Five reasons why I’ll be switching to all-terrain tyres 

By Evan Spence 7 Min Read

Times change, people change and our needs change. A few years ago, there was no chance I’d run anything but the most aggressive mud terrain tyres I could get my hands on. That’s because I was that guy. You know, the person that has to drive through every mud hole. Who can’t drive past a rocky climb without having a crack at it. 


No, I’m not going to say that age is catching up with me, let’s just say I’ve matured perhaps. Or I’m just sick of breaking stuff… Yeah, that sounds better. 

What’s the story? 

I spent this last weekend camping with my wife and dog. It was a great time away, but it also highlighted things that can be improved on my vehicle and camping setup. I had the realisation whilst away, that I don’t think I’ll fit mud terrain tyres to my FJ Cruiser. 

The drive into the campground was along NSW’s notorious Putty Road. A glorious stretch of tar (I normally avoid the stuff naturally) with long straights, followed by tight corner after tight corner. We spent two hours driving on-road to get to camp. 

I’m currently still on highway tyres, which aren’t going to stay I can assure you. But I must say, I enjoyed the quiet ride. The good handling characteristics. And the performance while driving Putty Road fully loaded. These are the reasons why I reckon I’ll be fitting all-terrain tyres to the FJ Cruiser very soon instead of mud terrain tyres.  

Better grip on-road 

For my needs, I’ll be spending a fair bit of time on-road to get to campsites. This is a touring vehicle, and my only registered vehicle, so it has to drive well daily. All-terrain tyres will provide me with better grip on-road compared to a mud-terrain tyre. 


I’m expecting there to be a trade-off when tracks get incredibly muddy, but I’m confident a good all-terrain tyre will get me where I need to go. Mud equals money as they say, and I’m trying to avoid the stuff. I’ll take better on-road and dirt-road handling characteristics this time around. Because let’s be honest, it’s where we spend the majority of our time driving. 

Needs vs wants 

When I think about my actual needs for a tyre, I really just need a stronger tyre to avoid punctures. That is my priority when it comes to new tyres. It’s terrifying driving off-road on (in my case) cheap highway terrain tyres that are softer than butter and came on the vehicle when I purchased it.

By fitting a good set of all-terrain tyres, I’ll have a stronger tyre carcass that will be far more resistant to punctures. I also want a bit more grip for driving on dirt roads and mild off-roading. Which is what the FJ Cruiser is used for. That’s a big tick in the all-terrain tyre box. 

Better fuel economy 

Mud terrain tyres use more fuel to turn than an all-terrain tyre. And that’s a fact. When it comes to my FJ Cruiser with the 4.0L V6 petrol motor, any reduction in fuel usage is a blessing. Mud terrain tyres physically require more effort to get them rolling and keep them rolling. 

This results in higher fuel economy figures. I’ve seen figures posted online, saying that mud terrain tyres can use as much as 3% more fuel than an equivalent-size all-terrain. Now that can add up over the lifetime of a set of tyres. All-terrain wins again. 

Better braking 

I’ve had some cheap mud terrain tyres, that were awesome off-road, but the second it rained, they became deadset dangerous on-road. I actually lost control of the vehicle once (it was a naturally aspirated 2.8L HiLux – so power wasn’t the issue) while turning right at a roundabout. And ended up on top of the roundabout facing the wrong way. Scary stuff. Again, these were a very cheap set of tyres, highlighting the importance of good quality tyres in less-than-ideal conditions. 

All-terrain tyres will offer not only better handling in the wet, but also better braking performance. Thanks to the fact there is more rubber making contact with the road surface compared to an aggressive mud terrain tyre.  

Quieter ride 

You can usually hear a four-wheel drive with half-worn-out mud terrain tyres before you can see it. The FJ Cruiser is a fairly quiet vehicle to pilot, and I don’t want to add more noise. All-terrain tyres are in 99% of cases going to be quieter than a mud terrain tyre at highway speeds. And I respect that about all-terrain tyres. Another tick for ATs. 

So mud terrain tyres are rubbish?

I didn’t say that. And I’d never say that. Muddies rock. But for my needs, and with this vehicle, I don’t need a super aggressive tyre. 

The point of this article is to get you thinking and asking yourself hard questions. Will you be driving through mud regularly? You need mud terrain tyres. If you, like me, are just looking for a remote campsite and a bit of fun playing on tracks on the way to camp, a good all-terrain or perhaps a more aggressive hybrid tyre will serve you well. 

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