Cooper Discoverer EnduraMax Review: A Touring Tire for Rough Roads

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  • Super-tough construction
  • Cut- and -chip-resistant tread compound
  • Can't be damaged by hardpacked surfaces
  • Safe on-road dynamics and excellent highway stability
  • Very good wet performance
  • Usable traction and braking on light snow
  • Handling is slightly worse than "regular" touring tires
  • Responsiveness could be better

The roads today are flooded with crossovers, trucks, and SUVs. However, only a small percentage of the owners of these vehicles use them for off-roading, despite their abilities. And, that’s understandable – you can reach most places on Earth using paved roads.

That said, you can’t reach every place on Earth using only paved roads. Sometimes, you must encounter hardpacked surfaces, such as dirt and gravel. In some rarer cases, you also need to overcome smaller rocks and shallow mud to reach some places.

Now, even the most urban-focused crossovers can overcome light off-road terrain, especially with an all-wheel-drive powertrain. However, you will still have issues with the tires, specifically those that came from the factory.

Most SUVs and trucks are equipped with touring or highway tires, which are primarily designed for use on paved roads. These tires can be used on hardpacked surfaces, such as dirt and gravel, but only in a stretch.

Prolonged use on these abrasive surfaces can damage the tread compound on the tire, introducing chips and cracks. That’s especially the case with touring tires, which usually come with softer and less-durable tread compounds.

The thing is if you want an excellent tire for paved roads, but also one that can endure on hardpacked surfaces, not many choices are available on the market. Fortunately, Cooper Tire developed one such tire – the new for 2020, Discoverer EnduraMax.

This touring all-season tire is a part of the SUV, crossover, and truck family of tires from the company. The model is primarily designed for use on the highway, but also to be very tough.

As a result of that, the EnduraMax can be used on abrasive off-road surfaces for prolonged periods. Also, the tread compound is designed to resist freezing, which means that it should be more usable in harsh wintry conditions.

Until now, buyers needed to venture into highway tire territory for these qualities and live with the slightly less-superior on-road dynamics.

So, can the Discoverer EnduraMax really shine on the road, while also offering durable performance on hardpacked surfaces? You can find a detailed answer to the question in my Cooper Discoverer EnduraMax review down below.

Before we jump to my impressions of the tire, it’s good to note that it comes in many different sizes, ranging from 16-inch wheel diameter to 20-inch wheel diameter.

With these sizes, Cooper covers a very large portion on the market, and also a large portion of SUV and truck owners in North America. So, if you own a modern SUV or truck, chances are the Discoverer EnduraMax is available in that size.

Before we start with the real-life impressions of the tire, let’s see what the manufacturer says about the Discoverer EnduraMax.

“Gravel roads are tough on tires, but so are rough city streets. That’s why we created the Discoverer Enduramax” – it’s how Cooper presents us with its new model on their website. “It’s made with the durability of an off-road tire but for on-road driving.”

The main focus of the engineers when they designed this product was to produce a tire with rough road durability, severe weather traction, including harsh wintry conditions, and smooth and quiet ride.

To achieve these things, Cooper uses its proprietary Durable-Tread Technology in the tread compound of the Discoverer EnduraMax. This technology makes the rubber more resistant to abrasion and wear from rough surfaces, just like it’s the case with all-terrain or mud-terrain tires.

Moreover, the Discoverer EnduraMax is also cut- and -chip-resistant, a quality that we’ve never seen in a touring tire before. The tougher tread compound should also resist punctures better, even though Cooper doesn’t mention that.

The durable tread compound is molded into a symmetric tread pattern. According to Cooper Tire, the tread design was developed for a quiet ride, even at higher speeds, something that touring-tire owners expect from these products.

Furthermore, the tread pattern is specifically developed for delivering safe handling, good braking, and high levels of traction on slippery surfaces. It all starts with the four wide circumferential grooves, which evacuate water from the tire and limit hydroplaning, helped by the lateral notches.

The Discoverer EnduraMax also has many sipes on the independent tread blocks, which serve as biting edges. These not only further improve wet performance, but they also help when driving over snow, improving traction and braking.

Cooper didn’t stop there, though. In order to get the 3PMSF (Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake) symbol on the tire, the company built its Winter Grip Technology in the EnduraMax. This tech utilizes zig-zag sipes and sawtooth grooves, which create even more biting edges for driving over snow and ice.

The internal construction of the Discoverer EnduraMax is specially designed to retain its shape, even when driving over very rough and uneven surfaces. This is another area where the model differs from other touring all-season tires.

Inside, Cooper utilized the Armor Belt Technology that features extra strength, light truck steel belts for a stronger overall construction, and a nylon-reinforcement for improved high-speed stability, straight-line tracking, and better responsiveness.

What are the maintenance indicators?

Cooper Discoverer EnduraMax Review

Source: Cooper Tire

Cooper utilizes regular tread wear indicators (TWI) in all of their touring and highway tires, and the Discoverer EnduraMax is certainly not an exception.

These indicators are very important for owners because they show how much tread there is left on the tire. Without sufficient tread, the tire becomes unstable on wet surfaces and unusable over snow.

The minimum tread depth on touring tires is 2/32 inch, but I strongly recommend replacing your tires before they come to this point.

You can easily tell how much tread is left on your EnduraMax tires by looking at the TWI’s, which are narrow bars of smooth rubber that run across the tread.

The tread indicators are recessed into the tread of the tire, and can’t be easily seen at first. However, as the tread wears down, the bars become more visible.

When the bars become flush with the tread, it means that you only have 2/32 inch of tread depth. When this happens, you should immediately replace the tires.

Fortunately, the Discoverer EnduraMax is built to last, not only when driven over rough surfaces. The company provides a 60,000-mile treadwear warranty on each size.

Now, some touring tires come with 70,000-mile treadwear warranties, but considering the price of the EnduraMax and the focus on toughness, I am very satisfied with this warranty.

How does it behave on a dry tarmac?

On paved roads, the Discoverer EnduraMax handles everyday tasks with aplomb. The tire feels very stable on the highway, and it provides the driver with precise and direct handling.

Moreover, the traction and grip levels are very good, which translates into good cornering stability. Braking is very good as well, albeit not exceptional.

Now, the Discoverer EnduraMax is certainly safe, but you shouldn’t expect miracles. This is a product that’s designed for safe on-road driving, and durable performance on hard-packed surfaces.

Therefore, regular touring all-season tires that are only designed for the road offer better handling and especially better responsiveness.

How is it over wet and slippery roads?

The Discoverer EnduraMax is completely safe in rainy conditions. The hydroplaning resistance it top-notch, and you can expect good traction, handling, and braking in heavy rain.

Performance over damp tarmac isn’t as impressive, but the tire still manages to provide the driver with safe handling and braking.

With that being said, how is it on snowy roads?

In one word – impressive. Well, at least for an all-season tire. Many tire manufacturers claim that their touring all-season tires are usable for driving over light snow, but few of them deliver.

Fortunately, Cooper managed to extract the best possible winter performance from the Discoverer EnduraMax. Light-snow traction and braking are very good, indeed, and cornering feels safe, too.

Now, sure, the EnduraMax won’t replace a proper winter tire, but as far as all-season products go, it’s one of the best around.

Is it suitable for off-road driving?

Well, that’s one of the reasons why you would buy this product in the first place! Just make sure that you understand the limitations – the Discoverer EnduraMax isn’t designed for maximum off-road traction.

In other words, the tire is engineered only to resist cuts, chips, and abrasions from rough surfaces. When it comes to performance, I’d say that it is completely usable on dirt and gravel, with good traction, handling, and braking.

Don’t push it too much, though. The EnduraMax may be durable and tough, but its tread pattern can’t provide you with usable traction over very large rocks and deep mud.

Is it comfortable and refined?

I’ve seen better touring tires in terms of comfort, but the Discoverer EnduraMax isn’t far off the pace. The ride quality is smooth on the highway and slightly worse when passing over large potholes. Noise is suppressed really well, even at highway speeds.

You can see more Cooper Discoverer EnduraMax Review here: Video created by Tire Rack

Should I buy the Cooper Discoverer EnduraMax?

The Discoverer EnduraMax is unique enough for an instant recommendation. Right now, there is almost no other touring all-season tire for crossovers that provides year-round performance and similar toughness to all-terrain tires.

So, if you want a good road tire that can also be used for light off-roading, then I wholeheartedly recommend the Cooper Discoverer EnduraMax.

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