The all-terrain segment is dominated by tires, mainly from the mid-range segment. While some of the premium manufacturers offer these kinds of tires, I believe that most people aren’t after a few percent improved performances, and they save a few bucks.
Another reason why the premium tire companies don’t dominate this segment is that there aren’t loads of options. Yes, a handful of companies are considered to be the best at what they do, and the rest fall in the mid and cheap part of the industry.
Within each manufacturer’s lineup, there are plenty of options, some of which seem very similar. Like most companies on the market, Cooper is one that has overlaps in multiple categories, including the all-terrain one.
As part of the Discoverer lineup, Cooper offers the ATP II and the AT3 XLT. The first is the newer one, which was released for sale in 2021 and is a Discount Tire exclusive, while the second one is a few years older but is available in multiple retailers.
With this in mind, has Cooper’s partnership with Discount Tire resulted in an excellent tire, or is the older tire a better option?
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Cooper Discoverer ATP II
Like most all-terrain tires, the Discoverer ATP II is an all-season one, meaning that it has some features that help it deliver performance in multiple weather conditions. To achieve that, Cooper utilized an all-season rubber compound, enabling the tire to remain pliable in colder temperatures. This also means that the tire should have excellent performance on wet roads.
Speaking of wet performance, the tread pattern is an area that can help the tire with improved performance. The Discoverer ATP II features micro sipes that can help it improve traction on damp surfaces, while the circumferential and lateral grooves are designed to improve water evacuation.
For snow performance and traction in those conditions, the Discoverer ATP II is designed with jagged edges on the blocks. These should help the tire trap snow in them, improving traction by utilizing snow on snow feature.
The sipes that should help the Discoverer ATP II with wet performance can also help in off-road situations on hardpacked surfaces. In more extreme cases like mud and sand, the tread pattern is designed with larger voids, which aim to improve traction in those conditions.
Cooper also designed the Discoverer ATP II with self-cleaning technology, essentially helping it to keep itself clean. The goal of this design is to keep the grooves clean, resulting in consistent performance. It can also eject stones, eliminating the risk of uneven wear and damage.
Despite the aggressive tread pattern, Cooper tried to optimize it, resulting in lower noise levels. The Discoverer ATP II is also designed to have more stable blocks, meaning that the handling characteristics should be a bit better than its competitors.
Cooper Discoverer AT3 XLT
Considering the applications, the Discoverer AT3 XLT is a very similar tire to the previous one. Even though the technologies are slightly different, the goal is the same – to make an excellent all-terrain tire.
This tire comes from Cooper’s AT3 lineup and is considered to be the most advanced one for off-road performance, offering slightly more features than the AT3 4S and LT. The main advantage is the design, featuring Rugged Traction shoulders designed to improve traction on non-paved surfaces, like mud or sand.
As part of the tread pattern, Cooper incorporated a technology that enables the tire to eject stones, eliminating the risk of damaging the tire over time. Speaking of damage, to ensure that the Discoverer AT3 XLT survives off-roading, the manufacturer used its Durable-Tread Technology, which features a compound that can withstand chips and cuts.
On the road, Cooper implemented several technologies that should make it a better tire. The Discoverer AT3 XLT is designed with Even Wear Arc Technology to ensure that it lasts longer and wears down evenly. It enables the contact patch to remain as consistent as possible while also helping with handling.
The rubber compound works in combination with the tread pattern, which should help the Discoverer AT3 XLT be a very good snow performer. Thanks to the Snow Groove Technology combining the all-season compound with the zig-zag pattern on the sipes, Cooper aimed to have an excellent tire for driving in snow. As a result, the tire gets a 3PMSF rating, so technically, you should expect it to deliver on the promise.
I have to say that I’m impressed by how close these two tires are. Naturally, there are some differences, but they aren’t too massive, so despite being several years apart in terms of age, it’s not like a night and day difference between them.
How do they perform in dry conditions?
On dry roads and ideal conditions, the Discoverer ATP II and AT3 XLT are excellent performers as far as all-terrain tires go.
For regular driving, things are as you’d expect. The Discoverer cousins can deliver plenty of grip and traction for driving around town or on the highway, which should be fine for most drivers. There’s hardly any difference between these conditions, and you probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
The story continues even if you get a bit more aggressive. Naturally, the Discoverer AT3 XLT and ATP II aren’t designed to be driven hard, but if you get carried away, they won’t be dangerous. At the limit, the grip and traction levels aren’t something you can compare with road-going tires. With that said, they can handle a bit of aggressiveness, despite not being able to put a smile on your face.
Considering that most people would be driving these normally, you shouldn’t expect to have any issues, even in emergency braking scenarios. The braking distances aren’t the shortest in this category, but the tires do very well in their own class.
How do they perform on wet roads?
I was expecting more difference in performance in wet conditions, but the Discoverer ATP II and AT3 XLT delivered very similar results.
Naturally, in wet conditions, the levels of grip and traction aren’t identical to what the tires can offer in dry. Despite the limitations, the tires are far from the worst wet performers I’ve tested in the past. There is more than enough grip and traction to eliminate wheelspin or understeer in the corners, meaning that you won’t have too many issues with the Discoverer AT3 XLT and ATP II. Even though the performance was very good, I have to point out that I wouldn’t advise you to push them too hard.
The braking distance is another area where the results are very close. Both tires have decent stopping power, resulting in distances that are still well above the class average.
One area where a slight difference can be noticed is in the aquaplaning resistance. The Discoverer ATP II manages to remain stable at a bit higher speed than the AT3 XLT, putting both tires are very good in this regard.
Can they be used on snow?
Now we come to the area where a larger difference is noticeable. The ATP II doesn’t have a 3PMSF rating, while the AT3 XLT has it, meaning that it should give it an advantage in snow performance.
In real-world scenarios, the difference is noticeable, but I have to say I was surprised by the results. The AT3 XLT, as a 3PMSF certified tire, delivers excellent performance over unpacked snow, regardless if it’s shallow or deeper. On the other hand, the ATP II is almost as good in shallow unpacked snow but will begin to struggle in deeper patches.
Unpacked snow is where both tires will struggle, but thanks to the certification, the AT3 XLT manages to get ahead of the ATP II. Not only does it deliver more traction, but it also feels more stable, and you feel like you have more control.
Finally, ice performance is limited on both tires. Since they’re all-season ones, you shouldn’t expect the same performance a dedicated tire can offer. Driving them carefully, you may get away, but I wouldn’t recommend leaning too much on getting considerably good performance out of them.
While both are no replacement for a winter tire, the AT3 XLT is a better option in these conditions. With that said, if the winters in your area are milder, then you shouldn’t have any issues with the ATP II.
Will they deliver good off-road performance?
Another test where some noticeable performance differences can be seen is in some off-road situations.
The area where there’s almost no difference is over hardpacked surfaces. You can drive the Discoverer AT3 XLT and ATP II back to back and struggle to find some massive differences. Both tires deliver excellent performance levels in the form of grip and traction. They are very well-mannered on the limit and won’t disappoint.
In mud and sand, the performance difference increases, and we can start to see which one would be a better option for these conditions. In shallow mud, both tires perform excellent, with loads of traction and no issues of getting stuck. Driving in deeper mud is a situation where the Discoverer AT3 XLT will be able to offer more traction due to the shoulder design. The ATP II isn’t bad but doesn’t perform on the same level. One thing to point out is that the self-cleaning technology works like a charm, and in both cases, the performance remains consistent.
Going for something like rock crawling with either of these tires isn’t quite recommendable. Sure, you can get away with it, but the internal construction and tread pattern isn’t designed for that, so don’t expect them to do wonders.
Are they good in the handling department?
All-terrain tires aren’t the pinnacle when it comes to handling, and the same can be said about the Discoverer AT3 XLT and the ATP II. There aren’t too many differences in terms of comparing them, and they both feel the same.
Handling isn’t these tires’ forte, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the category. Responsiveness is decent enough for daily driving, and they seem to do a better job than some winter tires. With that said, they are far off from what performance or even a touring tire can provide. The feedback is also something you shouldn’t expect in abundance. Both tires feel a bit vague and don’t communicate too much, which should be fine unless you’re driving at the limit.
Straight-line tracking is also decent, and the tires can hold the line over uneven roads. Sure, you may need some minor corrections, but it’s nothing major.
How well-refined are the tires for everyday driving?
Tires that try to combine multiple driving aspects into a single package rarely achieve to be good at everything. In terms of refinement, I wouldn’t classify the Discoverer ATP II and AT3 XLT as the worst, but they are no touring tires either.
The area where they’re decently good is in terms of the noise levels. Tires with aggressive patterns are usually noisier, and with these two, you can tell that Cooper tried its best to remedy that problem. As a result, the Discoverer ATP II and AT3 XLT are acceptably quiet, even at higher speeds or in rougher terrain. They aren’t the quietest all-terrain tires but are above average.
Things aren’t as “impressive” in the comfort zone, and you shouldn’t expect the comfiest ride in the world. When hitting a pothole, occasional jolts can be felt, and some of the vibrations will be felt in the cabin. A vehicle with a softer suspension can improve this slightly but don’t expect it to do wonders. Subjectively, I think that the ATP II is marginally more comfortable
Do any of them offer a warranty?
Like in most of the situations so far, the Discoverer AT3 XLT and ATP II are very similar in the warranty segment as well. Both tires come with a 60,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is quite a lengthy one for this type of tire.
How do they compare in terms of price?
The price is the most significant advantage the Discoverer ATP II has over the AT3 XLT. Despite the limited size options, I found a 16-inch tire with the same sizes and specs, which put a price difference of over $30, which isn’t insignificant.
Cooper Discoverer ATP II Pros and Cons
- A bit better aquaplaning resistance
- Priced slightly lower than the AT3 XLT
- The ride quality is a bit softer
- Limited size options
- Can struggle a bit in deeper mud
- Cooper Discoverer AT3 XLT Pros and Cons
- Mud performance is better
- 3PMSF rating for better snow performance
- More size options are available
- More expensive
- Ride is on the firmer side
Which of the two is a better option?
Considering how close the Discoverer AT3 XLT and ATP II are, you can get either of them and notice no difference in how they perform. Despite that, some subtle differences may make a difference for your specific needs.
The ATP II is the better option on a tighter budget, but you may lose out a bit on mud and snow performance. With that said, you are getting a slightly more comfortable ride and a bit better aquaplaning resistance. This doesn’t make it loads better, but it can be considered slightly ahead in these specific sets of circumstances.
The AT3 XLT, on the other hand, is the more expensive option, but with the extra price, you get more traction in deeper mud or snow. This also means that you’ll have access to a wider range of size options, something the ATP II lacks a bit. There are some drawbacks, and apart from the higher price point, you are looking at a slightly firmer ride and a tire with a tad worse aquaplaning resistance.
To be fair, these differences can be noticed at the limit or if you’re looking for them. For most people and the way they drive their SUVs and light trucks, both tires will be an excellent option.