NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana — My Jeep Wrangler sits at a 45-degree angle. The ground is visible through my right window and the sky through my left. The ute’s grip holds and with slight throttle input, I crawl over the top of the rock pile and creep down to safety.
We’re on a bespoke off-road course carved out of NOLA Motorsports Park’s wooded land to sample the new Grabber A/Tx all-terrain tires. We waded our Jeeps through muddy puddles, hustled over logs, and even blasted through a deep pit of sludge.
We never lost traction at any point over a nearly three hour trek around the beginner’s route. I got the impression that they’d be a good pick for a driver who wants a daily driver capable of dabbling in light off-roading or overlanding.
Travis Roffler, director of marketing for General Tire, said “This tire delivers our bold, aggressive styling with all-new solid white letters and the performance to match.” He adds, “The design provides confidence to the consumer, who requires a year-round solution for all weather conditions.”
Design-wise, the Grabber A/Tx tires take on a substantial appearance with a robust sidewall and high-traction tread. They’re cold weather rated and, for further aesthetic benefits, the tires are available with optional solid-white lettering.
We didn’t get a chance to evaluate the all-terrain tires on pavement, but it should offer improved road handling due to a larger footprint over the outgoing AT2, which Roffler described as “long in the tooth” during the launch presentation.
Having conquered the backwoods in the Jeeps, it was time to see how the G-MAX RS stacks up against other competitors like BF Goodrich, Firestone, Hankook, and Yokohama. We first hopped behind the wheel of a pair ND Mazda MX-5s to get a feel for the street tires in safety situations. One wore BF Goodrich’s g-Force Sport COMP-2 tires and then followed up with the other equipped with General Tire’s G-MAX RS.
We also tested two competitors against the G-MAX RS per car: Hankook and Firestone tires on the BMW 240i M and BF Goodrich and Yokohama tires on the Mini Cooper JCW. The difference in all conditions was most evident in the Mini—the car’s tendency to understeer allowed for a much greater difference to be felt among competitors. While the BMW performed well on the G-MAX RS tires in the wet, the Hankooks felt as though they offered superior grip in the dry.
We first wrung out the Mazda roadsters with drills such as making evasive maneuvers, slaloming, braking, and cornering in the wet and dry. Eight laps of equal time driving and riding as a passenger provided ample time for making an informed comparison between the tires by BF Goodrich and General. Dry handling was close on both sets of rubber but the G-MAX RS appeared to offer better grip in low-traction situations and recovered more quickly when exiting wet patches.
We dug into a wet-then-dry autocross circuit with the wider sampling spread across the Mini Cooper John Cooper Works and BMW 240i M cars. In the wet, the G-Max RS felt stable and predictable even with traction control disabled. However in the dry, the playing field leveled once again, especially when residual dampness on the rubber dissipated.
As a sport tire, the RS only starts to give up performance in the highest-tier performance driving situations, as noted during our time on the NOLA Motorsports Park main track. General put the tire on some decent metal, including an F30 BMW M3, Dodge Challenger SRT HEMI modified by Petty’s Garage, and a 997 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet. Enthusiasts with this level of sports car may want to consider the downside of a lower-cost tire and cough up the extra cash for a more intense offering.
While we don’t yet have pricing figures, the G-MAX RS comes with a 72 month warranty and boasts a 60,000 mile tread life. For a daily driver’s tire, the balance of affordability and dependability in the wet it offers make it an attractive proposition.
Where General Tire’s street offering is poised as an enthusiast’s bargain, the Grabber A/Tx is instead for a customer looking for capability in all-situations, particularly when there’s a chance of varying terrain. Our backwoods route only offered a sliver of what these tires can do, but with this initial vetting complete, they’re primed to take on real-world trails.