By Bruce W. Smith
BFGoodrich is a name most pickup owners know well, as is the T/A acronym found on the sidewalls. T/As have been around as long as BFG has been making its tires in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
But the Rugged Terrain name emblazoned on the sidewalls of the tires under our Project Bedrock GMC Sierra is new to the BFG line-up — and we got the chance to run them before they rolled into dealers nationwide in May.
The Rugged Terrain is a new twist on BFG’s venerable Rugged Trail T/A tires, which have shod many a new pickup and SUV over the years right from the factory.
“At BFGoodrich Tires, our goal is to create quality products that appeal to every kind of driver,” said Marcus Baffoe-Bonnie, country marketing manager for BFGoodrich Tires.
“The BFGoodrich Rugged Terrain T/A tire fits distinctly between the Long Trail T/A Tour tire, which is designed for pure on-road driving, and the All Terrain T/A KO tire, which can go as far off-road as you want.”
While the Long Trail T/A is very much a street tire and the KO a more aggressive all-terrain design, the tread pattern on the Rugged Terrain is a hybrid of the two, designed to provide better on-road performance in wet or dry conditions than the KO and better off-road traction than the Long Trail.
BFG claims its years of design development in the lab, on the track and off-road racing on the Rugged Trail resulted in a combination of tread design and compound development resulting in a “30-percent improvement over the Rugged Trail T/A in wet weather performance.”
Recent driving experiences behind the wheel of my own 2011 GMC Crew Cab 4×4 revealed the Rugged Terrains do take to water well, providing good traction and control during our southern thundershowers.
A lot of the tire’s gripping ability on wet pavement is the result of two large grooves that run around the tire’s circumference and the deep, curving channels that fork off them to the outer edges.
The tread design routes water out from under the tire instead of letting it build up to the point of hydroplaning. The swooping grooves give the tire’s tread pattern its distinct look.
The tires also do a very commendable job stopping. Our 60-0mph braking tests conducted with the GMC Sierra at Holiday Raceway in Woodstock, Alabama, showed the hybrid Rugged Terrains stopped our GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab in 137.5 feet — six feet quicker than the stock tires.
The new tread pattern also keeps tire noise down. The E-rated LT285R70/17s we tested are just perceptually quieter (3dB) than the P265/70R17 Goodyear Wrangler AT/S tires that came stock as part of the GMC Z-71 Off-Road package.
The 285s are also one inch taller than the stock tires, which made our speedometer 2mph slower at 65mph.
While quieter, the Rugged Terrains stiffer E-rated construction transmits expansion joints, potholes and other road irregularities more than the D-rated OEM tires they replaced.
That’s to be expected, as the stock tires are “P”-rated and the BFGs “LT,” so the BFGs have a stronger sidewall and carcass with higher trailer tow ratings and load capacity. (Those are good things in the construction and landscaping world.)
The Rugged Terrain T/As perform quite well on gravel roads and in conditions where sand and dry soils are the primary driving surface. Rocky terrain is easily navigated, too.
Mud, not so much. Even though the Rugged Terrain’s tread wraps around to the sidewall for “improved off-road traction,” the tire’s tread pattern just isn’t open or aggressive enough to clean well in mud with a heavy clay mixture.
But mud traction for the majority of those who will be looking at the Rugged Terrain T/A isn’t going to be a real concern.
Those who like the all-season/all-terrain look of BFG’s new light-truck tire are most likely looking to replace worn-out tires of similar design, not a traction or mud tire.
In that regard, the BFGoodrich Rugged Terrain T/A would be a good upgrade as it is also backed with a 50,000-mile Manufacturer’s Limited Tread Life Warranty. – Pro
Replacing worn-out tires is a great excuse to step up the appearance of any pickup, old or new. We took that opportunity to have the BFG Rugged Terrain T/As mounted on a set of Vision Wheels (visionwheels.com; 800-633-3936) 17×8.5-in. V-Tec Warlord 394s with a +12 offset.
These mat-black rims evoke the industrial look we wanted, and the machined face of the wheels give them a sporty edge that goes well with aluminum tool boxes and chrome trim found on many pickups.
The Warlords are available in 5-, 6- and 8-lug bolt patterns and 17- to 22-inch rims to fit just about any application.
Additionally, the company includes a one-year warranty for the finish.