- Marvelous aquaplaning resistance
- Decently responsive and predictable
- Excellent off-road capabilities
- Plenty of grip and traction on paved roads
- Limited size options
- No 3PMSF rating
There were times when off-roading was an activity that only a handful of vehicles could accomplish. Driving in treacherous terrains, going up a hill, getting out of a mud patch is only part of the experience. As the popularity grew, car manufacturers listened and started to shift the market toward that direction. Today, off-roading is an adventure available for more people, thanks to the number of car models that can offer that.
Driving in less than ideal situations isn’t all about having the car; you’ll need to have the tires as well. For the best possible off-road performance, you’d need proper off-road tires, but there’s a problem with those. While they will excel on a mountain, they will be terrible at driving on roads. The good news is that there are several solutions, depending on what you need.
Tires that combine on and off-road performance aren’t something new, but they come in several categories, depending on which way the performance leans. In these cases, the most popular option is all-terrain tires, which are decent for off-roading but are primarily good on the road. Then you have the mud-terrain tires, which are considered excellent for off-roading but not so good on the road. Then you have the tire I’ll be looking at today – the Federal Xplora R/T.
This tire sits between the all-terrain and mud-terrain tires, meaning that you should get better off-road performance without sacrificing comfort and noise on the road. With that said, is the Xplora R/T the perfect tire for both scenarios? Considering that there aren’t too many R/T tires, it’s going to be a challenge to make a comparison.
What are the features of the Federal Xplora R/T?
I’ll start with the obvious, the conditions in which the tire can perform. Federal designed the Xplora R/T as an all-season tire, meaning that the rubber compound is made to remain soft in winter conditions. The tire also comes with the M+S rating, so the performance in mud and snow should be good.
Refinement is an area where Federal paid a lot of attention. The tread is explicitly designed to reduce noise when you drive on the road. It achieved that by optimizing the design, positioning the sipes according to a model, and aligning the blocks.
Part of the tread pattern is also aimed at improving road performance. The Xplora R/T features specially designed center blocks that should improve stability at higher speeds and bring some improvements in handling.
Most of the features the Xplora R/T has are aimed at off-roading. The tire features a self-cleaning pattern thanks to the open grooves at the shoulders. They should enable the tire to eliminate mud or slush buildup and provide consistent performance. With this approach, Federal also took care of the aquaplaning resistance, which should be good.
While I’m on the subject of cleaning, the Xplora R/T also has stone ejectors. It means that stones won’t get stuck in the grooves and cause uneven wear on the tire.
To have a tire that can survive an off-roading adventure, you need it to be sturdy. Federal made the Xplora R/T with a compound that can withstand sharper rocks, so you won’t damage it too easily.
How does it behave on dry tarmac?
The Xplora R/T performs pretty well on the dry tarmac; you could say it’s like a touring tire, which in some ways, it is.
Driving on the roads is no problem with this tire as it has more than enough grip and traction. You can get it to slip in cases when you get too enthusiastic with the gas pedal. Going into a corner is also something that won’t cause you any problems or make you feel unsafe. With these levels of traction, you get pretty short braking distances which may be compared with more expensive tires.
Handling-wise, the tire is responsive, and despite the higher sidewall, there isn’t too much flex. With that said, the tire still behaves more like a touring one. It is predictable but not high-performance-like.
How does it behave over wet and slippery roads?
Performance on wet roads with the Xplora R/T is excellent, which is more or less what I was expecting.
The tiny biting edges around the blocks are doing an excellent job at providing plenty of traction. You can lean on the tire in the corners, and it will hold your truck or SUV in place. This also results in decently short braking distances.
One area where I feel that the Xplora R/T excelled is in the aquaplaning resistance. Even though the grooves are not as wide as something you’ll see on a full-on off-road tire, it still managed to perform well. It remained stable even at higher speeds.
How is it over snow?
The Xplora R/T has an M+S rating, and the snow performance is as good as you can expect. As an all-season tire, it will be fine in snow, but only to a certain point.
Light snow conditions are perfectly fine, and the tire seems to handle them without any issues. Traction on unpacked snow is excellent, and even though it may struggle slightly on packed one, it’s only when you push it too much.
It’s not the worst tire for deeper snow or harsher conditions, but I would have liked to see better performance.
Is it comfortable and refined?
Since the Xplora R/T sits between an A/T and M/T tire, it retains some of the properties that A/T tires possess in refinement.
Comfort levels are decent, and you will get a smooth-ish ride. Unlike some off-road capable tires that can be bouncy, the Xplora R/T smooths things up pretty well. I wouldn’t quite compare the comfort levels with something from the grand touring segment, but I’ll say that it’s not as bad as I thought.
Noise is where the tire suffers a bit. Federal did a good job at suppressing the noise the tire produces, but at the end of the day, it’s an off-road tire. It’s not extremely loud like some M/T tires I’ve driven, so some improvement is made there.
Is it good for off-roading?
Of course, and the Xplora R/T performs pretty well in these conditions.
It will eat dirt roads like a champ, something that any A/T tire will do with ease. Mud and sand also won’t be a problem thanks to the self-cleaning technology where the tire constantly keeps the grooves clean.
Only when you take things to the most extreme scenarios will you notice the tire struggle.
Is the Federal Xplora R/T ideal for sporty driving?
Not really, and this is not just the case with the Xplora R/T. Tires that are capable of going off-roading aren’t particularly good at sporty driving.
Sure, the responsiveness isn’t the worst, and you have a decent amount of traction. The problem is that there isn’t enough for that kind of driving, and keep in mind that this is a tire that you’d fit on a truck.
Federal Xplora R/T Warranty
Off-road tires don’t come with a warranty, so it shouldn’t surprise you that the Xplora R/T doesn’t have one either. The longevity of these tires will depend on how much and how hard you drive them. Gravel and tarmac won’t wear a tire identically.
Considering that this is a relatively new tire, the longevity is not something that I’d like to comment on. Based on my initial impressions, it shouldn’t be a tire that will wear down quickly.
Federal Xplora R/T Pricing: Is it worth the money?
If you look at similar tires in Federal’s lineup, you will see that even price-wise, the Xplora R/T is somewhere in the middle. With a price of around $150, the R/T is more expensive than the Xplora A/T but cheaper than the Xplora M/T.
Should I buy the Federal Xplora R/T?
To be honest, I don’t see a reason why you shouldn’t buy the Xplora R/T. It’s a tire that offers an excellent balance between on and off-road performance with not too many compromises.
The performance on the road is more or less as with an all-terrain tire. The Xplora R/T has a decent amount of grip and traction, which should be plenty for normal driving around town or on the highway. Going a bit more aggressive won’t be a bit issue, but the tire won’t like it, so don’t push it too much. One area I would like to see an improvement is in the snow performance. It would be nice for the tire to have a 3PMSF rating.
Off-road performance is also excellent, and considering that it’s an R/T tire, I wouldn’t expect anything less. The Xplora R/T can tackle every obstacle and will deliver more performance than the regular all-terrain tires.
Refinement is nothing new, and the tire rides comfortably but produces noise. It’s not the worst experience, and you can tell that Federal has done some tweaking to reduce it.
Overall, you are looking at a very good tire that can offer excellent performance on the road and off it.
What Vehicles Will the Federal Xplora R/T Fit?
Here’s a sample list of cars that the Federal Xplora R/T will fit:
- Chevrolet Silverado, Colorado
- Ford F150 series
- GMC Canyon, Sierra
- Jeep Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, Wrangler
- Ram pickup
- Nissan Frontier, Titan
- Toyota Tacoma, Tundra, Hilux
Tire Sizes for Federal Xplora R/T
List of Federal Tire Reviews