Sailun’s latest RT tire proves its mettle both on and off-road.
In today’s constantly connected world, the need to unplug and explore nature has never been greater. In the automotive space, it explains the huge popularity in SUVs, and by extension the desire to venture off the beaten path. Today in North America, lifted Jeeps, Broncos and pickups are almost so ubiquitous, you can’t throw a rock (pun intended) without hitting one.
This popular trend has seen the likes of suspension lift kits, skid plates, off-road style shocks and particularly, tires, gain traction among consumers. For tire retailers and distributors this presents a significant opportunity and yet, with more people being cost-conscious these days due to the combination of high inflation and interest rates, the ability to offer a highly capable, quality product has arguably never been greater.
Putting it to the test
The Terramax RT from Sailun Tire is designed to fill such a niche. Yet a question that often surfaces is: Can a value-oriented tire really hold its own when push comes to shove? To find that out, Autosphere was given the opportunity to put the Terramax RT through its paces in a range of conditions and surfaces, including highway, open two-lane tarmac, gravel, and rutted roads, as well as some serious off-road trails.
The Terramax RT is an aggressive 3PMS certified tire that was designed from the outset to deliver excellent road manners without compromising off-road capability. During a product presentation, Jared Lynch, Director of Sales, Sailun Tire North America, noted that traditionally, many tires with aggressive off-road tread are excessively noisy at highway speeds, and that quiet on-road performance was an essential factor when designing the Terramax RT.
Offered in 36 different sizes, the Terramax RT can be installed on 17 through 22-inch diameter wheels and comes in 35, 36 and 37-inch floatation sizes.
To really get to grips with the full performance and livability of this tire, we had the opportunity to test a 37-inch version on a short-wheelbase two-door Jeep Wrangler with a four-inch lift.
The journey began on city streets in Las Vegas and took us onto Interstate 15 and then some aggressive rocky trails in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, as well as gravel and dirt roads that had been severely rutted due to heavy rains.
While a lifted Jeep is not designed for aggressive cornering on city streets and the open road, what did impress us was the amount of grip we experienced with the Terramax RT when negotiating turns, particularly freeway on and off-ramps.
As the Interstate gave way to two-lane blacktop and the entrance to Red Rock, the Terramax RT impressed us with its muted road noise. In fact, the most we could hear came from the aftermarket exhaust on the Jeep’s torquey 4.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine (yes, even at highway speeds).
With the sway bars disconnected, it was time to tackle some rougher terrain. Rocky Gap Road proved ideal, taking us up into the Canyon hills and down the other side. In between were sections of rough gravel, stones, big ruts and craters, as well as sharp drop offs, tight turns and dried up creek beds peppered with massive boulders.
When negotiating trails like this, it’s important to take your time and carefully look for the best path, carefully managing throttle input as well as steering and braking to traverse the terrain successfully. As far as tires are concerned, you want something with aggressive grip and enough sidewall to absorb the stresses that serious off-road driving brings. And it is here where top performing tires really come into their own, leaving would be contenders literally in the dust.
The 37-inch Terramax RTs we sampled on our Jeep, delivered strong grip on loose rocks that peppered much of the trail. Steady throttle inputs resulted in minimal slippage when negotiating inclines on the trail and when facing deep ruts, gulleys and creek bed boulders, the tires had enough flex to not only cushion the vehicle occupants effectively from the rough trail surface but provide superior grip and stability when driving at steeper angles, both longitudinally and transversely.
Under braking, there was also minimal slippage, even on loose rocky surfaces when negotiating steeper descents and sharp turns with minimal run-offs. It’s not often that you feel assured of the tires beneath you in these kinds of conditions, especially given steep drops off the edge of the trail, but the Jeep and the Terramax RTs took everything in their stride.
As the Rocky Gap Trail gave way to tarmac and then rutted gravel surfaces, we had the time to reflect more on the Terramax RT’s capability and versatility. Road noise continued to be minimal, even on rougher tarmac surfaces, while gravel road driving resulted in stability and consistent traction, despite bad ruts and small gulleys caused by heavy rain.
While serious off-road conditions can test even the most seasoned four-wheeling pilots, our experience proved that good tires make all the difference and based on our observations, Sailun looks like it has a winner on its hands with the Terramax RT. The fact that it’s offered at a value-oriented price point is likely to cement its reputation and provide retailers with a solid performer in the SUV and light truck segment.