I’ve tested a lot of tires over the years ranging from high-performance summer tires to the gnarliest of winter rubber.
Although I’ve yet to come across a truly bad tire, most tires I review are just good and nothing more, nothing less. Rarely, I do come across a new tire that truly makes me sit up and take notice. The Cooper Tire Discoverer AT/W is one of those tires.
Earlier this year I got to sample the Discoverer AT/W in winter conditions and walked away impressed. The AT/W is not a true winter tire, but rather an all-year tire. Usually this means poor winter performance, but that wasn’t the case with the AT/W. Equipped with grippy sipes, a low glassification point and generous use of silica, the Discoverer AT/W remained pliable to retain traction on snow and ice in temperatures well below freezing.
But What About Summer Performance?
But the AT/W is formulated to work in a much wider range of temperatures than just winter. Normally, when temperatures climb high above freezing, dedicated winter tires wear out 40 percent quicker than all-season tires because their rubber compounds aren’t designed to handle higher temperatures. But thanks to heavy use of silica, that isn’t the case with the AT/W. More than just the secret sauce that keeps tires flexible at low temperatures, silica is used to increase tread life, reduces rolling resistance and add traction in all driving and weather conditions.
SEE ALSO: Cooper Tire Discoverer SRX Review
Besides winter and summer driving, the Discoverer AT/W comes equipped with some tasty off-road goodies like chevron grooves, stone ejector ribs and cut & chip compounds. The actual trail-riding capabilities of the AT/W will fall just short of a dedicated M&S tire, but the AT/W’s tread life is much longer.
Proof in the Testing
To see if the AT/W can handle hot weather as well as the cold, I traveled to San Antonio, Texas to put a set of Discoverer tires to the test. Cooper equipped 2015 Chevrolet Tahoes with Discoverer AT/Ws and Firestone Winterforce UV tires, which was the same set-up as was used for winter testing earlier this year in Montreal. Yes, I testing a dedicated winter tire in temperatures hovering around 85F, but there is a good reason. Near equals in sub-zero temperatures, Cooper wanted to showcase the flexibility of the brand’s all-weather AT/W compared to a winter tire.
The first test was on a 14-acre wet skidpad. The Tahoes I drove were rear-wheel drive and had the ABS fuse pulled so there would be no ABS or traction control intervention. I first drove the Winterforce tires and I must admit they impressed me. Cornering grip and rear-end traction were quite good and the Tahoe never seemed to get upset on the course.
Wet and Dry Abilities
Then I drove the AT/Ws. There is so much wet-weather grip in these tires. Even without electronic aids, I couldn’t break the rear tires lose when hammering on the throttle through a corner. It was possible to break traction momentarily with the Winterforce tires, but not with the AT/Ws. Cornering grip also exceeded that of the Firestone and when the Cooper Tire equipped SUV is finally pushed to the Discoverer’s loss of traction point, it’s still predictable and controllable.
On the brakes it’s no contest. From a 35 MPH panic stop, the Winterforce tires caused a lock-up and slid while the AT/Ws just came to a quick, controlled stop. The AT/W tires really are that good in the wet. I would go as far to say that they’re even better than Cooper Tire’s own Discoverer SRX Touring SUV tire I tested on the same wet skidpad the same day.
Good on wet roads, winter conditions and off-road, the AT/W shouldn’t be all that good on dry pavement. With an aggressive tread pattern, I expected a loud, imprecise on-road experience. Yet, the AT/W continues to have an eerie amount of control and grip on regular streets. If pushed hard enough to the point of no traction, the Discoverer does not howl like some other light truck and SUV tires. Best of all, the aggressive treat patten doesn’t cause excessive road noise.
The Verdict: Cooper Tire Discoverer AT/W Follow-Up Tire Review
The Discoverer AT/W comes with a 50,000 mile treadwear warranty which isn’t as high as the Discoverer SRX’s warranty, but the AT/W is designed to do so much more. The biggest issue for the AT/W right now is its limited availability. With only 30 sizes currently on sale, the AT/W is more of a light truck and SUV tire, but Cooper is looking at adding more crossover sizes soon. Starting around $117.99 for a 245/75R16 tire, the Cooper Tire Discoverer AT/W may not be the cheapest tire on the market, but in my experience, it’s one of the best.
- Available for wheels 16- to 20-inches
- Priced from $117.99 per tire
- Currently available in 30 sizes
- 50,000 mile treadwear warranty