Yokohama Geolandar A/T G015 Tire Review

01
of 09

Think about your tires...

Yokohama Geolandar
Jeeps on the trail in Moab. Photo (c) Yokohama

How often do you think about your tires? Probably not that often. Which, if you drive a fair amount, is really not often enough. Tires are the single most important part of the car in terms of what it feels like to drive your car. Tires are your car’s fingertips – the part that actually touches the road. They’re the surface that grips the road, which provides the friction that allows for movement.  Yokohama wants you think about tires – and they’d like you to consider their new Geolandar A/T GO15 (“A/T” for “All Terrain”). 

02
of 09

Vulcanization and the big names in tires

Yokohama Geolandar Moab
Yokohama in Moab. Photo (c) Tod Mesirow

It wasn’t that long ago that tires didn’t even exist. The settlers who made their way across the American continent used wooden wheels on their wagons. But even before the West was completely settled Charles Goodyear figured out how to make raw rubber from trees useful. In 1844 he received a patent for the process of vulcanization, which made rubber tougher by adding heat and sulfur to the raw rubber from trees.  The process created a rubber that was the right consistency for use as tires. In the early days they were solid rubber. Not quite as hard as a rock, but not soft either.  It took another 44 years before Dr. John Boyd Dunlop, veterinarian, made pneumatic tires for his son’s bicycle – changing the tire world forever.  With the Michelin Brothers’ pneumatic tires on a car called L’Eclair in the 1895 Paris to Bordeaux to Paris race, the first automobile race in history, modern tires began to take off. 

03
of 09

Rubber from Mesoamerica

Yokohama Geolandar Moab
Yokohama in Moab. Photo (c) Tod Mesirow

Rubber had been around for a while, however, and used in a variety of ways.  Some 3,500 years ago natural rubber was used by prehistoric peoples in Mesoamerica – modern day Mexico. They made solid rubber balls, hollow rubber figures, and wide rubber bands to attach stone ax heads to handles. Their natural tree rubber was altered chemically by mixing it with the juice from morning glory vines to create a usable material. 

04
of 09

Moab

Yokohama Geolandar
Jeeps on the trail in Moab. Photo (c) Yokohama

Yokohama Tire brought a bunch of us to what felt like prehistoric territory in the wilds of southern Utah to put their latest tire through its paces on the rocks of Moab. A decade after they introduced their Geolandar A/T, Yokohama has a brand new version hitting stores in April.

05
of 09

Dirt, mud and rocks

Yokohama Geolandar Moab
Yokohama in Moab. Photo (c) Tod Mesirow

As a tire manufacturer that sells to consumers looking to replace the tires that came with their car, truck or SUV Yokohama is serious about serving those potential customers. They undertook a wide-ranging market survey to find out more about what their potential customers wanted, and what they knew about tires. One surprising thing: most people surveyed assumed that because they bought a truck or SUV their vehicle came with all terrain tires – suited to off road conditions like dirt, mud, and rocks. Those people were wrong.  The people at Yokohama also found that consumers wanted wet traction, mileage, and durability. They didn’t say anything about the ability to drive up a nearly vertical rock face.  Which is what we did in Moab.

06
of 09

Geolandar on a Wrangler

Yokohama Geolandar Moab
Yokohama in Moab. Photo (c) Tod Mesirow

We were treated to a half-day excursion in Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sports outfitted with the brand new Geolandar A/T GO15 tires. I’ve driven a Jeep before, but not straight up a giant smooth rock. Usually when someone tells you that you’re driving them up a wall it’s not a compliment. But in Moab, with the new Yokohama tires, I was smiling as I drove up a wall of rock. Almost straight up. And then down. Practically straight down.

07
of 09

The furthest thing from normal

Yokohama Geolandar Moab
Yokohama in Moab. Photo (c) Yokohama

There’s a moment as you approach the sheer rock face when your brain says “that’s a wall” and the thousands of hours spent driving on roads leads your brain to say “that’s not a road” but the friendly guide and expert says “go ahead” with a measured amount of patience and amusement as the front tires make contact with the rock, and propelled by a gentle bit of gas, the four-wheel drive low gear system kicks in and damn if I’m not driving up a wall of rock. How many thousands of years did that rock wait there patiently for me to show up with some new Yokohama tires so that I could drive up, on, and then down the other side of what is the furthest thing from a normal path from point A to point B?  The biggest trick about driving with these tires on these rocks is to be slow and steady.  Not really my strong suit behind the wheel. But with a bit of practice, some gentle cajoling from the guide, I manage to make my way up and down and all around the epic, spectacular terrain of Moab, Utah. Yes, you can walk, or ride a dirt bike or a motorcycle. But when you can drive in style, with confidence as the rubber grips the rock, why do anything else?

08
of 09

60 sizes of Geolandar

Yokohama Geolandar Moab
Yokohama in Moab. Photo (c) Tod Mesirow

Yokohama told us that the 60 sizes available for the Geolandar A/T GO15 fit over 11 million of the SUVs and trucks sold in the U.S. from 2010 to 2014, and that as they add sizes they’ll be available for 91% of the market.  The tires also come with the severe snow service symbol, and have either a 50k or 60k mile warranty, depending on the size. 

09
of 09

Where the roads feel odd

Yokohama Geolandar Moab
Yokohama in Moab. Photo (c) Tod Mesirow

Driving back on the roads was a similar feeling to what it’s like to put on shoes and walk after skiing all day, or ice skating for a while. It feels a bit odd, as I did finally get used to going slow and steady up and down the steep rocks of Moab. And one of the key things about all-terrain tires – road noise – was noticeably, pleasantly low. Almost non existent. It made it all the more possible to take in the peaceful surroundings of the magnificent southwest, and feel lucky not to be bouncing along in a covered wagon with old wooden wheels.  

 

Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel. For more information, see our .