Cooper Evolution M/T (35X12.50R17) Initial Impressions on the 5th Gen 4Runner
After putting 20K miles on the Toyo Xtreme AT 2s (285/75R17 – 33.8″), I was ready for something bigger, and more specifically a Mud-Terrain (M/T). Although the ATs have performed extremely well under the circumstances I put them through, they were never going to perform like a true MT.
After a recent trip wheeling, I saw a few 3rd Gens all equipped with MTs getting over obstacles much easier than me with the ATs. The conditions were slick, muddy, and wet – composed of large loose rocks, moguls, ledges all with steep ascents. Aired down to 18 psi – I had no chance of producing Mud-Terrain tire results with All-Terrain tires.
My other Mud Terrains
After I put about 3K miles on the Tread Wright Guard Dogs (our MGM 2016 TEP), they started to get a bit loud on the freeway. Nothing a little music can’t fix but for a daily driver they are on the loud side. With this in mind, I was hesitant at first to run Mud-Terrains on the white 4Runner (our 2014 TEP). And with all respect, noise is to be expected with most Mud Terrain tires, especially after a few thousand miles, it comes with the territory.
After owning three 5th Gen 4Runners, I have run the Michelin Defenders, Bridgestone Duelers, Toyo AT 2 Extreme, BFG KO2s, Nitto Terra Grapplers, and the Tread Wright Guard Dogs. All of these tires have a place of their own – all with a different purpose. Today though, we are talking about a high-quality brand name Mud-Terrain tire, the Cooper Evolution M/T.
How did we end up on the Cooper Evolution M/T?
- 315/70/17 or 35×12.5×17
- Light Weight
- Mud Terrain
- M+S or 3PMSF Certification
- Great off-road performance
- Decent road manners
- Minimal road noise
In my decision of moving from 34″ to 35″ tires, my two main points to keep in mind; weight and road noise. I wanted a true 35″ Mud-Terrain that was on the lighter end of the spectrum all while having good road manners.
An added bonus would be that they were more affordable than the competition I was considering; BFG and Toyo. At the end of the day, the Cooper Evolution M/T checked all the boxes.
Why 35″ Tires?
The saying really does apply here, bigger is usually better. Not in all cases, but in the case of wheeling, the larger tires are worth the on-road sacrifice.
With an upgrade of tires – many changes occur. From the way the 4Runner accelerates and brakes to its general road manners and cornering – the new unsprung mass and newly found rotational mass takes some getting used to. Keep in mind, there is a difference between unsprung mass and rotational mass, however in this case, the two are related.
I have run everything from a 31″ to a 35″ on the 5th Gen now and can honestly say there is no better upgrade (aside from a locked differential) than a large tire. Yes – they are larger and heavier than most commonly run 33″ tires but the benefit you will see off-road is well worth the time and energy to get there.
Larger tires are the difference in making it over that one rock, or not. With more surface area and increased flotation, your efforts off-road over obstacles become easier and more comfortable.
Why Stop at 35″ Tires?
Making the move to 35″ tires is a good place for most 5th Gen 4Runners on extended travel shocks looking to take it as far as possible. If you want to run anything over 35″ tires, I recommend a long-travel suspension. There are guys out there running 36″ and 37″ tires on IFS but with that, comes long-travel suspension kits.
If I were to consider larger than 35″ tires, I would look at the Marlin Crawler RCLT (Rock Crawling Long Travel). That is about a strong as you can get for a long travel kit while keeping IFS intact.
Going with 35″ tires is actually pretty easy in the grand scheme of the build. Yes, you need to make many modifications in order for them to fit, and on top of that, you should regear your truck. But at the end of the day, it’s worth every second and penny once you get to the trail.
A fellow author on the blog, Max Sheehan has written a few overviews of their products. First their Discoverer AT3 XLT™ (a true all-terrain yet highly on-road focused) along with their Discoverer S/T MAXX™ (built for heavy off-road use with the road in mind).
After reading through multiple detailed first-hand experiences – I was sold on Cooper. Max is not the only one who runs Cooper. Many other guys have written articles on Cooper Tires here.
Just use the search bar on the website and type in “cooper” to see more. That should take you here.
KM3 Vs. Open Country Vs. Cooper Evolution M/T
I looked at the Toyo MTs along with the BFG KM3s but heard from guys personally that both can be quite loud. The BFG KM3s have great reviews all the way around but are more expensive and heavier than the Cooper Evolution M/T.
They are both pretty close when it comes to a well-designed, aggressive Mud-Terrain with good road manners but Cooper flat out wins on weight, tread depth, and price.
The Cooper Evolution M/T sits at almost $50-$75/tire less than the KM3 per tire. For weight, the Cooper Evolution MT comes in at over 10lbs less per than the KM3 and the Toyo Open County MT. That’s a total of almost 40lbs in weight reduction, which when thrown into a rotational mass formula will equate to much more.
To me, it’s almost a no-brainer to make the move on Coopers over BFG or Toyo. They are lighter, more affordable, have more aggressive shoulders, a deeper tread depth, and backed by a brand name that owns Dick Cepek and Mickey Thompson; two of the most trusted off-road tire brands in the industry.
To top all of it off, most reviews claimed they were very quiet for an MT.
Why Cooper Evolution M/T?
This is what the Cooper tire performance ratings are for this tire (out of 10 – with 10 being the best).
- Dry Performance: 6
- Wet Performance: 6
- Tread Wear: 4
- Quiet Ride: 3
- Handling: 5
- Off-Road: 6
- Price: Check Price
Cooper is being really modest here because most of these numbers should reflect higher ratings to me. To start, the off-road, dry, and wet performance should all be at least a point higher and the quiet ride should be at least 3 points higher.
Keep in mind this is an initial impression review – not a 5k or 10k mile review so that quiet ride number may go back down but for now, it gets a 6 in my book. This was one of my most important deciding factors on an MT so I am stoked that this is such a mild MT on-road while being super capable off-road.
Dry Performance / Quiet Ride / On-Road
Impressive to say the least.
The on-road performance during dry conditions has been impressive so far. When fully aired up (37 psi) from the tire shop, these EVO MTs are very quiet, almost whisper quiet. However, with that much pressure in a set of MTs, you will see a bit of steering wheel shake at speeds of 50-70. In order to find my happy medium, I let about 4 psi out of each tire. The noise level went up a bit but the steering wheel shake stopped completely.
When aired to 34 psi, you have less noise than the STT Pro which I have heard on other trucks from inside the cabin. And, the STT Pro is not a loud tire, I am just comparing something similar. I am actually looking at running the STT Pro on Jade (our 2016 TEP) in order to compare the tires back to back.
On the highway at 50-70, these EVO MTs are really well mannered in terms of noise. Once the psi is dropped a bit, they don’t sound like your traditional mud-terrain at all.
On-road and around town, these tires are great. They are very mellow and offer a very comfortable ride.
You will feel the sluggishness off the line if you are not geared down to a lower gear ratio. I will be going with 4.88s from Nitro here soon and that should help get us back to that “factory feeling” of power.
General Off-Road Performance
- Earth Diggers: Large lugs (tread blocks) at the edge of the tire with the alternating scoops at every other tread block. These are massive lugs with a reinforced rubber compound that is designed to grip and claw at whatever terrain you are on.
- Mud Slingers: Massive grooves in between the large earth diggers lugs. This tread pattern is designed to sling mud, sand, or snow from in between the lugs in order to give you a fresh contact point. Be careful because these mud slingers will sling/throw rocks and mud all over.
- Trail Grip Sidewall: When aired down at low psi and or rock crawling, this sidewall helps keep good traction through sand, snow, rock, and loose gravel.
- Stone Ejectors: Little grooves in between the lugs that help prevent rocks from getting stuck in between the lugs. Be careful once you get back on the road. If you fail to remove the rocks that did get stuck, they can come out fast.
From what these tires have seen so far, they have done very well. I have put them through the last of the winter season, so everything from melting snow runoff and mild rain to severe storms. The EVO MT has well defined siping in the lugs to improve wet and slick road traction. They have performed as expected on steep downgrades when braking hard.
Although, I am not a huge fan of the mud, sometimes you have to go through it. And when push comes to shove, these EVO MTs will perform. We put them through a day of mud and boy do these tires have some serious traction, it’s impressive really. But, you would expect nothing less from true mud-terrain tires.
Aired way down to a 12-14 psi, the floatation on these tires is unbelievable. We were driving through 1.5′ – 2′ drifts keeping up with SAS built 1st gens and JKs on 37s. Literally, I have never felt more capable and confident in my truck until now. Especially in terms of keeping up with the big boys. We pushed through everything from fresh powder to tight-packed snowbanks, to drifts and slushy patches. This tread pattern kicks ass in the snow, especially deep drifts, powder, and making fresh lines.
It’s also a studdable tire so if you are in a climate calling for studs, this is a great option for you. Growing up in Quincy, CA – all of my parent’s trucks had studded tires. They make a huge difference, especially when you’re hitting steep grades and shaded portions of the road where ice freezes corner-patches.
All in all I would give this tire an A+ or 10/10 in the snow category for a mud terrain.
Most mud terrains are not typically great in the snow, they tend to fill up with snow instead of ejecting it. With that said, the Cooper Evo MTs still threw snow left and right. Maybe it’s their “stone ejector” or “mud slinger” design. Whatever it is, the EVO MT does quite well when it comes to self-cleaning lugs in the snow.
Crawling up sections of rocks has never been easier. The EVO MTs are true rock tires. They crawl, claw and grip at rocks with ease. This section was fun. I maybe did crawled up this 4-5 times.
What I was unable to do with a set of All Terrains, I am now able to do with these Evolution Mud Terrains and likely so much more. Being able to air down to a lower psi while increasing my approach angle has given me more confidence to crawl through challenging sections.
I can’t wait for this summer and crawling through sections I was never able to before.
In the grand scheme of 35″ tires, the Cooper Evolution MTs are competitively priced. When you look at Cooper in general, they own some of the most dependable tires in the game. From all-terrains to mud-terrains, Cooper is quickly becoming one of the more popular brands that guys are running.
Again, the Cooper Evolution M/T sits at almost $50-$75/tire less than the KM3 per tire.
- Price: Check Price
If you have any questions, let me know.
Hey man, wondering if you ever got above 5k miles with these? It so, did they get significantly louder later in life? Any issues with balancing or vibration at interstate speeds? Thanks!
I’m currently in a Jeep and your review was pretty comprehensive in helping get me interested in these tires.
I’m debating between the Cooper STT Pro and these Evo M/T’s (The STT’s are a bit more coin), but was wondering if you had any experience with the STT Pro’s to offer as to whether they are worth the increase in price. I know they have 3 ply sidewalls versus the 2 ply on the Evo’s and they also have the rim guard. I’m down here in the thick, clay-like mud of the south, so clearing is important. But, like you, I do a lot of road miles on my rig as well and am just as concerned about onroad manners. It’s a Jeep, so it’s already noisy, so I won’t worry about tire noise!
But I’d appreciate any other inputs you may have or if you have any reason why you’d pick the STT Pro over the Evo M/T (or vice versa).
I appreciate your time!
I had stt pros on my Tacoma and to say the least I wouldn’t ever consider any other mt tire
There was an updated article just released on the STT Vs. EVO MT. https://trail4runner.com/2021/04/02/cooper-stt-pro-vs-cooper-evolution-mt/
What rims are those and how much is your offset? Are you using spacer?
Fuel Anza -6mm with 1.25″ spacer (31.75mm).
Hey Brenan, now that you’ve put some miles on these how is the road noise? Has it gotten any louder since new?
Kevin, yo man sorry for the late reply here. The road noise hasn’t been bad at all. Still very mellow for an M/T. I put about 5000 miles on them and started running the STT Pros in parallel to the EVO M/Ts. It’s hard not to love the EVOs, they are so well manned on road for an M/T it’s kind of bizzare. They sound better than the TOYO AT2 I was running before… even after the 5K miles I put on them.
i ended up picking up these tires in 285/70/17 and cannot be happier with my decision. In terms of looks, they completely change the look of my 4Runner. The aggressive tread and bigger tire size fills out the wheel well perfectly. In terms of performance, so far they have done very well on road and off road. On road, they are definitely louder than stock tires but that’s a given with MTs. They handle just as well as a HT tire with just a little hum to them. Off road, I’ve only managed to try them out on rocky terrain with some very mid rock crawling but they did great. For one obstacle I wasn’t able to get over in my stock tires, these tires gripped well and got me over every obstacle so far.
Any update on these tires? I’m looking to put 285/70/17s on mine.
Ken, not sure what your main concerns are when buying tires but they may fall in line with most. With well over 3000 miles on them, the noise-level on road has been incredibly mellow. At 3000 miles, they are more mellow than the brand new STT Pros I jut put on my second 4Runner. They are beyond well-manned and have proved that throughout their short life-cycle so far. The dry rocky trail off-road performance has been nothing short of outstanding. I have not had too much time with them in the mud or heavy snow off-road. I will say one downside is that they are starting to wear much faster than say, my Toyo AT2s for example. But, that is to be expected with a softer rubber compound found within an MT. It’s still early. At around 5-10K miles I will drop a detailed review.
I didn’t understand id this tires are better than the stt pro. The stats on the cooper website is definitely showing the stt pro is better at everything
There is no “better” just “different”. Different applications call for different types of tires. Depending on the terrain you are on will depend on the type of tire you need. We are going to review the STT Pro soon enough and at that point determine the differences. From there, you can make your choice on what is better for you personally.
Brenan, how is fuel mileage affected running these vs say the Toyo AT3? And what is the expected lifespan of the tread? It looks like Cooper doesn’t say anything about the longevity of these tires.
Dave, still early to tell. I have about 3000 miles on the tires and few trips out. The mileage has been affected for sure, because I jumped up to 35X12.5 from the Toyos at 285/75. They seem to be on the softer side of many rubber compounds I have run in the past. I feel like they will wear faster than the Toyos AT3s due to the compound being softer. How much faster? I would say much faster because they are an MT not an AT. Most MTs are going to have a softer compound over an AT. And when specifically looking at the AT3s, those have a very firm compound, and have been known to last a very long time! Upwards of 50K+ easily on the Toyo AT3s. A fair comparison would be the EVO MT Vs. Toyo MT but I can’t speak on those because I haven’t run them yet. In any case, I am very happy so far. They have done great both on road and off-road, a full follow up is coming soon.
Have you ran there STT Pro? Trying to get an idea of road noise between The Pro and these Evolution MT. Thanks!
No I have not. I am actually considering their STT Pro for our other 4Runner right now. Looking at 295/70R17s. Really want to run those! I will keep this post updated if and when we decide to move forward.
I’m debating between these two tires and Ridge Grapplers. Have KO2 in 285/70/17 and want something more aggressive. Would really like to go bigger, but don’t want to cut. I have an icon stage 2 with a BMC and Spidertrax spacers, but still told I’ll have to cut to go to 295. Sucks!!
Yeah, the jump from 285s to 295s is a way bigger difference in terms of cutting from 275s to 285s. When you go from 275s to 285s are somewhat minimal. But with 285s to 295s you start getting into the pinch seam, lower pinch welds, and much deeper into the plastics and body. It’s not hard at all, just permanent fender well sheet metal changes.
Top notch review!!
I have run the Cooper ST series for about 12 years now in my ’99 Tahoe. While in the military I was on a mud team and I ran Cooper STs to start with. Not only did I get a true 45k miles out of a set, but I was the one who got called when others got stuck. Including a Wrangler with 37s.
My next 3 sets were the ST Maxx. With an even better performance on and off road. Road noise was bare minimal even at 20k miles and proper rotation. I was tight for cash and the big box brand was running a special on GY Wranglers…I’ll never own another set again!
Living in Craig Colorado and just purchasing a Ram Rebel, I want to explore but I currently have a set of Wranglers… Sad panda. I may be purchasing a set of Evo MTs based off this review alone. So thank you for doing a solid review and multi brand comparison.
Great recommendation on the Cooper M/T tires! Love them!!! 285/70/17 spare even fits.
Jakob, I’m thinking of running the same. Did you need spacers to avoid rubbing? I’ve got a Icon 2 lift so I wouldn’t think so but was curious of your experience
Great review on the cooper EVOS, I’m running the STT PROS now and love them. The evos seem like a newer version of the STT PROS. I have to pick your Brain on how you got 35s to fit so perfectly. Because I know you run trails as do I I want to go up from my current 285/70/17 to 35s, any advice or pointers will be welcomed. 👍
Miguel – yeah we have an article coming up soon on how to fit 35″ tires on the 4Runner. I have everything pretty close to finished. It should be coming out soon.
AWESOME, looking forward to it especially from you, I’ve seen lots of ppl fit 35s but I know you do trails with your rig thus my inquiry to your setup.. thanks again Brenan for all your work to our 5th gen community
How do they compare with performance and cost of Milestar Patigonia M/T of same size?
Not sure, no experience with that tire directly but I have seen them on a 3rd Gen on wet solid muddy rock – wet muddy large boulder section. They did OK, but nothing that I was overly impressed with. Not sure if the Coopers in that same situation would have out-performed them or not.
These tires are LEGIT. My boyfriend had me drive his truck in the snow and these tires gave me the confidence to do it. We were navigating through some pretty tricky snow banks and he had to spot me. These tires made me feel like I could do it. I’m not the kind of person that usually even knows what tires are what but they seriously made a difference in what could have been a sticky situation.
Did you have to cut fender app spacers etc when using this size tire?
Mike – not sure what you mean by “fender app” but yeah, you need to make some cuts on many areas of the fender well to fit 35s on the 4Runner. We should have an article coming soon.
Love the look and been following for awhile now. So what mods have you done to actually get the 35” tires to fit? Like lift, cuts etc…
Brett – A few things have helped; remove most of the fender liner plastics (if not all), relocating pinch welds, beating back pinch seams and the firewall, cutting new lines in the front bumper, body mount chop, and the fiberglass fenders. You don’t “need” to do all of that though. You can run the factory fenders with some fender plastics, and still run 35s, you just might not have as much up-travel. We have an article coming out on “fitting 35 tires” soon. You have a few options with 35s. You can design and build your truck for the street, forest service roads, moderate trails, the rubicon, racing through the desert, etc. Each of these applications has a theoretical preferred up and down travel scenario so the mods needed should be based on your exact needs or intended use-case. A moderate rock-crawling build like ours is going to be different than a Prerunner 4Runner Baja style build at speed. Baja style Prerunners typically want more uptravel in order to soak “up” the whoops they are hitting at high speeds, while moderate rock-crawling builds may want more down travel as the truck moves much slower down ledges and descents in order to gain a contact point sooner before bottoming out or becoming high-centered. This is all very subjective though. All of this has a pretty big role in how far you cut and why. That may have been too much but hope that helps.
Thanks for the info. I can’t wait for that article and future articles. Keep up the amazing work!
Good stuff!! Follow you on ig. Am in the market for tires as of today due to cupping on my nitto m/t. Cooper was my next move! Solid review!
Mike, Thanks man. I am stoked to see how far we take these Coopers. We will have a 5000(ish) review coming up here soon. We need to get some miles on these MTs but I am confident that Cooper will pan out to be a great move.
Been lurking on this website for awhile. Finally found a good deal on a used Inferno TRD Pro a few weeks ago and pulled the trigger. This article, like many others I’ve read on this site, have been invaluable for me getting through the learning curve and answering a lot of basic questions. When the Nitto G2s are done, I like the idea of swapping out to these. With the factory lift on the TRD Pro, do you think 285/70/17 would work without BMC?
Again, great content, Brenan.
Adam, I’m running 285/70-17 Nitto Ridge Grapplers on my ’18 Pro, on a set of 8.5″ wheels with zero offset.
Everything depends on your wheel offset, but I think you may have a hard time unless you go with some aftermarket upper control arms, that allow for more caster (which pushes the wheels toward the bumper, and away from the body mount).
I’m running the front half of the Toytec Pro lift kit (thicker bottom spring perch and 1/2″ spacer on top of the strut), along with Eibach T13 +1.5″ rear springs from Wheeler’s Off Road. Very happy with that combo, and coupled with some Dirt King tubular control arms, I get 4+ degrees of caster, no rub, and no BMC is required.
Copy that. Thanks for the information, Eric!