The objective of this research is to produce a finite element model of tire‐terrain interaction that can be used to explore the effects of tire and terrain variables on vehicle mobility and terrain deformation. Such a model would need to account for the deformable nature of both the tire and the terrain and be fully three‐dimensional. Thus, it is important that the tire model be very efficient at rolling yet retain realistic surface contact and deformation related to contact. A promising methodology was developed by Darnell for efficiently modeling a tire for vehicle dynamics simulations. The performance of the Darnell model was examined with respect to measured tire deformation as well as to conventional models of the same tire. The Darnell tire model was then rolled across a soil simulating the sand used in off‐road vehicle experiments. The combined tire‐terrain model presented is fully operational, but optimization and validation are in progress.