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Firestone’s Destination A/T2 tires came just in the lick of time, as the weather reports were ominous and I had visions of last year’s big snow rattling around my head.
Nearly a year to the week, a few feet of the stuff had rendered our unpaved gravel roads positively treacherous. But my Volvo XC90 equipped with Vredestein’s Wintrac Pro winter tires handled it all with Swedish grace and it was pretty easy navigating the 1,500-foot elevation change from the base of the mountain to our home. There were just two problems this winter: we had said goodbye to the Volvo and our new-to-us 2019 Honda Ridgeline was sitting on all-seasons. Not a recipe for success.
Worse yet, the weather wizards that live deep within my phone stirring a cauldron of wrongness—always underestimating precipitation—were saying this year was going to be even snowier based on the fact that the stuff has been pretty much falling non-stop since the middle of November. Those were pretty small, only between 5-18 inches, all of which melted pretty quickly. So the all-seasons weren’t too challenged.
But then December came once again, as did the Firestones. I got them thrown on quickly and after a few short days, the projected snowstorm accumulation of 8 inches turned into three-plus feet. A trial by fire for the Firestone Destination A/T2s.
So, would they fare as well as the Vredesteins? Or see me stuck in a snowbank? Well, the snow still hasn’t stopped and I haven’t slid off a cliff…yet.
Off-Road Performance Designed To Also Handle Blizzards
I want to be very clear, the Firestone A/T2 isn’t exactly a winter tire, but rather designed as an off-road option for light trucks and SUVs. Its tread blocks are perfectly designed for grappling loose surfaces, as well as those rocky ruts and outcroppings that tend to litter off-road trails. Like those trails that surround our home. The brand’s original press release a few years ago even states, “These tires are tough enough to tackle the most challenging terrain.”
And the Destination A/T2’s all-new (at the time of release) tread material is designed to “deliver traction in gravel and dirt.” That, in theory, can sound like a great snow tire, but that’s not necessarily the case. Compounds need to be right for colder weather and ice, and the sipes and tread blocks have to have particular shapes in order to grab the snow.
But Firestone’s engineers thought ahead. As more people are overlanding throughout the year, including in the dead of winter, they require a tire that both handles off-road access and winter weather. It’s the addition of the Destination A/T2’s Three-Peak Mountain certification, and its deep tread blocks and 3D sipes, that allow it to be both.
A perfect combination, as the roads to my home include a section of gravel, dirt, and large ruts. And during the winter, the last two miles of off-roady fun can become abominable with ice, large snow packs, unplowed sections, and frequent wildlife encounters of the moose and deer variety. A good tire can mean getting home or meeting Bullwinkle in some very unfortunate circumstances.
The Firestones have it all, at least on paper.
A Song of Snow and Ice and More Snow
The snow just kept falling and hasn’t stopped. I’ve plowed our driveway so much that I broke our snowblower. And it’s been that sort of wet, heavy snow that melts slightly during the day and freezes at night. Our roads have become Venus Vehicle Traps, including one night when there was an 8-car pileup at the entrance to our neighborhood. Our next-door neighbor even trapped their Buick. It’s still there at the time of this writing.
Enough snow fell that the piles alongside my driveway touches the Ridgeline’s beltline. And the snowpack underneath our roads has risen an inch or two, so my driveway’s berm has an even steeper entry/exit angle. Further, our neighborhood has all but given up plowing the last two roads going to our home. One of which has a 27-degree downward angle and hooks left, with nothing more than a jersey barrier to stop you from plunging all 1,500 feet. A few drivers have tested their resolve and found it strong enough.
In the 2,000-plus miles I’ve put on the Firestones, with a good portion of that driving through the thickest snow I’ve seen in more than a decade, they’ve yet to let us down.
They’ve chugged along, up and down our mountain, through blizzards and ice, and done the daily school run without issue. Even when the plows refused to come to our side of the mountain, and a foot-plus of snow was on the roadway, they ate it up. No matter what’s thrown at them, they’re confidence inspiring. And you can feel the Destination A/T2s clawing at the roadway and pulling the truck along.
Only twice have I ever felt the need to use the Ridgeline’s Snow mode or low gear, which was right after it had warmed up and rained, and the road leading from our house had almost completely iced over. Otherwise, not a single thing has slowed the tire’s forward momentum. They just dig into the snow and bighorn sheep it up and down our mountain.
On-Road, There’s Some Noise
Now’s when I go into two things you should be aware of with the Firestone A/T2 tires: noise and fuel economy.
First, if you purchase off-road tires of any kind, you’re going to hear them. Chunky tread blocks have that effect and the A/T2s are no different. You do have to have pretty acute hearing, though, as the Firestones aren’t exceptionally obnoxious. They’re nowhere close to the Maxxis Bighorn 2.0s that came with my family’s Can-Am. You’ll notice a slight drone, but if you dial up the radio a level or two, it’ll disappear.
And as for fuel economy, mine has sunk to 23.4 mpg. The Ridgeline—on the Firestone all-seasons during spring, summer, and fall—usually returns around 24.5 to 25 mpgs. So I’m losing around an mpg or two with the Destination A/T2s.
Not insignificant with gas prices being what they are, but again, that’s to be expected with both off-road and winter tires. This drop is largely due to the different tire compounds and tread blocks designed to grip better and have less rolling resistance, as well as pushing the vehicle through slush and snow.
Those, however, are the only things you should be aware of when purchasing.
So They’re Good?
You betcha, and they’re competitively priced to boot.
Firestone’s Destination A/T2 starts at $236 a tire in the Ridgeline’s 245/60 R18 tire size. There are a few other options, however—six to be specific—that are off-road tires with Three-Peak certification. Those include the Nitto Nomad Grappler ($222), Goodyear Wrangler Workhorse AT ($220), Yokohama Geolandar A/T ($224), BFGoodrich Trail-Terrain T/A ($237), Toyo Open Country A/T III ($294), and Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail ($252).
Price-wise, the Firestones occupy the middle-to-higher price bracket and come with a 55,000-mile manufacturer warranty. That said, there are always deals. Both TireRack and Amazon have sales or rebates, so just look out for one and get a couple hundred off.
What I will say is that you’d be hard-pressed to find a better off-road/winter tire. The Firestone Destination A/T2 is a beast of a tire and has truly impressed me with its construction and design. It’ll decimate inclement weather and off-road trails alike. I can’t wait to put it further through its dirt and grave paces this summer.
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