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Nitto Terra Grappler G2 Review, by Off-Road.com
Words by Josh Burns
Photos by Scott Rousseau
Note: This is an American article; costs and miles are different in Australia.
PHOTO: We threw on a set of the new Nitto Terra Grappler G2s to test their on-road and off-road performance.
Behind the scenes in the tire market, there’s a bit of a debate right now over the classification of tires, specifically in the light truck and SUV segment. At present, most “off-road” tires, or those more aggressive than pure “road” tires, fit into one of two categories: all-terrain or mud-terrain.
These limited classifications for off-road tires can be problematic, especially with so many new products straddling the line between an A/T and a mud. Manufacturers are forced to choose which classification to assign to their tire, and they certainly want to be careful in choosing the right message: putting an aggressive all-terrain tire in the mud category might make consumers think it’s really loud on the highway; assigning an all-terrain tag on an extreme tire might diminish its off-highway capability.
So for a truck or SUV owner looking for an all-terrain tire, the process can get confusing because of the loose definition of the segment. Nitto Tire recently unveiled two new all-terrains, and much like other manufacturers they were forced to find the proper tag each both – and go figure, they’re both all-terrains. The Nitto Exo Grappler AWT is closer in line with an extreme-terrain tire, while its new Terra Grappler G2 is a more traditional multi-terrain truck and SUV tire, and it is the tire we chose for this test.
The new G2 is a true multi-purpose light truck and SUV tire that serves as an update to Nitto’s first all-terrain tire, the Terra Grappler. The first Terra Grappler marked a big leap into the truck and SUV market when it was introduced in 2001, especially when Nitto was mostly identified with the sport compact world. The G2 is geared toward the truck or SUV owner who wants capabe off-road performance but will spend a great deal of time on the highway. Because of that, Nitto looked to improve durability on the next-gen Terra Grappler by creating a new tread compound to provide versatility while improving the life of the tread itself. Nitto came up with a winning formula for the G2 and backed it with a 65,000-mile warranty for metric sizes and 50,000-mile warranty for LT-metric tires.
“The Terra Grappler G2 is not Nitto’s most aggressive all-terrain tire, and we didn’t design it to be – for that, we’d direct buyers to our Exo Grappler AWT,” said Chris Corbett, Nitto Light Truck and Motorsports Brand Manager. “The market has changed in the all-terrain category, and the classifications for an all-terrain versus a more aggressive extreme-terrain has made the traditional all-terrain description very broad. Our Terra Grappler G2 is designed to be an even longer-lasting all-terrain tire for the truck and SUV owner who wants a tire that performs extremely well both on and off-road, is quiet on the highway and comes with Nitto’s quality assurance of one of the best mileage warranties in an all-terrain offered today.”
PHOTO: Nitto’s G2 will eventually replace the original Terra Grappler. The G2 improves upon the first tire by offering full-depth siping, reinforced coupling joints and a more aggressive sidewall design (in fact, two of them – see below for more info).
To improve traction and reduce road noise, Nitto went to work on the tread design for the new G2. Full-depth siping was added on the tire, meaning the siping slits on the tread blocks run the entire depth of the tread for better traction, improved tread flex and grip, and improved appearance as the tire wears. The coupling joints also receive added reinforcement on the new G2, as this area that connects the outer tread blocks to the center blocks is now more rigid for improved overall performance. The shoulder lugs on the G2 are staggered to provide improved biting edges for off-road driving, similar to the original Terra Grappler, though the new sidewall design features a more aggressive raised pattern for improved traction over its predecessor. Nitto’s G2 spent plenty of time in the computer lab as well, as it was painstakingly analyzed to determine the ideal tread block arrangement to reduce road noise.
While there’s nothing dubious about it, Nitto did its best Batman villain impression of Two-Face with the G2 by offering two unique sidewall designs on each side of the tire. One side features a thunderbolt pattern that pays homage to the original Terra Grappler, while the other side offers a new “blade” design that runs a little farther down the sidewall. There’s no white lettering on the G2 at all, so the buyer can determine which design looks best and roll with it (pun intended). We certainly can appreciate the option to choose.
There are currently 46 sizes available for the G2 on Nitto’s website (we’re told it will eventually climb to 55), with sizes offered for 17- to 22-inch wheels to fit most trucks and SUVs. The largest G2 size offered is a 37-inch tire. Depending upon the tire size, Nitto says some G2s will offer a two-ply sidewall while others will offer three-ply construction. We wish we could provide more definitive info as to which tires the three-ply rating applies to, but Nitto just doesn't specify the particular models. Nitto does note the sidewall ratings for its LT tires though, as D-rated tires have an 8-ply strength and E-rated tires a 10-ply rating.
PHOTO: We put in a few thousand miles on the G2s, logging in plenty of miles on the highway and in the dirt.
We equipped a set of the Terra Grappler G2s on our Toyota 4Runner test vehicle, a typical all-around SUV that serves as both a family car during the week and a camping/adventure rig on the weekends. The 4Runner represents a pretty typical family SUV where the vast majority of its life is spent on the highway but it will definitely get in the dirt, so the new G2 look be a good fit - at least on paper. The Terra Grappler G2s come in a wide variety of sizes (a total of 55 eventually, but 46 at present), and we were able to find a 265/65R17 tire that fit the 17-inch stock Toyota wheels perfectly. When it came to highway driving, we ran the tires at 38 psi for everyday use (Nitto notes our tire has a max pressure rating of 50 psi), and we found this to be a good middle ground of not too stiff and not too soft. For an all-terrain tire, the G2s are really great on the highway. The tires are quiet and smooth, and honestly we couldn’t discern and notable difference between the road-focused tires we replaced with the G2s.
We’ve logged in a few thousand miles on the tires at this point, and whether driving around town or venturing on longer road trips, the G2s performed equally confident. We don’t tend to get all that much rain in Southern California, though the few rainy days we’ve had in the past few months didn’t phase the G2s. Whether pouncing through puddles on the highway or pushing through washed-out intersections, the G2s didn’t slip or slide through any driving scenario we encountered.
When it came to testing the G2s off the pavement, we drove the tires both fully aired up and aired down. At our 38 psi highway pressure, the G2s felt good on bumpy fire roads and provide the traction necessary to grip moderate inclines and declines, but when we found hard-packed dirt hills that were a little more aggressive than moderate the tires showed minor signs of struggle to grip the hill.
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PHOTO: We performed two runs on the dirt – on at 30 psi and the other at 20 psi. While aired down, we thought the off-road performance of the G2s improved as we would expect, but we did find the limits of the tire when we had trouble gaining traction on a very steep, hard-packed hill.
We pulled off the trail and aired our G2s down to 20 psi (a safe level on OE, non-beadlock wheels). Airing down off the pavement does a number of things, including softening the ride in the cabin, providing more of a tread footprint for improved traction, and the lower psi allows the tire to mold and conform to rocks and bumps as opposed to bouncing off of them. The aired-down G2s feel even better in the dirt. The softer, plusher ride is to be expected, but the lower air pressure also gives the G2’s all-terrain tread pattern just a little added bite, whether it be soft sandy corners, rock-littered fire roads or bumpy climbs and descents. We did find some limitations with the G2, however, as the tires did slip at times on a fairly aggressive hill climb with a hard-packed surface. Even aired down, the G2s didn’t quite have enough grip in 2WD to grab a hold of the tricky hill that featured a hard-packed base with a loose sandy cover (some of the toughest stuff in 2WD). That said, we were pushing the envelope a bit of a traditional all-terrain tire, so we didn’t heavily mark down the G2 for the slip, and it pretty much stays in line with a traditional all-terrain's performance.
PHOTO: Overall, we were very pleased with the on-road and off-road performance of the Terra Grappler G2. The road performance in wet and dry conditions is great, and it’s definitely a quiet ride. Although the G2s don’t have a super-aggressive tread pattern, the tires still perform confidently on moderate off-road trails.
The Final Verdict
We’ve put a few thousands miles of on-road an off-road time on the G2s, and overall we are very pleased with the tires. On the pavement, the G2s are just what we expect from a quality all-terrain – quiet and smooth. The G2s are not the most aggressive A/Ts on the market, and therefore we expect to hear hardly any road noise from the tread… and fortunately there’s very little noise from the G2s.
Off the highway, the G2s provide good all-around traction for moderate off-roading and can tackle a variety of terrain. The G2's aren't the most aggressive all-terrains out there, and that’s not a bad thing! Something more aggressive might provide improved off-road bite, but the sacrifice in road noise for the wider tread pattern would be too much of a compromise for a vehicle that spends most of its time on the highway. The G2 is perfect for trucks and SUVs that do light off-roading, such as getting to that remote hiking or mountain biking trail, or exploring during the day and finding the perfect camping spot in the forest or desert. The tire is also good for moderate off-road trails, as its air-down performance will get trucks, Jeeps and SUVs up and over most moderate obstacles.
PHOTO: The Nitto Terra Grappler G2 is what we would consider a traditional all-terrain tire - it's not the most aggressive off-road performer but it is confident on the trail and very quiet on the highway.
Finding the right tire for your rig takes some important consideration, and it takes an honest assessment of how the vehicle will be used. The G2 is a great tire for vehicles that spend a good amount of time on the road but still like to get into the dirt from time to time. With the 50K or 65K warranty to boot, the Nitto’s new Terra Grappler G2 is backed with added piece of mind that you’ll get plenty of life from the tires. The G2 offers good all-around performance and is moderately priced, so if you’re looking for a quiet all-terrain tire that can perform confidently off the highway then the G2 should be near the top of your list.
Tire Specs: Nitto Terra Grappler G2
Tire Size (as tested): 265x65R17
Sizes Currently Available: 46 (17-22 in. wheels), 55 avail. in future
Load Rating: C Load (2-ply rating)
Approved Rim Width Range: 7.5-9.5
Weight: 36 lbs.
Tread Depth (1/32”): 12.9
Overall Diameter (inflated): 30.55 in.
Overall Width (inflated): 10.71 in.
Max Load (single): 2,756 lbs.
Max Pressure: 50 PSI
Revs Per Mile: N/A
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