Over the past two or three years, the automotive industry has been cranking out new models designed for off-road driving, as well as variations of existing models that offer more off-road capabilities.
Notable examples are of course the Ford Bronco and the Ram TRX for the former, and the Wilderness variants from Subaru (for the Outback and Forester), and the Trailsport versions from Honda for the latter.
People are venturing off the beaten path in droves, it seems. But while manufacturers do equip their products with tires that can do the job, there are more customized solutions for those who want a little more. Nokian has come up with two new tires designed for these types of vehicles.
The tiremaker also sees an strong opportunity for growth, and in fact it hopes to double its sales in North America over the next few years. To that end, the company opened a manufacturing plant in Dayton, Tennessee, in the fall of 2019. Production capacity of that factory will ultimately be four million tires per year.
Here’s what the two new products introduced today offer, in a nutshell.
For owners of pickup trucks, big SUVs and true utility vehicles that will be called upon to venture off the beaten path, Nokian Tyres offers the Outpost AT, an off-road tire with an aggressive, reinforced tread with aramid reinforcement. Commonly used in bulletproof vests, this is a fiber offering high puncture resistance. With this tire, these fibers are not only present in the sidewalls of the tire, but also beneath the tread.
In addition, the Outpost AT benefits from a variety of technologies that aim to make life easier for off-roaders, but also provide more confidence, durability and longevity. For example, there are "Summit sidewalls" with spikes in the upper section provide extra grip when the tire sinks into soft surfaces.
A close look at the tire shows that the tread design continues on the sidewalls, providing extra grip when that part of the tire is also exposed to more challenging conditions. Not by accident, that design also serves to reinforce the more rugged and adventurous look of the tire.
Gravel guards are used to protect the tread from punctures. Nokian's canyon-deep tread pattern is design seen in the outer circumferential bands of the tire. It's designed to attract and deflect mud, snow, etc., so that the main tread grooves remain as empty as possible to provide maximum traction with each turn of the wheel.
In short, there are many innovative touches to this tire that promise to seduce motorists.
The Outpost APT is also a very robust proposal. However, it's aimed more at owners of SUVs dedicated to lighter off-road driving. Think of a Subaru Outback or a Toyota RAV4 Trail, for example.
Here, Nokian's goal was to offer the right compromise between increased robustness and durability in off-road driving, but also a comfortable and safe ride for daily driving. The deep grooves of this tire help, for example, to reduce the risk of aquaplaning. Aramid fibers are also used with the APT, but only in the sidewalls. Fun fact: the sidewalls are different on each side of the tire; it's up to the owner to decide which side they want to show to the world.
The two tires also have Nokian's safety indicators, which are percentages written in the tread. These percentages disappear over time, indicating when the tire has reached the end of its life. Each new Outpost tire model also has a pictogram that attests that it has met the requirements for winter use, a very important criterion in Quebec and certain other provinces.
Both units also come with extensive warranties - 100,000 km for the Outpost AT and 105,000 km for the Outpost APT. Part of the plan is the company's Pothole Protection program. This means that if a tire is damaged beyond repair due to a road hazard, it will be replaced at no cost by the company.
Outpost AT and Outpost APT tires (the latter is exclusive to the U.S. and Canada) are available at all authorized Nokian tire dealers in North America.