While the stock BFG AT's are an excellent all around tire and excel on some surfaces, like sand, they lack any real traction in mud and can be a little slippy on rocks.
After much time spent going backwards and forwards between getting some 37" MT/R's and some 35" ProComp Xterrains, I went with the 35x12.50x17 ProComp Xterrains.
There are several reasons I didn't go for the 37" MT/R's, although I wanted the extra clearance they provide and really like the way they fill wheel wells out, but was concerned with them rubbing, the more traditional MT tread in sand, and the extra weights/stress on the driveline. Of course, since I went with the Xterrains, many people have switched to 37x12.50.x17 tires without any issues.
So I ended up with the 35x12.50x17 Xterrains, which are almost identical in size to the stock BFG's. So how do they perform? Very well in most respects.
1. Sand - I was a little concerned how the Xterrains would perform in sand, but they performed very well and far above my expectations. aired down to 20 psi they will go through the loosest sand. They are not significantly better than the BFG's in sand, but better nonetheless. They have pretty wide channels between the lugs, but the lugs are much bigger than regular MT's and seem to work pretty good on sand, it was refreshing to find they lived up to their claims on sand.
2. Mud - Something the BFG's do amazingly poorly at and pure momentum was the only way to keep the H2 moving. The Xterrains span a bit in real gooey mud, but kept the lug channels pretty clean and just kept on pulling me through. They handle the weight of the H2 very well and maintain good traction, without much sliding around at all.
3. Highway - I'd be a liar if I said they were as smooth and quiet as the BFG's, they are not. They are not much noisier in a straight line, but you can hear them and you can feel that the ride is not quite as smooth. It is not unpleasing though, and goes with the vehicle in my view. When pulling away, coming to a stop or cornering slowly you can definitely feel the larger tread pattern, but it is hardly reason for any concern. Based on the first 10,000 miles wear, I would expect to see a 30,000 mile life with these tires on a H2.
4. Rocks - If you don't air them down, they can slip quite a bit, especially if the rock is wet. If you air them down to 20 psi or so they grip extremely well. The mold very well and the tread pattern on the sidewall helps provide grip on the sides. However, when aired down ground clearance is compromised and I've spent a lot of time sliding across rocks I'd rather not.
5. Tread - The large tread pattern with wide lugs offers a great traction surface, but they show battle scars easily. Althought, it has not happened to me yet, I have heard of Xterrains losing chunks of lugs when on agressive rock surfaces, but that goes with the territory.
6. Appearance - If it matters, they look much more aggressive and "Hummer" like and help shed some of the overweight Suburban look of the H2.
Overall, they perform very well and live up to their expectations. They have a good reputation by those that have them. They have also earned a reputation as a good tire off road with globs of traction on most surfaces and so far have lived up to that.
However, when it comes to replace them them, despite my earlier concerns, I'll be looking at either the 37x12.50x17 Goodyear MT/R's or the 37x12.50x17 Super Swamper Radial's. Both have great reputations and the added ground clearance from them is a big plus. The 35" Xterrains when aired down cost me close to 1" in clearance, more so when they are molding over rocks. This really hurts and cuts the breakover angle, departure angle and underbody clearance enough to stop me going places folks with 37" tires easily get to. Unfortunately, 37" Xterrains are 37x13.50x17 and to prevent rubbing a rim change to ones with 4.5" backspacing is required.
In summary, if you are looking for a good 35" tire, the Xterrains are hard to beat and will provide plenty of traction when needed.
Click on the pics below for larger images;
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