Here’s our feedback on 4wd tyres used on our Defender 110 2.4 tdci during the past ten years.
Now, we use two types of tyres during the year. Mud type tyres that are wider than the original ones in 285 75 R16 (that’s 33 inches) for the hotter season and more typical road and winter tyres in original size, 235 85 R16 (that’s 32 inches), during the cold/snowy season.
M+S 4wd tyres
Let’s first talk about the M+S tyres, that goes for mud and snow.
Many people, and us first, have long thought it’s enough to buy M+S tyres to have no worries in winter, but it’s not the case.
We initially planned to have only one set of tyres for our Defender by choosing BF Goodrich KM2 M+S tyres in 235 85 R16 (that’s 32 inches).
These tyres, like many M/T, are excellent on heavy fresh powder snow. You can have fun in the snow by deflating to 14 PSI or maybe less because they will work very well on any terrain and on fresh snow.
On the other hand, they will become a real danger on a road or track where the snow has been packed by other cars or the snow clearing service. These tyres then transform into real ice skates and you will slip off at the slightest braking.
We’re not saying that it’s impossible to ride on packed snow with mud tyres, but you must already have some experience and mainly use the engine braking. It’s best not to use the foot brake because of the risk of causing an uncontrolled slide, especially downhill.
This is due to the fact that mud tread pattern is very large and slick, so they work well on a soft surface such as ground but become slippery on a hard surface such as a road or packed snow.
Winter 4wd tyres
A road type winter tyre will be less efficient in powder snow because of the less aggressive pattern. It’s more typical of roads and the tread pattern is different. On the other hand, it will be excellent on packed snow because of the tyres’ softer rubber which will tend to behave better in cold weather, but also because of the strips on the tread pattern which allow to hook even on a very compacted snow. And this will also help reduce the braking distance because of the better grip of the tyre.
new intermediate 4wd tyres
We have never tested new intermediate tyres like the new BF Goodrich all terrain KO2 but they are, according to reviews, quite suitable on packed snow and some are happy with them. We can’t comment because we haven’t tested them. If you do own these new intermediate tyres, please comment down below to let us know your opinion. What we noticed is that they have a few more strips on the tread pattern than mud ones but they aren’t real winter tyres either. In our opinion, the problem with intermediate tyres is that they are less good than real mud on pure offroad and less good than real winter tyres on the road during snow and cold season.
So, in conclusion, if you want to have fun on freshly snowed tracks and paths, favor mud type tyres. At the moment we are using Toyo Open Country M/T in 285 75 R16 (that’s 33 inches) and we are very happy with them. The BF Goodrich KM2 or KM3, as well as the Cooper STT Pro will also be very good for this use, keeping in mind that they will slip much more when hitting that foot brake. For packed snowy roads, favor real winter tyres because in traffic you cannot take the risk to not touch the brake pedal, especially in case of an emergency braking. We have been using the Nokian Hakkapeliitta LT2 for years after the LT. They are really excellent on packed snow as well as on fresh. They also work really well when braking. You can even stud them if you have to drive on icy roads because, in this case, even good winter tyres won’t be able to help and only studded tyres will make the difference. But you may ask about the use of studded tyres before installing because some countries do limit their use. You still have the ultimate solution which is to mount snow chains but once back on the cleared road, you will have to take them off which can be a bit tedious.
Our choices of 4wd tyres in detail
Since the purchase of the car we have driven 5k km with the original Michelins, but these are mainly road tyres and are quickly limited when off-road.
1. BF Goodrich KM2 – 235 85 R16 – 32 inches
Then we mounted the BF KM2 in 235 85 R16. And living in Switzerland where it’s supposed to snow a lot in winter, we quickly noticed that the mud terrain tyres are excellent on fresh snow but very bad on packed snow roads. You slide just like with slick tyres.
2. Nokian Hakkapeliitta LT – 235 85 R16 – 32 inches
We then got the must for winter tyres to be safe in cold season, the Nokian Hakkapeliitta LT in 235 85 R16. Since then we have 2 sets of tyres and switch the wheels in spring for the mud terrain. We now have the LT2, but the Nokian Hakkapeliitta LT3 have already been released.
3. Cooper STT – 265 75 R16 – 32 inches
After the KM2 in 235 85 R16, we tried the STT Cooper in 32 inches (that’s 265 75 R16). We really loved these tyres. They are indestructible, the tread pattern and the side reinforcements are excellent. We do find them better than the BF KM2s but that’s a personal point of view.
4. BF Goodrich KM2 – 255 85 R16 – 33 inches
When we wanted to buy the Cooper STT in 33 inches, they had stopped producing them and released the STT Pro, but we didn’t like the profile of this new tyre. We finally took the BF KM2 but in 255 85 R16 this time, which corresponds to 33 inches but less wide than 285 75 R16. We weren’t completely convinced by this size and we found that the BF KM2s supported badly the stony tracks. They wore out very quickly and lost large pieces of gum.
5. Toyo M/T Open Country – 285 75 R16 – 33 inches
A friend then advised us to try the M/T Open Country from Toyo whose tread is very similar to the old Cooper STT. We took them in 285 75 R16 (that’s 33 inches) and we are delighted with these tyres. If we had to buy new tyres, we would take the same. They have an extremely solid structure with super-reinforced sides and can withstand the wear of sharp stones on tracks. At low pressure they work very well in mud and fresh snow, and aren’t that much noisier on the road than the KM2s. Just as all mud terrain tyres, you have to be careful with slips on rain and packed snow. We think it’s a very good buy in combination of a good set of winter tyres for countries where it’s snowing during cold season.
So, as said before, we now have for a few years 2 sets of tyres. The Nokian Hakkapeliitta LT2 in 235 85 R16, that’s 32 inches, for the cold/winter season. And we have the Toyo MT Open Country in 285 75 R16, that’s 33 inches, for the rest of the year.
Regardless of the tyre, remember that only an optimal deflation will allow you to continue to progress in any terrain using the maximum traction capacity of your tyres and also of your 4wd. Tyre deflation and tyre pressure will be in another dedicated episode. Regarding the MT tyres, we also finally opted for the size 33 inches or 285 75 R16 in order to gain ground clearance.
There we are! We’re done for today and I think I gave you all the info needed based on our experience.