Cooper Discoverer S/T MAXX
Cooper Discoverer S/T MAXX. Click image to enlarge
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Review and photos by Michael Schlee

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Cooper Discoverer tires

Things are busy at Cooper Tire. During my visit a few weeks ago, we were given a brief overview of some of the new projects they are currently working on, like an initiative to find new ways to take steel and steel belts out of tires, a new military vehicle with blast chimney potential, and a project to create a tire that would save three percent in overall fuel economy for a vehicle. However, to do this last one, they need to reduce rolling resistance of that tire by one-third, which is no small task.

Either way, Cooper seems committed to continual improvement and growth. They made the point more than once that they’re a growing company, not just within the United States, but also globally. Currently Cooper is the fourth largest tire company in North America and ninth largest in the world, but they are not going to sit back and rest on their laurels. As mentioned in last week’s review of the Cooper Zeon RS3-A, Cooper wants to further expand, and part of the global growth strategy includes increasing their presence in the Canadian market. This plan includes penetrating the light truck and SUV market with the help of a marketing campaign that will see Cooper Tire as the official tire of Fish’n Canada in the fall of 2012.

Cooper Discoverer A/T3
Cooper Discoverer A/T3. Click image to enlarge

Cooper is serious about their light truck tires and brought us to their test facility just outside of San Antonio, Texas to demonstrate two of their latest offerings in the Discoverer line: the Discoverer A/T3 and the Discoverer S/T MAXX. Since 1982, the name Discoverer has adorned Cooper’s light truck tire. The Discoverer line covers everything from highway tires like the Discoverer H/T to full-on mud tires like the Discoverer STT. Their all-purpose, all-terrain tire is the Discoverer A/T3 and this would be one of the tires we tested. Being that it is the all-rounder, this tire needs to be most versatile tire and has to be capable of handling highway driving as well as moderate off-roading. Cooper states that the Discoverer was designed to be stable and handle well in both dry and wet conditions, be cut and chip resistant, not retain stones in the tread, and offer ample mud traction.

Cooper Discoverer A/T3
Cooper Discoverer A/T3
Cooper Discoverer A/T3. Click image to enlarge

Cooper brought along one of its main competitors, the BFG All-Terrain T/A KO to compare to the warning lights and interesting smells.

Next up was a 30-degree wall climb. On one side was a smooth concrete ramp to simulate hell’s own boat launch, while in the middle was a concrete ramp with embedded stones in it to simulate an upward rock climb. Here again, both tires shone. The A/T3 produced a little more slip on the rock wall, but after a few upward bounces, they would regain grip and up to the top the Jeep would go. On the slick concrete pad it was possible to stop a Jeep halfway up the slope, then get back on the gas and easily climb to the top. A special bit of enjoyment at this obstacle was watching the Jeep Wrangler Unlimiteds bottom out when they would reach the top of the wall.

The rest of the trail ride included banked corners, slope hills, steep dirt hills and a drive through a rock garden; both tires handled all of this without issue. As a final demonstration, Cooper Tire’s pro-driver Ali jumped behind the wheel of a heavily modified Jeep Cherokee and demonstrated the S/T MAXX’s ability to rock crawl a specially designed section that replicates the Rubicon trail.

As I stated a bit earlier, I am a novice off-roader at best, but these tires were impressive. What’s more, the serious off-road journalists I was driving with seemed very impressed with these tires, and that is all the endorsement I need.

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