Cooper Discoverer ST Maxx vs Falken Wildpeak AT3w

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Both the Cooper Discoverer ST Maxx and the Falken Wildpeak AT3w being all-terrain tires are made for light trucks and SUVs, but don’t let their size fool you – they can conquer any rough terrain with their powerful sides and deep biters. Are these the new kings of off-road performance?”

Falken Wildpeak AT3w
Falken Wildpeak AT3w is becoming a very popular choice for Bronco.

In my expert opinion as a tire engineer, it makes sense to me why Falken Wildpeak AT3w with its closed up lugs arrangement gives you a better traction on highways, and gets to have better speed rating. The tire is also better when it comes to tread life, comfort and winter traction. The Cooper ST Maxx on the other hand handles off-road terrains like a champ (except for sand), and on road, it’s dry grip is still good enough, and so it’s fuel economy.

Must Know Facts

The Falken Wildpeak AT3w has 15 to 22 inches rim sizes with following specs.

  • Speed ratings: Q, R, S, T, and H.
  • Tread depth range: 12 to 19/32″.
  • Load Range: SL, XL, C, D, E, and F.
  • Weight Range: 35 lbs to 79.4 lbs.
  • Warranty: 55k miles on all sizes

On the other side, the Cooper Discoverer ST Maxx comes in 47 total sizes in 15 to 20 inches. They have following specs:

  • Speed ratings: Only Q.
  • Load ratings: C to F.
  • Weight range: 38 to 70 lbs.
  • Tread depth: 18.5/32″ on all.
  • No 3PMSF ratings available.
  • No treadwear warranty.

Tread Looks

Starting with the Falken Wildpeak AT3w. This tire features a read design which is very well optimized to provide the best of both worlds in terms of on and off-road traction.

Falken Wildpeak AT3w Tread
Falken Wildpeak AT3 offers larger shoulder lugs packed with interlocking sipes.

The lugs in the middle are tightly packed, and you’ll notice they have ridges on the sides, serving as support pillars. This basically offers amazing on-road grip and stability.

While off-road, as you get to have features like the stepped edges, sharp sides, and notches facing at various angles, there’s no compromise there as well.

Same is going on shoulder lugs as well.

First off, these lugs are bigger, equipped with full depth interlocking sipes and have secondary rubber layers underneath (for stability). So you get both wet and dry traction on smooth pavements with them.

And since you also get vigorous stepped edges, offset sides, and staggered shoulders (towards outside), you get tremendous off-road gripping as well.

Moreover, although not visible here, these lugs join together towards the sidewalls, making U shaped lugs, and they get to provide a lot of footprint with lowered air pressure, so that off-road grip is further enhanced.

On the other side, the Cooper Discoverer ST Maxx provides you with slightly more aggressive design.

Cooper Discoverer ST Maxx
Cooper Discoverer ST Maxx

And what makes this tire so aggressive is its self cleaning abilities.

The laterally arranged lugs on it’s asymmetric tread basically provide efficient cleaning of all the loose stuff of off-road terrains (which A/T tires are mostly scared of).

They have multiple stone ledges in between these grooves which further removes any particles that want to settle in, and are thrown out through the outer circumferential voids these channels connect with.

Moving towards the shoulders you get an even more aggressive design, as these are equipped with stepped edges (technically called snow vices), and with sharp chamfered edges and offset sides which breakdown the off-road terrains, as they are escaped out with the help of wider surrounding grooves and bolder stone ejectors.

The outer edges of these lugs are although not properly staggered, each lug get to be serrated on itself, and that combined with powerful sidewall lugs you get ample traction.

Tire Toughness

The durability of all-terrain tires is essential in order to handle rough off-road encounters.

As a result, cut-resistant rubber and deep tread voids are common features in both of these tires. Though there are a few differences to note when it comes to their internal construction.

Cooper Discoverer ST Maxx on one hand, comes with 3 ply polyester, (with 3rd layer at an angle, providing further strength). This cover then gets covered with 2 steel belts, and on the very top, you get a single nylon cap ply.

On the other side, the Falken Wildpeak AT3w gives you 2 ply polyester carcass, with 2 steel belts and 4 cap plies of polyamide. Two of them are covering the middle section, while the other two run around the bead.

So you get almost similar protection on the sidewalls, which is the most vulnerable part of the tire.

I covered it in detail in are A/T tires harder to get punctured.

Fuel Economy

Fuel usage depends on a lot of factors, including weight, tread composition and structure. And considering all, it can be explained why we see better fuel economy on Wildpeak AT3w.

Cooper Discoverer ST Maxx even though is a lighter tire, has larger tread voids. And so each of it’s tread block still gets to face more pressure on it, and hence it rubs off the road with more force enhancing rolling resistance.

Furthermore, as these lugs are not as supported, they get to bend around much more, resulting in a loss of energy (that would have otherwise consumed in to rolling).

Falken Wildpeak AT3w despite having a larger weight and deeper tread voids still manages to consume less fuel as it’s having closed up lugs which also have solid reinforced foundations under them. So less overall energy wastage is seen on this tire.

For Your Info: In A/T category, the most fuel efficient tire is Firestone Destination AT2 (review).

Tread Usage

The lifespan of a tire’s tread is influenced by three key factors: rolling resistance, tread depth, and composition.

This is because, tires with deeper tread voids will last longer, and those with a stiff composition will have less tread burn-off.

So there are basically two things here, wear rate, and wear time. And in both areas, the Falken Wildpeak AT3w is better off. Let me explain why.

With a greater tread depth, the tire gets to take more time to wear, or to put in other words, it maximum tread depth of 19/32″ takes a while before it comes down to 2/32″, which is the legal limit.

And with closed up tread blocks, as i mentioned in the section above, it’s lugs don’t get to have more pressure on them to rub off with the surface.

Cooper Discoverer ST Maxx on the other hand, has a higher burning rate, as its lugs carry more weight on them, and moreover, it’s tread depth is also not helping a lot here as well.

On-Road Performance

An all-terrain tire’s dry performance can be best evaluated through its traction, steering, and cornering capabilities. Let’s take a closer look at each of these essential elements in more detail.

Directional Grip

The grip of a tire on straight dry roads is referred to as dry grip or directional grip, and it gets evaluated by calculating braking distances and acceleration times.

And as majority of the tires weight is concentrated towards the middle, how much rubber meets with the road there is crucial.

That’s why it makes sense why Falken Wildpeak AT3w having compacted lugs arrangement there provides better performance. The tire also has notches there facing at multiple directions, and that combined with rectilinear (full depth) sipes, and supporting ridges you get a superior traction on highways.

Cooper Discoverer ST Maxx on the other hand, although has well supported lugs sitting on reinforced foundations, the wider grooves simply eat away the rubber that could have been in contact with the surface while braking and acceleration. So in comparison, you get to see a slight difference.

Lateral Traction

Tire handling is dependent on the performance of the shoulders and sidewalls. That’s because upon cornering, they get to bear the most pressure on them.

That’s the reason why the Cooper Discoverer ST Maxx with open shoulders, is not able to outperform its competitor.

Steering Response

When it comes to steering response, the overall flexibility of lugs is judged. Let me explain.

If a tire is heavier and has a lot of tread depth to it, the lugs would bend more upon turning, and this causes both under and over-steering (as blocks waste the energy a little before starting moving along).

That’s why Cooper Discoverer ST Maxx lacks here. With such wider grooves between shoulders, and no supporting ridges, the lugs are much more susceptible to bending.

Falken Wildpeak AT3w on the other hand has shoulder lugs sitting on a secondary rubber layer (which acts as reinforced foundation). So despite being heavier off the two, you still get a better response to steering.

Recommended Read: Are all-terrain tires good for daily driving?

Grip on Wet Roads

Wet traction depends on sipes and grooves, and both get to provide a tire with grip, and resistance to hydroplaning.

When a tire meets with the wet/watery road, most of the water gets channeled out through the tread voids, and the left-over is dealt with sipes.

These sipes/slits on the tread, literally suck water particles in them (and clear off the path), and provide grip.

That’s why with less no. of sipes on Cooper Discoverer ST Maxx, you get to have a limited wet traction.

Falken Wildpeak AT3w on the other side, has dual siping pattern, providing directional grip from the middle (with rectilinear sipes there), and lateral grip from the shoulders (with wave-like pattern).

Both sipes are full depth and they allow the lugs to flex easily, which then clears off the water.

Though with such wider grooves on Cooper ST Maxx, you don’t have any hydroplaning issues that’s for sure, as water has a lot of gateways to leave out in time.

Winter Performance

Usually all-terrain tires do good on snow, with their all season compound, numerous sipes and deep notches which help in grabbing the snow.

But still out of both tires here in discussion, only Falken Wildpeak AT3w carries 3 peak mountain snowflake rating, which means it’s even better than an average all season tire.

You can read all about this and M+S rating here:

Wildpeak AT3w basically has full depth sipes with interlocking pattern, and this combined with closed up notches and stepped edges, you get a great biting power on all types of snowy surfaces.

Though with deeper terrains, Cooper ST Maxx with it’s wider tread voids would be able to trap in the snow in a much better way (providing snow to snow contact with it).

Traction Off Road

In the world of off-road driving, some terrains are manageable, while others are a real test. Let’s evaluate all terrains, starting with the toughest one. Mud.

On Mud

The performance of all-terrain tires in mud is mostly limited by their narrower grooves, so they struggle to remove mud out efficiently.

Though that’s not the case with these two. As they both offer you with interconnected lateral and vertical grooves, allowing mud to evacuate at multiple angles.

Though still out of both the Cooper ST Maxx is a little more efficient in moving the mud around and clearing its way, especially due to it’s wider gaps between the shoulder lugs and bold stone ejectors there.

On Rocks

A “good” tire for driving on rocks must have a soft tread compound that provides adequate traction, as well as the ability to resist sharp punctures, at the same time.

And although both tire have all the durability needed, the Wildpeak at3w features a more malleable compound so it’s lugs are better able to flex, and it’s notches everywhere grip more firmly.

Though with bigger groove mouth the Cooper ST Maxx still manages to perform better overall, as it provides you with bigger grooves mouth.

Though the tire could use some sidewall lugs, so with lowered air pressure you get almost similar traction on both tires in general (considering all things).

Sandy Dunes

Driving on sand always require you to reduce the air pressure of your tires. But why is that?

Well because that way the tire would mold over the sand slightly enhancing overall tread print. And this improves performance by creating a “floating” effect on the soft sandy surface.

And having said that, it would make sense that a lighter tire would do better here, but that’s not always the case.

As out of both tires, even tough you get a heavier inner construction on Falken Wildpeak AT3w (with 2 extra polyamdie layers), you still get superior traction on sand.

This is because the tire has a softer tread compound and it’s sidewall lugs are better optimized for sand.

Cooper Discoverer ST Maxx on the other side has sharper sides which are mos susceptible to digging.

Recommended Read: Are all-terrain tires good on sand?

On Gravel

Off-road tires are made with tough rubber to withstand cuts, but stones and dirt can still find their way in, causing damage and hindering traction if there are no efficient stone ejectors.

Though with such aggressive structure, that’s not an issue on Cooper Discoverer ST Maxx. This is because the tire has much wider grooves (especially shoulder tread voids), with bold stone ejectors keeping the tread clean at all times.

Falken Wildpeak AT3w on the other hand, is missing with conventional stone ejectors, though it’s rides and stepped edges do a similar job, so this tire is not necessarily bad on gravely roads.

To End

Although out of both the Cooper ST Maxx lacks a little on highways, especially on wet ones, it really makes up for it with it’s off-road performance.

Though still if you want to find a better balanced on and off-road tire, you should go with Falken Wildpeak AT3w.

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