Thinking about new tires for your rig? Whatever you do, don’t go looking for advice in a car or truck forum. Seriously. Step away from the forum, sir or ma’am. Trust me, I’ve been there myself, and if you think American politics are fractious, you haven’t seen anything. Forums are swamps of misinformation, fanboyism, and unfulfilled masculinity seeking affirmation via irrationally large tires and treads. You’re likely to come away disgusted at the open misogyny and, more relevant to this story, confused as hell about tires.
Instead, here are a few broad rules of thumb. Stock tires on almost any SUV or truck will get you almost anywhere you want to go. Airing down should get the rest of the way. All terrain tires are great for almost anything. And, as my friend and colleague Scott Brady and his buddy Matt Swartz half-joked on an Overland Journal podcast dedicated to tires, whatever size you think you want, get the next size down.
In the past five years, I’ve owned four vehicles (I know), each with different treads. My first generation Sequoia had Cooper Discoverer AT/3s; after 18 years and with my kids grown, I sold it for a third generation 4Runner, which had BF Goodrich All Terrain KO2s.
The underpowered 4Runner lasted a year and then I debated for a long time between the Lexus LX470 (i.e., Land Cruiser) and the GX470. I went with the 2006 LX470, which was amazing for about a month and then I couldn’t handle the size or anemic MPG. It had generico all-terrains and I lived with it for a year before deciding I’d made the wrong choice.
That led to a 2007 GX470: the Goldilocks SUV and already the best rig I’ve ever had.
The GX470 came with nearly bald original KOs, so getting new rubber was mandatory. I bought Method wheels (because vanity) and shod them with Toyo Open Country A/T IIIs, the newest version of their highly regarded all-terrain standout.
Now, unless you’re Scott Brady, it’s almost impossible to compare tires objectively. First, it’s not an objective experience. Second, who has the resources to test different tires on the same vehicle at the same time? Not this kid, and not this magazine. All of which means you have to take everything you read and hear with a grain of salt, including my experience.
Which, with the Toyos, has been fantastic. I loved the Coopers because they dramatically improved the Sequoia’s off-road capability over the pavement-oriented tires that came before. The Sequoia gets a bad rap as a soccer mom car, and yes, we hauled a lot of kids. It’s not bad off-road, though, and the Coopers made it significantly better.
The KO2s have an extremely wide following and fanbase (KBro2s?), but I found them loud and heavy-footed on pavement. Off road, yeah, great. But like most people, I spend far more time on road and I don’t see them in my future.
The Toyos matched the GX perfectly in that they’re the Goldilocks tread. They’re the quietest of all the tires I’ve used in the last five years and are pretty darn comfortable on the road (though you won’t mistake them for a street tire). MPG hasn’t taken a hit: I’m getting the EPA rated 15 MPG around town and exceeding it by 1 MPG on highway, where I get 20. (These are unflinchingly miserable metrics, and I can’t wait for an electric truck.)
Toyo introduced the second generation of Open Countrys in 2012 and spent the next eight years in R&D looking for ways to improve it. The third generation, launched in 2020, brought a lot of changes. Biggest was a new tread design, in which Toyo abandoned five lines of street-friendly lugs in favor of three lines of interlocking lugs. This makes for better off-road use, more efficient shedding of gravel, and better snow performance. The siping—lateral cuts that allow the lugs to spread slightly—was adjusted to provide better traction and wear. A new rubber compound is better for wet and dry braking.
In short, Toyo improved the Open Countrys in almost all conditions, but especially off road, while still offering a 65,000 mile warranty.
There are more than a hundred different sizes of A/T IIIs, including 28 options in my rig’s 17-inch standard. I chose to keep width the same as stock (the first number in the tire’s size designation), which is 265, but increase the aspect ratio one increment, to 70. That gets me a taller sidewall and a bit bigger tire. (My size: 265/70R17.)
Also, instead of the light truck version, I went for the lighter P-metric model. It was so tempting to go light truck for durability, but the LT designation adds six pounds to each tire, a massive percentage jump and way more rolling resistance.
Should you try the Toyos? I give them two thumbs up, and if you want to check them out there’s no risk. Toyo lets you try them for 45 days or 500 miles and if you aren’t happy you can return to the dealer and replace them or get a refund. Based on my experience, I doubt that would happen.
Most full service dealers should have or can order the Open Countrys. Cost runs around $183 per tire for the 265/70R17s, though we’ve seen them as low as $173 here.