Cooper AT3 XLT Long Term Review Article

Check out our long term review article of the Cooper Discoverer AT3 XLT, where we give you the detail on how it went over 13,000km over dirt, rock and mud.

The Tyre

The Cooper Discoverer AT3 XLT is part of a new family of tyres released by Cooper, which split the previous AT3 tyre into three: the AT3 4S, the AT3 LT, and the AT3 XLT. The 4S is still being called an all-terrain, but it’s definitely meant for highways with only marginal dirt and mud, while the LT and XLT are proper all terrain tyres.  
For the train spotters, the main difference between the LT and XLT are that the XLT features more aggressive “rugged” shoulders, which are designed to bite into the dirt more, and provide a bit more protection on the trail. Otherwise they share the same build and tread pattern.

Before we go too far, though, here's our Studio Overview and Cooper Discoverer AT3 XLT long term review video:
The XLT is also available in sizes up to 20”, while the LT stops at 275/65R18, so the XLT will cater for those with lower profile preferences. I got my hands on a set of 285/70R17 LT Discoverer AT3 XLT to strap onto my 2017 Ford Ranger XLT.

Being a new release of one of Cooper’s most popular tyres, they’ve packed a whole bunch of tech into this tyre. Most obviously they’ve followed the trend of adding serious shoulder protection and the associated side biters. They’ve also worked to decrease the noise generated by the tyres with their “whisper groove” shields, which are little bits of rubber that join the shoulder blocks together and they reckon will keep the tread pattern noise within the tread. Speaking of which, Cooper also continues with optimising for deep tread, with these tyres reading 13.2mm before we mounted them. If you look a little closer you can also see some rock ledges lining the main water evacuation channels (sipes), which will theoretically help prevent rock retention and the potential flats caused by that.

On the inside the tyres feature “super tensile light truck steel belts” which are apparently 15% stronger than high tensile steel, this means they’re less likely to suffer from road damage and flats, while also reducing weight. They’ve used a high tensile light truck body ply for the carcass, which they say are 33% stronger than standard cords of the same weight, which will help stop sidewall dramas and maintain a high load rating for the tyre.
Rounding out (ha!) the package is a “next gen silica compound”, which Cooper say is cut and chip resistant, and should improve tread life and how many k’s you can expect to get out of them.

That’s enough of the marketing guff, though. Cooper reckons these new tyres are the ducks guts, so how did they roll (haa!) in real life?

The Experience

I was pretty excited to get my hands on the new Cooper AT3 XLT’s. Not only were they a new tyre, they were from a brand that I hadn’t driven on before.
On the car the tyres look pretty impressive. Aggressive tread and sidewall, and as I had them mounted with the white writing facing out, they stood out like dog’s danglies. That afternoon while I was coming back through town, I noticed that a variety of like-minded people craned to get a better look, so that’s always a good start!

One of the other things I noticed as I was driving home that afternoon was how well the tyres took small bumps in the road in comparison to the last couple of tyres I’d had on the car. Driving over the reflective cat’s eyes on the road didn’t have the usual associated thump (the suspension in my ranger is a bit hard, despite being 9 stage adjustable…), but more just a bit of sound and a tiny sensation. So, I started hitting them for fun!

Not long after I had the tyres strapped on, I headed off on an adventure to the north east of Tasmania, which turned into a wet and soggy mission.

On the way up I was in a bit of a hurry given that it was for a bucks party, and there was beer to be drunk, so I had a chance to see what the tyres could do under a little duress, particularly in the wet. Road holding in the dry and wet was really good, but given they were still quite new at the time, I was keen to see if that would hold true over the next 10,000km+.

One thing I noticed was that they felt a little floaty at higher speeds on gravel. On straights it felt a little like I was managing the steering wheel more than I would feel necessary, but hey, it was gravel and if you’re going to do those sorts of speeds you have to expect to be engaged with what’s going on.

Once up there, we headed out on a couple of different tracks in the rain and mud. The first was coastal and wet, with a few relatively solid based water holes suitable for ploughing through with great confidence, as well as a few tight ups and downs. It was a reasonably miserable day, so we had a look at the other end, then hopped back in the cars for the trip back.
We headed via an inland track on the way back on a “sure fire track” that someone had been on once, maybe. Well, that led us to quite a steep ascent, just as the rain started coming down harder. Full of bravado, I figured I may as well give it a crack and actually managed to get quite a good distance up it. I think if I had more time, more sunshine, less dollar sized drops of rain, and perhaps a touch of winching, I would have made it. That day, though, I was happy to back down knowing that I gave it a good crack. The tyres were a limiting factor, but they were part of a host of limiting factors that day, including my staying power!

Remember with the below pictures, it’s hard to convey how steep stuff is. Also, the guy in the blue rain jacket is 7ft tall (legit), so adds a little more context.
Next up we hit a smaller trail which was just a-flippin-mazing. It wasn’t strenuous or anything, but due to the rain a small river had burst its banks and covered the track. It was incredibly pretty! Navigating over the water covered rocks was not a problem, we just trundled on through, not putting a foot wrong, while the Colorado we were with had a couple of struggles.
Following that trip, I’ve had about 250 hours with the Cooper AT3 XLT’s, through trips to work, around town, gallivanting around Tasmania, on gravel tracks, up hill and down dale. 

One other adventure that sticks out is when we visited the Styx Valley in south west Tasmania. We took a small detour to visit some of the biggest flowering trees in the world, then decided to try some back roads in the area. Well, one of them came to an abrupt end (although it looked like it continued on the map), with only a small goat track on the left. Feeling bold, we decided to take it, then felt slightly less bold as we went up, and up, and up. Turns out we’d hit on an excellent powerline track, that zig zagged up some incredibly steep terrain, with the car scrabbling to turn (it’s a long beast!) and keep on the trail. The tyres certainly didn’t let us down, although I was reasonably nervous in some segments. The view from the top was certainly pretty amazing!

Oh, and here’s some of the flowering gums I was talking about.

The Opinion

As you might have been able to tell, I’ve had a great time with the Cooper AT3 XLTs. We’ve been on many adventures together, and at no stage have the tyres held me back. Quite the contrary, I’ve found them to be mild mannered, able to keep up with my spirited driving, and very comfortable both on and off the road. 

Where I mentioned running over the cat eye reflectors earlier, that translates very well to increased comfort on the trail. In fact, several times early on while I had the tyres on the vehicle I checked the pressures to make sure they had enough – 36psi every time – as they felt like they were a little low, which makes it more comfortable but affects the lifespan of the tyre.

Not only were they comfy, they were quiet, too. On par with the quietest all terrains I’ve had on the ute, and certainly nothing really noticeable in the cab. Big tick from my family and I there!
For general driving, they stick to the road very well. I’ve got a spot near the office that’s a highway off ramp which has a great S bend in it and coming through that at pace while braking hard is one of my little test spots. You know if the traction control comes on that the tyres have broken loose, and it actually was quite difficult to unsettle the Coopers in that little test.
For the dual-cab-ute-roundabout-in-the-wet test I’ve pushed these tyres hard and got minimal back end swing, even in bigger storms with significant water on the road. I found that I can take roundabouts at regular speed in the wet, without having to make allowances for sliding out – the tyres just stuck to the ground and we powered through.
I’ve noticed a few rocks getting stuck in the tread, but I wouldn’t say it was a huge amount. Just the occasional one stuck in the outer parts of the tread, rather than working their way in deep like I’ve seen with some other tyres. Perhaps the lack of really detailed siping might be to thank for this?

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to test these tyres on sand, so can’t really comment on that. Given the comfort, the sidewalls would probably bag out well, and while the tread is reasonably aggressive, the tread face is pretty consistent, meaning it should fare well on the beach.

In terms of tread wear, the 285/70R17 tyres started out with about 13.2mm of tread, and now have an average of 10.8 after 12,962km of hard driving. Using back-of-a-beer-coaster maths, that means I could be looking at another 50,228km before they desperately/legally needed replacing, should they wear linearly, and a total of 63,190km. I’d class that as reasonable, and with regular rotation every 10,000km they should last a regular driver longer than that.

The Ratings
Dry: 4.5
Wet: 4.5
Offroad: 4.5
Comfort: 5
Noise: 4.5
Treadwear: 3.5

Approximate prices (3 stores mystery shopped)
Range (cheapest to most expensive): $284 - $595
Size tested retail price: $439 (285/70R17)

About Tyre Review's long term reviews

Our long term reviews are conducted by everyday people, using the tyres as they would every day, just with a more critical eye for the individual tyres performance. The long term tests are offered for informational purposes only, and you should always draw your own conclusions for what are the best tyres for you from broad research - read the consumer reviews, read our long term reviews, and check with your tyre shop when actually purchasing the new tyres.

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