Review: Toyo Open Country M/T Tires

Photo By: Chris Bradley

Quick Take: Toyo’s Open Country M/T mud terrain tires offer excellent off-road performance, impressive durability, and surprising on-road manners for a mud terrain. If you are a mud terrain devotee or are looking for more off-road tire performance than an all-terrain tire, these are worth checking out.

There are a lot of good reasons to run an all-terrain tire for overlanding, especially in the areas I tend to travel, which is primarily the American Southwest. They tend to have better on-road performance, are generally quieter, often wear more slowly, and arguably, are less destructive of the trail. These are all great arguments…that I completely ignore. I’m unapologetically a mud terrain guy. I’ve been running MTs from my earliest days off-roading, and they’ve always served me well, getting me through all manner of rough, technical terrain over the years, and I don’t see a change on the horizon anytime soon.

Photo by Chris Bradley

What has recently changed is the particular mud terrain I’m running on my 4th gen 4Runner. I have gone through a number of different sizes and tread variations over the years and settled on a particular size, brand, and model that fit my setup (nearly) perfectly. The last three sets of tires I’ve owned have been that setup, and they’ve been my go-to for the last 120,000 miles or so. To horribly misappropriate a quote from Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club protagonist, I knew that no matter what else happened, at least I had that figured out. Until I didn’t.

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As set four was approaching, I realized that said company had discontinued the tire and decided not to offer its successor in my beloved 255/80/17 size. I had no interest in going with a smaller tire size, or going back to a wider tire that either rubber on my aftermarket UCA’s or required a different offset; I had my setup dialed in.

After talking to knowledgeable friends, reading a litany of tire reviews, watching a few too many YouTube videos about tires, and pestering the manager at the tire store up the road, I had a short list of contenders but no decision in sight. My decision came from an unlikely source, at least for an overlander – rock racing. My brother-in-law had been competing in the Ultra4 4800 class for a number of years and was infamous, at least in his family, for three things while racing: aggressive driving, breaking expensive buggy parts, and shredding tires. At one point, he was going through a set of comp tires every race, with five or six races a season. One day, while helping him swap out a transfer case in preparation for KOH, I noticed he had a new set of tires on his rig – Toyo Open Country M/Ts. Curious why he was now racing with non-comp tires, and his answer was simple, “I’m not destroying these every race.”

Overlanding Performance

Rock racing is about as far from overlanding as you can get, but fundamentally, what my brother-in-law was looking for – durability and great traction is what I’m looking for in an overlanding tire, and that is what got me here. So the question is, how have they performed for overlanding?

General Traction

The unique feature of the Open Country M/Ts is their hook-shaped tread blocks in the center of the pattern. I have no idea to what degree this particular shape made a difference to traction, but the tires’ performance for me in the typical sand and rock terrain I tend to encounter on the trail was excellent. There were several times I expected to get a little loss of traction in a particular spot on the trail, and I simply didn’t. In fact, over the course of several trips with these tires, I only remember being stymied once, and it was due to picking a bad line and mismanaging the throttle. Of course, traction is more than simply a function of tire performance; there are a lot of variables at play, but it does seem that this tire has a little bit of special mojo to it, at least for my vehicle with my setup and my driving style.

Soft Sand

A skinny mud terrain isn’t the ideal tire for deep, soft sand – it tends to dig rather than float. Aired down to about 14 psi, the tires did a laudable job at propelling me across this type of terrain for a mud terrain. In fact, it seemed to perform a little better than what I had been used to with my previous tire. The one thing I did notice in this terrain was that I got a bit more understeer at higher speeds than I was used to – there was a slight bit more lateral movement than usual. This is of very little practical consequence, and it may have been due to some other factor, like recent tweaks to my suspension, but it was something I noted.

Durability

My one concern when switching to these tires was the durability of the tread blocks. The tread pattern has blocks that taper to narrower sections and the aforementioned hooks are thinner still. Combined with the siping, I was a little worried that I’d get a lot of tread deterioration at these smaller parts of the tread blocks. To my great relief, I haven’t found a single block that has shown signs of chunking out. I’m still curious what I’ll see 20,000 miles from now, but so far I’ve been very impressed with the construction and the tread compound in particular.

Photo by Chris Bradley

On Road Performance

I was pleasantly surprised with the Open Country M/T’s on road performance. It is no secret that you give up a lot on the paved side of the performance equation going with a mud terrain. They’ve been surprisingly easy to drive on the road, have been quieter than their outgoing predecessors, and have made for a pretty comfortable ride for a mud terrain. Where they have most impressed me on the road is their traction on wet pavement. I’ve gotten used to a little bit of wheel slip when accelerating from a stop on wet pavement over the years. This is one of those tradeoffs you get used to with a mud terrain.

The local car wash exits onto a pretty steep uphill grade that merges with a busy, fast-moving boulevard. The pavement is always wet (and perhaps a little soapy). For years, every time I’d leave the car wash, I’d get a little tire spin, and my traction control would engage as I tried to make this turn. Whether it is the tread compound, the tread pattern, or the liberal siping on this tire, I’ve never gotten the familiar tire spin there. While I will continue to exercise an additional level of caution driving mud terrains in the rain, it’s been a great relief to find a tire that performs better on wet pavement than I had experienced previously.

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Toyo Open Country MT

Toyo Open Country MT

Takeaways

Thus far, I’ve been very happy with the Open Country M/Ts. They’ve performed very well in a wide range of terrain, the treads have held together impressively well, and for a mud tire, they have had great on-road handling, especially on wet pavement. If you are an MT devotee, you should look long and hard at these the next time you are due for a new set of tires. Until someone talks me out of running mud terrains, I’ll likely be running these.


What to know:

Toyo Open Country MT – Tested in 255/80/17
  • Warranty: 5 years (limited)
  • Weight (as tested): 61 lbs.
  • Price (as tested): $357
  • Tread Depth: 18.3/32

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