Tire Review: Falken Wildpeak AT4W

For more than a decade, I’ve been driving on a single type of tire – the BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2. I’ve had a set on my 4Runner, my Bronco, and my Land Cruiser. The reason why I did not switch to any other tires is because the KO2s have been great to me. They were quiet, provided solid traction in wet and snowy conditions, and resisted Boston’s biggest potholes. And they made each vehicle look much beefier. But now Falken is saying, “Hey, we see that you love the KO2s, perhaps you should take a look at our new Wildpeak AT4W tire?”

Taking on a leader in the industry is a bold move, but Falken seems to have something here. Falken sent me a set of the AT4W for comparison to the KO2. To keep things fair, I resisted the urge to go up in size. I asked Falken for the same size tires as the KO2 I had – LT285/70-17, load C. This is one size up from the 265/70-17 General Grabber A/TX tires that originally came on my Bronco Black Diamond.

It’s Not All About the Numbers

The specs above are pulled from Tirerack. The chart compares the Falken Wildpeak AT4W, Toyo Open Country A/T III, BFGoodrich’s KO2, and the new KO3. All four are all-terrain tires that have severe snow service certification and a three-peak mountain snowflake (3PMSF) symbol. I did not include many other popular tires, such as any of the Nitto Recon Grappler or Goodyear Wrangler tires, because in this size, they were not available in the LT (light truck) form and/or with load C rating, making them incomparable. All mud-terrain tires were also excluded as their technology is much different. I also excluded Falken’s own WildPeak A/T3W as the A/T4W is its replacement.

Right away, we see that the Wildpeaks have a slight price advantage but probably not enough to really sway anyone over. And right away, we also see that the Wildpeaks have a disadvantage – they’re heavier. Here is the thing… The weight doesn’t [really] matter!


Yes! Your whole life, you’ve been told about un-sprung weight and how it affects performance. And it absolutely does on high-performance sports cars. I will guarantee that most drivers in most situations would instantly feel the difference between a Miata with a 25-pound wheel/tire combo and one with a 40-pound combo. That’s a 60%, 15-pound increase per corner on a 2,300-pound vehicle.

These tires, however, are huge off-road tires likely attached to a sub-6000-pound SUV or pickup. To see acceleration, braking, or handling differences between them would require precise instrumented measurements. And those measurements would be taken at extreme limits, and sane people will not likely drive their big trucks in such a way, whereas it is likely that a Miata owner would partake in a track day, bro.

Will there be a difference with the added weight? Theoretically, yes. Will most drivers notice it? Unlikely.

The Numbers That [sometimes] Matter

Significantly more noticeable is a difference in overall diameter. If one replaces a factory 31-inch diameter tire with a 34-inch diameter tire, there will be a huge difference in acceleration and braking. But for the purposes of this comparison, we are not doing this. We are sticking with the same size tires.

According to the tire height calculator, the overall diameter of a 285/70-17 tire is about 32 and 11/16th inches. The Wildpeak runs a little big at 33 inches even. Does the 5/16th of an inch make a difference in driving? Not one that I can feel. However, if your vehicle is tight on tire space (Toyotas, Land Rovers), that’s something to keep in mind. The Bronco has enough space for 35-inch tires on stock non-Sasquatch suspension, so this isn’t an issue here.

One reason for the slightly increased diameter may be due to the deeper tread depth. That chunky tread is instantly visible and may contribute to the added weight. At the same time, it likely yields better off-road traction and longer life. Everything is a compromise. Falken says that the extra weight is “due to added internal strength that helps it get those extra miles in the mileage warranty.” To their point, the Toyos and BFGs have a 50,000-mile warranty, whereas the AT4Ws have a 60,000-mile warranty.

How Do They Differ on the Road?

I had about 17,000 miles on the KO2s that I had just removed. I can’t say enough good things about them. They were great in the city, on the highway, and in winter driving. KO2s are not known for their mud traction, and I did get my Bronco stuck in a ditch after sliding in the mud. This was not so much a tire issue as it was a driver issue. I was fucking around, and I found out.

However, like all tires, the KO2s changed with age. The most noticeable difference is in noise. I really did not notice how loud they have gotten in my soft-top [read: already loud] Bronco until the Wildpeaks were installed. It wasn’t that the KO2s were loud, it’s that the AT4Ws are surprisingly quiet. I’m interested to see if they remain so.

Another big difference was on the pothole-ridden roads of Boston. The KO2s seemed to have gotten stiffer with time, or perhaps my butt got older. The ride wasn’t bumpy or uncomfortable, but the bigger impacts were very noticeable. I was running them at around 35psi. The new AT4Ws seem to absorb these large impacts much better, transferring less of an impact to the cabin. The tire shop inflated them to 39psi, and they creep to 41psi at extended highway speeds, as per the Ford gauge display.

Admittedly, I don’t pay much attention to fuel economy. If fuel economy were a concern to me, I would not be driving a big, box-shaped vehicle with a foot of ground clearance that rides on chunky tires. From my experience, it is where a vehicle is driven, how it is driven, what is in it, and what the ambient temperatures are that will have a greater impact on fuel economy than a change in tires. As it applies to my driving style and needs, I typically end up on the lower side of EPA-rated fuel economy.

More to Come…

Stay tuned for future updates on these tires. We will discuss their design and mud traction (as seen in these pictures). Unfortunately, we just missed the snow season, but the next one will be here soon. New Hampshire class VI roads are closed from March to June, so I couldn’t drive anywhere that was really challenging now, but that will change. In the summer, we’ll deflate them and see how they are on a beach.

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2 responses to “Tire Review: Falken Wildpeak AT4W”

  1. GTXcellent Avatar

    Is the only real difference between the AT3 and the new AT4 an additional sidewall (and an increase in weight and cost)?

    I have AT3s on my pickup, and haven’t been overly impressed. They are nice on the pavement, are quiet, and have really worn great. But, off-road…not so much. The lugs on the AT3s seem to have a hard time clearing out – especially with snow. Curious to see your longer term impressions of these (although you and I also have very different opinions of your beloved BFGs). For full disclosure though, the Falken M/Ts we have on the Jeep have been my absolute favorite tire evah!

    1. Steve O. Avatar
      Steve O.

      You actually want snow to stay in your tread. It’s the snow to snow contact that gives you better traction, it’s not the only thing that gives you better traction but certainly a factor.