Kumho Crugen HT51 vs Michelin Defender LTX MS


Two leading contenders in the all-season tire category, the Kumho Crugen HT51 and Michelin Defender LTX MS, promise durability and performance. But which one is a better overall tire here? Well, let’s find out.

Kumho Crugen HT51
Kumho Crugen HT51 offers better off road traction with its more voided up structure, and durability.

As a tire engineer, my testing reveals that the Michelin Defender LTX MS generally outshines in dry performance, fuel efficiency, and ride comfort. Meanwhile, the Kumho Crugen HT51 excels in durability (allowing better off-road grip), and winter conditions, coming with the 3-Peak Mountain Snowflake certification.

Sizes Comparison

The Kumho Crugen HT51 comes in inches wheels, and they come with the following specifications.

  • Total sizes: 42.
  • Rims: 15 to 20 inches.
  • Speed ratings: T only.
  • Load ratings: SL, XL, C and E.
  • Tread depth: 12.5 to 14.5/32″
  • Weight range: 24 to 56 lbs.
  • Treadwear warranty: 70k for P metric and 45k for LT sizes.
  • UTQG rating: 720 A A.

Side note: Those manufactured after April 2017 come with a 3PMSF rating. And tires produced before this date do not carry this rating, and so they only have the M+S.

Detailed review of this tire: https://tiredriver.com/kumho-crugen-ht51-review/

On the other side, the Michelin Defender LTX MS has following specs.

  • Total Sizes: 68.
  • Rims: 15 to 22 inches.
  • Speed ratings: R, T and H.
  • Load ratings: SL, XL, C and E
  • Tread depth: 10 to 13/32″
  • Weight range: 25 to 60 lbs.
  • Winter rating: Only M+S available.
  • Treadwear warranty: 70k miles for P metric, and 50k for LT sizes.
  • UTQG rating: 800 A A.

Detailed review of this tire: https://tiredriver.com/michelin-defender-ltx-ms-review/

Tread Structure

The Kumho HT51 comes with an asymmetric pattern, with total of 5 ribs (the block columns you see).

Kumho Crugen HT51
Kumho Crugen HT51 comes with a dual siping design.

The outer two are shoulder ribs, while the 3 central ribs give you a interconnected structure of 4 circumferential grooves.

The central most rib has blocks with off-set edges, and rectilinear sipes.

While the adjacent ribs come with wave-like siping pattern though similar off-set edges.

Moving on, the shoulder ribs are slightly different on each side.

On one side, they are more packed up, I mean the groove between shoulder blocks don’t meet up with the first circumferential channel (like they do on the other side).

Though both ribs have similar sipes on them.

Internally tire comes with 2 ply polyamide carcass with 2 steel belts and 2 spirally wound nylon cap plies on top, providing more durability compared to Michelin.

Speaking of which, the Defender LTX MS comes with a very similar structure in comparison.

Michelin Defender LTX MS tread
Michelin Defender LTX MS lateral grooves act as biters.

I mean this tire although also comes with a conventional 5 rib structure, making straight longitudinal grooves like the Kumho, its tread is overall more packed up, relatively.

Its four central circumferential grooves interconnect and are accompanied by zigzag lateral grooves.

These zigzags offer additional grip due to their biting edges, further enhanced by plentiful siping and offset edges on all lugs.

Moving towards shoulders, although they also make off-set edges and have similar siping pattern, they make come with more, you can say, minimalism, structure wise.

I mean see how each lug only has a single siping slit.

Lastly, talking about the it’s internal construction, the tire comes with 2 ply polyester casing with dual steel belts, and single ply nylon layer on top.

Overall Dry Performance

Dry traction, though influenced by numerous factors, primarily hinges on directional and lateral grip, coupled with steering response.

Let’s talk about all these.

Directional Grip

Directional or longitudinal grip is tire’s braking and acceleration efficacy in a straight line. And it highly depends on the central area of the tread.

Now, here, the Michelin Defender LTX MS, due to its high silica compound, comes with a soft yet resilient compound that adheres better to roads.

And although its design is somewhat aggressive compared to other all-season tires, it still provides better grip compared to its counterpart.

Basically the Kumho Crugen HT51 coming in the aggressive highway terrain category, features more voided up (3) longitudinal ribs in the middle.

Meaning, these (ribs) accompanying lateral grooves, which intersect with the longitudinal ribs, reduce the amount of rubber that could have been in direct contact with the road, potentially compromising grip.

Moreover, the tire also comes with heavier construction. And this increased weight means more momentum inertia, explaining why it takes longer to stop in comparison.

Dry Handling

Handling is a combination of tire’s lateral grip with its steering.

Now speaking of lateral grip, it heavily relies on shoulders. I mean when a vehicle corners, the tire’s sidewalls/shoulders endure more weight due to the centripetal force.

In other words, shoulders make the most contact, as the tire is cornering.

Now although both tires display similar levels of lateral grip, (evidenced by comparable average lateral g-forces), the Defender LTX MS still outperforms in overall handling. This superiority is further demonstrated by its average handling lap times.

So why is that?

Well you see, in case of Kumho Crugen HT51, the tire’s heavier construction, with more tread depth upsets the equilibrium between under/over-steering, as it’s lugs are basically more susceptible to flexing, which causes a lag.

By lag I mean there’s a noticeable delay from when you turn the steering wheel to when the vehicle responds. And so you get slower handling times with this tire, relatively.

On the other hand, the tire, with lighter weight and Michelin’s MaxTouch technology (described in the tread life section below), does better overall.

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.

Now here, although the Kumho Crugen HT51 weighs slightly more compared to its competitor, the overall wear rate on both tires is similar.

Still if you have to pick one here, I’d recommend going with Michelin Defender LTX MS as the tire with its MaxTouch technology and Evertread compound does slightly better.

Maxtouch basically distributes tires weight better, which is already lighter comparatively.

While its compound has certain polymers which make it better at cut resistant (referring to its EverTread). And this especially goes for LT sizes.

Side Note: Both tires demonstrate varied tread life, especially when comparing both LT and P metric sizes. As expected, the non-LT sizes generally outperform.

Wet Traction

On wet roads, two factors greatly influence tire performance:

  • Grip, derived from sipes.
  • Resistance to hydroplaning, determined by tread voids.

Technically, most of the water is channeled away through numerous grooves. And what remains is managed by the sipes, which are slits that effectively trap and disperse water, ensuring the surface remains clear.

Now having said that, although both tires offer good enough hydro or aquaplaning resistance, with their adequately broad aqua channels, the Michelin Defender LTX MS still steals the show, when it comes to overall wet performance.

And this is because of its enhanced wet traction and steering, attributed to its superior siping.

I mean the tire offers superior wet braking due to its countless in-groove notches and better interlocking siping. Moreover its robust shoulder design with interlocking full-depth sipes and reinforced foundations not only give out superior lateral grip, but also keep the lugs from flexing, adding to tire’s steering response.

On the other hand, the Kumho Crugen HT51 again lacks with its greater weight and tread depth. I mean sure tread depth helps the tire with water evacuation, but it also contributes to lug flexing.

So its steering could use further refinement.

To be more specific, when attempting to accelerate and turn concurrently, this tire tends to oversteer. And although, this is manageable, but it might demand a bit more expertise from the driver, unlike the Michelin Defender.

Ride Comfort

Ride comfort largely depends on two primary factors: the tire’s ability to minimize noise and its capacity to absorb road shocks.

In this comparison, even though the Kumho Crugen HT51’s deeper tread provides more cushion for bumps, it doesn’t absorb them as efficiently as the Michelin.

I mean the Defender LTX MS, with its softer compound, is adept at better handling road irregularities.

However, when it comes to tread noise, both tires perform similarly, and have equal scores in my books.

This can be attributed to their shared use of decent variable pitch technology. By utilizing ribs of different designs, these tires produce varying pitches that effectively counterbalance each other, thus muting the noise.

Winter Performance

Tire suitability for winter driving hinges on its performance on snow and ice, especially in terms of stability, control, and acceleration.

In these considerations, the Kumho HT51 gives you a superior performance, and so it makes sense why the tire comes with the 3-Peak Mountain Snowflake certification, unlike the LTX MS).

(Though note that only tires manufactured after April of 2017 have this rating, and not the ones before).

Although both tires offer decent overall biters which provide ample snow to snow contact, the Kumho is still taking the lead with its better suited compound, which basically isn’t prone to getting harden up with freezing temperatures.

(All season tires can’t perform optimally below 7°C, I mean without the 3PMSF rating, which Curgen offers).

In other words, the tire stays soft in winters and provides the needed flexibility to it’s tread, allowing biters to properly provide ample snow to snow contact.

It’s worth noting: Direct snow-to-snow contact is more effective than rubber-to-snow contact. Snowflakes with their intricate arms, basically interlock with one another, creating what they call a “snowball effect,” where snow readily clings to more to itself, enhancing friction, and grip.

Fuel Economy

Fuel efficiency is influenced by factors such as tread composition, tire weight, and rolling resistance. And here, it makes a lot of sense why the Kumho Crugen HT51 is lacking out of the two.

And that’s because the Michelin Defender LTX MS comes with lower weight and shallower tread depth on average.

The decreased weight means the lugs face less pressure as they roll, and the reduced tread depth adds to the tread’s rigidity.

With these features, there’s less lug flexing. This means energy is used more efficiently, primarily focusing on the tire’s roll (and is not converted in to heat, and re-shaping of the tread, etc.).

Naturally, this efficient energy usage translates to better miles per gallon (MPG), leading to improved fuel economy.

To Conclude

Upon a comprehensive analysis of both tires, it can be seen that they both have their clear differences.

The Michelin Defender LTX MS generally holds an advantage, particularly in dry performance. While its competitor has its merits, especially in winter conditions, where it also offers 3-Peak Mountain Snowflake certification.

Moreover, the Michelin consistently outperforms in aspects of fuel efficiency, tread longevity, and ride comfort.

And both tires exhibit comparable noise reduction capabilities.

2 thoughts on “Kumho Crugen HT51 vs Michelin Defender LTX MS”

  1. My 2020 Sprinter’s OEM Crugen HT51 load E tires with 20+K miles developed a tread bulge on two of four tires with a third tire appearing to be on the verge of another. Kuhmo’s warranty excludes OE tires.
    I’m going with Michelin!


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