[Product Review] Cooper Tire 15,000 mile Update

Rocking 255/85R16 Cooper Discoverer S/T Maxx tires
while exploring Jefferson National Forest in central Virginia

In January of this year I got a set of Cooper® Discoverer S/T Maxx™ tires mounted on the LJ.  In the last eight months I’ve logged over 15,000 miles of cross-country highways, around-town errands, and backroad overland adventures.  Read on for the next installment of my ongoing tire review…

Torture

Subjecting a tire to the grueling demands of the overland adventure lifestyle is tantamount to torture.  I made sure to warn Cooper Tires of that fact when we negotiated the tire deal.  I was clear and let them know that I wasn’t going to be nice and baby the tires.  I also made a point to reassure them I wasn’t going to abuse them either. It’s a fine line, and one that’s a little hard to balance at times, but in the end I was going to treat the S/T Maxx just like I have every other tire I’ve run on a Jeep.

Getting ready to log some dirt and gravel miles and see if the S/T Maxx tires are up to snuff

Truth be told the vast majority of the miles on the tires so far have been pavement miles.  That’s the nature of a multi-purpose vehicle.  Yes the LJ is my overland adventure vehicle, but it’s also my daily-driver.  That means it goes to the mall, it goes to the grocery store, it sees highway time, and it sees time on back roads.  As far as all of that goes, the tire is absolutely awesome.  The two areas I was going to be most critical on were road noise and wet weather performance (both major detractors on more aggressive M/T tires).  In terms of road noise they are quieter than most M/T’s but not as quiet as a normal A/T.  I guess that’s to be expected with a hybrid tire like the S/T Maxx.  When I first got them they were super quiet.  However, as time as gone on, I have noticed a little more road noise.  My guess this is just a tread compound thing as the tire wears, but luckily the change has been subtle so far.  I might also just be getting used to them.  Still, much quieter than the old M/T’s I was running last year.  In terms of wet-weather performance I couldn’t be happier.  I have zero issues with the Jeep breaking loose, hydro-planing, or slipping in wet weather even while towing.  That’s essential since the Jeep can easily do 70 mph on the highway and the last thing I want to do is lose it while towing.

Taking my S/T Maxx’s across the Continental Divide
Also check out those S/T Maxx tires on Jonathan’s Tacoma
This was after a few days of driving west on I-40 toward Flagstaff, AZ for Overland Expo West

While the majority of the miles have been on pavement, there have still been a lot of miles off-pavement.  So far I’ve done about a half-dozen trips with sustained dirt and gravel time.  The tires are no worse for the wear.  The older A/Ts I’ve run in the past were notorious for “chunking” on gravel roads.  It was annoying and even a little depressing.  The Cooper Tire S/T Maxx does an excellent job in the gravel retaining both lug integrity as well as overall tread surface quality.  In the time I’ve run them I’ve had the LJ out on everything from well worn dusty and dirt roads with fine powdery gravel to newer harsher course gravel with sharp rough edges.  All in all the S/T Maxx has held it’s own and begged for more.

Airing down for some off-pavement time in Tuscarora State Forest
Airing down is essential for tire life, handling, and comfort on rough uneven terrain
Check out the ECOA article on Tire Pressure Managment for more

The other torturous aspect to the overland lifestyle is air pressure cycling.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve had the S/T Maxx aired down to trail pressure and back up to street pressure – often multiple times in the same day.  The S/T Maxx really shines off-pavement when aired down.  The E Load Range sidewalls are strong but pliable.  This is important to me given the heavy nature of the LJ when it’s fully loaded and towing the trail.  I noticed with C Load Range tires the sidewalls would flex even when at street pressure and it left me wondering how the tires would handle when aired down.  The tread and sidewall construction of the Cooper Discoverer S/T Maxx is well suited for this aspect of the overland lifestyle.

My One Complaint

So far I have only one complaint when it comes to the S/T Maxx.  While the hybrid nature of the tread is absolutely amazing both on and off road its asymmetrical design is super annoying on the highway.  Since the tread design has a slant to it, and the tires on both sides are slanted the same way (up and to the passenger side), the Jeep likes to drift to the right.  I’ve had the alignment checked multiple times and they assure me it’s dead on (and I can trust these guys).  At slow speeds it pretty much tracks dead on straight.  On the highway without the trailer its a slow subtle drift.  On the highway with the trailer it’s more noticeable since the slant on the trailer tires pulls it over subtly to the right as well.

While a sexy tire, the angled nature of the center tread pulls the vehicle to the right side.
Honestly not a big deal, but it’s a downside of an asymmetrical tire

Now, if I’m honest, it’s not really that bad of a pull to the right.  However it is noticeable.  On short drives it’s no big deal and I rarely notice it running around town.  Where it really gets to me is on long sustained straight sections on the highway.  You know, like the billions of such miles heading out west.  Yeah, that’s when it gets annoying.  Like in the middle of Kansas or Oklahoma when the highway is dead straight as far as the eye can see, you’re logging hour 20 something behind the wheel, and all the Jeep wants to do is drift onto the shoulder.  I digress.

Conclusion

I know there is a lot of skepticism when it comes to product reviews of sponsored products.  However I always do my best to promise you my readers and the companies I work with that I will be nothing but honest.  Sponsored or not, if the Cooper® Discoverer S/T Maxx™ sucked I wouldn’t be running it.  If I had to I would have slapped a mailing label on them and shipped them back with a “Thanks but no thanks” note attached.  Luckily the tires far exceed my high expectations and I am very happy with them.  I’m already considering a second set for the Grand Cherokee (if I ever get it running).  In the meantime I look forward to logging many more miles with them.  I also look forward to getting them in the rocks later this fall both in Uwharrie, NC in September and Rausch Creek Off Road Park in October.

Lastly, thank you to Cooper Tires for their support during the 2017 season and helping outfit the ECOA LJ for all of it’s adventures this year!

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