Yokohama has announced the release of their newest all-terrain tire, the Geolandar X-AT. So in the crowded space of the all-terrain tire category, where does the X-AT fit in? On their invitation, I recently went to Las Vegas, Nevada and met up with Yokohama to try and find out. With promises of a deeper look at the X-AT and some seat time, I was excited to see what this premium offering had in store.
The Morning started with a product briefing from Fardad Niknam, Senior Director of Marketing and Product Planning at Yokohama Tire. Fardad started the briefing by talking a little more about the Geolandar lineup and where the X-AT sits in the current offerings.
“It’s right in between a standard all-terrain tire and a mud tire,” he explained. “It’s very good with off-road traction, but also has very good wear.” Continuing, he discussed the four key features targeted during the design of the tire: Off-road traction, long tread life, quiet ride, and sidewall durability. A careful balance of those demands is where Yokohama claims it really stands out.
Breaking Down The Tire
- Off Road Traction – The X-AT boasts an aggressive tread pattern to help with this focus. The tread block design couples with an equally aggressive shoulder to help gain bite and clear away smaller debris. One interesting facet is the tire is actually reversible, offering variations of shoulder tread that the consumer can choose to display on the outboard side.
- Long Tread Life – Long tread life and great traction make for a difficult combination in tires. However, for the X-AT, Yokohama used a special compound to help overcome this conundrum. “Almost all manufacturers have the same sources of materials. Mixing it is where the difference is,” according to Fardad. To back up these claims of longer life, Yokohama has equipped the X-AT with a 45,000-mile warranty.
- Sidewall Durability – Boasting a three-ply construction is nothing new for the all-terrain segment. What is new is Yokohama’s engineered process to bring the ply layers higher up the sidewall. This results in six layers of polyester impact protection over a large portion of the sidewall. New curing tech has also enabled the use of a thicker sidewall in the X-AT for additional protection on the trail, while still maintaining a lower overall weight than similar offerings.
- Quiet Ride – Living with a loud tire can be a challenge. The X-AT combats this with a specially designed tread block sequence. A combination of zig-zagging grooves and specific pitch angles has delivered a tire as quiet as its little brother, the Geolandar AT, despite a the much more aggressive design.
Wrapping up the presentation, Fardad covered the available sizes: “As of the July 1st, 2019 official release date, there will be 27 sizes available.” The range will include rims from 15-22 inch and cover direct manufacturer size replacements, as well as plus sizes (up to 37s). With a tall list of claims to try and verify, it was time for me to head out to the X-AT fitted vehicles that Yokohama had secured for testing.
Testing Out The Tire
After pairing up with my co-driver, Rich, we hopped into our truck and got underway. It was about 10 miles to the trail head Yokohama had chosen for us. This gave me a great opportunity to get a feel for the truck and get some first impressions of the X-AT’s on-road manners.
It was only a few minutes into the ride that both Rich and I started to discuss whether Ford had improved the cabin noise insulation on this latest model, or if the tires were actually as quiet as they seemed. A quick roll down of the windows and a short stretch of highway confirmed that the Yokohama’s were much quieter than expected, continuing to be almost unnoticeable over the Raptor’s factory exhaust note.
Before long, we pulled up to the trail head and gathered into a line. The voice of the lead truck, a Starwood Performance-outfitted Raptor, came over the radio: “Put it in four wheel high!” He started off down the trail.
The trail started off as a well-traveled loose gravel path. The initial pace was set around 30 mph and delivered a similar driving feel and noise level to the paved roadways, with the addition of rock pings on the running boards.
After just enough time to wonder if this was the “off-road” testing Yokohama had planned, the lead truck took a turn onto a rutted off-shoot. “Watch the rocks on the side, these trucks are wide,” chirped the radio. We gained speed down the path.
Soon, we came upon a large hill overlooking the valley we were in. Here, the line halted and waited until the trucks in front of us rested before heading up the slope. Up to this point, the X-ATs had handled the trail with the comfort of a morning commute; the rock-topped hill before promised to give a better idea of the available traction.
Taking the hill at a crawler’s pace, there wasn’t a slip felt as the tires bit well and we crowned the ridge. A quick dismount offered a view of the other attendees’ climbs, as well as a chance to watch the X-ATs in action from ground level.
After a quick pause to ensure everyone got a few photos, we all remounted and headed down the trail. The next section of the drive was a deep rutted path over some smaller hills. This afforded a few opportunities to find the traction limits of the X-ATs as the trucks spaced out.
Heading through several deep dry washes, the tires performed well, maintaining traction even when the brakes were heavily applied during descent. Despite plenty of power on tap, the tires only broke away predictably on the loose gravel and with heavy acceleration.
After a few miles, we gathered up the line again. We took a chance to use a deep sandy section for another photo op as we navigated the section one at a time. When my turn came, I chose a soft off-line section to see how the tires would handle this new terrain.
Fully expecting the Raptor to wag its tail like a dog happy to see his owner, I was surprised at how adept the truck felt. The final turn in the soft section offered an opportunity for a quick gratuitous rooster tail, and soon, I was back to the harder packed trail.
The next few miles were a well-defined, rutted area. As I later came to find out, this section is a part of the Mint 400 race course. Winding through trails, our lead truck picked up the pace; keeping up was a test in the confidence of both the truck and its new tires. Both passed with flying colors.
The section to follow was a few miles of well-traveled, wide gravel roads. At the encouragement of Rich and unable to resist, we attempted to create our own wet traction testing by seeking out every puddle that the previous day’s rain had left behind.
We soon broke away from the gravel road in favor of another whoop-filled path. This one led to the famous Jean Dry Lake bed. As we hit the hard packed silt, every truck accelerated and fanned out to keep a clear view. Exceeding any highway speed limit in the state, the truck was just as well behaved as it was on the I-15.
After a wide arcing turn, we all came to a stop on the opposite side of the lake bed. We took a quick breather – as well as some photos. It was hard not to be in awe of the landscape we found ourselves in. Several drivers made a few runs around the area, kicking up some amazing, dust-throwing doughnuts.
Overall, I truly believe I got a great feel for Yokohama’s newest tire during my time driving. The morning had included a lot of hype around off-road capability being blended seamlessly with on-road civility, and as far as I can tell, the claims are spot on. The tire is truly quiet for a truck tire of this style. It handled a mix of rugged terrain with ease.
What’s more, our tour guide told us that after so many test drives and abuse sessions, not one spare tire had been used. From the mix of off and on-road performance added to the longer-than-expected treadwear, I think the Yokohama Geolandar X-AT is a strong contender.
You can try a set out for yourself come July 1st and if you don’t think they stack up, Yokohama offers a 30 day money back guarantee. Find out more information on Yokohama’s website and Facebook page.