“STAY ON THE GAS! Downshift, and keep your wheel speed up!”… These commands bark over the radio. A vehicle disappears ahead of me, rocketing around a bend, and I gun the motor to keep up.
Welcome to Baja, Mexico, the site of the world’s most famous off-road race. I’m here to soak in a part of the Baja 1000 course and to test a new tire made by BFGoodrich.
I point my vehicle at a twisted track, a loose and rocky climb. I hit the gas — this is easily the craziest terrain I have driven in my life.
Tires claw at the desert earth. The rubber is a new breed from BFGoodrich, the sponsor of the trip and the brand that this fall updated an iconic tire that’s graced adventure-oriented vehicles for decades.
Here’s my take on the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires after two hard days of driving in Baja.
The Tire: BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2.
MSRP: $222 (average tire price).
Made In: USA.
Where To Test It: Literally on “all-terrain” — rocks, mud, snow, sand, and on normal paved roads. These tires are designed to be used anywhere you may drive.
Who’s It For: Primarily light-truck and SUV owners who use their vehicles on the highway, on the worksite, and in off-road conditions.
First Impressions: Out in the Baja desert, I pushed the tires as hard as I dared, taking risks, hitting obstacles at speed, braking hard, and trying to find the tires’ limits. I threw creek-crossings, steep rocky climbs, and high-speed drifting corners at the tires. The KO2s handled all with aplomb.
Details: BFG focused its efforts on several key areas of the upgraded tire, including tougher sidewalls, longer tread life, and aggressive traction. The company claims the following stats for the KO2 (compared to the previous KO model): 20% stronger sidewalls; 2x better tread life on gravel; 15% better tread life on pavement; 10% greater traction in mud; and 19% greater traction in snow.
Sand Performance: We literally drove them down the beach in Baja — deep, beach-volleyball-style sand. I had the accelerator buried in the floorboards to keep us moving, but the tires found grip and motored on (and this was in a two-wheel-drive vehicle!).
Snow Tire Rating: We obviously did not test this feature in Baja. But KO2 tires have a snow-tire designation from the Rubber Manufacturers Association. They are made to grip and drive on snow and icy roads.
Awesome! Besides looking tougher than the previous generation tire (which I test here), they ARE tougher. BFG significantly improved this tire over the last version. And, having driven in the harshest conditions I’ve ever seen (and experienced nary an issue), I feel confident recommending the tires.
Flaw: The tires are obviously not meant for a Prius. They work as everyday tires for many vehicles but they are a heavy tire with deep lugs and will decrease fuel efficiency slightly compared to road-only tires. But the payoff is obvious once you leave the pavement.
Who Should Buy It: Anyone wanting a durable, dual-duty tire with plenty of traction, even in snow.
Verdict: After the two days I spent beating on these tires I left genuinely impressed. All of BFG’s claims seem validated by the performance I witnessed.
More info: BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2.
—T.C. Worley is a contributing editor.