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Project 4Runner: Four seasons with BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2

Kamil Kaluski June 1, 2017 Project 4Runner 4 Comments

It all started about fourteen months ago when I got a flat tire on a busy New England highway, in the middle of the afternoon, with my whole family in the car. Something big and sharp punctured my five year old right rear BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A tire. The tire was beyond repair and needed to be replaced. While there was nothing really wrong withe rest of the tires but six years and 37,000 miles, I decided to replace them all. 

I did much research as to which tires to get. I wanted a light truck (LT) all-terrain tires because I knew at some point I would venture off the highway. I wanted a tire that would provide traction in all four seasons. A big requirement was that the tire was quiet on the highway. And in a totally poser way, I wanted a tire that look good, rugged. Oh, I did not want to spend a ton of money, either.


After much research I came to the conclusion that the tire that met my demands best was the next generation of the tire I already had – the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2. The only thing it didn’t do well on was cost. After shopping around I managed to find a set of four for 4wheelparts.com for $746 shipped. I had the tires shipped to my friends at Ace Performance Systems who mounted and balanced them for me. 

I went with the factory size, LT265/70-17 in load range C. While load range C was actually lower than that of the crappy stock 4Runner highway tires, I knew that I would never exceed 2270 pounds per tire. Load range E, 2910 pounds, is also available in this size but each tire is eight pounds heavier and even more expensive. 

My first impression was that the KO2 was significantly more quiet than its somewhat worn previous version. And it looked much cooler, too, with its square design and sidewall protection thread. Interestingly, the KO2 was slightly lower in overall diameter than the stock Dunlop. 

And this is where my one regret came. I instantly wished that I ordered a set of 275/70/17. The 265s look good, aggressive, but not super cool. And the 4Runner has plenty of space for the 275s, especially with the front raised .85″ over stock, also known as leveled. 

Being installed in the spring, the tires rolled on just fine throughout the many summer trips. Gravel and dirt roads were no of no challenge. When my good friend needed new tires for his Ford F-150, I recommended the KO2 to him and he purchased in the factory 275/60-20D size. We took his truck on a beach run on Cape Cod. Deflated to 20psi, the truck just plowed through the wet sand. 

Heavy rain and highway speeds are not a great mix for any wide tires. But both the original (KO1?) and the newer KO2 tires proved damn solid here. I did not feel any hydroplaning and switching lanes did not seem any different than in the dry. If there is a downside here is that this could lead to driver’s overconfidence. I should note that I have seen internet forum complaints about these tires on wet pavement but I really have not experienced anything bad. 

Loaded with a full Thule roof pack, four bikes, and whatever my wife thought we might need to survive a weekend a really nice camp site ten miles from the nearest city, the heavy 4Runner handled well. When empty, the there is no noticeable change from how the truck handled with factory passenger car highway tires, which is actually quite surprising. Highway on-ramps are limited by the chassis design of this body-on-frame with live-axle truck and not by these tires. 

But I spend most of driving time in the city. Here the big soft sidewalls absorb even the biggest of potholes with a solid thump. For various reasons I have hopped a number of curbs, approaching them with the front of the tire, of course, and never had an issue.

My wife got into a small accident – a BMW 3-series swerved in front of her. She ended up scraping the the side, wheel, tire, and the bumper cover of the bimmer with the tire, wheel, and the rockslider of the 4Runner. The 4Runner suffered a scratch on the rockslider and the wheel but somehow the tire didn’t have a mark on its sidewall. I don’t even know how that’s possible. The bimmer look substantially worse. 

Throughout the year I played with the tire pressures. At factory recommended 32 PSI, these tires looked to be low on air. Driving, the truck felt lazy. Clearly the LT tire needed more air than this. After much experimenting I found 38-39 PSI to be perfect for me for city and highway driving. Some internet forum warriors go higher than that and yet others recommend stock pressure. 38 is what works for me. 

Then winter came – the big unknown. I was itching to drive in the first snow for no other reason then to see how these tires performed but I was cautious. In 2014 I reviewed the 4Runner Trail during winter. I managed to get that 4Runner, the most off-road capable of the 4Runners at the time, stuck in less than fives inches of snow. With 4×4 low engaged, rear differential locked, and terrain setting set to the snowflake mode, the truck wasn’t moving. All four wheels, wrapped in  Dunlop Grandtrek AT20 all-season highway tires, were just spinning, unwilling to grab and progress over the white stuff. 

That would never happen with these tires. The K02s pleasantly surprised me in the winter. I have not had a single issue, even in four inches of fresh snow. As I gained confidence with these tires I found myself leaving the rig in 2WD in anything but large accumulations of fresh snow. Yes, in 2WD there was wheel spin but the traction control would combat that pretty well. In snowy corners I could kick the rear-end out and control it with ease. But in 4WD is just went, confidently. 

But this is not a winter tire. While it got traction to move, stopping was a different story. Here, it felt more like an all-season tire with significantly longer stopping distances than a snow tire would have. Keeping that in mind, I have no plans to switch to a winter tire this season. 

And what the hell is this crap they put on roads in winter now? It’s brine, a liquid mixture of salt and water. While it does not spray like sand, it is a liquid gets into every crevice under the car. While corrosive, it does not seem to cause any lasting damage to the rubber parts. That said, I’m afraid to look under my truck knowing that Toyotas aren’t exactly known to be resistant to rust. 

So, one year and about 10,000 miles and the tires are good as new, which is something I can’t say about Yokohama Geolander A/Ts that I had on my Jeep. The wear in minimal and they have not gotten any louder. I rotated them once and had an alignment done in the spring. I got to say, this maybe the best tire I have ever owned. It simply does everything I could ask of a tire to do. 

I have just bought a set of brand new take-off wheels from a 2017 4Runner Trail. I am thinking if perhaps I should take this opportunity to undo my only regret and get a set of 275/70-17 KO2s. They are only available in load E, so each tire is almost ten pounds heavier than my current 265 load C tires. They do fit without a problem on the 4Runner. Hmm…

  • Gee Nick

    First tires I ever bought, 25 years ago. They were great.

  • Smaglik

    Great tires. I see them all over the place in my neck of the woods, but I just couldn’t stomach the price. Enjoy!

  • Dabidoh_Sambone

    We put General Grabber AT2’s on our B2300 – replacing some threadbare BF Goodrich tires that had lost their mojo and had become dangerous in the rain. While the General tires are fantastic for rain and snow, they are much heavier than what they replaced, they feel ponderous in motion, the truck accelerates slower they and amplify minor road imperfections.

    That said, I’d recommend going with the lighter option if you value freeway dynamics as that’s where you’ll be 99.9% of the time.

    • I know… I am really on the fence here. Look cool or driving better… hmm…