Continental TrueContact Tour vs Michelin Defender 2

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In the realm of Standard Touring All-Season tires, the Michelin Defender2 and the Continental TrueContact Tour both carve distinct paths for drivers, where their well engineered structures allow them to last really long. But which tire is still better here? Let’s find out.

Mazda Sport
Defender’s testing on Mazda.

Being a tire engineer, let me tell you that, In dry terrain, Defender 2 excels, while in wet, TrueContact dominates. Moreover, the Michelin is more fuel-efficient with longer tread life, but Continental offers better winter traction and comfort.

Side Note: Both tires are included in my list of top standard touring tires. See here: https://tiredriver.com/best-standard-touring-all-season-tires/

Diverse Sizing and Specs

The Continental TrueContact Tour comes in 15 to 19 inches rims, and they have the following specs.

  • Speed ratings: T, H and V only.
  • Load ratings: SL and XL.
  • Tread depth: 11/32″ on all.
  • Weight range: 16 to 32 lbs.
  • Treadwear warranty: 80k for T and H rated sizes or 70k mile for V rated ones.
  • UTQG rating: 800 AA.

Review this tire in greater details: https://tiredriver.com/continental-truecontact-tour-review/

The Michelin Defender 2 comes in 16 to 20″ inches rims, having following specs.

  • Speed ratings: H (on all)
  • Load ratings: SL and XL
  • Tread depth range: 10.5/32″ (on all)
  • Weight range: 25 to 32 lbs
  • Winter ratings: Only M+S no 3PMSFR.
  • Tread mileage rating: 85k miles.
  • UTQG rating: 800 A A.

Review this tire in greater details: https://tiredriver.com/michelin-defender-2-review/

Tire Structure

The Michelin Defender 2 comes with a more streamlined symmetric pattern.

Michelin Defender 2
Defender 2’s tread features a rounded contact patch.

It’s tread is defined by 5 total columns (which are called ribs).

The outer two shoulder ribs are very simplistic, only carrying a single siping slit per block (of wave-like structure).

While the 3 ribs in the middle are denser, when it comes to features.

The central most rib is continuous running, carrying similar interlocking sipes, but at an angle.

Whereas the neighboring ribs are characterized by curved lateral grooves, connecting the outer circumferential channels.

(And yes, they also have similar sipes on them).

Internally, the Defender 2 is constructed with a single-layer polyester casing, two steel belts, and one nylon cap ply.

On the other side, the TrueContact Tour although also comes with an symmetrical tread pattern, its much more aggressive.

Continental TrueContact Tour
TrueContact Tour’s inter-connectivity of grooves traps stones pretty easily.

Here 4 ribs are formed, where the two (slightly wider) shoulder ribs are more streamlined.

These carry snow vices (facing the middle), a combination of notches and linear sipes, and lateral grooves.

While the central two ribs are characterized by thick “X” shaped curved grooves, and sipes.

These biters are designed to provide traction on multiple terrains and conditions.

On wet, they expel water out efficiently, since they interconnect the circumferential grooves together.

While on snow they provide the needed biters.

Within, the tire is built with a single polyester layer, complemented by two steel belts and a spirally wound nylon overlay.

It also integrates low- to mid-apex belts for enhanced handling stability.

For Your Info: The “low- to mid-apex” is actually the construction of tire’s sidewalls, where they offer a balance of flexibility and rigidity. So sides aren’t too soft or hard, optimizing handling.

Ride Comfort

The comfort level, a tire offers, is shaped by various attributes, from its inner and outer construction to its tread composition and design.

Examining these facets sheds light on why the Continental TrueContact Tour leads on my overall subjective scoring.

My personal assessment reveal that the the, being relatively softer here, offers a more cushioned ride, adept at negating road irregularities.

Actually, its ride isn’t too soft, nor firm, as it strikes a balance between soft and firm compounds, ensuring tread stability while maintaining comfort.

So, you don’t get that less responsive or “floaty” feel, you get form soft winter tires for example.

Dry Performance

To evaluate a tire’s performance on dry surfaces, two critical components come into play:

  • Handling, a combination of steering responsiveness and lateral grip.
  • Directional stability, or how well the tire holds its course.

Let’s talk both.

Dry Handling and Steering

Cornering is divided into three distinct stages. There’s entry phase, where tires need to brake and downshift, so that they could enter the corner without slipping. Then there’s mid cornering, where you need precise steering feedback.

And lastly, you have the exit phase, where tires/vehicle straightens and acceleration is reintroduced.

Now, the Michelin Defender 2 demonstrates superior performance throughout these phases. It offers superior braking (as you’d see in the next section).

And it’s stiffer rubber and lighter design allows it to give you a better mid-cornering feedback, conveying a clear indication of the available grip. Furthermore, its slightly heftier steering provides a more centered feel, making it adept during the exit phase too.

One the flip side, the Continental TrueContact Tour doesn’t quite match the spirited feel of the Defender 2, (even though it only lacks by less than half a second in handling time tests, on average).

The main problem with this tire is it’s slightly sluggish mid-cornering feedback, where the tire’s added extra weight is the main culprit.

Longitudinal Grip

This grip is the tire’s ability to provide straight line traction, and is measured by the tire’s braking efficacy. Moreover, as it’s a directional metric, it’s majorly influenced by the center tread of the tire.

Now, the Michelin Defender 2 stands out in this regard, (even though by a slight margin).

As discussed in the tread design section, it showcases three continuous-running and more streamlined ribs, ensuring consistent contact with the road. This consistent design, complemented by interlocking siping (which act as biters here), enhance it’s overall braking performance.

The result? You get 2 feet shorter/faster braking compared to Continental.

Speaking of which, the TrueContact Tour although is pretty streamlined (to move longitudinally) too, it still lacks, mainly from it’s greater spacing between its lugs. This means it has less rubber making contact with the road, which of course affects its directional stability.

Fuel Consumption

Delving into fuel consumption, it’s clear that rolling resistance is a crucial determinant. And this resistance is intimately tied to both the weight of the tire and its grip.

In this context, the Continental TrueContact Tour lacks, primarily due to its marginally heavier build and an increased number of biters.

This added weight intensifies the pressure exerted by the tire lugs upon road contact, leading to greater friction.

Moreover, while the additional interlocking (X-shaped) grooves provide commendable grip in snowy and wet conditions, they also escalate the friction with the road, detracting from the tire’s overall fuel efficiency.

On the flip side, the Michelin Defender 2 coming with more packed up and streamlined lugs keep it’s energy expenditure at bay, (not wasting it into heat and tread deformity), allowing for superior fuel economy.

Wet Performance

Wet performance highly depends on grooves and sipes, as they are the ones in charge of clearing water off.

And clearing of water is the main factor, defining tire’s overall wet performance.

Here grooves take away “most” or bulk of the water, while sipes facilitate dispersing left-over water particles, which are actually sucked by the slits (as they create suction, by flexing).

Given this understanding, it’s evident why the TrueContact Tour excels in wet conditions, offering consistent grip and confidence-inspiring handling.

In fact, on average, Continental offers 2 seconds faster handling times (on laps), and a whopping 25 feet shorter braking (on tests), compared to Michelin.

The tire showcases a superior siping structure, where each rib features slightly angled slits, allowing for water dispersion in all directions.

While the Defender 2 lacks with it’s stiffer rubber composition. I mean even though it also features ample siping, its relatively harder rubber compound doesn’t allow sipes to create ample suction, reducing its overall wet performance.

Moreover, the tire also doesn’t offer a good enough groove connectivity, where on Continental’s tire, the X shaped curved grooves (joining up with circumferential channels), expel out water at a faster rate.

So you also get greater resistance to hydroplaning on this tire, compared to Defender.

Tread Longevity

Tread life is influenced by a variety of factors, and it is essential to consider all of them to get an accurate estimate of how long a tire will last. These include, tread compound/design/depth along with weight.

And here, the Michlein Defender 2 not only outranks the Continental tire, but offers one of the best tread longevity performance in its standard all season category.

And that’s because of the following, most crucial factors:

  • The tire features a lighter structure, followed by MaxTouch technology. So its tread bear less weight pressure, thereby reducing overall rolling friction.
  • It features EverTread compound, where it contains polymers, highly resistive to heat, directly improving tread life.
  • It’s tread design is more symmetric, allowing for easier rolling of the tire.

On the flip side, the TrueContact Tour is not necessarily bad here, not at all. But it just can’t offer the same level of performance as of Defender, which is a highly tread-longevity focused tire.

Road Noise

Road noise is the result of various factors working together. And here air plays a lot of contribution (in all those factors/variables).

As tires roll, air particles, primarily entering through the tire’s shoulder, collide with the tread walls. And as they strike their impact creates a noise. That noise then bounces off the tread walls, causing amplification.

And then that leads to tread vibrations and cavity sounds.

So it makes sense why the Michelin Defender 2 with relatively more compacted up lugs, and shallower tread depth (on average), provide less room for air entry and collision, allowing for a more serene ride comparatively.

Whereas Continental TrueContact Tour with more voided up structure, does the opposite.

Winter Performance

Both tires although lack a lot in ice, they are not so bad on snowy terrains.

Yet, overall the Continental ends up getting more scores, as it offers greater snow to snow contact, a trait pretty important here, as snowflakes (with their unique arms) like to stick more to other snowflakes instead of tire’s rubber.

Moreover, it also has the edge of its relatively more pliant rubber composition, where it also offers +Silane additives.

These additives, basically resist its biters form getting too stiffen up with freezing temperatures.

So it’s X shaped curved biters in the middle, combined with interlocking and linear siping (on shoulders), provide a better overall traction in comparison to Defender 2.

But keep in mind, that there are much better options out there, than these two, if winter performance is important to you. Go for the ones having 3-peak mountain snowflake (3PMSF) rating (missing in both these continental tires here).

Conclusion

In summary, pitting these two competitors against each other yields some distinctive outcomes.

In dry conditions, Michelin Defender 2 leads with enhanced handling and traction, while its competitor trails behind, due to its lagging cornering response.

Though the wet performance favors the TrueContact Tour with superior handling and hydroplaning resistance. And yes, its also much better in terms of winter performance too.

Moreover, the Defender 2 is more fuel-efficient and offers extended tread life, and yes, its quieter too. Though Continental offers better ride comfort still.

So it all comes down to your needs and of course driving conditions.

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