If you love taking your car on off-road adventures, you might be looking for suitable all-terrain tires. You’re likely considering Nitto Ridge Grappler and Toyo Open Country AT3, which is why you’re on this page.
They are amazing for driving on off-road terrains, making them extremely popular. However, the two tires aren’t exactly competitors – they come from the same parent company and differ in several ways. Let’s weigh the two options and see which option is better for your off-roader.
An overview of the Nitto Grappler Ridge
It’s a good idea to know in detail about the tires you’re considering. Let’s start with an overview of the Nitto Grappler Ridge. The manufacturer introduced Nitto Grappler Ridge in the market as a rugged terrain tire with a hybrid treat pattern.
Just like other tires in the Grappler series, the tire features a dual sidewall that gives it a unique look. One of the reasons behind the widespread popularity of this tire is the variety of sizes it’s available in. The manufacturer offers this tire in 94 different sizes, which range from as small as 16 inches to as large as 24 inches.
An overview of the Toyo Open Country AT3
Toyo Tires Corp launched this tire in March 2020, after the massive success of the Toyo Open Country AT2. The Toyo Open Country AT3 is essentially a more upgraded version of the AT2, covering the predecessor’s drawbacks. Following the footsteps of the AT2, the new tire quickly became a success and gained huge popularity among off-roaders.
Built for light trucks, SUVs, and CUVs, the Open Country AT3 features advanced tread compounds, design, and 3D sipes for improved performance. Additionally, the tire also comes with a Mountain Snowflake rating that indicates its superior performance when driving on snowy terrains.
If the number of sizes available for the Nitto Grappler Ridge has amazed you, note that the Open Country AT3 comes in 134 sizes.
Nitto Ridge Grappler vs. Toyo Open Country AT3 comparison
You might find it a little hard to choose between Toyo Open Country AT3 and Nitto Ridge Grappler since both of these are great for off-roading. So, let’s break it down into different parameters to see which of the two tires excels in each aspect.
When comparing two tires, tread design is one of the most important features to consider. This is especially true when you’re buying tires for off-road driving because you need excellent grip for different terrains.
Between the two, the Nitto Ridge Grappler features a more stylish tread design. The manufacturer has carefully designed sipes of different shapes and sizes to increase the biting capacity of the tire.
Together with the dynamic hybrid pattern, this increases the tire’s traction. However, the tread has a narrowed void area, inhibiting the tire’s performance on loose ground.
The Toyo Open Country AT3 boasts a more compact tread design with bigger voids. The siping density on this tire is quite superior too.
This allows the Open Country AT3 to deliver better off-road traction and handling stability than its rival. Both tires feature stone ejectors in the tread, which prevents stone chips from getting stuck and damaging the rubber.
This is probably the main point of difference that you’re looking for – the off-road performance of the two tires. Let’s dive right into it and see how the two tires fare on different off-road terrains.
The fact that Open Country AT3 boasts a three-peak mountain snowflake rating makes it a clear winner here. This tire can handle any type of snow and severe winter conditions without much hassle.
Driving on ice would take some skill due to relatively low traction. Regardless, AT3 still fares better than the Ridge Grappler for winter driving.
The main reason why the Nitto Ridge Grappler isn’t as impressive as Open Country AT3 on snowy terrains is its tread design. It doesn’t generate as much traction on snow with bigger tread blocks and a smaller void area. However, it can still deliver moderate performance in snowy weather.
Toyo Open Country AT3 delivers excellent mud performance too, with its broader and larger grooves allowing mud to escape easily. It also features bigger shoulder studs, which allow the mud to flow more freely and helps in quicker groove cleaning. These features enable the AT3 to move over muddy terrains smoothly.
On the other hand, Nitto Ridge Grappler features wide shoulders with alternating blocks. They help greatly in dealing with muddy terrains.
The center blocks generate more traction by biting into the mud. Hence, the two tires have their own ways of dealing with mud, and both perform quite well.
If you were to drive over a desert area with vast stretches of sand, you’ll be better off with a set of Nitto Ridge Grapplers than Open Country AT3s.
While the latter can easily evacuate sand with its broad groove design, it doesn’t offer adequate traction. On the other hand, the Ridge Grappler features a less aggressive tread design – exactly what you need to get good traction on sand.
Rock and gravel
Although Nitto Ridge Grappler is a slightly better rock crawler, both tires have their strengths and weaknesses on rocky terrain. This terrain type calls for plenty of lateral traction, which is exactly where the hybrid tread design of the Ridge Grappler proves to be useful.
The shoulders of this tire feature an alternating groove pattern that aids in getting a better grip over rocky terrain too. The relatively soft material of the Ridge Grappler enhances its grip on rocks, while the center section ensures better mobility.
However, the Toyo Open Country AT3 is also decent for driving on rocks. Its deep sipes and cuts give the tire a strong grip on the rocky surface.
The larger grooves and the step blocks are quite helpful too. While both tires have stone ejectors, the AT3 is better in this aspect. Its stone ejectors are bigger and better-placed than the Ridge Grappler.
For driving on gravel, the AT3 has a clear advantage. Its advanced stone ejectors and large grooves give it an advantage over the Ridge Grappler and ensure plenty of traction.
Even if you’re buying the tires mostly for off-roading, you still have to consider their on-road performance. After all, you won’t be driving your vehicle on off-road terrains alone. We’ll evaluate both tires’ dry and wet on-road performance.
The Nitto Ridge Grappler is a better performer when driving in dry weather. We can analyze the dry performance of a tire based on three parameters:
- Dry traction: As all the tread is packed closely around the center, it naturally boasts a larger tread area in contact with the road. This results in much better grip and traction on dry roads. On the other hand, the Toyo Open Country AT3 delivers less traction as it has bigger voids and less tread touching the road.
- Steering response: Besides traction, the Ridge Grappler is also a better option in terms of steering response. Although it’s a heavier tire, it responds faster. This is because it features triangle-shaped lugs and its central area has only minor gaps.
- Cornering stability: For on-road driving, cornering stability is important if you are an aggressive driver and take sharp turns. Like most off-road tires, both these tires deliver impressive cornering stability due to their strong sidewalls.
Thus, Nitto Ridge Grappler is a better tire for off-road driving.
When it comes to wet performance, the tables turn in favor of the Toyo Open Country AT3. Let’s evaluate the tires in terms of the two main indicators of wet performance – wet traction and hydroplaning resistance.
- Wet traction: The wet traction of a tire is inversely proportional to its compound stiffness. Toyo Open Country and Nitto Ridge Grappler have UTQG ratings of 600 and 500 respectively (UTCQ rating is the unit of compound stiffness). While the Ridge has a slight advantage due to its softer material, the AT3 beats it big time with its impressive siping density. Nitto Ridge Grappler is still very reliable when it comes to wet traction, but Toyo Open Country AT3 is one of the best tires in this regard, if not the best.
- Hydroplaning resistance: How well a car resists hydroplaning by allowing water to escape is crucial for evaluating wet performance. Poor hydroplaning resistance can cause your car to skid out of control on wet roads. Both the Ridge Grappler and the AT3 resist hydroplaning very well, but the latter is slightly better due to its large grooves.
Let’s now have a look at another important feature – the durability of the tires in question. The softer compound material that helps enhance the Nitto Ridge Grappler’s grip also makes it less durable than the AT3. Regardless, both tires are very tough and can withstand wear and tear from driving on harsh terrains.
Both tires feature two-ply steel wrapped with three-ply polyester, which is again wrapped by two-ply nylon. Such a tough and well-protected structure reduces damage from sharp rocks and makes the tires more puncture-resistant.
The treat blocks of the AT3 are tougher than the Ridge Grappler ones and consequently offer greater chip resistance.
However, the sidewalls of Nitto Ridge Grappler aren’t as vulnerable to damage as the Toyo Open Country AT3. Its dual sidewall design and large lugs help protect it by pushing away sharp rocks.
Moving on to the riding comfort offered by the tires, we find that both tires are decent considering they’re primarily designed for off-road terrains. In general, all-terrain and rugged terrain tires aren’t the best in riding comfort as their tread designs result in a bumpier ride.
However, the softer material of the Nitto Ridge Grappler allows it to cushion some of the vibrations from driving on rough surfaces. The enhanced lateral stability from the closely-packed tread design helps too.
The design of the Toyo Open Country AT3 gives it an advantage and helps ensure a more comfortable ride on off-road terrains. This tire will allow you to tackle challenging terrains more smoothly.
The noise level of a tire goes hand in hand with comfort. A noisy tire can be irritating, especially when driving for long hours. This is another aspect where tires designed for off-road terrains aren’t usually the best. Still, Toyo Open Country AT3 and Nitto Ridge Grappler are among the quietest off-roading tires you’ll find.
The Open Country AT3 is a noisier tire due to its large voids. This is the same reason all-terrain tires tend to be noisy – the large gaps trap more air and generate higher noise levels.
However, the AT3 gets quieter when you drive at speeds higher than 30 mph. The noise levels will also drop once the AT3 gets older and the treads wear down a bit.
Unlike most mud tires and rock tires, the Ridge Grappler doesn’t generate a roaring sound when driving. Rather, it has more of a humming sound that’s far quieter than the AT3.
This is primarily due to two reasons – smaller voids and a variable pitch design. The pitch design enables the tread to hit the surface of the road at different times, reducing the noise levels significantly.
The tread warranty on a Toyo Open Country AT3 is a great reason to choose this tire. Toyo covers this tire with a tread warranty of 65,000 miles, which is quite impressive.
Toyo would be a safe choice if you aren’t very familiar with Toyo or Nitto and feel hesitant to try out a new brand. If you notice unusually high tread wear, you can go ahead to file a warranty claim. Unfortunately, the Ridge Grappler does not come with a tread warranty.
Of course, pricing is a factor you’d want to know about when trying to choose between different tires. As the tire market is quite dynamic in terms of pricing and tire prices vary greatly even among the leading tire stores, it’s hard to give you an accurate price.
The price of the tires also depends largely on their size. As both AT3 and Ridge Grappler are available in a vast range of sizes, the price range is similarly vast.
Based on the pricings on DiscountTire, an Open Country AT3 will cost you anything between USD 165 and USD 637, depending on the size. On the other hand, the Nitto Ridge Grapplers are priced from USD 222 to USD 922. This makes the Ridge Grappler a significantly more expensive tire compared to the AT3.
When buying, the availability of a suitable tire size is a crucial factor too. There’s no point considering tires that are unavailable in the size you need.
Thankfully, both AT3 and Ridge Grappler are available in an impressive variety of sizes (134 and 94 respectively). Apart from the rim diameter, which must be an exact match with the car, other dimensions like width and aspect ratio vary too.
Toyo Open Country AT3 gives you more sizes to choose from. However, as long as you can find a Nitto Ridge Grappler of a suitable size, that works too.
In this regard, you might want to remember that while the AT3 starts from a rim diameter of 15 inches, the minimum rim diameter of a Ridge Grappler would be 16 inches. On the other hand, the largest AT3 has a rim diameter of 22 inches, while the Ridge Grappler offers a maximum rim diameter of 24 inches.
If your wheels are 15 or 24 inches in diameter, you can only choose either AT3 or Ridge Grappler respectively.
Final verdict: Which one do we recommend?
Before we declare the winner between the two tires, let’s summarize the comparison in a table.
|Point of difference||Winner|
|Tread design||Toyo Open Country AT3|
|Snow performance||Toyo Open Country AT3|
|Sand performance||Nitto Ridge Grappler|
|Rock and gravel performance||Both|
|Dry on-road performance||Nitto Ridge Grappler|
|Wet on-road performance||Toyo Open Country AT3|
|Prices||Toyo Open Country AT3|
|Noise||Nitto Ridge Grappler|
|Warranty||Toyo Open Country AT3|
|Durability||Toyo Open Country AT3|
As we can see, Toyo Open Country AT3 is a better choice overall. It delivers much better all-terrain performance at a cheaper price. The 65,000 miles tread warranty isn’t something to overlook either. For serious off-roaders who love exploring the harshest terrains, AT3 would be an ideal tire.
Ultimately, AT3 and Ridge Grappler come from reputed brands and are excellent tires. Although we gave our verdict declaring the former as the winner, feel free to go for a set of Ridge Grapplers if you wish to.
After all, the stylish tread design of the Ridge Grappler is quite enticing, and depending on your driving habits, it might suit you better than the AT3.