Nitto Ridge Grappler vs Toyo Open Country AT3

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The Toyo Open Country AT3 is an all terrain tire, while the Nitto Ridge Grappler is a hybrid tire, which is sometimes also called rugged terrain, as these tires are more aggressive than All-Terrain, but less than Mud-Terrain tires. Also, both Toyo and Nitto are sister companies and their tires here, are intended to be used on trucks, jeeps, and crossovers.

Nitto Ridge Grappler
Nitto Ridge Grappler sidewall lugs are most effective off road, when you pressure down the tire.

Being a tire engineer, in my opinion, the Toyo Open Country AT3 is better on highways, as it offers a more decent cornering stability, steering response, grip and other on road factors as well, which include, noise, millage and fuel economy. The Nitto Ridge Grappler on the other hand is more durable and it although lacks a little on wet roads, it really does not compromise at all on rugged off road terrains, especially rocks, though the tire lacks winter performance, and is not graded with 3 peak mountain snowflake rating like the Toyo AT3.

Detailed review of Toyo Open Country AT3

Durability:

Let’s start things off with durability. Now when it comes to Toyo Open Country AT3, the tire is not tough enough. It’s internal construction create overall weaker tread that includes the sidewalls as well.

It has 2 ply polyester casing and it’s reinforced with 2 layers of high strength steel belts, but on top of that, there’s only a single ply of nylon (where most of the A/T tires get to have at least 2 layers).

So Toyo AT3 although provides 2 ply sidewalls, the tire is weaker because of less overall number of layers.

In comparison, the Nitto Ridge Grappler is made with 3 ply polyester casing and 2 steel belts reinforced with 2 more layers of polyamide.

So here you get 3 ply sidewalls (tougher of course) and one extra layer on top as well of cap ply.

But with more durability, the tire also comes heavier which dampens on road performance, but at the same time, it’s not wise to test out Toyo AT3 on rugged terrains, especially if you have P rated ones. A better suitable tire here would be LT.

For Your Info: Compared to Nitto Ridge Grappler, the BFG KO2 provides you with better durability, despite being less aggressive.

Tread Appearance:

The Toyo Open Country AT3 provide you with a very prominent S and F shaped blocks.

Toyo at3 tread
All blocks on Toyo Open Country AT3 carry offset sipes which go all the way deep down to the base.

All these blocks have sharp biting edges and reinforced foundations which keep them stable during cornering and braking.

The deep notches on the F shaped blocks face in all directions to provide grip from all sides.

These central blocks get divided from the shoulder blocks with 2 circumferential channels.

If we talk sides, the staggered shoulder blocks come with similar siping, but the blocks don’t feature any biters, they aren’t equipped with any kind of notches, and the sides are very squared off, so they don’t make sharp edges as well.

The lateral gaps between the blocks also include ridges in between which connect the two blocks together.

These connectors aid in overall cornering stability.

Nitto Ridge Grappler tread
Nitto Ridge Grappler provide Z shaped grooves which make it very resistant to hydroplaning.

Nitto Ridge Grappler on the other side, is made out of sharp triangular blocks, where the two on the sides have deep traction notches while the other two have common features including same siping pattern, and off set edges, except that they also connect with the shoulder blocks.

Together these blocks make Z shaped Grooves, see if you can picture it.

These lateral grooves connect the outer wider longitudinal channels.

If we move towards the shoulder blocks, they are very less aggressive compared to central blocks, as they have none of the notches nor biting edges. Instead each block carry a simple sipe.

But with wider gaps between the shoulder blocks, the tire provides stone ejectors missing in Toyo Open Country AT3.

Things to know about Tire Sizes:

Starting with Nitto Ridge Grappler, the tire comes in 16 to 24 inches, in speed ratings: T and Q . And load ratings: C to F.

Weight range of the tire is 36 to 91 pounds (greater in comparison). And tread depth goes from 13 to 18/32″, where majority of the sizes carry 16.4/32″.

Toyo Open Country AT3 provides you sizes ranging from, 15 to 22 inches (rim size), where they are available in Q, R, S, T and H speed ratings, and up to F load range ratings.

Weight of the tire ranges due to sizes variations, it goes from 28 to 72 lbs.

And if I talk about tread depth, it goes from 12.7 to 17/32″, averaging to about 15/32″.

For your info: In 19″, Toyo AT3 only has 2 available, 255/55R19 and 255/60R19.

On Road Performance:

Where one tire is made more aggressive, it mostly lacks on highways, so it’s not surprising to see Toyo AT3 better here in comparison, in all sub categories, traction, steering responsiveness and stability.

By the way these the three main factors here I’m going to discuss.

Dry Traction:

In case of Toyo AT3, the tire is slightly better.

Besides proving smaller spacing between the tread blocks, which provide more rubber to road contact, the tire also features reinforced foundations underneath, which keeps the braking and handling firm and stable.

During cornering, most of the pressure is on shoulder blocks, and Toyo AT3 with ridges in between them, restricts the movement and provides a good combination of softness and stiffness making ride very stable.

The ridges (connectors b/w shoulder blocks) also helps in reducing noise, but more on that later.

On the other side, the Nitto Ridge Grappler, is not able to provide as much grip. The tire has larger block valleys, even though you get a broader tire, it still does not make a good contact with the road in comparison.

However, for such a rugged tire, it sure is very good in terms of dry handling, as even with wider spacing between the shoulder blocks (where stone ejectors are embedded), the tire is able to provide ample grip as it’s shoulder blocks don’t cut off rubber space, and makes larger rubber contact with the pavement.

Steering Response & Handling Stability:

When it comes to the tire’s responsiveness, the tread design, weight of the tire and sidewall construction come in to action.

All these key areas are seen better on Toyo AT3, as it’s a light tire with less number of plies inside and with compact blocks arrangement the tire provides better grip, which results in decent response times.

In comparison, the Nitto Ridge Grappler is not able to keep up as the wider grooves, especially between the shoulder blocks don’t not allow the tire to give quicker feedback.

Also with 3 ply polyester construction, the tire understeers in comparison, so overall handling stability is compromised.

That’s why Toyo AT3 has speed rating up to H, while the Nitto Ridge only offers a maximum of T.

Learn all about speed ratings here:

Wet Performance:

There are a very few aggressive all terrain tires capable of performing well on wet, and out of these two, the Toyo AT3 provides better efficacy, let’s see why.

Wet Traction:

The wet highway traction of the tire is high dependent on two most important things, the sipes and the tread composition.

Sipes basically suck the water particles, and they shower it out, as the tire sweeps over, that’s how water get cleaned.

So a good tire on wet has to have more number of sipes, and they should be effective enough.

The Toyo Open Country AT3 provides 3D full depth siping, which are also interlocking (meaning on corners they would not stiffen up), so the tire provides better water cleaning which results in traction.

And although it’s better in comparison here, overall it’s not better, for example compared to Falken Wildpeak AT3w, it lacks by a large margin, as it offers a stiffer compound which besides having 3D sipes does not provide enough flexibility to the blocks.

The Nitto Ridge Grappler on the other side, is not good enough as well, and shows deficiency in comparison. It’s tread is although softer, it’s sipes are not interlocking and are not able to provide above average lateral traction.

For Your Info: Compared to Toyo AT3, the Falken Wildpeak AT3w provides better wet traction.

Hydroplaning:

Hydroplaning or Aquaplaning (same thing) is simply a phenomena of tire floating on water, so tires which are better at self cleaning (from water) show greater float speeds (max speed up to which tires can move on standing water without floating).

So here Nitto Ridge Grappler with wider channels (which also have more depth) provide efficient channeling of water out of the tread voids.

The Toyo AT3 on the other side, although provides decent interconnected channels, the ridges between the shoulder blocks don’t allow as much water to evacuated quickly, so the tire performs poorly here.

Winter Performance:

In winter performance, there are a lot of key areas to look at, and out of them the most significant ones include, grip, acceleration and handling on all light and deep snow, as well as ice.

In case of Toyo Open Country AT3, the tire offers a lot of notches on S and F shaped blocks, and ridges between shoulder blocks, and all these features trap the snow and provide good traction values, earning 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake rating (3PMSFR) symbol.

For Your Info: The 3PMSFR does not tell you about braking, or handling, it’s just an acceleration test.

Besides providing interlocking sipes, the tire also offers concave scoops on it’s staggered shoulder blocks and they deal with slightly deeper snow as well.

The Nitto Ridge Grappler on the other side, could use some winter traction, it’s less number of sipes and wider grooves are not efficient at trapping the snow, and this limits snow grip (ice crystals stick well on others, so that is preferred).

That’s why the tire is not branded with 3PMSFR.

For Your Info: One of the best tires for snow, Mickey Baja Boss A/T (review) which actually comes in rugged terrain category like the Nitto Ridge Grappler, really surprised me and was one of them.

Comfort and Noise:

Comfort and Noise are basically on road factors, and here the overall construction of the tire highly depends.

Out of these tire in question, the Toyo Open Country AT3 provides you with a quieter ride.

First the tire don’t let the noise to properly enter through the shoulders, as the lateral spacing between the blocks have ridges in between (which block the flow).

For Your Info: Noise is just air flowing in the tread and hitting walls.

And for the comfort, with less no. of nylon wrapping over the steel belts in it’s inner construction, the tire is not too stiff and, although it’s rubber on top is harder in comparison, it’s still able to absorb the imperfections of the road in a much better way.

So it’s safe to say, overall, that the Toyo AT3 provides you with a better quality of on road ride.

On the other side, the Nitto Ridge Grappler has a lot of gaps between the shoulder blocks and air freely moves there (and strikes) and this produces more noise.

The tire is also stiffer internally as it has 3 ply polyester and 2 ply caps of nylon, so the tire is not able to soak up the bumps too effectively.

However, these tires provide a good comfort off road when you pressure down these tires, and in comparison, the Toyo AT3s feel stiff (especially on gravel, as the tire has no stone ejectors).

Fuel Efficiency:

The Nitto Ridge Grappler has a lot of rolling resistance. The tire has softer rubber on top (which provides the stickiness with the pavement) and it’s not that easier to move.

Moreover, the 3 ply polyester construction of the tire get to have a lot of weight in comparison, so with that more pressure is emphasized on highways, amplifying the rolling resistance.

So it’s not surprising to see such an aggressive, heavy weight tire consuming more fuel.

In comparison, the Toyo AT3 is very light weight. It has 2 ply polyester casing instead of 3, and similarly, the cap ply is also less in number, so naturally the tire reduces a lot of weight.

The weight is also influenced with the tread depth of the tire, the more the depth, the more the rubber on the tire and the more the weight, so with smaller tread depth the tire reduces it’s weight that way too.

So overall, the Toyo AT3 is more fuel efficient.

Tread Wear:

Toyo Open Country AT3 is one of the best tires out there (in all terrain category) when it comes to wear. The tire does everything right here. It has a stiffer compound and reinforced foundations underneath it’s tread blocks which take some time to wear off.

On the other side, the Nitto Ridge Grappler with more weight shows more rolling resistance which translates in to faster tread wear.

And although the tire has the advantage of more tread depth (which takes longer to wear off), it’s softer compound still does not provide it with better life in comparison.

Nitto Ridge Grappler also does not offer any kind of warranty.

For Your Info: General Grabber atx out of all other all terrain tires, provide you with the best tread life.

Off Road Performance:

Off road include a lot of terrains, and I’ve already covered on roads, and snow, so what’s left is mud, sand and rocks, let’s discuss them all one by one.

Mud traction:

Usually A/T tires are not good at mud, but that’s the thing here, the Nitto Ridge Grappler comes between all terrain and mud terrain tires, meaning it’s tread is equipped with mud terrain tire’s shoulder’s while the central area remains all terrain.

So the tire shows better performance on mud in comparison. It’s wider lateral shoulder block’s spacing allow a good volume of mud to escape.

On the other side, the Toyo AT3, with connectors between the shoulder blocks don’t allow the evacuation of mud and it get packed quickly.

Sand Traction:

Sand traction requires a lot of rubber footprint. That’s why balloon tires do so good on this terrain.

So here the Toyo AT3 does things a little better. First, the tire is lighter, so on slopes, it shows better grip and less force is required for forward momentum.

Second, it’s shoulder blocks are not aggressive, so they don’t dig in and waste energy that way, again, they try to move forward.

The Nitto Ridge Grappler on the other side, although provides effectiveness with mud scoops on sides and thicker sidewall lugs, which during lowered pressure work great, the tire’s heavier weight let’s it down.

Traction on Rocks:

The Nitto Ridge Grappler is the king of rocks. The tire offers everything here which makes a tire perfect for this type of terrain. First off, it’s tread and construction is very confidence inspiring. The 3 ply construction allows you to crawl on rocks carefree.

Moreover, the thicker sidewall lugs (on both sides of the tire) provide great biting abilities,

The tire’s stickier rubber really helps in gripping

Although the missing stone ejectors of the tire does not provide these a good experience on gravel, especially when you get faster, but the tire has a decent chip resistant rubber which adds to it’s off road protection.

Take Home Points:

Out of both tires, the Toyo AT3 is better on roads, as it provides better traction, on both wet and dry, though it’s wet performance can still be improved.

The tire also has 3pmsf rating unlike the Nitto Ridge, and provides ample snow traction.

But it can’t outperform Nitto Ridge Grappler off road, as it’s a weaker tire in comparison that can not handle rugged terrains as confidently.

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