Kumho Road Venture AT52 Review

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The Kumho Road Venture AT52 stands as a testament to versatile all-terrain performance, blending road comfort with off-road capabilities. And although its unique tread design and robust construction cater to a wide range of driving conditions, there are areas where the tire could see enhancement. Let’s find them.

Kumho Road Venture AT52
Kumho Road Venture AT52 on Chevy Silverado.

Key Takeaway

Overall, the Kumho Road Venture AT52 excels in:

  • Dry conditions, offering impressive traction and handling.
  • Winter environments, providing excellent ice traction, particularly.
  • Quietness and comfort, with a design that reduces road noise and absorbs vibrations effectively.

But it needs improvements in:

  • Steering responsiveness, to enhance its handling capabilities.
  • Fuel efficiency and tread life, affected by its softer rubber composition.
  • Off-road performance in muddy conditions, due to its tightly packed shoulders, predominately.
  • Performance on rocky terrains, where its multi-directional grip could be further optimized.

Sizes Info

The Kumho Road Venture AT52 comes with 15 to 20 inches rims. And all its sizes have following specs:

  • Speed ratings: Q, R, S and T.
  • Load ratings: SL, XL, and C to F.
  • Weight range: 30 to 63 lbs.
  • Tread depth: 13 to 16/32″ (mostly seen with 16/32″).
  • Winter ratings: 3PMSF and M+S rated.
  • Tread warranty: 50k miles for LT, (55k for P metric).

Tread Structure

The Kumho Road Venture AT52 is designed with a focus on on-road performance.

Kumho Road Venture AT52
Kumho Road Venture AT52 features smaller C shaped lugs in the middle, forming “S” shapes.

It’s middle most area make prominent “S” shaped lugs, with the two C shaped lugs joining together.

These lugs are larger and closely packed along the longitudinal axis, providing solid directional grip on dry roads.

(Additionally, the full-depth linear sipes on these lugs, along with chamfered edges, enhance wet traction).

The adjacent ribs are spaced more generously, though share similar design characteristics.

Here the relatively bigger “C” shaped lugs come with sharper/thicker in-groove notches facing the shoulder lugs. Look how these voids of notches align with those on shoulders.

Speaking of which, the shoulder lugs are squared off, and aren’t seen with too much tread features.

I mean, these shoulders only come with off-set edges, and linear siping (as seen elsewhere).

And although they are not properly staggered, each lug is serrated on itself. Moreover, all these blocks are complemented by thick, N-shaped sidewall lugs, contributing to the tire’s off-road performance.

Side Note: Overwhelmed with so many all-terrain tire options? Let me help you out a little bit. Start here.

Compare it with others:

Wet Performance

Optimal wet performance is achieved through effective water removal, which leads to ample wet traction and resistance to hydro or aquaplaning. Let’s discuss how Kumho performed in both.

Wet Grip and Handling

Like already said, water clearance is the primary goal, when it comes to wet grip. And tires do that with sipes and grooves.

Grooves are responsible for handling the majority of the water, while sipes provide additional support, taking out residual water particles.

These sipes are basically slits on the tread, which hold water particles as they get squeezed in by the pressure of tire’s tread against the road.

Having said that, the Road Venture AT52 performs moderately well in this regard, as it features multi-directional biters and sipes, providing decent overall grip.

However, because the siping on this tire is predominantly linear, it tends to become stiffer during extreme maneuvers, such as aggressive cornering or full braking.

That’s why its scores are below average, even though the tire offers good enough flexibility in its tread overall.

For Your Info: The AT52’s wet performance is similar to General Grabber APT (review), which is also very lacking on wet conditions. Here, both tires offer similar handling lap times, though Kumho does slightly better in directional traction, as it brakes 1 feet quicker on braking tests.

Aquaplaning Resistance

Hydroplaning occurs when a tire loses contact with the road and skims over a layer of water, effectively “floating” and losing all traction.

To counteract this, tire treads are designed with grooves to channel water away and prevent hydroplaning.

The Kumho Road Venture AT52 is equipped to handle such conditions. It features wide, interconnected grooves that efficiently direct water away from the tire, offering strong hydroplaning resistance.

This design enables the tire to maintain higher “float speeds” without losing traction.

Side Note: If you’re not familiar with “float speed”, it’s just the speed at which a tire begins to hydroplane, losing contact with the road surface. It’s measured using high-speed cameras and sensors in controlled tests (on a few millimeters of water), to determine the point of traction loss.

Dry Performance

In order to get a good understanding of the dry performance, you have to consider the tire’s overall traction and handling abilities. Let’s discuss these, both.

Overall Traction

Tire traction can be divided into two categories: linear and lateral grip.

Tire traction encompasses two main components: linear and lateral grip.

The directional or longitudinal grip, which is essential for maintaining contact and stability in a straight line, heavily depends on the tire’s central rib or area. This part is crucial as it bears the majority of the weight and has the most road connectivity.

That’s why this grip gets measured with tire’s braking distances (when fully stopped from a particular speeds, in my tests, 60 mph).

Now, for the Kumho Road Venture AT52, its design although features lateral grooves that limit the extent of rubber-to-road contact, it still provides impressive grip within its class.

I mean sure, these grooves take away the rubber that could have contact the road, they provide biting edges in stead, enhancing grip overall. (That’s why these grooves are actually termed as in-groove notches).

To give you an idea of tire’s performance, I did a comparative testing, and found that the Kumho taking the lead by over a feet compared to Cooper Discoverer AT3 4s (review), in dry braking testings.

Lateral Grip and Handling

The handling and lateral traction of a tire are significantly influenced by its shoulders (on tread), as they interact more with the road surface due to centripetal force.

(This has to do with weight, which shifts towards tread edges, while the tire turns, allowing shoulders to have greater connectivity).

Now, the Kumho AT52 excels in this area (of lateral grip), with its symmetric design, featuring compact shoulder lugs with minimal lateral siping and grooves.

This design maximizes shoulder-to-road contact, providing the tire with superior lateral traction compared to its competitors.

Though this doesn’t translate in to as impressive handling lap times (on tests). And that’s because the tire needs improvement in its steering responsiveness.

This drawback is primarily due to the tire’s heavier weight and the use of a softer rubber composition. Both of these cause the lugs (on the tread) to compress and bend more against the road.

And this flexibility of the tread causes a delay in steering response, disrupting the balance between understeering and oversteering, and making the steering feel more sluggish and less responsive to driver inputs.

Though its softer rubber is beneficial too, particularly for winter performance, as it prevents biters from freezing up with colder temperatures.

For Your Info: Road Venture’s overall handling times (seen on lap tests), come out very similar to that of Cooper AT3 4S.

Tread and Fuel Consumption

Both tread longevity and fuel economy are heavily related to tire’s grip/rolling resistance, weight, tread composition, and design. And this is where the Kumho AT52 lacks the most.

So why is that? Well this is because the tire weighs a lot for its category, going up to 63 lbs in weight, relatively speaking. This is self explanatory, since more weight pushes down on lugs, you get increases rolling resistance.

Furthermore, the tire’s softer rubber composition, optimized for winter conditions, leads to lug bending.

This bending not only reduces fuel efficiency by generating excess heat but also accelerates wear and tear.

Consequently, the Road Venture AT52 offers a lower mileage warranty, only 50k miles for LT sizes and just 55k for P metric ones. And you also get below average fuel economy, compared to its competitors, as well (as seen by its average mpg readings).

Winter Performance

All-terrain tires are renowned for their versatile all-season capabilities, performing admirably in both summer conditions and various snowy terrains, including on ice and deeper snow.

That’s why a lot of these tires reflect that versatility by providing you with 3 peak mountain snowflake rating, including Road Venture AT52.

So what makes Kumho good here?

Well, in essence, its in-groove notches predominately, are particularly effective in capturing and retaining snow particles within the tire’s voids, enhancing snow-on-snow contact, (which is generally more effective than rubber-on-snow, as snowflakes stick better on each other than tread).

Moreover, the tire also incorporates numerous features that enhance its ice performance.

These include off-set biting edges, angled in-groove notches, chamfered edges, and full-depth sipes. And these elements collectively make Kumo AT52 one of the top performers for ice traction among on-road oriented all-terrain tires.

In my comparative analysis, the Venture AT52, although lagging 8 feet behind the BF Goodrich Trail Terrain (review), in snow braking, surprisingly leads by 8 feet in ice braking distances.

Road Noise

The noise in tires is primarily caused by air particles, which enter through the shoulder voids, colliding with the tread walls.

That’s why the Road Venture AT52, with its tightly configured shoulder lugs, is designed to be relatively quieter on roads due to this structure.

Though the major noise comfort performance is still attributed to its sophisticated pitch sequencing, (thanks to its tread structure).

This design involves a carefully calculated arrangement of the lugs, which produces a range of sound frequencies.

These frequencies interact with each other, often cancelling out or reducing certain tones, further mitigating the noise generated.

Road Vibrations Comfort

The Kumho AT52 not only provides a quieter ride but also excels in overall comfort, particularly in absorbing bumps.

This enhanced comfort is attributed to its comprehensive structural composition, encompassing both external and internal elements.

I mean, externally, the tire is made with a softer tread compound, which contributes to its ability to effectively absorb surface irregularities. And internally, the Road Venture AT52 features a malleable cap plies (particularly).

Together, these features enable the tire to effectively soak up bumps, whether on-road or off-road, resulting in a smoother and more comfortable driving experience.

Off-Road Performance

This section needs to be segmented, in to various terrains, I tested out these boys. Let’s start with mud.

Mud Traction

For effective mud traction, tires need to be able to quickly clear thick, slimy clay (out of the tread) to avoid slippage or getting stuck.

And so it makes sense, why you can’t expect a lot out of Road Venture AT52.

The tire comes with very packed up shoulders, inhibiting efficient mud ejection sideways. And yes, here the longitudinally connected middle-most rib also causes similar issues, as it fails to provide adequate pathways for mud to leave out laterally.

In simpler words, the tire gets packed with mud, fairly easily.

Moreover, the Kumho AT52 also lacks adequate mud scoops on the sides, (no staggered shoulders), and its sidewall lugs are also not large or aggressive enough.

But how those help?

Well, these edges of the tread basically provide the necessary scooping of the mud, throwing it backwards, generating forward momentum against it.

Sand Performance

Navigating sand, particularly large and deep dunes, demands not only driving skills but also specific tire features, which include light weight, paddle-like scoops, an effective tread print, and robust bead lockers.

The Road Venture AT52 addresses some of these requirements.

Simply put, while the tire’s weight isn’t the lowest in its category, its softer compound still contributes to lowering its overall density, allowing it to float better on sand (without sinking).

With softer compound, basically, the tire offers better rubber to sand contact, when air pressure is reduced, particularly.

And yes, the Kumho offering good enough rim locks, allow you to do care-free pressure adjustments to optimize the tread print as well.

However, there’s room for improvement in the tire’s design, particularly towards the tread edges.

I mean, the tire with sharper serrated shoulders is a little susceptible to digging, and here the smaller sidewall lugs aren’t as effective in creating a sufficient contact patch (with lowered air pressure).

Traction on Rocks

Navigating rocky terrains requires a tire with multi-directional grip, crucial for both lateral and longitudinal traction, durability, and powerful sidewalls.

And Road Venture AT52 checks all boxes, I mean when it comes to its less aggressive all-terrain tires type.

For multi-directional grip, the tire with its “S” shaped lugs in the middle-most rib, combined with “C” shaped ones on adjacent ribs, provide a great bite in all directions.

Basically its in-groove biters and chamfered edges (particularly), provide you with directional grip while climbing rocks, while its adjacent ribs with in-groove notches facing the shoulders, allow for superb lateral traction.

Moreover, the tire’s shoulders also help, I mean they aren’t properly staggered, each lug is still serrated on itself, and so you get good enough traction form them, too.

And sure, its sidewalls with “N” shaped lugs, isn’t built aggressive, the lugs there still provide good enough traction with lowered air pressure, providing additional biting edges.

So overall, the Kumho’s tire do great on rocks, compared to others in its category.

Conclusion

Overall, the Kumho Road Venture AT52 offers a balanced blend of features, excelling in certain areas while showing room for improvement in others.

I mean, in dry conditions, the tire impressive overall traction and handling, but needs to improve its steering.

And in wet, although it offers decent resistance to hydroplaning, its stiffer siping structure, don’t allow for ample traction.

Moreover the tire’s softer rubber composition, not only does great in terms of winter performance, but also offers a great impact comfort performance.

And complimenting that is the tire’s superb noise reduction capabilities.

Though the tire fails to provide adequate fuel economy and tread longevity.

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