When it comes to off-roading, choosing the correct tire is critical. Considering that this is an activity where tires can get destroyed, going for something you’d find on a Toyota Corolla isn’t a wise decision.
In the off-road part of the tire industry, there are several tire options that vary in application. On the one hand, you have the mud-terrain options, which are for the most extreme conditions, while on the other, you have all-terrain ones – designed for a blend of on and off-road performance.
When it comes to driving on unpaved surfaces, Goodyear’s Wrangler family of tires offers one the best products through multiple models, based on most people’s needs. Today’s comparison will put two all-terrain tires up against each other and see how both of them compare.
I’ve tested the Wrangler UltraTerrain and Wrangler DuraTrac, both advertised as excellent all-terrain tires. Before you get confused, let me explain something. You’re probably wondering why Goodyear has two tires in the same class. The UltraTerrain is a model designed specifically for Discount Tire, unlike the DuraTrac, which can be found in most shops.
With that out of the way, let’s see how they compare in terms of features.
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Based on what the manufacturer claims, the UltraTerrain is a tire that can bring some serious off-road performance without a significant compromise on road performance. Looking at the features, things look promising for this tire.
One of the key features of the UltraTerrain is the rubber compound designed as an all-season one, meaning that you can expect performance in a wide range of temperatures. It’s also designed to be tougher, meaning that it can resist chips and cuts in serious off-road scenarios.
The main feature that delivers the UltraTerrain’s on and off-road performance is the tread design. The computer-optimized contact patch ensures that the tire remains stable and usable on the road. Goodyear also claims that it should pose some decent handling characteristics.
Another area that Goodyear’s computer model aimed to improve is comfort. Despite being an off-road capable tire, the company claims that the comfort levels aren’t handicapped.
In off-roading conditions, the void ratio is the aspect that should help it claw its way out of any situation. It’s designed to be able to clean itself of mud or sand buildup, meaning that it can deliver consistent and constant traction. Around the shoulders, the blocks are designed not only to keep the tire safe from damage in extreme situations but also to deliver additional traction.
Thanks to the aggressive tread pattern and the elements incorporated, the UltraTerrain has a 3PMSF rating, meaning that it should handle slightly harsher winter conditions compared to an M+S rated tire.
Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac
In some aspects, the DuraTrac is a tire similar to the previous one. It’s also advertised as an all-terrain all-season tire, so you should expect a nice balance between performance on the road and off it.
As far as the compound goes, Goodyear went with a similar approach and designed it to be usable throughout the year. Like with the previous tire, it’s designed with off-roading in mind, meaning that it’s tougher, making it more durable when you drive on non-paved surfaces.
Goodyear utilized its TractiveGroove Technology which should bring improvements in two key areas. Tires with deeper voids are primarily good performers in off-road conditions, as they can dig in and deliver traction. The same can be said about snow performance, and thanks to that, the DuraTrac gets a 3PMSF rating. Keep in mind that some sizes come only with an M+S rating.
While I’m on the subject of winter performance, Goodyear has another trick up its sleeve to improve the performance. LT-sized models are also eligible to be fitted with studs, making the DuraTrac a very strong contender in icy conditions as well.
The DuraTrac is a tire that will be driven on roads, so Goodyear tweaked the tread pattern to reduce the noise generated by off-road tires. By Implementing central blocks at a higher angle, the company aimed to provide a quieter ride. In addition to that, you should also see some enhancement in terms of grip and traction.
Off-roading isn’t off the table, and thanks to the tread design and the reinforcement, the DuraTrac can take some beating. The shoulder blocks are designed with a technology that enables them to self-clean. As a result, they can do their job constantly and provide excellent traction.
Both tires fall in the same category, so I expected similar performance and wasn’t too far off. Even though the performance isn’t identical, the results are pretty similar. In some sections, I’ll mention the performance for both tires simultaneously, mainly because it felt like there wasn’t any difference.
How do they perform in dry conditions?
All-terrain tires are designed to be driven on the road as well, and the UltraTerrain and DuraTrac deliver very good results.
When accelerating, the traction does an excellent job and doesn’t allow for too much slip. In both cases, you can get the tires to light up, but you’ll need to be more aggressive, while for average acceleration, wheel slip is non-existent.
In the corners, the UltraTerrain and DuraTrac perform pretty well. Despite not being tires that are designed to be pushed hard, the levels of grip are pretty good. Both tires deliver excellent performance under normal driving conditions but keep in mind that the limit isn’t exceptionally high. It means that neither of them can deliver grip as a performance-oriented tire could.
The tires are closely matched in the braking distance aspect and deliver respectably short braking distances. While they aren’t industry-leading, they are still among the best.
As far as differences are concerned, the UltraTerrain and DuraTrac are very close in dry conditions. There are some very minor differences that favor one or the other depending on the situation, but they are something that you could notice at the limit.
How do they perform on wet roads?
All-terrain tires aren’t known to be the best in wet conditions, but some models perform pretty good. Looking at how the UltraTerrain and DuraTrac performed, I’d have to say that they are doing their job just fine.
If the roads are damp, the tires will deliver a very usable performance which should be more than enough for everyday driving. The traction is pretty good and minimizes wheel spin, while the grip levels in the corners are pretty good. In these conditions, we begin to see some slight differences, namely in terms of how much the tires can hold on to the road. When pushed hard, the UltraTerrain lets go a bit sooner than the DuraTrac. Don’t get me wrong, both do an excellent job, but the DuraTrac can handle a bit more.
In both cases, the braking distances aren’t the star of the show. While they are short and safe, some competitors from other brands can outperform them.
Aquaplaning resistance is another aspect that shows a difference in performance. You can expect excellent water evacuation from both tires, but the UltraTerrain seems to do a better job at it due to the tread design. This is probably due to the “straighter” channels, which reduce the restriction of the water passing. As a result, it can remain stable at slightly higher speeds when compared to the DuraTrac.
Can they be used on snow?
The combination of an all-season rubber compound and tread pattern makes all-terrain tires a decent option for driving in winter conditions. Here, the performance is great, but again, there are some differences.
The UltraTerrain is a tire that can deliver usable performance in snow. Thanks to the 3PMSF rating, it can offer traction in lighter conditions and even deeper snow. It may struggle a bit in packed snow, but it provides decently short braking distances regardless of that.
On the other hand, the DuraTrac has a slightly more aggressive tread pattern, enabling it to tackle snow a bit better. I’m not talking about night and day differences, but they are noticeable, especially when the conditions are a bit harsher.
In both cases, the tires will handle them confidently as long as you don’t try to push them too hard.
Ice is where the biggest difference lies. Considering that both tires are technically all-season ones, the performance is limited, which is nothing to be surprised about. With that said, the DuraTrac has an advantage, as long as it’s an LT model. The option to fit studs to the tire means that ice performance will be much better than the UltraTerrain.
Will they deliver good off-road performance?
All-terrain tires are designed to deliver off-rad performance as well, and I’m happy to report that both models do a very good job at it. Unlike the dry performance, where they were closely matched, things aren’t the same for off-roading.
Starting off with the hardpacked surfaces, the UltraTerrain and DuraTrac are outstanding performers and have no issues. They can hook up to the surface and get you going without too much hassle. You can rely on them to deliver plenty of grip for the corners and to remain controllable even at the limit.
Thanks to the internal construction, both tires are perfectly fine for rock crawling. You can deflate them and not worry about damaging them and at the same time get decent performance, as long as the conditions aren’t extremely harsh.
So, what’s the difference? Mud and sand mostly. Both tires do a very good job at keeping the tread pattern clean, but the design gives the DuraTrac a bit of an edge. It seems to be better in these conditions and can hook up a bit better if it gets stuck.
Are they good in the handling department?
You shouldn’t expect an all-terrain tire to do any wonders, and the same goes for the UltraTerrain and DuraTrac. They will be good enough for everyday driving, but don’t expect them to do well for driving on a track.
Based on how the tires handle, it’s evident that the UltraTerrain is a slightly better handling tire than the DuraTrac. To be fair, both tires are excellent for everyday driving, but there are some slight differences that put the UltraTerrain a bit ahead.
The initial turn-in is a bit sharper, making the UltraTerrain decently responsive for an all-terrain tire. As a comparison, the DuraTrac is slightly less responsive, while both of them don’t provide a lot of feedback.
Pushing them into a corner is a bad idea, not due to the lack of grip and traction for that but also due to the sidewall. You can feel it flexing when you approach the limit, making things a bit difficult and unpleasant for the driver.
How well-refined are the tires for everyday driving?
When you go for a tire that can be driven on and off-road, you should be prepared to make some compromises. In terms of the UltraTerrain and DuraTrac, you’ll be sacrificing the noise levels.
Due to the tread design, both tires are nowhere near as quiet as highway tires. With that said, when compared to its rivals, the tires don’t do too bad of a job. You will hear noise from them, even at lower speeds, but they won’t be overly intrusive.
In terms of comfort levels, Goodyear managed to do a pretty decent job and make them comfortable enough. Again, don’t expect to get something similar to touring tires, as you will notice some of the bumps. A slight difference I noticed is that the DuraTrac seems to do better in terms of vibration manages to reduce them a bit better than the UltraTerrain.
Do any of them offer a warranty?
When it comes to warranty, the UltraTerrain has a considerable disadvantage. Goodyear offers the DuraTrac with a 50,000-mile treadwear warranty, while the UltraTerrain one has no treadwear warranty.
Putting the warranty aside, the UltraTerrain doesn’t seem to be a tire that has problems with longevity, nor does the DuraTrac. Both are designed to be tough and don’t wear down quickly.
How do they compare in terms of price?
One of the main selling points of the UltraTerrain is the price point. Even though Goodyear makes the tire, it’s sold only at Discount Tire, and the price is slightly lower when compared with the DuraTrac.
Putting the two models with the same sizes gives us a difference of around $50, which isn’t an insignificant number.
Goodyear Wrangler UltraTerrain Pros and Cons
- More affordable
- Slightly better-aquaplaning resistance
- The handling is a bit better
- Performance in mud and sand isn’t as good as the DuraTrac
- No treadwear warranty
Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac Pros and Cons
- Better for more extreme off-road scenarios
- Manages to reduce vibrations from the road better than the UltraTerrain
- More expensive
- Not a lot of feedback through the steering wheel
Which of the two is a better option?
Both tires are excellent at what they do, but there are some situations where one of them is a better option.
For people looking for a great and affordable all-terrain tire, the UltraTerrain is an excellent option. With the price drop, you are sacrificing the treadwear warranty and a bit of off-road performance.
On the other hand, if the warranty and performance in mud and snow are crucial to you, then go for the DuraTrac. In addition to that, you also get a tire that can be fitted with studs, meaning that you’ll get an increase in performance on icy surfaces.