Project D2 – Part 2: Winter Boots

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Winter will eventually show up. This we know. But so far we’ve managed to just barely dodge the first signs of winter weather, even though many of our friends just north of us in New York, New Jersey, and the Poconos have already been touched by proof of the season’s arrival.

Here in the Northeast and throughout other parts of the country that can count on at least a few regular snowfalls every year, the single most important piece of equipment to ensure getting through the white stuff is a proper set of tires. After all, four-wheel drive doesn’t matter much if none of them has any traction.

It was about this time last year that I replaced the aged and mismatched rubber on what is now our Project D2. I was looking for a good all-around tire to mount on the factory 16” alloys, and Luke, my “guy at the Tire Rack” whom I’ve been dealing with since 1999, recommended the Kumho Road Venture AT51, largely because I was still commuitng nearly 80 miles a day and it’s an exceptionally quiet tire for an all-terrain. The AT51s have served well as a daily driver tire, though traction on wet and snowy surfaces has been only mediocre.

We’ll eventually be replacing the Kumhos with a larger, more aggressive off-road tire to complete our project build, but we were hoping for something a little more sure-footed for this winter. We reached out to Atturo Tire, whose North American director drives an LR4, and we ended up choosing the Trail Blade X/T, an aggressive all-terrain tire with deep tread blocks and substantial siping for grip on wet and snowy surfaces.

As any Discovery II owner can probably tell you, finding decent OEM-size tires to fit the standard 16” wheels can be a challenge. The Trail Blade X/T starts at 17 inches and goes up, eliminating the current wheels. Fortunately, I had a spare set of 18” factory “Hurricane” wheels sitting around and was able to get the X/Ts in a 235/60-18 fitment. Slightly narrower than the original 255/55-18 tires, the overall diameter is nearly identical at 29.1 inches, compared to 29.0 for the 255-series rubber.

Since there’s been no snow or ice on the road since installing them – it was 50 degrees here on New Year’s Day – we can’t yet speak to their cold-climate prowess. We can, however, confirm they live up to the company’s claim of delivering decent on-road manners. Those large, chunky tread blocks make a lot more noise going down the road though.

We’ll report back on the snow and ice performance as soon as the conditions allow. We’re also planning to take the Disco to our local club’s annual off-roading trip in the Poconos in February, where we should have a chance to run them over packed trails and rocks, even if the snow never shows.

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