Michelin Defender vs Crossclimate 2

Michelin Defenders are very famous but how would they perform against one of the best all season tires out there? Well, we tested them very vigorously and have some cool results for you.

Crossclimate 2 is basically a combination of a touring and a dedicated winter tire. That’s why it has the arrow like directional pattern common with all winter tires.

Michelin Defender LTX (see difference bw AT2 & LTX MS) on the other side, characterizes alternating continuous ribs and grooves like a classic all season tire.

(Some people confuse Michelin Defender LTX with T+H, they are both different. You can remember these tires by looking at the Michelin X Tour. The T+H variant looks exactly like it.)

How They Performed in all seasons?

We tested both of these tires on Audi A4, with following specs:

 Crossclimate 2Defender LTX
UsageGrand touringHighway
Tested size235/60R18 107H XL235/60R18 107H XL
Tread depth10/32’’12/32’’
Tread width6.8’’7.3’’

Disclaimer: Both tires were tested and reviewed at different times.

Winter Performance:

Let’s start this off with Michelin Crossclimate 2.

Right off, you’ll notice the directional design of this tire and the long swooping lugs that come all the way from the shoulders, towards the center.

Lugs of Michelin Defender CrossClimate 2
CrossClimate 2 Lugs

As beautiful as this design looks, its not for show at all.

These lugs are for snow/ice/slush (even a little bit of mud).

They act as traction scoops, pushing snow backwards as the tire rolls, keeping the grip on.

That’s why its also 3 peak mountain snow flake rated (missing in Michelin Defender).

The tire also features biting edges. These notches on the lugs chew on the snow, increasing the grip further.

Biting Edges of Michelin CrossClimate 2

They also help in crushing the soft snow before it gets in and out of the tire, aiding in traction more.

Other than all this, its thermal adaptive polymer also stays relatively softer like other winter tires (explained in detail in the next section).

On the other hand, the Michelin Defender has 4 longitudinal grooves, formed by the tread blocks seen all over.

All these blocks have a lot of siping and sharp edges.

Here the blocks have offset cuts in them which help bite in to the snow.

Biting Edges of Michelin Defender LTX MS
Edges of Michelin Defender’s Blocks

In case of sipes, (or the zig zag shaped slits on the blocks) the uneven texture increases the friction with the ground and trap the snow in them and since snow sticks better on snow, the tire is able to maintain its grip quite efficiently.

The tire also have big shoulder voids which act as snow spoons. These scoop up the snow as the tire rolls enhancing overall traction.

Following results were drawn here:

TestsCrossClimate 2Defender LTX MS
Snow Braking88 feet96 feet
Snow Handling25 mph20 mph

Overall, Crossclimate 2 showed better overall performance in snow, which was no surprise.

Performance In Summer:

Winter tires with their softer material perform best in temperatures below 44 Degree F. So they can’t be used in summer, as their tread would wear off very quickly.

So both of these all season tires are built with temperature adaptive polymers, and both perform great.

The Michelin Crossclimate 2 with its V-Ramp Chafing of central ribs allows this tire to have amazing grip.

The tire simply has more contact with the road in comparison, so it performs better here.

On the other side, the Michelin Defender looses a lot of it’s contact patch through the grooves, siping and blocks formation.

Defender ltx ms Michelin
Defender Tread Pattern

Without these longitudinal grooves and a ton of siping that you see on the Defender, the Crossclimate 2 simply offers more contact with the road resulting in better on road dry grip.

Following were the test results:

TestsCrossClimate 2Defender LTX MS
Dry Braking123 feet137 feet
Dry Handling56 mph56 mph
Handling was measured by calculating their average speed of laps.

In dry conditions, Crossclimate 2 showed a better grip with its lower braking distance while both tires performed equally in handling.

In Rain:

And since the siping is very minimal, the Crossclimate 2 looses some traction on wet.

But still it does not perform too bad after all.

The tire still has some siping and it’s right in the place where you need them the most.

Sipes on Michelin Defender CrossClimate 2
Siping on CrossClimate 2.

Basically, the tire was made round. So its central area has the most contact with the road so siping was very important here.

Each block carry sipes that are mostly rectilinear, but they become wave-like in the central portion of the tire. These sipes also split up in the end there.

All these things give this tire great traction values even on wet.

The straight siping on the shoulders (as seen with bold prominent lines) aid the tire in lateral traction.

These sipes are very deep and go all the way to the base, so the blocks are further divided, allowing them to squirm/squeeze according to their action on the road.

Also since the shape is rounded, the sides of the tire can easily allow water to channel through the grooves as it moves out. This allows this tire to have high float speeds as well.

On the other side, the Michelin Defender also performed great here.

Its substantial handling is explained by its bulkier shoulder blocks which come into action during cornering.

Michelin Defender LTX MS shoulders
Michelin Defender’s shoulder blocks.

Besides that, the high density of full-depth 3D sipes are seen everywhere on this tire.

The basic job of these sipes is wiping water away, and reducing the overall stiffness in blocks, and they do that efficiently.

But interestingly, they also multiply the tire’s gripping edges because these sipes are also changing their pattern on all blocks (from zig-zag to straight slits).

All these things combined provide excellent traction over wet pavements.

Furthermore, the continuous 4 circumferential channels, with more tread depth allows it to have an enhanced hydroplaning resistivity (as the tire has more water evacuation capability).

4 Grooves of Michelin Defender LTX MS
Defender’s 4 Grooves.

In contrast, the Michelin Crossclimate 2’s circular tread also efficiently directs water out from its lateral grooves, however, shallower channels provide lesser water holding capacity and fewer sipes lead to decreased water wiping efficiency.

So the following calculated results make a lot of sense:

TestsCrossClimate 2Defender LTX MS
Wet Braking177 feet168 feet
Wet Handling45 mph46 mph
Float Speeds58 mph59 mph
Handling was measured by calculating their average speed of laps.

Overall here, the Michelin Defender showed better traction on wet roads with better gripping, handling and resistivity to hydroplaning.

Which tire will last longer?

The Crossclimate 2 is molded from thermal adaptive all-season compound which is relatively softer and specifies lesser wear protection in comparison.

Defender is a comparatively more durable all-season tire due to its EverTread composition and open tread pattern.

So its tread polymer wears down quite slowly and it shows a good weather resistance.

This tire specifies polymer structuring over twin steel belts, hence, its internal structure is also robust.

Other Deciding Factors:

There were some other tests as well that we performed and although the differences were quite low, its still shows one better.

CrossClimate 2Defender
Fuel Consumption28 MPG26 MPG
Noise70 dBs71.5 dBs
PriceQuite ExpensiveCheaper
Treadwear warranty60k miles70k miles
Uniformity warranty1 year first 2/32’’Same

Higher grip usually means more rolling resistance but its the opposite with the Crossclimate 2.

With less rolling resistance, less hysteresis is produced when this tire moves. So it gives out better mileage in comparison.

These tires were also quieter.

Usually the tires with bigger shoulder voids have more noise. And that’s one of the reason why these tires were made directional.

Noise is basically created when air particles hit the surface of the tread, and with directional design of the Crossclimate 2, the air has a lot of room to move around so it doesn’t hit the walls as hard.

But all these cool features of this tires don’t come cheap.

Out of all the seasonal tires we reviewed, these were the most expensive of them all.

And yes one last thing, as these tires are directional, their rotation becomes a bit complicated as they can only be rotated vertically.

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