Trail Impressions: Toyo Open Country A/T III Tires on the 5th Gen 4Runner – Design, Tread Pattern, and Initial Thoughts
Two things are predictable in the world of off-roading. One, 4Runners are a great time off the beaten path.
Two, tires will always be a point of conflict amongst enthusiasts, almost as much as personal oil choice or what’s the best trail beer! When I finally scored a set of forged TRD wheels that I have always desired, I also decided to try a new tire to go along with them.
I know from experience that a solid all-terrain tire suits my driving and adventure style. In addition, my other main requirements were the 3PMSF (“snowflake”) rating for winter use here in the Pacific Northwest, an aggressive sidewall pattern and something available in a 255/80R17 size.
It didn’t take long to realize that the Toyo Open Country A/T III fit my requirements perfectly.
Find It Online
Toyo Open Country A/T III’s:
Toyo Tires have been making tires for more than 70 years; 50 of which were here in the U.S.A. with their American division. They developed the Open Country line of tires that cater to those who spend more time on dirt than the rest with a range that is just as wide as the name would imply.
The A/T III falls in the middle of the group, with a commercial-grade traction tire on one side and a capable (and heavy-duty) mud terrain on the other. It takes qualities from both ends of the spectrum to create what has been a very capable all-terrain tire.
Made in and shipped across the U.S.A. from their plant in Georgia, these particular Toyos showed up to my shop here in Central Oregon. Right off the truck, their size took me by surprise. These are a 255/80R17 sized tire, stacking up at just over 33 inches tall and 10.5 skinny inches wide.
My co-worker audibly said “those are for your 4Runner?!” all whilst chuckling to himself. Yes, they are skinny, but there’s a good reason for that which I’ll dive into more in a different article. But in a world of builds that are obsessed with going taller and wider, I am going drastically average, which means that the tires I run need to be that much better to keep up with the pack.
Toyo Open Country A/T III Vs. Cooper Discoverer AT3 XLT
(Left: 255/80R17 Toyo Open Country A/T III | Right: 285/70R17 Cooper Discoverer AT3 XLT)
Mounted to my new TRD forged wheels, the Toyos sit taller and narrower than the Coopers I pulled off. You’ll see side-by-side how the two compare above and below. To put this to bed early, I loved my Coopers and they never let me down. I threw a lot at them, and they always rolled away smiling.
But things change, and they no longer suited my needs here in Central Oregon as our mountain passes require a 3PMSF tire during the winter, which the Coopers I had are not rated for. This downfall gives way to a great opportunity to try a new tire to see how the two stack up.
I won’t be comparing the two here in this article, but I will say that the design and features of these tires put them in the same category as each other. That’s a plus for me as they land right in my preference zone.
A Durable Rubber Compound
Geared towards finding a balance between great traction and good wear characteristics, this compound shines with mixed use and does well in adverse conditions. It’s tough enough to withstand common chipping and tearing, a big plus for those of us putting miles on gravel and dirt surfaces. Additionally, the choice in rubber attributes to the amount of road noise, on-road performance, and the overall “feel” of the tire.
Being a 3PMSF rated tire, these will do well in colder mountain conditions where roads will vary from dry to slush to snow. The rubber compound and additional siping helped achieve this rating and living in an area known for rapidly changing road conditions, I am very excited to try these out when things get gnarly!
Aggressive Tread Pattern (for an all-terrain)
The aggressive sidewall and chunky main tread will give these tires a nice edge off-road by providing a good amount of traction opportunity and protection while on the most technical trails. The staggered shoulder lugs claw for grip in loose terrain and pair well with the sidewall pattern.
Sure, they’ll likely fall short of a mud terrain when things get slick and sticky, but I won’t expect that sort of performance in conditions like that from these or any all-terrain tire.
1,800 Mile Thoughts
I have had these tires installed on the 4Runner for coming up on 2,000 miles now, and I have some initial thoughts on their performance thus-far. Right off the bat, the weight reduction over the 285s I had previously made these tires feel… sporty. Anything that makes the 4Runner feel sporty gets an immediate bump up on my list!
On-road the Toyos gave off a bit more road noise than I was expecting given the tire size and design. But overall, they stayed plenty quiet and never felt intrusive in the cab.
They track well on the road with a very confident road feel in the corners and under braking. This is considering I typically keep them inflated to around 40psi on the pavement to handle the overall weight of the 4Runner (6,200lbs).
While road performance isn’t always the most fun portion of a review for an off-road geared vehicle, it’s arguably one of the most important aspects of the review! Sometimes with the change in tire brand, type, or size there is a “learning curve” where the driver needs to adjust driving habits to match the new tire set.
Spending long miles on the road with these tires, I have gotten comfortable with them in a hurry. I have had no complaints with their handling on pavement; a great sigh of relief because ultimately, I spend a lot of time on the road traveling to fun places!
Off-road I have had a few distinct opportunities to test these tires by exploring Central Oregon this summer. Bombing around forest service roads, these tires perform very well. Stability at speed on loose surfaces is enough to make me confident coming around corners a little spicy, although most of my driving is at a slower pace.
They do pick up more small rocks than I was expecting compared to my last all-terrain tires, but it’s nothing that the flaps can’t handle.
In technical terrain, these tires can handle some pretty tough conditions without skipping a beat. I took them on a technical trail here outside of Bend, OR that is mainly comprised of volcanic rock. For those unfamiliar, volcanic rock is very rough on tires with its coarse texture and jagged edges.
In these conditions, I try to choose lines that are going to have the least impact on my tires. With so many rocks, the tires are ultimately going to be tested. Aired down to about 18psi, the Toyos handled the terrain very well.
They conformed to the rocks and provided more than enough traction during our day out. I attribute the tough sidewalls in protecting the vulnerable portions of the tire, and after inspection, they faired well with only minor amounts of scuffing and abrasion on the lugs. No cuts or gashes were seen on the inside or outside of the tires.
As I pushed the 4Runner up and over obstacles, the main portion of the tread suffered a few chipped lugs from some of the tougher sections of trail where there was some limited wheel spin. It’s not surprising to see this sort of wear on terrain like this. All in all, I think they hold up well in this regard compared to other tires in the category.
I have had some brief run-ins with the sticky stuff as it has just started to change seasons here. The tread design and narrower overall width allows the tire to ‘bite’ in muddy terrain. The Open Country A/T III’s are all-terrains at heart, and with that in mind, there is only so much one can expect. So far, they have shown they can get the job done without issue.
Aired down, the sidewall is forgiving and allows for a lot of additional traction and compliance on the trail. They may not look like much at highway pressure, but take ‘em down to 18 pounds and they float!
A good tire asks for adventure. A good tire inspires confidence. A good tire takes a “well I probably shouldn’t” and turns it into a “yeah, I got this”! It’s the perfect match for a well sorted vehicle, and can make or break a trip. In the time the 4Runner has been paired with this set from Toyo, they have earned their keep. They’ve added to the 4Runner and more importantly, they haven’t taken anything from it. I have enjoyed them so much so that I bought another set for my full-sized GMC heading into the winter months.
I am looking forward to the miles ahead on these Open Country A/T III’s, and am happy to report that I’ll be back with a Trail Tested article to tell you all about how they do in the long haul. In the meantime, I will be putting on the miles and pushing them through some amazing terrain.
What do you want to know about these Toyos? Where do you want to see them go?