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Car Reviews

First Drive – 2018 Range Rover Velar

Palm Springs, CA – The modern re-branding of Land Rover is under way. The 67-year-run of Defender has ended and is soon start anew; the all-new Discovery has taken a shift away from boxiness into a more typical rounded-silhouette SUV; and now the Velar, the newest vehicle creation from the British brand, stamps that transformation away from boxy with a rakish roofline.

The 2018 Range Rover Velar is a mid-size SUV that sits in-between the entry-level Evoque and the larger Range Rover Sport. Its overall shape is long and low, but its ground clearance still remains to retain its capable off-road action synonymous with Land Rover Range Rover history.

The width of the Velar is the only measurement that places is it in the middle of its siblings. On one hand, the Velar is only 33 mm longer than Sport, but 455 mm longer than Evoque; while its height is 135 mm shorter than Sport and only 5 mm shorter than Evoque.



Styling takes on a refined, simplistic approach

The California desert destination of Palm Springs wasn't chosen by accident as the location for the Velar's first drive program.

“Palm Springs is a mecca for desert modernism, and that's similar to the design philosophy of the Velar: reduction of lines, simplicity and cleanliness,” explains Gerry McGovern, Chief Design Officer, Land Rover.

The Velar resembles the look of the Jaguar F-Pace – built on the same platform – but takes it to another level of refinement. This is most evident by its standard super-slim LED headlights and flush door handles that allow the Velar's fluid motion to be paramount. These specific touches create a solid design foundation, also contributing to its driving capabilities with a drag coefficient of 0.32 – the best aerodynamic mark ever for the brand.



Its exterior presence may be the initial draw, but its insides equal in impressiveness and continues the visually reductive approach. Inside is where the entire brand needed the most work and the Velar takes on that challenge with an elegant simplicity and sophisticated sanctuary.

The insides are based on a strong horizontal emphasis that centres around twin 10-inch touchscreens that Range Rover is calling the Touch Pro Duo system. The two screens sit on top of one another flanked by two scroll buttons and a central volume knob. It's all done in a clean, organized fashion that's easy-to-understand and responsively quick.



A standout feature is below the top screen. With a touch of your finger, the driver or passenger can switch from controlling his or her massaging seats to switching radio stations, all the while keeping navigation on the main screen. Swipes are effortless with sophisticated technology as its core. In addition, a 12.3-inch TFT cluster (5-inch for the base model) adds to the its refined look with an available heads-up display with four customizable modes.

The rest of the insides are treated with a clean soft-leather dash, while the heated and ventilated seats are adorned with the same leather treatment or Kvadrat, a premium alternative made primarily of wool. Fine details, such as dual flat-surface armrests aid in a comfortable ride that allows you to sit back, relax and take in a massage.



The Velar's design is unquestionably classy, but at times that gets in the way of practicality. One improvement that should be looked into is the size of its glove box and cubby compartments. Even though, there's a little opening behind the centre console, there's no spot in the front that was big enough to fit my DSLR camera. And what does that say for iPads or larger items? Considering this is an SUV built for families, and potential road trips, Land Rover should have shied away from sleekness all around on the inside and allowed for more storage.

In the rear, passengers receive standard headroom and legroom despite its rakish roofline. As for cargo space, the Velar opens up to 1,985 litres when the second row is folded down, and 558 litres for just the trunk.



Powertrain choices and off-road chops

Like most Jaguar Land Rover vehicles, the Velar receives both a gasoline and diesel powertrain. In Canada, the turbodiesel inline-four acts as the base option – a 247-hp turbo, 2.0-litre inline-four gas version takes on that role in the United States – with 180 hp and an impressive 317 lb-ft of torque. The single gas version is a horsepower-heavy 3.0-litre V6 that produces 380 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Both options are matched to a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and an all-wheel-drive setup with Intelligent Driveline Dynamics (IDD).

The diesel may be optimal from a price standpoint that begins at $62,000, but the V6, starting at $69,000, comes standard with a class-leading air suspension that raises the SUV up to 9.9-inches from 8, which can also come down to 6, if needed. Additionally, it enables the Velar to ford through 25.6-inches of water. 



On this day, its wading depth wouldn't be tested, but we were sent off in the V6 to a long stretch of off-road trails through the San Bernadino National Forest. That's where this vehicles shined; not for being the best in the off-road business – other Land Rover Range Rover products can take that medal – but because its shorter and sleeker SUV-package can still climb over mid-size rocks and get through harsh dirt trails without breaking too much of a sweat. Its rear design is so sophisticated, it even keeps dirt in most situations from landing on the back screen.

During the more flat off-road surfaces, the Velar was placed in regular terrain mode, but as the route became trickier, the Terrain Response Control system came into play. It can be optimized for the likes of sand, mud and snow, along with customizable suspension and steering features such as Dynamic, Comfort and Eco that significantly change the feeling behind the wheel.



It's nice to see the Velar in an off-road setting with other Rovers and Jeeps, but its main use by its customer base will be on the paved road. If you're looking for more power and clearance – the V6 will do the job; while the diesel excels in initial acceleration and better fuel economy (8.7 L/100 km was observed on the drive). However in both respects, the Velar isn't the most powerful SUV on the market, nor the most fuel efficient; it sits in a middle-of-the-road comfort zone.

As for steering, the Velar only needed small inputs to guide through a curvy slalom drive. The reaction of the vehicle was crisp and direct without much body roll when it's not off-roading. On the highway, both rides were fairly quiet, blocking out most of the outside noise mirroring the calmness of its interior.

Verdict

The all-new 2018 Range Rover Velar certainly fills a gap at a time when consumers are in desperate need of an SUV fix. Diesel may be the more frugal and fuel-efficient option, but the British brand expects more loaded V6s to be purchased at a rate of eight in ten.

The Velar can be summed up as one of the best overall mid-size SUVs in its segment. Outside of its off-roading abilities, the Velar stands out on design both inside and out, with a little towing on the side. Those features form a great package that places it in a good spot as it competes with the likes of the Porsche Macan and Cayenne, Audi Q5, BMW X4 and X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLC and GLE.

First Drive – 2017 Land Rover Discovery: still the all-versatile warrior

St. George, UT – Snow-covered mountain peaks, large red rock formations and a deep sand dune were all part of a playground for the all-new 2017 Land Rover Discovery. Seems fitting for the capabilities of a Land Rover product, even though they're customers rarely taken to task. On this two-day journey through the heart of both Utah and Arizona desert country that saw us cross into Zion National Park and Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Land Rover aimed to prove how capable the newly-sculpted Discovery still is.

The Discovery nameplate may not be new globally, but in North America, it's taking over for the LR4. A refreshing change to an off-roading SUV that needed a complete overhaul from its mundane name to its aging boxy style. Canadian sales stayed status quo for the LR4 in 2016, but the British brand needed to aspire for more than triple digit sales numbers, which meant being niche in its off-road capabilities and not in the looks department as well.



A transformation in design

At 2,080 kg – 20 percent lighter (480 kg) than the LR4 with most of its construction out of aluminum – the Discovery resembles other luxury SUVs with a rounded, more aggressively-sculpted appearance. According to Phil Simmons, Land Rover’s Studio Director for Exterior Design, Land Rover wanted to “build on the [Range Rover] Evoque's styling cues that resonated emotionally with customers. A progressive more adventurous design that goes along with the brand's heritage.”

The driving force behind the sleek look comes down to aerodynamics – the 2017 model achieves a coefficient drag of 0.33. The smooth front corners remove bulk in front of the wheel allowing it to not only look planted, but have air flow around the sides to the back of the wheel arch, reducing wind noise and fuel economy in the process. The rear end takes on a whole new look with horizontal LED taillights and an off-centred license plate that bucks the trend.



Its exterior takes a while to get used to, but don't judge a book by its cover. This Discovery can still sit seven, has class leading ground clearance of 283 mm, 900 mm of wading depth when in need of some refreshment, can climb large mountains and tow up to 3,500 kg. And outside of the towing, that's exactly what we accomplished, and all of that with ease.

Conquering challenges along the way

Before we get into its on-road and off-road prowess, let's go over the two engine choices offered: a supercharged, 340-hp 3.0-litre V6 gas unit with 332 lb.-ft. of torque and a turbocharged, 254-hp 3.0-litre diesel V-6 with an impressive 443 lb.-ft. of torque. Both are matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission and a top-of-the-line four-wheel-drive (4x4) system.

That 4x4 system is what separates the contenders from the pretenders and Land Rover has numerous drive modes that include: Auto, Rock/Crawl, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts and Sand. Land Rover didn't hold back on the Discovery's capabilities, putting on a first class presentation of its skills with no stone left unturned.



Sandy trails were just an appetizer for the Discovery, as the diesel unit powered through those quicksand dips, turns and inclines with only minor moments of fear, but that was more to do with the driver getting acquainted with the sandy terrain.

Once settled in, it was those Coral Pink Dunes that teleported us to a scene in a modernized movie version of Lawrence of Arabia. The sand was deep, the inclines steep, and the Discovery had to find its own lines to gain any traction. After watching the lead instructor get bogged down in some heavy sand twice, it was clear this was no easy task, but this is why our tire pressure was lowered. Amazingly, every single Discovery made its way up, down and sideways through the dunes. The key was keeping momentum and powering ahead, and when done successfully without driver error, the Discovery made it past every challenge.

The last major off-road obstacle was a rock crawl. Once again, this wasn't your typical trail, but plenty of instructors were on-hand. The rocks were large, edgy, and at times, they appeared never ending. The Discovery was put in low-range and outside of a little slip right at the beginning, yours truly made a slow crawl through the most difficult rocks without any second attempts. I've been with other capable off-roaders, granted not on the same course nor with these amount of instructors, but that typically comes with a few gear shifts to get the job accomplished.



Calm, composed and quiet

The off-road obstacles were clearly the highlight of this first drive. But on reflection, it was the on-road component that became the most impressive part. And before you roll your eyes, give me a second to explain.

We expect a Land Rover to be able to be an off-road warrior – it's been doing that since its inception. What makes this new version unique is that it turns into a quiet and composed drive that allows all occupants to sit back and enjoy the plush luxuries of its cockpit. It's all about versatility and the fact that it can transform into a regular SUV with improved fuel economy – we managed a combined 10.5 L/100 km in the diesel version and 8.9 L/100 in the gas model in mostly highway driving – gives it an edge over its luxury competitors.



The LR4 never had great handling skills, but for a girthy SUV, that comes with the territory. For 2017, the Discovery still isn't the easiest to manoeuvre, but advancements have been made with turning more direct and in less need of wheel correction. In addition, braking tended to be a little slow and in need of additional pressure, but that's something that can be worked out over time.

Overall, the gas and diesel powertrains were similar rides. A few key differences of note came down to acceleration and off-road climbs. The gas version showed better chops when in need of some acceleration on the highway or while navigating city streets. On the other hand, the diesel accessed that extra amount of torque to perform some difficult rock climbs at an easier rate.

Tech-savvy interior

The technology used in its off-roading capabilities may be equal to the ones found inside. The layout is easy to understand and filled with gadgets that include 21 storage bins, nine USB ports, six 12-volt power outlets, a Wi-Fi hotspot and a rotary transmission dial. The only downside was its new 10-inch touchscreen that may use vibrant colours and graphics, but became difficult to use with slow reaction times and buttons too small to accurately press when scrolling through radio stations and other functions.

 

As frustrating as the touchscreen can be, Land Rover makes up for it in the cargo department. A one-piece liftgate breaks away from the previous split setup and supplies a handy hop-on shelf that can hold three people. In total, there is 2,500 litres of cargo space with both rows folded down, which reduces to 2,406 litres in the seven-passenger setup. Seat folding controls are made easy with electronic switches in the trunk or on the touchscreen that fold in 14 seconds. If only the third row needs to be flattened, the second row intelligently slides forward to allow for a fully flat canvass.

Conclusion

The 2017 Land Rover Discovery turns a chapter on the boxy-look we've all grown accustomed to. Its new sleek and rounded exterior may resemble a similar tone like most luxury SUVs on the market, but it's a whole lot more. The Discovery showed its strengths during rock climbs and sand dunes, but its transformation into a quiet and comfortable street cruiser makes it the total package.

Not only will it appeal to more consumers, it has everything that was rugged and versatile about the LR4 carried over along with more technology and improved fuel economy. The Discovery will start at $61,500 and go up to $82,500 with Canadian sales to begin in May.



 

Going exploring, platinum-style with Ford

 

Big Sky, MT – Throughout the auto industry, there's a certain confusion growing that has blurred the lines between mainstream and luxury. Mainstream automakers have been going against the grain, offering luxury touches at affordable prices. This is turn, has forced luxury automakers to go further providing laser-etched wood and hand stitching to please consumers wanting that little bit more.

For 2016, Ford is jumping into the fray with its all new Ford Explorer large-size three-row SUV. The model has been completely refreshed with a new look and an added engine choice that offers best-in-class fuel economy, but the one thing they really wanted to show off was their new Platinum trim offering.



The Ford Explorer Platinum might be classified in the mainstream division, but there's nothing mainstream about it. The Explorer Platinum utilizes a vision of no compromise and is catered to the consumer who wants it all. Not one option will be found, as everything comes standard. The only decision you're left to make is a choice between bench or bucket seats in the second row.

Showing its enthusiasm for this vehicle and trim, Ford created an epic six-leg journey throughout the Western part of North America. In total, nine cities would be crossed covering 4,406 kilometres with the use of 187 media members. We were separated in waves, and yours truly took the third one that had us fly into Bozeman, Montana.



The journey through America's heartland to the west was a great opportunity to take the full-size SUV on a road trip and explore the beautiful roads of Big Sky Country into Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park, before concluding in the affluent town of Jackson. It's a trip that many take each year to discover nature and wildlife, not to mention the mountainous backdrop that is just breathtaking.

As you enter the Platinum, luxury surrounds you with a leather-wrapped interior that has a quilted design panel on the doors, dash and seats. My test vehicle had the new Ebony with Anthracite headliner combination that was pristine with a brushed-aluminum Platinum logo. The seats are plush, but they're complemented well by real ash-wood touches and more shiny aluminum.

Ford made sure to show that this Platinum offering is not just another trim choice by changing the famous blue oval centred on the steering wheel with one that is made out of that same brushed-aluminum. Just above the steering wheel, you'll find another first for Ford as a 10.1-inch digital display with analog components put an exclamation mark on the term 'upscale.'



Now that all the luxury touches were described, it was time to set out with the Explorer. My driving partner and I packed our luggage into the trunk within seconds, thanks to the PowerFold third row. After a few button touches, the third row seats get tucked in to expand trunk space to 43.9 cu. ft. from the 21 cu. ft. of space with all three rows up.

Our starting base was in Big Sky, a tourist attraction for skiing in the winter and fly fishing in the summer. If you've ever seen the movie A River Runs Through It starring Robert Redford, you would know how beautiful the Gallatin River is. As the Explorer crosses by that famous river surrounded by mountains, fly fishers are found flinging their rods to reel in some fish.

The scenery is as peaceful as the ride itself. As much as the luxury touches catch your eye at first, it's the calm and quiet nature of the Explorer Platinum ride that wins you over. Ford has focused on sealing off road noise to allow occupants to rest their arms on those thick arm rests, turn on those massaging front-row seats and enjoy the adventure ahead, the original purpose for the Explorer.



We soaked in plenty of Montana's nature, but we knew it was time to start moving on as we needed to see one of the world's greatest attractions and wonders, Yellowstone National Park. We cranked the industry-first 500-Watt Sony audio system with live acoustics and clear phase technology and booked it on US-191 S, testing out the standard 3.5-litre direct-injected twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 that produces 365 hp and 350 lb.-ft. of torque. The Platinum offered plenty of power when needed, while still maintaining that quiet ride that seamlessly transitioned through its six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission. The roads were relatively smooth, but when we encountered bumps, not much noise or vibration was heard or felt.

Once we hit the park, it was all about adventure. Within 10 minutes of being in the park, we came across our first obstacle, a 2,000-lb. Bison. The Explorer brakes worked to perfection, and we were literally eye-to-eye with the gargantuan hairy land mammal. It was a sight to see; one that was both amazing and scary.



As the Bison slowly walked off heading into the opposite direction, we parked the Explorer off the road and onto the hilly grass to catch a glimpse of Yellowstone's remarkable geysers. The most incredible of them all is called Old Faithful, due to its predictability. It shoots out hot water and steam every 35-90 minutes, allowing visitors to see one of nature's beauties. Through our many stops, we were thankful that the Platinum had a 180-degree camera with a wash for both ends of the SUV, identical to the one found in the Edge

We didn't fully get to test the Explorer's Intelligent four-wheel drive with a Terrain Management System, but it's there when needed. Just select what terrain mode you want with the dial below the gear shift. You can choose between Normal, Sand, Snow/Grass, or Mud/Ruts.



The 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum has everything you want in a large, adventurous SUV. Its versatility of performance, luxury and off-roading abilities are hard to match, to go along with fuel economy numbers that have improved. We ended up averaging a respectable 10.0L/100 km on the dot, which isn't too shabby for a large SUV that weighs 4,890 lbs. and can tow up to 5,000 lbs.

As luxurious as it is, it comes with a price tag that's typically attached to entry-level Mercedes and BMWs. But for the one price of $58,599 and a destination and delivery charge of $1,690 – this Platinum edition comes with all the fixins. It's only available in all-wheel drive and will be coming to showrooms this September. If you're not about wanting that label, this Platinum Explorer provides all the luxury and performance you will ever need.

In short – 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4X4

With the introduction of the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4X4, the manufacturer made what some might call a bold and daring move. The vehicle as tested recently, excluding HST, had a price point small change north of $70K. For a Jeep. The venerable, grandfather to the still-expanding SUV category – a market segment which is ever-so-slowly, beginning to outsell Canadians beloved light truck sector.

Jeep categorizes this SUV as a class-leading mid-size. Fair enough. But in this configuration, it competes directly against the likes of the Audi Q7; BMW X5; Infiniti QX70; and the Land Rover LR4 – among others. Perhaps it needs a catchier alpha numeric name?

Can this vehicle compete with the rich pedigree-laden luxury vehicles it might sell alongside?

Simply; yes.

Today's Jeep Grand Cherokee is a good looking, stylish and yet immensely practical vehicle. This SUV will surprise many. The cabin is richly furnished, with well-chosen textures and materials and provides an inviting layout and design. Frankly, this particular Grand Cherokee is loaded – the end result being a very pleasant surprise.

One of the main reasons for the larger than expected sticker price is the availability of an efficient and torque-rich option with the most welcome Ecodiesel 3.0-litre V-6. Offering 420 ft.-lb. of torque, and an inspiring 11.2L/100km in the city and 8.4L/100km on the highway. A full tank of diesel fuel yields approximately 1,200 kilometres and offers best-in-class towing of 7,400 pounds. Coupled with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and you have a vehicle that can drive great distances – all in practical comfort.

Putting aside the fact that it’s a Jeep which to some potential buyers may hold some stigma, this is an impressive, all round vehicle that will offer everyone something more than expected.



The Grand Cherokee has a feel secure on wet or dry pavement, but it's also vastly talented off-road. The most advanced versions can still clamber over boulders and logs with ease, and the new automatic enables a lower crawl ratio that suits the torquey Ecodiesel especially well.

Jeep continues with the well-tested and accepted Quadra-Lift air suspension, as well as the three four-wheel drive systems – Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II, and Quadra-Drive II. It also has the Selec-Terrain management system, which automatically caters the powertrain settings for either sand, mud, auto, snow, or rock.



My time spent with this model reminded me of some off-road escapades in the Kawarthas some four years ago. The Ecodiesel would have likely “solved” some of the deep mud terrain issues we experienced, overcome by towing winches and three, non-standard Jeep Wrangler Rubicons. But I digress.

As tested:

Price: $70,375.

Engine: 3.0L V6 turbo diesel.

Power: 240hp – and a stump-pulling 420 ft-lb of torque.

Transmission: 8-speed automatic.

Fuel economy (L/100km): City 11.2/Hwy 8.4. Actually averaged 7.4L/100km on the initial drive from Mississauga to Barrie.

Pros: a value-laden family hauler – just as comfortable driving to and from the cottage or the board room. Excellent fuel economy – do not be reluctant to consider because it is diesel. Over a seven day period with this SUV, we drove almost 600 kilometres for a combined fuel consumption of 8.0L/100km.

Cons: lack of a third row of seating; pricing – to some. Diesel may also be a negative to those that still associate this fuel with farms and tractor trailers.

Long and the short: worthy of consideration. In this configuration, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Cooper Tires Discoverer SRX and STT Pro review

Pearsall, TX – After 101 years in the business, Cooper Tires knows its tires and terrains. As the 5th largest global tire company in North America, it has invested considerable time in perfecting their products, and two of their latest were the main reason why a handful of journalists headed down to Texas.

The Lone Star State is where Cooper Tires has its Vehicle Test Center in Pearsall, just an hour south of San Antonio. For this event, Cooper wanted to show off not only its new all-season Discoverer SRX catered to CUVs, SUVs and light trucks, but also its new Discoverer STT Pro, a premium light truck off-road specialist. The SRX replaces the outgoing CTS; while the STT Pro rounds out the Discoverer family as its dedicated mud tire, replacing the STT.

The two tires are completely different catering to various customers, but the take from this visit was the versatility of the Cooper Tires brand. They're not a company that offer choices for the sake of expanding its portfolio – they have become experts in developing a sophisticated compound that will keep you balanced, in control and most importantly, safe.



We will get to the event challenges in a moment, but let's first talk shop in regards to the tire compound. The development for the new SRX dates back to 2011, where many components came together to create this modern advancement. But the main ingredient to this concoction is the sandy compound known as silica. Cooper Tires representatives pointed to silica being a large contributor to the overall improvement to this SUV offering in terms of  handling, stability, rolling resistance, road noise and tread life.

The Cooper secret is not just about adding more silica, it's about breaking it down and finding the right mix of it with the rest of the materials including carbon black. In total, 20 different compounds were evaluated until deciding on the one that had the right polymers and rubbers to optimize all those driving benefits listed above.

In addition to the compound, Cooper has many design innovations that have become common with many of their new tires. The combination of 3D Micro-gauge sipes, Stabiledge technology and Winter Edge all help in providing improved rubber-to-road grip, crisper handling and steering, as well as stability in light snow conditions.

The STT Pro might share a similar compound mixture, but has the look of a tire ready for warfare on the next Mad Max film. Its groove innovations cater to that rugged lifestyle without having to make compromises for regular roads. A unique alternating 3-2 tread pattern on the inside creates flexibility when needed. It can be flat when you need it be, or cut through extreme conditions with a variable depth siping that has an extra biting edge. In addition, a Mud-Flex Design along the outside of the tire allows mud to flow clear from the tire maintaining constant motion and balance. If stones and rocks are a concern, the STT Pro uses Angled Groove Walls and Anti-Stone retention to prevent from stones and gravel being trapped and causing harm to the tire.



There are a lot more innovations that go into these tires, but without fully boring you, we wanted to just highlight the main parts. Now that you got a sample of what went into the tires, the key was seeing how they performed. The SRX were fitted onto Chevrolet Tahoes and pitted against Goodyear Wrangler SR-As on a wet pad; the STT Pros were placed on the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited for a hill climb with rocks and a deep mud pad.

Let's start with the Discoverer SRX. The Goodyear run was smooth, but slow. It had some shaky moments with limited traction on a few of the fast corners, which had me lowering my speed. On the flip side, the SRX performed admirably throughout the five laps. No longer was I fearful of a spin, and upped my speed with confidence. Those grooves flushed out the water from the tires maintaining a nice grip for the Tahoe to stay balanced.



At the end of the test, I was able to shave 3.23 seconds off my best lap time in the Goodyears, but more importantly was the smooth and composed ride under such wet conditions. The Coopers rode with such precision, as if we were on a dry track with very little road noise. It was clearly evident in this test that Cooper perfected their compound and design innovations turning my timed wet pad tire test into a Sunday cruise.

After getting wet, it was time for a little rock and mud play. We drove the Jeep Wranglers to a hill climb that had one section of a 30-degrees upward slope of just concrete, and a second test up that same incline with a slew of rocks creating what looked to be a challenging upward rock crawl.



On the first run without the rocks, I eased my way up the wall in no time without a sweat. It was too easy, so the second time around I came to a full stop a quarter of the way up to see how much traction those STT Pros would get. The Wrangler Unlimited rolled back slightly before any throttle was applied, but once a steady stream of acceleration occurred, the Coopers once again made its way up without issue.

The rock crawl was no different. It looks menacing from afar, but with steady and smooth throttle inputs, the STT Pros managed even the trickiest rocks as if they weren't there. The Wrangler glided over each bump with only a shoulder shrug, saying “that's all you got?”

Next up was the mud. We're talking a massive mud pit with deep tracks and ruts along the way. While driving under normal muddy conditions, you would naturally pick a vehicle-made line and avoid those ruts. But this is a tire test, so my goal was to do the exact opposite to fully test out what these Coopers got. I toggled between 4-High and 4-Low and in both cases, the STT Pros stormed through the sticky and slushy mud. It's all about traction in mud, and not once did I lose any momentum or get caught in a rut. For more of a challenge, I came to a complete stop in the middle of the pit, put it into 4-Low and used that extra torque to get that momentum going again.

The Discoverer STT Pro proved to me, it not only looked the part with its rugged grooves, but played the part by attacking head-on anything that came in its way. There was no need for any comparison, as there's not one misstep these off-road tires had.



In the end, Cooper Tires showed off its new offerings in an impressive way. The SRX, specifically made for the increasing crossover/SUV market showed off its grip and smoothness over a tier-one competitor in the Goodyears. For the more adventurous off-roader, the STT Pro showed exceptional prowess under tricky rock inclines and deep mud pits. No matter what the terrain: dry, wet, muddy or even filled with rocks, both the Discoverer SRX and STT Pro met all of their respective challenges with ease.

Both tires are currently available with 36 sizes (4 more at the end of the year) to choose from for the SRX and 41 sizes in the STT Pro. Rim diameter range goes from 16- to 22-inches in the SRX; while the range for the STT Pro goes from 15- to 22-inches.

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