A/T, M/T, R/T…….OH MY!!!! How to Decide Which Tires Are Best for Her Jeep?

A/T, M/T, R/T…….OH MY!!!! How to Decide Which Tires Are Best for Her Jeep?

In the off-roading world, one of the most important decisions you will ever make regarding your Jeep is which tires to go with. This is such a pivotal decision because your entire rig literally rides on it. Being that your tires are the only part of your Jeep that is actually designed to come into contact with the ground, it’s essential that you set yourself up for success for the type of terrain you plan to do most of your driving on. Tire type can have major impacts on your fuel economy (Ha! I said fuel economy in reference to Jeeps) and your Jeep’s ability to perform the way you want it to.

First things first. Let’s get some tire abbreviations and definitions out of the way so you can follow along more easily if you’re not familiar with these terms.

A/T = All Terrain – This type of tire is designed specifically to handle both on- and off-road driving. With a brawnier tread design as compared to the H/T (highway terrain), the A/T tire is favored by those seeking a more rugged visual aesthetic while cruising around town.

M/T = Mud Terrain – The mud terrain tire is purposefully designed with off-road capability as its primary purpose, while keeping in mind the secondary purpose of highway driving (you’ve got to get to your off-road driving destination after all). If you are a fan of Toyo Tires, you’ll know that they consider M/T to also mean “Maximum Traction.”

R/T = Rugged Terrain – A relatively recent addition to the tire market (introduced by Toyo in 2014), R/T tires are designed as a cross between the aggressive look and grit of an off-road M/T tire and the smooth, quiet ride quality of an A/T tire.

  • Per Toyo, “Off-road performance meets on-road comfort with the all-new Open Country R/T. Built rugged for any terrain, this powerful 4x4 tire offers excellent off-road traction, durable construction, and aggressive styling. Its ability to tackle mud, dirt, sand, and rocks is inspired by the legendary Open Country M/T, while its quieter ride is a nod to our best-selling Open Country A/T II.”

H/T = Highway Terrain (yeah, we use the term “terrain” lightly with this one) - This tire is specifically for paved roads. Most stock sedans and minivans come equipped with H/T tires – but you’re not driving a sedan or minivan, are you? Even if you are the proudest Pavement Princess around, you wouldn’t be caught dead with a set of H/Ts on your Jeep. And if you are, yes, we’re judging you.

There, now we can move on and dig into the nitty-gritty of what all that means for you and your tire-based decision.

I’ll use my own Jeep, Miss-Chief, as an example to illustrate. Because Miss-Chief is a Willys Wheeler edition, she came from the dealership brandishing M/Ts. I decided to upgrade the tires from 32’s to 35’s and in doing so, elected to keep the M/Ts on her because I like the aggressive look of them and I had plans to do some serious off-roading and muddin'. Purchasing tires; however, shouldn’t be based on appearance and price point alone.

An M/T tire typically features large tread blocks with spacious channels between them. While the channels are wider to allow for faster mud and water displacement (aka mudslingers), the tread blocks are composed of a beefy texture to ensure maximum traction in dirt and mud. Further, this type of tire often features an “over the shoulder” lug that extends from the tread area down onto the sidewalls which allows for even more grip as needed on trails with deep mud, snow, gravel and rock. When aired down, the protruding lugs become an impressive part of the traction equation. Beyond popular belief that M/Ts are horrible for the sand at the beach and snow in the mountains, an aggressive lug tire can do well in the sand, even without airing down, and a well-siped tire does well in the rain and snow.

I learned through my tire-based research that some of the downsides to the M/Ts are; however, that they don't last as many miles as A/Ts (e.g., Nitto Trail Grappler M/T Light’s approximately 45k miles versus the Yokohama GEOLANDAR A/T G015’s 60k miles), and because of the added grip their tread blocks provide, some can be overbearingly loud on the roads – especially if you’re rocking a soft top. Another downside to the M/Ts is that additional energy is required to move that bulky tread, so a drop in fuel economy is almost inevitable.

In contrast, the A/Ts pros counter the cons of the M/T. Meaning, you’ll get more mileage for your dollar (in tire and fuel) and a considerably quieter ride on pavement. These factors make A/Ts ideal on your daily driver and are perfect for commutes and traveling longer distances, but they’ll still allow you to hit some lighter trails. While A/Ts perform decently on many trails, they will never perform as well as M/Ts which are designed specifically to take you where you want to go off-road.

And this brings me to the R/Ts.

R/Ts are the Goldilocks of tires for the well-rounded Jeeper. Not too aggressive, not too passive. They’re just right because they are a perfect blend of the best combined traits of the A/T and M/T. It's a tire that is tailored towards the daily driver and weekend warrior (weekdays for work, weekends for trails).

Toyo put a lot of thought into crafting a tire that would provide drivers with the best of both worlds. With a 3-ply polyester casing to resist punctures and improve overall tire durability when under heavy loads or being operated in an “aired down” state off-road, Toyo backs their R/Ts with a generous 45,000-mile treadwear warranty. Other tire companies have since developed their version of R/Ts too.

The R/T is like hitting the Vegas jackpot of a tire shelf life. Even better, Toyo offers a no regret trial period of either 500 miles or 45 days. In their words, “Buy 'em, try 'em, love 'em. If you are not completely satisfied after 500-miles or 45-days, we'll take them back.” Think about how many other tire manufacturers you have ever heard say something like that?

At this point, and especially if you haven’t clicked on any of the outbound informational links sprinkled throughout this post, you’re probably wondering how much a set of these tires is going to cost you. I’ll tell you up front that you may want to consider selling a kidney because quality off-road tires don’t come cheap. And if you do choose to opt for a lower priced tire, you’ll likely sacrifice in quality and performance. That said, you can expect to pay anywhere around $252 for A/T; $306 for M/T; and $316 for R/T, per tire. For this comparison, I chose the popular tire size, 35/12.5R17, and the Toyo brand on Amazon. Smaller tire sizes, like 33”, typically cost less, and 37s, more so. We’re not even going to discuss H/Ts because they don’t deserve it.

So, while this might seem like a pretty pro-Toyo post, in all honesty, Toyo is the most popular manufacturer of R/T tires for off-roading. And, as a testament to their quality and reputation in the off-road community, I had Toyo M/Ts on Miss-Chief. I have since upgraded from 35s to 37 inch tires and Miss-Chief and The Grinch Jeeps are currently running BFGoodrich KM3 M/T, which offers a smoother and quieter ride than their previous Toyo M/Ts. Next up and on order are General Grabber A/Tx. Yep, one of these two Jeeps will be riding on A/Ts for the first time. I am looking forward to even smoother and quieter tires than the BFG KM3s while possibly improving gas mileage (but who cares about that, right?).

General Tires is a primary sponsor for Jeep Jamboree USA and that’s how I learned about them. Although the ATx is an A/T tire, it still offers an aggressive look with balanced off-road traction and on-road performance. The Grabber also has lots of siping to improve traction on wet roads (I need this!). They, too, offer a 45-day satisfaction trial and 60k mile limited treadwear warranty.

General Grabber ATx (generaltire.com)

General Grabber ATx (generaltire.com)


Just remember, you get what you pay for when it comes to the price of tires. Invest in a great set of tires for safety, performance, and treadwear. Read about the design of each brand and terrain of tire to determine which one will suit your needs.

Need to know: Did you know that the life of a tire isn’t the treadwear mileage warranty offered by the tire companies? It’s actually SIX (6) years. Yes, tires should be replaced every six years no matter what. The tire manufacturer date is imprinted on the sidewall of the tire in the form of four numbers after the DOT number. The first two numbers represent the week made (out of 52 weeks) and the last two digits represent the year made.

Tire Date Code (utire.com)

Tire Date Code (utire.com)


Tidbit knowledge: Nitto makes a great tire too! That’s because they are owned by Toyo, although, it’s a budget-friendly version.


Herjeeplife is not an affiliate of Toyo, BFG, or General Tires. Herjeeplife has not been paid to write this blog.

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