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Nitto Nomad Grappler 25,000 Mile Review: On and Off-Road with the Honda Ridgeline

When the second generation of the Honda Ridgeline was released in 2017, the automotive landscape was in a very different place in regards to the intersection of AWD crossover vehicles and off-roading.

Honda Ridgeline on clay road

Subaru was essentially the only real player in the scene besides a handful of niche enthusiasts messing around with older platforms. Nevertheless, the Ridgeline was equipped with Honda's impressive i-VTM4 torque-vectoring AWD system, so when the soft-roader craze exploded during the pandemic, the Ridgeline was in a good place to serve as a starting point for a comfortable, reliable trail runner.

Honda Ridgeline on dirt trail

What it lacked, however, were the specialized modifications needed for off-road adventuring.

Honda Ridgeline with Nomad Grappler tires

Supporting Off-Roads Modifications

My 2019 Ridgeline Sport AWD has been equipped with the basics for light trail work, including a 1.5” leveling kit and front skid plate from JSport USA, Traxda rock rails, and a PRL high volume intake that deletes a lower resonator chamber allowing for a higher fording depth.

Honda Ridgeline with off-road modifcations

The vast majority of miles on my Ridgeline are from commuting and driving to photoshoots around the southeast, so on-road comfort was a must-have for my use case. The Ridgeline is already a significantly more comfortable vehicle than other mid-size competitors, so too much sacrifice in the other direction starts to feel like having the wrong vehicle.

Honda Ridgeline on gravel road

Nitto Nomad Grappler Crossover-Terrain Tire

The Nitto Nomad Grappler crossover-terrain tire was a new release when I got them, and they seemed like a perfect match for what I wanted my Ridgeline to be. I ordered a set of 245/70R17 tires that are roughly one inch taller than the original tires.

Honda Ridgeline from rear

Day-to-Day On-Road Performance

Since the installation, I've driven about 25,000 miles. For the majority of those miles, I was living in a more rural area and had more opportunities for off-roading. Besides following more traditional off-road oriented vehicles into remote shooting locations, I also took the Nomad Grapplers on the Georgia Adventure Trail, a nearly 600 mile trek that was mostly off-road across the entire state of Georgia.

Nitto Nomad Grappler on Honda Ridgeline

Recently, my family and I made a move to metro Atlanta, where close off-road opportunities mostly translate to the occasional gravel road. The Ridgeline has fully migrated into its commuter role, and frankly, has excelled.

Honda Ridgeline on Gravel Road

The Nomad Grapplers, on-road, are mostly invisible. Although my truck didn’t spend much time on factory tires, the ride on the Nittos reminds me of those first few weeks with the vehicle. The tires are quiet thanks to the variable pitch tread pattern, which works to break up and reduce the noise frequencies as you travel down the highway. Even with 25,000 miles of wear, my passengers and I can enjoy conversation and listen to music at normal levels.

Nitto Nomad Grappler tread

Wear has been consistent and even throughout the time I've been running the tires. Nitto offers a 60,000 mile treadwear warranty on the Nomad Grapplers, and based on what I see with these, I’m optimistic I'll far exceed the treadwear warranty mileage.

Nitto Nomad Grappler Spare Tire in Honda Ridgeline

Explore New Destinations

All that said, a review of a crossover-terrain tire that doesn’t touch on some off-road terrain would certainly be lacking. To make use of the capable treads, a friend and I took off work to find a little bit of adventure. Georgia enthusiast Vman1313 has taken a lot of care to map out trails across the state to get people off-road in fun, easy-to-follow, accessible ways. I found that we could hop on his West Georgia Adventure Loop with a short drive down south.


The West Georgia Adventure loop is a leisurely 365+ mile loop of mostly gravel and clay roads through a section of the state that is mostly ignored by non-residents. The Nomad Grappler claims that it is for “those looking to get the most out of their vehicle to explore new destinations.” With little expectation of grand adventure, we set off to do exactly that.

Honda Ridgeline on old dirt road.

Off-Road Performance on the West Georgia Adventure Loop

Jumping on the trail at the northernmost tip, we headed clockwise down the loop towards Red Oak Creek Covered Bridge in Woodbury, GA. Our path was mostly dirt and gravel roads at 25-40 mph. While the road was not soaked, lingering pools of water at low spots provided some opportunities to see the tires do their magic. The Nomad Grappler’s wide circumferential zigzag grooves evacuated the water while the tread block sipes increased traction in those wet areas.

Honda Ridgeline on covered bridge road

Outside of those few wet places, the tires mostly contended with the rough, loose terrain. The Ridgeline never felt unsettled at our low cruising speed, as the AWD system and Nitto tread worked to eliminate any instability before it reached the steering wheel or our seats.

Honda Ridgeline in off-road rut

The most challenging area of the West Georgia Adventure Loop that we found on our run was the red clay roads on the west side of the circle. Even when dry, the sticky, thick clay can quickly fill up a tire’s tread.

Nitto Nomad grappler in red clay

Dealing with Red Clay

While these roads were dry, the area was obviously a popular spot for local off-roaders who had created deep ruts in the red clay. While there were certainly easier routes through the area, we wanted to see how the Nomad Grapplers performed in the mud.

Honda Ridgeline on clay road

Now, obviously, Nitto makes no claim that the Nomad Grappler is a mud-terrain tire. There are much better options in their catalog if your adventures will regularly take you into deep muddy terrain. That being said, anyone that is going to venture off-road in Georgia, in any capacity, will have to deal with red clay.

Nitto Nomad Grappler in red clay

The Nomad Grapplers, even with 25,000 miles on them, handled everything we threw at them with ease. Even as the treads started to fill, the tires always found traction. We even tried a few standing launches in the clay, with all traction controls turned off, and the Ridgeline always quickly found its way out with little drama.

Honda Ridgeline from Rear

The Perfect Combo

All said and done, the Nomad Grappler is the perfect tire for the Honda Ridgeline. While the Ridgeline’s larger platform allows for the option of Nitto’s more aggressive tires, the Nomad Grappler feels like the best fit, given the Ridgeline’s original purpose and design.

Honda Ridgeline from front

For a truck that spends 98% of its time on Georgia asphalt, the Nomad Grappler excels and never feels like a compromise. But when there is opportunity to explore, there’s no need for hesitation. Grab a friend, jump in, and go and see something new.

Nitto Nomad Grappler side wall

  • Want to turn the off-road capability on your Honda Ridgeline up a notch? Here's a few things to keep in mind when upgrading Honda's pickup. 
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