Pearsall, Texas – The love affair with sport utility and crossover vehicles continues in North America. By the end of 2014, Americans had purchased just shy of a half million of them (an increase of more than 12 percent), while Canadians snatched up 15 percent more than they did the year before. The volume keeps going up across every sub category of SUVs as well. Buyers really and truly love these things.
So it’s no surprise then that the folks at Cooper Tires are looking to give the sport-ute-loving masses what they need: a new and improved tire option that delivers performance improvements and good value for money.
Bettering the outgoing Cooper CTS model in several key measures, the new Cooper Discoverer SRX is bound to impress SUV and light truck drivers, particularly if they are replacing the typical original equipment rubber on most SUVs today.
Thanks to advancements in technology, the Discoverer SRX utilizes a tread compound composition that features four times more silica than competitive, traditional SUV tires. Cooper claims this simultaneously reduces rolling resistance resulting in improved fuel efficiency, but it also improves grip, particularly in wet conditions, and reduces stopping distances. In the past, one could typically improve one of these aspects at the expense of the other, but there’s some clever science happening here.
With the SRX, the increased silica results in lower energy dissipation, yet thanks to its molecular bond to the other materials in the compound, it still facilitates increased grip.
While it may sound like all a tire company needs to do is throw some sand (which is basically what silica is) into the cooking pot, the reality is that without a perfected mix, the silica will not be dispersed properly, leading to little performance improvement, and localized heat build up in the tire, also degrading performance.
The tread width and curvature were carefully re-examined for the SRX to help further reduce rolling resistance, but also to help provide an even distribution of pressure across the tire patch, resulting in more even wear over time.
Bold marketing claims are one thing, but the folks at Cooper were willing to put the SRX up against one of the most popular Tier One competitors: the Goodyear Wrangler SR-A. This Wrangler is standard fare on the Chevrolet Tahoe full-size SUV among many other light truck and utility vehicles. I was among a small contingent of automotive and tire journalists who were invited to the impressive 1,000-acre Cooper Tire and Vehicle Test Facility in Pearsall, Texas to drive a pair of Tahoes and put the Discoverer SRX to the test.