When purchasing tires for your off-roader SUV or truck, Toyo’s AT tires happen to be one of the best options. Both AT2 and AT3 deliver amazing performance and have been quite popular, especially among off-roaders.
With that said, you might find yourself torn between the two tires, as both can be great choices. Toyo came up with the Open Country AT2 as a tough and high-performance tire for jeeps, SUVs, crossovers, and pickup trucks of medium to large sizes.
After the huge success and the widespread popularity of the Open Country AT2, they launched an upgraded version, the AT3. Let us compare the two tires and see which one suits you the best.
What’s the difference between AT2 and AT3 tires?
The AT3 is essentially an upgraded version of the AT2. The Toyo Open Country AT2 had some shortcomings, which the brand took care of with the development of the AT3 tire.
Toyo did a great job listening to their customers in this regard, for the Toyo AT3 offers everything the AT2 lacks. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that AT2 doesn’t have an edge over the AT3. Depending on the terrain you generally drive on, you might also find the AT2 to be a suitable choice.
Key differences between the two tires include:
1. Tread design
The Toyo Open Country AT2 has an aggressive tread design, perfect for driving on roads and rocky terrains. It comprises polygonal blocks that lie very close to each other, forming three ribs near the center of the tire.
While the Open country AT3 has three central ribs too, its tread has S-shaped blocks. Its lateral and marginal shoulder channels are deeper than those of the AT2, which results in a bigger void ratio.
Both these tires boast impressive durability, thanks to their wear-resistant polymer material. Molded from two plies of polyester and a ply of nylon rubber with two steel belts strengthening them, these tires are highly resistant to cutting and chipping.
Both tires come with a mileage warranty of 65,000 miles and a uniformity warranty up to 1/32 inch. However, the AT2’s aggressive tread design and stone rejecting capabilities make it a little more durable than its competitor.
One of the areas where the AT2 beats the AT3 is pricing. While an AT3 will cost you anywhere between USD 530 and USD 600, you can get an AT2 within a price range of USD 500 to USD 570. This makes the AT2 a more budget-friendly option, especially for car owners who don’t need the extra features offered by the AT3.
4. Snow terrain
The AT3 beats the At2 hands down when it comes to snow terrain performance. Toyo has specifically designed Open Country AT3 to overcome AT’s shortcomings on snowy roads, and it is, in fact, a 3-peak mountain snowflake-rated tire.
The broad grooves of the AT3 allow it to clear the tread and the driving track by throwing snow backward. On the other hand, the AT2 doesn’t have a 3PMSF rating and can’t match the AT3 in snow performance. Driving over snow-packed areas can choke the tread due to poor evacuation capabilities.
However, the AT2 still isn’t bad at snow-crawling and can beat the AT3 on icy roads. Although the AT3 has the upper hand on snow, AT2 performs better on frozen ice. Its higher contact patch allows the AT2 to effectively grip icy surfaces, while the grooves and the sipes help prevent hydroplaning.
5. Mud terrain
Although both AT2 and AT3 are great for driving on muddy terrains, the latter performs better. Toyo did optimize the AT2 tire for decent mud performance.
However, AT3 has wider tread grooves, which allows it to move smoothly on muddy terrains through efficient backward mud removal. The higher void ratio of the AT3 plays a huge role in enhancing the tire’s traction over mud. The shoulder scoops further improve mud performance by making it easier for the tires to turn on muddy terrain.
6. Rock Terrain
Despite being cheaper, AT2 is a clear winner on rocky terrains, thanks to the tire’s stone ejection abilities. The stone ejectors can easily throw small stones and gravel out of the tread, thus maintaining good traction and preventing punctures.
The aggressive tread design of the AT2 enables it to efficiently bite into rocky surfaces, while the larger contact patch offers more grip. Of course, the AT3 still offers decent rock terrain performance too, but it’s not as great as its rival.
7. Dry road performance
Both these tires offer similar steer handling on dry roads, which, by the way, is quite impressive. This is because both tires have bulky shoulders with ample surface area.
In terms of grip, however, Toyo Open Country AT2 is once again the winner. Thanks to its higher contact patch area, it can effectively get a good grip on the road surface.
8. Wet road performance
Like in the case of dry performance, AT2 beats AT3 on wet roads too. Once again, the large contact patch area of the AT2 plays out in its favor, providing more grip.
The vacuum created by the central grooves of the AT2 is a reason behind this tire’s excellent grip on set surfaces too. The zigzag sipes strengthen the tread grip by wiping away water from the surface.
The AT3 has an upper hand over its competitor regarding wet road performance – it offers slightly better steer handling. The deep grooves and the 3D sipes of this tire offer decent hydroplaning resistance too.
You’ll feel more comfortable driving on a set of AT2s than AT3s. Due to its tread design, the AT3 offers minimal comfort when driving on-road, and is much noisier.
As the grooves in the treads are too large, plenty of noisy air particles make their way inside them, resulting in loud tire noise.
On the other hand, the narrow grooves of the AT2 limit airflow along the tread. This, together with the prominent tire bars that act as sound barriers, significantly reduces noise generation.
Thus, both tires have perks and downsides in various aspects, and you’ll have to choose based on your driving habits. As this can be a lot of information to take in, below is a simplified table to make it easier for you to understand:
|On-road wet performance
|On-road dry performance
|Both have their perks
Pros of Toyo Open Country AT2
Here’s why the Toyo Open Country AT2 is a good choice:
- The strategic tread design ensures decent traction throughout the tread life. You likely won’t need a tire replacement within a few years due to your AT2s losing too much tread.
- These tires are great both for driving on-road and off-road, as that’s how Toyo has created the tread design.
- You’ll enjoy excellent performance on rocky and icy terrains, as the AT2 delivers superb traction in both scenarios.
- The AT2 can support large loads, thanks to the sturdy material and the puncture-resistant design.
- As a two-snowflake rating tire, the AT2 is quite efficient in mild snowy conditions too.
- The design of the Toyo AT2 significantly reduces noise generation and resonation.
Cons of Toyo Open Country AT2
While there are plenty of reasons to buy a set of Toyo Open Country AT2s for your car, this tire has a couple of downsides too:
- Toyo AT2 can’t handle extreme snowy conditions, which may make it less suitable for off-roading in severe winters.
- As the AT2’s grooves are relatively thinner, this tire’s mud performance isn’t as great as the AT3.
Pros of Toyo Open Country AT3:
This is an amazing all-terrain tire, with several major advantages:
- The AT3 is a 3PMSF-rated tire that delivers superior performance on heavy snow. This makes it a perfect tire for winter.
- The Toyo AT3 delivers amazing performance when driving on muddy terrains thanks to its wide tread grooves.
- Hydroplaning resistance is particularly good in this tire, thanks to the 3D sipes and the deep grooves.
- Like Toyo AT2, this one is extremely sturdy and wear-resistant too, and can support heavy loads.
- This tire offers excellent steer handling in wet road conditions.
Cons of Toyo Open Country AT3
Although Toyo came up with this tire as a better version of the AT2, it also has a few shortcomings. In some aspects, it fails to beat the Toyo AT2. Disadvantages of the Toyo Open Country AT3 include:
- This tire is extremely noisy, and resonation is high as the tie bars aren’t very prominent.
- On-road comfort isn’t a strong point for the AT3.
- On dry roads, the AT3’s grip isn’t as great as the AT2, due to the smaller contact patch areas.
- It’s a little costlier than a Toyo AT2, and as cost-effective unless you need the additional off-roading capabilities it offers.
When to use Toyo Open Country AT2?
Toyo Open Country AT2 is a good choice when you are on a tight budget and want to save as much money as possible. Especially if your driving habits don’t include a lot of hardcore off-roading, you don’t need an AT3. If you do drive off-road but it’s mostly on rocky terrain, the AT2 is a far better choice than the AT3.
You should avoid buying the Toyo Open Country AT2 if you often drive on heavy snow in winter. As long as the snow conditions in your region are low or moderate, you should be fine AT2. Thus, you may consider buying a set of Toyo Open Country AT2 if you:
- Don’t do a lot of hardcore off-road driving and push the tires to their limits often.
- Have a tight budget and want to keep your expenses low.
- Drive on rocky terrains very often.
- Want a more comfortable and peaceful on-road driving experience.
When to use Toyo Open Country AT3?
The Toyo Open Country AT3 is primarily for hardcore off-roaders who want to make the most of their vehicles’ off-roading capabilities. Overall, it is much better than the AT2 as an all-terrain tire, as it can handle every off-road terrain effectively. As long as financial constraints don’t bother you and you can afford an AT3, go for it.
The only scenario where you need not spend more to get a Toyo AT3 is in case you do not drive on snowy or muddy terrains a lot. Regardless, this is a very good tire that performs well in every condition and will be worth your money. You should consider investing in Toyo Open Country AT3 if you:
- Love to push your vehicle to its limits with hardcore off-roading.
- Don’t mind the additional noise from the AT3.
- Have a more flexible budget.
- Want a great all-terrain tire that delivers superb performance in every condition
- Reside in a location with extreme weather conditions.
Both Toyo Open Country AT2 and Toyo Open Country AT3 are great all-terrain tires and would be well worth your money. However, the AT3 is a better choice if you consider overall off-road performance across every terrain type.
While it does fall behind the AT2 in some aspects, the difference isn’t much. If you plan to go hardcore off-roading or live in a region with extreme snowfall, it’s better to go with the AT3.
Of course, this doesn’t necessarily imply that choosing a Toyo Open Country AT2 over the AT3 version is always a bad idea. As we explained earlier, the AT2 performs better than the AT3 when driving on frozen ice, rocks, or roads.
It also delivers a far more comfortable driving experience than the AT3. The only reason why AT3 usually beats the AT2 is that if you’re buying an all-terrain tire, you probably prioritize off-road performance over on-road performance.
Ultimately, it all comes down to your driving habits and preferences. As different car owners have varying requirements, it’s impossible to declare either AT2 or AT3 as a better choice.