Tire Test: Mickey Thompson ATZ
M/T a “hybrid” tire to the jobsite in the ATZ; quiet ride and rugged performance
There comes a time in every contractor’s life when the baby they drive to work every day needs new shoes.
Pickups driven by those who work outdoors, and the normal abuse from towing and driving over all types of terrain, are hard on tires. And as the tread wears out, traction and control are slowly eroded as well.
One replacement tire to consider is the Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ. It’s an interesting all-terrain LT tire design – M/T calls it a “hybrid” – that works well on heavier pickups, especially diesel 4x4s. (Mickey Thompson Tire is a subsidiary of Cooper Tire & Rubber.)
The 3-ply radial ATZ has beefy outer tread blocks with deep grooves akin to a mud tire, but sports more tread blocks like an all-terrain. It also features siped tread lugs, which provide increased traction on smooth, wet and slippery surfaces like better all-terrains. The tire’s footprint is wider than most in the same size, too.
We tested a set of LT305/65R17 ATZs on a 2004 Dodge Ram 2500HD Crew Cab 4×4. The BFG KM2s under the Dodge were very near the end of their life with a little more than 35,000 miles on them.
We did a pre-swap ride and checked sound levels to get a good base feel. The BFGs registered 67dBA at 45mph coast-down on our paved test loop and 73dBA at 70mph cruising on the interstate. Pretty typical numbers from worn out, aggressive mud tires.
The ATZs are 4dBA quieter tire than those they replaced. Four decibels may not seem like much, but when you are in the cab it’s a big difference. In-cab conversations can be held in a normal tone and Bluetooth calls easily understood on both ends.
Steering is quicker in responding at slower speeds on pavement, and ride quality is greatly improved as well even though the old tires were “D”-rated and the new ones “E.”
The ATZs are forgiving over road irregularities, expansion joints, potholes and mud holes despite its 9-inch-plus footprint.
Tire pressure is a key, to getting the best ride on pavement and optimum off-pavement performance. It’s easy to over-inflate.
Unless you are towing, best to keep air pressures in the 30- to 35-psi range for most heavy-duty pickup apps. Tire pressures dropped into the mid-20s off-pavement when the driving surface is soft gravel, rock road base and dirt works best for both ride and traction.
The ATZ’s wide footprint and hybrid tread design works quite well in loose dirt, grass, sand and gravel. It also has very good traction over larger aggregate.
The ATZs are not happy campers in heavier, clay-based mud conditions, which is to be expected by the all-terrain tread pattern. You have to keep the tires spun up to clean the treads in sticky stuff.
As for tire life, I expect ATZs to last 40,000 to 50,000 miles if they are rotated regularly and the pressures kept in check. Over all, these would be good fit for a workingman’s pickup in need of new treads.
MICKEY THOMPSON ATZ
Test vehicle: 2004 Dodge Ram 2500HD CC 4X4
Tire size: LT305/65R17 (33X12.50R17)
PSI as tested: 35
Noise: 70dBA @ 70mph
Mud traction: 7/10
Dry traction: 9/10