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- Outstanding traction in dry conditions for an all-terrain rubber
- Very excellent traction on wet surfaces for the price.
- Steering that is both communicative and has a solid sense of center
- Strong traction and maneuverability on snow that has been compacted down.
- Strong performance on unpaved and uneven surfaces
- Excellent value for the money offered by the treadwear guarantee.
- Budget-friendly price
- Struggles to perform well on difficult terrains, such as dirt and rocks.
- Typical traction on snow that has not been compacted down. (when off-roading)
- Its competitors are more refined and less noisy down the road.
Sumitomo is not a tire brand that is frequently discussed in enthusiast communities, and it most definitely does not possess the same cachet as its more well-known and larger Japanese sibling, Bridgestone. However, the Sumitomo Group, which is the company’s parent, is not only one of the oldest businesses in Japan but also well-known for its engineering ability and innovative spirit. The legitimacy of the business can be confirmed by the fact that it is also the owner of the Dunlop and Falken brands.
Because of this, I want to talk about the recently released Sumitomo Encounter AT tire, which is an all-terrain tire that guarantees premium performance at a price that is lower than that of its competitors. Although there are some Chinese versions with no brand names that cost significantly less, this tire is not one of them. Despite this, you will still spend 10-15% less for it compared to its premium competitors, which could save you over $100 depending on the size.
But just like with every other product aimed at consumers on a tight budget, the question that remains is: how excellent is it? In general, I do not encourage purchasing inexpensive tires; however, the Encounter AT is not like other tires in this category. It is a model of mild all-terrain tire that has been thoughtfully developed and comes with an innovative tread pattern and tread compound. Therefore, how does that apply to the reality that actually exists? In this extensive review, I will be focusing on the Sumitomo Encounter AT, so let’s take a deeper look at it!
What are the features of the Sumitomo Encounter AT?
The Encounter AT from Sumitomo was designed with a rugged all-terrain compound and a non-directional 5-rib tread design that featured independent blocks. These features worked together to provide increased off-road traction as well as strong on-road grip.
The Japanese tire manufacturer didn’t make any innovative changes to the construction of their most recent all-terrain tire. The vast majority of its rivals make use of a more robust rubber compound, which allows them to perform better on more abrasive terrains like soil, gravel, and rocks.
On the other hand, it is encouraging to learn that Sumitomo did not simply replicate the tread pattern found on other models; rather, the Encounter AT features an optimized track pattern that is exclusive to this model. Although the design isn’t particularly innovative, given the price point, that’s not necessarily a deal breaker.
For example, the Encounter AT has the customary deep circumferential grooves that help with hydroplaning resistance and wet traction, as well as a 5-rib tread design that provides stability and safeguards against irregular wear. Both of these features help to prevent the tire from wearing unevenly.
Inside each block, sipes were incorporated by Sumitomo to produce additional biting edges, which resulted in increased adhesion on snow. As a consequence of this, the tire has been given the designation of 3PMSF (Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake), which indicates that it offers superior longitudinal snow traction (acceleration and stopping) in comparison to standard M+S tires. In addition, the tread was developed to reduce road disturbance and deliver a more comfortable riding experience.
Inside of the Encounter AT is a jointless nylon cap ply that evens out the load distribution, as well as broad and stiff steel belts that stabilize the tread and provide a better steering response. Both of these features contribute to a superior steering response. Additionally, the hard bead apex reinforces the whole tire to make it appropriate for heavy-duty duties such as towing and hauling. This is made possible by the high-tension casing ply, which offers a balance between comfort and stability.
What are the Sumitomo Encounter AT’s maintenance indicators?
The wear bars that have gained widespread acceptance are incorporated into the Sumitomo Encounter AT’s tire channels. These are very basic indicators that can only tell you when the tread level has reached the legal minimum, which for all-season tires is 2/32 of an inch. (1.6).
On the other hand, that is not acceptable in my opinion for an all-terrain tire, and there are two explanations for this. The most important factor is how well the tires perform off-road. A tread depth of 2/32 inches is not sufficient to provide dependable traction on slippery terrain. This means that you will need to replace the tires more quickly if you frequently drive on the trail.
The second problem is that the minimum legal tread depth for driving in the winter, which is 5/32 inches in most locations around the world. (4 mm). When you use the Encounter AT, you won’t be able to determine when the tread has reached the desired level.
In all fairness to Sumitomo, the majority of Sumitomo’s competitors use the identical wheel wear indicators. Nevertheless, the year 2023 has arrived, and I believe that manufacturers of tires ought to begin incorporating features that are favorable to customers into their products. You will have to make do for the time being with a low-cost tread depth gauge that is able to provide you with an accurate estimate of the depth of each groove in your tire.
What is the Sumitomo Encounter AT warranty?
The Sumitomo Encounter AT comes with a treadwear guarantee of 60,000 miles on all sizes, including the heavy-duty LT-metric models. This warranty is included with the purchase of the tire. The fact that it comes with one of the longest warranties available for an all-terrain tire makes it all the more remarkable. In addition, owners are pleased with the treadlife, with the majority reporting only moderate degradation after using the tires for the first few years.
How does the Sumitomo Encounter AT behave on dry roads?
The Encounter AT is an excellent performer on dry tarmac, boasting a decent steering feel, surefooted handling, and solid grip even when it is loaded down with cargo.
This came as a surprise to me because less expensive all-terrain tires typically give up some of their on-road performance in order to provide the best potential traction off-road. However, the Encounter AT is not one of them. The all-terrain tire produced by Sumitomo may not be the finest product available in its class, but it offers exceptional value for the money.
For example, despite the tire’s lack of responsiveness, it offers excellent steering feedback, which makes it simple and straightforward to navigate winding roads. Because of the vehicle’s exceptional on-center feel and its ability to track in a straight line, even when driving for extended periods of time on the freeway, the driver will not experience fatigue.
Ample traction is also available, as evidenced by the fact that the Encounter AT has some of the shortest stopping distances in the category and that it does not suffer from any problems related to slippage even when accelerating quickly. The lateral grip is also very excellent for the category, and it is more than you could ask for at this price point. Moreover, the price is very reasonable.
The Sumitomo Encounter AT is designed to protect you in any situation, including those in which you transport heavy loads in the truck bed or tow a sizable trailer. The sidewalls appear to be strong enough and capable of supporting a significant amount of weight, while the highway’s stability is only marginally affected. Naturally, all of the regulations that apply when “driving with a trailer attached” still do, so make sure to go more slowly and carefully.
How is the Sumitomo Encounter AT on wet and slippery roads?
Wet traction is one of the areas in which the Sumitomo Encounter AT excels, as it offers an adequate amount of traction for an all-terrain tire and is typically simple to maneuver in wet conditions.
Another thing that took me by surprise was the fact that an economy tire performed just as well as some premium alternatives, and in some cases even better than some of those premium alternatives. In wet circumstances, the performance of cheaper tires is typically subpar; however, the Encounter AT performs admirably despite its lower price point.
When it rained, I had relatively few problems maintaining traction with this tire. It has a powerful acceleration, and its stopping distances are among the shortest in the category. Additionally, it has a generous amount of lateral grip. Additionally, thanks to its well-balanced handling and predictable behavior at the limit, driving quickly on damp tarmac is an extremely risk-free activity.
Because there is a significant amount of empty space and deep grooves, hydroplaning should not be a problem for you. You won’t lose your footing or your safety if you use this tire because it can easily navigate through streams of water.
With that being said, how is the Sumitomo Encounter AT on snowy roads?
Although it is an excellent performer on light snow, the Encounter AT is not designed to take the position of a winter tire in conditions that are more severe. There are some competitors in the all-terrain vehicle market that are marginally superior to it, but their prices are typically higher.
You, just like with any other type of all-season tire, will need to determine whether or not the snow stability it provides is sufficient for your needs. Modern all-season tires, such as those manufactured by 3PMSF and labeled with the Encounter AT name, are an excellent choice for those of us who are rarely exposed to severe winter weather.
You won’t have any problems traveling on light snow in particular because the Encounter AT has excellent acceleration, braking, and steering capabilities. You will need to drive more slowly than you would if your truck was equipped with a pair of winter tires, but this is true of the vast majority of other types of all-terrain tires as well.
Avoid the Sumitomo Encounter All-Terrain Vehicle (AT) if you are likely to experience severe weather on the roads during the winter, including heavy snowfall, ice, and snowstorms. This tire, despite the fact that it bears the 3PMSF emblem, does not have sufficient traction to keep you secure while you are driving.
The situation is analogous, albeit to a smaller degree, with loose snow, which is the kind that you find when you go off-roading. To be more specific, the Encounter AT is capable of digging through snow, but not nearly as effectively as some of its more aggressive competitors, such as the Falken Wildpeak A/T3W.
Is the Sumitomo Encounter AT suitable for off-road driving?
If you have been driving on freeway all-season tires up until now, upgrading to the Sumitomo Encounter AT will be a significant improvement in terms of off-road performance. However, if you are more serious about traveling to remote locations, there are superior all-terrain options available to you, including some models with prices that are comparable to this one.
Nevertheless, if your off-road excursions only consist of soil and gravel, you will be pleased with the performance of the vehicle. There is a satisfactory amount of traction available, and the covering appears to be of adequate strength. My experience with the traction did not include any instances of chipping, but the stone rejection could have been improved. To be more specific, if the pathways are covered in stones of a smaller size, you may need to clean the tread after you’ve finished.
On the other hand, the Encounter AT doesn’t perform quite as well on more difficult routes. It is possible to achieve some traction in mud that is not too thick if you use this tire, but driving through deep mud is not recommended. Even after deflating the tires, you will still have a difficult time getting over rocks that are bigger in size. On the other hand, while you shouldn’t have any problems traveling on dry grass, your truck or SUV may have trouble getting traction on wet grass.
In all honesty, these problems are not unique to the Encounter AT; rather, they are problems that any other “mild” all-terrain tire will face when traversing difficult territory. For example, heavy hitters like the Continental TerrainContact A/T and the Michelin LTX A/T2 are also average for off-roading and provide exceptional on-road traction. Both of these tires are manufactured by Michelin. Because of this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Encounter AT has trouble driving through mud and over sizable rocks.
Is the Sumitomo Encounter AT a run-flat tire?
No, the Encounter AT is not a run-flat tire, and Sumitomo does not offer run-flat tires in North America. Neither company sells run-flat tires in Europe. On the other hand, no other tire manufacturer provides an all-terrain run-flat tire; consequently, the Encounter AT does not suffer from this shortcoming.
How are the Sumitomo Encounter AT’s road noise and comfort performance?
The Sumitomo Encounter AT may not be the most comfortable or silent all-terrain tire on the market, but it certainly isn’t uncomfortable or noisy either.
To be more specific, there is an ongoing high-pitched noise that, despite the fact that it is not very loud, is able to easily spread throughout the cabin, particularly at higher speeds. In terms of the journey itself, it is not particularly rough; however, there is secondary movement after the Encounter AT hits a larger bump, which causes reverberations to be felt inside the cabin.
In spite of this, taking into account the category, I believe that the vast majority of people will be pleased with how the Encounter AT performs in terms of comfort. Although you will have a superior experience with models such as the Continental TerrainContact A/T and the General Grabber APT, Sumitomo’s all-terrain tire will satisfy the needs of the vast majority of consumers.
Should I buy the Sumitomo Encounter AT
Put the Sumitomo Encounter AT on your shortlist if you are looking for a tire that will provide you with dependable on-road grip in addition to strong traction in dirt and gravel conditions. It has a price that won’t break the bank and it performs admirably across a wide range of categories, which makes it simple to recommend to consumers shopping on a tight budget.
However, if you choose one of its premium competitors, you will enjoy significantly improved functionality. To give you an example, Continental’s exceptional TerrainContact A/T performs better on the street and is more comfortable, whereas the Falken WildPeak A/T3W will offer you significantly better traction in mud and over large rocks.
In general, however, the Encounter AT is an excellent tire for the price, particularly considering that it is long-lasting and well-made product overall.
What sizes does the Sumitomo Encounter AT come in?
The Sumitomo Encounter AT is available in 46 different measurements, including P-metric, LT-metric, and flotation sizes. These dimensions range from a wheel diameter of 15 inches to 20 inches.
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