Cooper Discoverer S/T Maxx – a 55k mile review
Cooper Discoverer S/T Maxx On-Road & Off-Road Review
Cooper Discoverer S/T Maxx (All-Terrain/ Mud Terrain Tires)
With a new 4Runner in my life and a lot of places to see, I knew that the first and most important upgrade was a new set of tires. I wanted a tire that would cover rugged terrain in varying conditions while still remaining civil enough on the road for the long hauls from where I live to where the dirt starts.
In general, mud-terrain tires perform very well off-road but will ultimately suffer with on-road performance due to their blockier design and larger lugs. On the flip side, an all-terrain or all-season tire will perform much better on-road than their mud terrain brothers, but they will fall short in rougher conditions off-road especially in slick/muddy situations.
Que the Cooper Discoverer S/T Maxx.
- Cooper Website: More Information
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Stuck between a mud-terrain and an all-terrain style tire, the S/T Maxx skillfully balances the duties of both an on-road and off-road performer. With a tough carcass at its heart, the tire delivers confidence on the trail even in the toughest conditions.
I have had these tires on the 4Runner for the last 3 years in the 275/70R17 size and have covered fifty-five thousand miles. Based on where I have been with them I’ll break down my thoughts into a few basic categories: on-road performance, off-road performance, and long-term wear.
It’s a simple formula, the more aggressive the tire, the louder it will tend to be and the worse that it will handle on the road. Just talk to anyone with a set of dedicated mud-terrains and they’ll agree. I have found the Coopers to be surprisingly quiet through my run with them.
Only in the last five to seven thousand miles have I started to notice a hum which I attribute to my alignment being slightly off. Even with the less than ideal wear that has started to develop, the hum and vibration that they have is mild compared to others I have had in the past.
I am a weekend warrior by passion
This means that when I do get out to where the pavement meets the dirt, there is usually quite a lot of paved driving required to get there. I wanted to make sure that the tires I put on the 4Runner would not only be able to stand up to the rigors demanded on dirt, but that they would perform equally as well on the roads getting there.
Inflated to between thirty-eight and forty psi, the Coopers handle as confidently at seventy miles per hour on the highways as they do through the twists and turns of the Sierra mountains. I will admit, when I first had them installed they felt a bit “squishy” and it took a few hundred miles for them to feel right in my mind. But once they firmed up, my confidence hasn’t wavered. Even under hard braking, they will hold a straight track.
A True All-Terrain tire
In adverse weather on-road, the Coopers show that they are up to the task.
In rain and standing water, they track true and only when acting recklessly do they show their susceptibility to the common hydroplane. But even that took some effort on my end, as I tested the limits of the tire to know how far they could be pushed.
In the snowy conditions, they really shine.
From hard pack to deep powder they grip far beyond what you would expect. On one trip, my unchained tires kept up with a few buddies that were partially chained to get through some slicker snow conditions. Their only winter drawback is ice.
However, unless you have a dedicated snow or studded tire any tire will suffer on ice. For me, that’s ok because I stay aware of the changing conditions in the mountains during winter and adjust my driving habits to compensate for potential lack of traction.
And I always carry a set of chains in the snow to stay safe when conditions call for them.
Their tendency to pull right
One thing to note about these Coopers on the road is that they have a tendency to pull to the right on the highway. Now, I have gotten quite used to it and just consider it par for the course. But there are other people I know that can’t handle constant pull/correction. Really, you won’t know where you stand until you try them yourself.
I would recommend that you have a tire shop that will let you test drive for a few hundred miles install your tires so if the pull is too much, you can try a different tire.
Performance off the developed path was the main reason I wanted to upgrade the tires on the 4Runner from the get-go.
Stock tires are… well… stock. They are meant to be used primarily on the road and are designed for comfort over off-road capability. In my experience and research, I have found that the most common point of failure off-road is a punctured or ruptured sidewall.
This is one of the main reasons why even those with light-weight off-road vehicles will opt for a higher load rated tire. Additional plys in both the main tread and the sidewall prevent punctures and slices and keep your trip going without a hitch.
Coopers are well known for their tough carcass, on this tire known as the ArmorTek3® and it doesn’t disappoint. I have had these tires aired down and punished over many miles of gravel, rocks, roots, sand, snow, mud, you name it. I haven’t had any air loss or failures through all of it.
Rocks and gravel performance
Across rocks and gravel, these tires perform very well while resisting cutting and chipping that is common with softer compound tires. The added confidence from the thicker sidewalls help when traversing desert roads where sharp “sidewall biters” are very common, or on forest trails where worn tree roots can easily cause a sidewall flat.
The semi-open tread pattern allows for great traction on loose surfaces, but enough void to shed mud of every type but clay. Aired down to eighteen to twenty PSI the thick sidewalls give enough flex to soften the ride on washboard roads, and crawl over rocks and wet logs without slipping.
I personally have admired these tires for their complete versatility off-road and their ability to keep the show going when faced with challenging terrain.
From Cooper, these tires come with near as makes no difference 9/16” of total tread depth. As it sits today, there is about 4/16” left on all 4 tires. That would be impressive for a typical mud-terrain tire with thirty-five thousand miles.
What makes these tires different is that they have just over fifty-five thousand miles on them. Good tire wear is crucial when they cost as much as they do, and when their performance is measured by the amount of tread remaining. With roughly 1/16th of an inch of wear for every ten thousand miles, you’ll get a lot of adventures out of a set.
Minor chipping or cracking after 3 years
Aside from the wear itself, these tires have very minor chipping or cracking after 3 years of them being on the 4Runner.
Minor cracking on the edges of the side lugs are not uncommon for tires that are put through the paces and are usually associated with age.
The chipping that has happened has been infrequent and usually in places with an abrasive rock parent material. From the photos shown you will see that at fifty-five thousand miles the tread is solid, with more life left in them for future adventures.
These tires were the first, and to this day, arguably the best modification that I have made to the 4Runner. They have greatly expanded the capability of the vehicle, and made the ability to travel to remote places easy and reliable.
I have never been let down by the S/T Maxx’s and they continue to perform on the vehicle as intended. When the time comes to replace the set, likely before the winter, I will be replacing them with their skinnier cousins the 255/80R17 S/T Maxx.
I will also be adding a full size matching spare wheel/tire combination to the 4Runner to allow for a 5 tire rotation and a reliable back up if needed on the trail.
I am changing tire sizes only because I have lifted the 4Runner since installing the first set of Coopers and can now afford the taller tire.
But the question of whether or not I will be purchasing a different tire has never come up on my mind.