Nitto Terra Grappler 30k mile review

Nitto Terra Grappler 30k mile review

Nitto is well known for its wide variety of performance tires, with many catered specifically to off-road and race applications. One of Nitto’s earliest entries into the all-terrain segment was the venerable Terra Grappler.

A seemingly endless supply of positive reviews led us to pick up a set of 285/60R18 ( 31.5 by 11.5 inches ) Terra Grapplers  for the Wrangler back in March 2016.

The Terra Grappler (and the new G2) falls right in the middle of the company’s current line up of truck tires. It’s Nitto’s only light-duty all-terrain, but far from their only off roader; Nitto’s line up is lousy with them. In fact, if you’re just looking highway tire, Nitto’s Dura Grappler is your only option.

The majority of Nitto’s line up is made up of specialized tires. Like rock crawling? Get the Trail Grappler. Dune jumping? Obviously the Dune Grappler. Mud bogging? No question get the Mud Grappler. A little of each? Try a Ridge Grappler.

Nitto’s Terra Grapplers, however, aim to offer a true all-terrain experience whether you’re cruising down the highway or taking your rig down a new trail.

After 30,000 miles running these tires all across the country, down slick rock trails and craggy slate cliffs, I’ve come to a conclusion many of you might not expect. These aren’t the best tires on the market, nor are they the worst. They have their pros and their cons. In this review I’ll be covering why I both love and hate these tires.

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A balancing act

Nitto’s original Terra Grappler is imperfect, a compromise at every corner and as weird as it sounds, that makes them a great all-around tire.

So, how can a tire be both terrible and brilliant? We can start by saying the Terra Grappler isn’t terrible or brilliant, it’s okay. It does everything okay. Nitto isn’t alone here, almost every all-terrain tire can handle a little of everything okay.

The tired cliche jack of all trades, master of none comes to mind when discussing all-terrain tires. A truly great off-road tire by its nature is going to be a poor highway tire and vice versa.

For any individual purpose, whether it be highway towing or dedicated off-roading, I’d suggest looking elsewhere. If you must have a tire that can do both, I can’t recommend these tires enough. They strike a rare balance that epitomizes the all-terrain tire market.

Performance: Compromising never felt so painless

Off-road, these tire’s fairly aggressive tread pattern, heavy sipping and large and plentiful void spaces make them strong performers. That performance is only helped and hurt by the tire’s bulletproof construction.

It’s hard to imagine a scenario where a tire can be built too well, but the Terra Grapplers come close.

The tire’s hard tread compound resists wear and promotes a long life. It also comes with a few compromises. In icy conditions, the tire’s ample sipping seems to struggle to make up for the hard compound. While on-par or better than most all-seasons I’ve tested, there are better all-terrains tires and of course dedicated snow tires if you frequently find yourself in the snow.

The tire’s thick three-ply sidewalls also make these tires incredibly resistant to sidewall tears, a big advantage off-road. The downside of thick side walls is a particularly rough ride on the highway.

Running lower tire pressures helps, especially on light-duty vehicles like our Wrangler. Contrary to popular belief, tire pressures lower than the ones posted on your door-well aren’t always going to result in a blowout. Those tire pressures are for the factory tires. If you’re running a larger, heavier or strong tire, the recommended tire pressure is going to be different.

We run our tires at 30 PSI for regular use (running any tire lower than 30 PSI can result in blow outs) and 18 PSI off-road. Just remember that lower tire pressures allow for more sidewall flex which can make your vehicle a little squirrelly.

All that material makes these tires pretty heavy. The Grapplers on our rig measure in at 31.5-inches in diameter and weigh almost 55 pounds a piece. Combined with our factory 18-inch rims (about 27 pounds each) that’s almost 82 pounds a wheel. That’s a lot of weight to be flinging around at 70-plus miles per hour.

While this review might sound overwhelmingly negative, these factors aren’t unique to Nitto’s Terra Grapplers. Every all-terrain tire has a own unique set of compromises. Some handle them better than others.

Conclusion: A great all around all-terrain

All-in-all these tires are some long-hauling, rough-riders that will take a beating and keep on rolling.

After 30,000 miles, they’ve still got quite a bit of life left in them sporting roughly 8/32nds of an inch of the original 15/32nds. I won’t be surprised if I get another 20,000 miles out of them.

While these are far from the cheapest tires on the market — we paid about $212 a piece for them — they’re a pretty good value, especially considering Nitto’s excellent tread-wear warranty.

So, would I buy these again? In a heartbeat. I really love these versatile tires. Nitto’s second generation of Terra Grapplers appear to have already resolved many of my concerns with the originals.

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