern from prospective mud tyre buyers. It is the widely acknowledged achilles heel of the mud tyre. Which is what makes the performance of the Razr all the more important here.
The cornering test was timed, recording how long it took the tyres to get through the curve. Of course, mud tyres aren’t going to hold the road as nicely as a pair of road tyres but you do expect them to be able to take corners without making you feel like you're driving on jelly.
It was the Maxxis Razr that took top spot again, making it around in 15.77 seconds. Surprisingly, it was the well known Goodyear and BFGoodrich brand tyres that lagged behind the field (4th and 5th respectively). We would have expected a better performance from premium tyres.
Of course, it’s one thing navigating a corner in the dry. It’s something different trying to maintain traction when hurtling around in the wet. That’s when you can get caught out, taking the corner at the normal speed and then you hit a puddle, momentarily losing contact with the road. It’s a heart stopping moment and not one to be enjoyed.
So how did our mud tyres fare in the wet? Well, once again the Razr proved itself a worthy winner. It made it round the quickest in just 11.28 seconds. What was surprising was the Bridgsetone Dueller once again struggled, coming in 4th place out of 5, even the Sunwide narrowingly beating it.
There’s a need to anchor testing with the reality of retail pricing. Now, we know you’ll find deals here and there. Prices will always vary depending on whatever offers are on at any given time but when 4x4 Australia went to press there were some pronounced differences in between the contenders. The Bridgestone came in the most expensive at AUS$370. Not far behind was the BFGoodrich (AUS$350). Then there was some daylight, down to AUS$305, which was enough to snag the Razr. Kumho was AUS$285. The Sunwide is much cheaper, at AUS$210.
Crowning the Champ
The Sunwide was knocked out first. It was ok in cornering but was pulled up for a disappointing performance in braking tests, especially in the wet.
Hitting the deck shortly after was the BFGoodrich. This might surprise a few given the premium pricing and how well known these tyres are. Still, when it comes down to the heat of the battle, reputation counts for nothing.
Making the podium but not the final fight, was the Kumho. It was a decent showing and the tyre was noted for performing well, if not spectacularly.
This leaves us just the Bridgestone Dueler and the Maxxis Razr to battle it out. The Bridgestone was noted for some issues in the cornering (wet and dry) that meant it really only just stumbled into the top two ahead of the rest of the pack.
Out ahead... and the newly-crowned 2020 4x4 Australia Tyre champion is the Maxxis Razr. What tests it didn’t win, it performed close to the top in. It was this consistency, especially when coupled with a mid-range price, that made it a knockout performance.
We’ll add our own comments here too. This testing was all done on the road so some of you might be wondering about the off-road performance of the Razrs. So we should say for the sake of clarity...it’s outstanding.
We’ve spoken about this tyre before and our opinion hasn’t changed. The 2020 Australian 4x4 test just confirms what we already believe...the Maxxis Razr is one of those tyres that resets the standard. Yes, it is that good.