Michelin Crossclimate 2 Review

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Michelin CrossClimate 2 is one of the top ranking grand touring AS tires, where you get top-notch braking and winter performance. But how well this tire does in other key areas? Well, you’re about to find out.

Michelin CrossClimate 2
CrossClimate 2 offers the best braking among its peers, in grand touring category.

I’m impressed with the Michelin CrossClimate 2’s performance, excelling in dry braking, snow, comfort, aquaplaning resistance, and low rolling resistance. Not quite the perfect all-season tire, it still stands out for excellent dry braking and predictable wet understeer, though center feel and feedback are drawbacks here. Though, its versatile traction in various conditions, including rain, snow, and ice, makes it an outstanding all-season choice in its grand touring category.

Key Takeaway

Overall, the Michelin CrossClimate 2 excels in:

  • Longitudinal Grip: Offers leading braking scores, enhanced by its directional tread pattern, zigzag central groove, and rounded contact patch.
  • Winter Performance: Stands out with features typical of winter tires, offering great traction in snow and icy conditions.
  • Noise Comfort: Utilizes variable pitch sequencing to reduce noise despite larger shoulder voids.
  • Impact Comfort: Its supple rubber and thicker tread depth provide a smoother ride, dampening road vibrations.
  • Wet Performance: Combines superior wet braking with efficient water dispersion, which also offers superior aquaplaning resistance.

Though the tire needs to be improved in:

  • Dry Lateral Grip: Due to significant voids between shoulder lugs, affecting cornering.
  • Mid-Cornering Feedback: Affected by its heavier weight and winter tire-like tread compound, leading to oversteering or understeering issues.
  • Wet Handling: Limited sipes, and thicker linear sipes, (optimized for snow traction), reduce effectiveness in wet conditions.
  • Tread Longevity: The soft rubber composition, while beneficial for winter performance, leads to faster tread wear.
  • Fuel Efficiency: Tire’s greater weight generates greater rolling resistance.

Tread Appearance

Michelin CrossClimate 2 Tread
Michelin Crosscliamte 2 has full depth dual pattern siping.

Michelin Crossclimate 2’s tread is very much optimized for winter traction, like most of the winter tires out there, it’s tread also features a directional pattern of V shaped lugs.

These large swooping lugs act as traction spoons for the tire, scooping out water, slush, and snow with elongated arms.

That’s why the tire earns 3 peak mountain snowflake rating.

All of these arms have notches towards their shoulder blocks and the deep slits of siping here turn in to a wave like pattern as the lugs move towards the middle.

If we talk about the rubber composition, its embedded with thermal adaptive polymers and a high density of silica which keeps the tread flexible.

Available Sizes

The Michelin Crossclimate 2 offers 92 total sizes ranging from 16 to 22 inches rims. They have following specs.

  • Speed ratings: H and V.
  • Load ratings: SL and XL.
  • Tread depth range: 10.5/32″ (on all)
  • Weight range: 25 to 36.5 lbs
  • Tread mileage rating: 60k miles.
  • UTQG: 640 B A.
  • Winter ratings: 3 peak mountain snowflake and M+S available on all sizes.

Side Note: In 22 inches rims, only one size is available, 285/45R22 114H, XL.

Compare CrossClimate 2 With Others

Dry Performance

Dry performance is usually not a issue with all season grand touring tires, as they can pretty much handle anything here.

Here main variables include, the tire’s Longitudinal grip, lateral grip, and steering response. Let’s see how Michelin’s tire performed in each.

Longitudinal Grip

Longitudinal grip refers to the traction a tire offers when moving forward or in a straight line, primarily determined by the tire’s central contact with the road. This grip, directional in nature, is often evaluated through braking distance tests.

Now, the Crossclimate 2 excels in this area. In fact the tire comes out with “leading braking scores”, and its the main reason why I included this baby in my list of best grand touring all season tires. Check the list here.

This “braking” excellence is attributed to its three main design elements:

  • Directional Tread Pattern: With this pattern, the central lugs with their more crowded up structure, are optimally aligned with the road surface for superior rubber-to-road contact.
  • Zigzag Central Groove: With the zigzag central groove, courtesy of interlocking lugs, the tire is able to provide numerous biting edges.
  • Rounded Contact Patch: This is an another vital feature, ensuring even weight distribution across the lugs, reducing momentum.

So with superior contact patch, and greater biting edges (in its middle tread area), the tire offers one of the best directional grip.

And although the tire weighs a little, the rounded contact patch still keep the weight pressure on the lugs low, reducing momentum/inertia, facilitating easier stopping of the tire.

Lateral Grip

Lateral grip, particularly, is influenced by the tire’s shoulders as they are the primary point of contact with the road during cornering. Let me explain why.

So when the tire turns, the weight on it shifts towards its shoulders, due to the centripetal force.

An easy way to understand this, is by considering our natural tendency to lean in the opposite direction of a turn when a vehicle takes turn, particularly aggressively.

However, the presence of significant voids between the shoulder lugs means that these tires don’t offer optimal rubber-to-road contact, which can impact lateral grip.

That’s why the Crossclimate 2 isn’t able to provide you with good enough results, especially when you consider it’s directional grip.

But interestingly, the tire still provide superb results, when it comes to overall handling. I mean compared to the best tire here, the Goodyear Vector 4Season Gen 3 (review), the Michelin’s tire only lacks by less than half of a second (in overall averaged lap times).

Let’s see why.

Overall Handling

Overall handling is the mixture of tire’s directional, and lateral grip, combined with overall steering response. To understand this, consider the following 3 phases of cornering.

  • Entering the corner.
  • Mid-cornering.
  • Exiting the corner.

Entering the corner, the vehicle has to slow down first, and here Crossclimate 2’s superior braking (quicker stopping performance), provides you with faster entering.

Also, as the tire offers superior directional grip, and on center feel, its also able to provide you with effective performance when it comes to exiting (the corner), where you get superior acceleration, and stability.

Needless to say, superior performance in both of these phases lower the overall handling lap times. Though can’t say the same about the tire’s mid-cornering feedback.

This is primarily due to the tire’s heavier weight and a tread compound similar to that of winter tires.

Both of these basically make its lugs susceptible to bending, which disrupts the balance of over and understeering, when the tire is mid-cornering.

Wet Performance

Wet performance depends on how well the tire clears off the road in front of it, (as it rolls), which results in effective wet traction and resistance to hydroplaning.

Let’s see how the tire performed in each of these crucial factors.

Wet Grip and Handling

Wet traction in tires largely hinges on the effectiveness of their sipes. They are mere slits in the tread, which act as mini water containers.

I mean the water particles coming in between the tread and the road, is pressured in to these slits, and that way, you get a relatively drier contact patch for the rubber to grip on.

Having said that, the Michelin Crossclimate 2 comes with a mixture of good and bad things, combining in to an above average performance here overall.

Talking about drawbacks first.

  • The tire doesn’t offer a lot of sipes to begin with, and this is self explanatory.
  • It’s linear siping, particularly towards shoulders are prone to getting stiffer under extreme maneuvers, so they aren’t as effective>
  • These linear sipes are thicker/wider, and are less effective at absorbing water. (They are basically better optimized for snow traction).

All of these above impact tire’s wet lateral grip, and make it’s handling prone to understeering.

On the other hand, if I talk about the tire’s good points here.

  • It comes with central interlocking siping structure, allowing for superior wet braking performance.
  • The tire offers quick water dispersion through its grooves, and with more water going out, there’s less reliance on sipes to begin with.

That’s why you still get good enough wet traction with this tire.

To provide some context, the Vredestein Quatrac Pro (review) is a leading tire in wet handling. And in comparison, the Crossclimate 2 takes only about a second longer on average to complete the same lap, indicating its competent performance in wet conditions.

Hydroplaning Resistance

Hydroplaning, or aquaplaning, occurs when a tire cannot effectively channel water through its grooves, resulting in a loss of contact with the road surface.

So tires began to float or you can say, “hydroplane”.

The Michelin Crossclimate 2, with its directional tread pattern, excels in mitigating this risk.

Its thoughtfully engineered design establishes pressure points in a way, that effectively push water from the center of the tread towards the shoulders.

And here, the V shaped grooves, courtesy of sweeping lugs, provide the needed pathways, facilitating rapid expulsion of water from under the tire.

So needless to say, you get pretty great float speeds with this tire.

For Your Info: One of the best tires for hydroplaning, is Hankook Kinergy 4S2 (review).

Winter Performance

Winter performance is the area, where Michelin Crossclimate 2 truly shines.

But what makes this tire so great? Well, because the tire does everything right here, and employs features you typically see on winter tires.

It has the directional design with elongated lugs scoop out the slush and snow particles backwards, translating in to an effective forward momentum, aiding the tire in acceleration.

That’s why it makes sense the tire comes with 3 peak mountain snowflake rating, which actually tells you that the tire is at least 10% better at snow acceleration, compared to standard touring tires (without this rating).

Besides directional pattern, the tire is also very narrow and offers a heavier structure. Both of these features basically put more pressure on the snowy ground, trapping snow particles in, facilitating snow to snow contact.

This contact improves overall traction, as snowflakes stick well with one another, compared to tread/rubber. (That’s why we have a phrase, the snowball effect).

And yes, thanks to the snow vices, interlocking central sipes, and thicker multi-directional slits, you also get one of the best traction on icy terrains as well.

Durability

Michelin Crossclimate 2 is a durable enough tire for it’s category. The tire has a shell of 2 ply polyester so this also covers the sidewalls from underneath making them 2 ply as well.

On this casing, there are 2 steel belts running which are then reinforced with a single layer of another polymer, nylon.

All these layers, besides the polyester cords, don’t cover the sidewalls and they are underneath the middle tread area.

Noise Comfort

Tire noise is predominantly caused by air interacting with the tire’s tread walls. And this process typically involves air particles entering the tire from the shoulder grooves and then impacting the tread, which creates the primary source of noise.

So with CrossClimate 2 featuring larger shoulder voids, it should be loud right? Well not really. You see the tire is still saved here, as it offers one of the best pitch sequencing technologies.

This aspect of the tread design involves arranging the lugs in such a way that they generate different sound frequencies as air particles hit them. And these varying tones do not amplify each other, resulting in a reduction of overall noise.

Impact Comfort

The tire’s ability to dampen road imperfections, is another crucial factor, when it comes to overall ride quality. And it highly depends on the tire’s internal and outer construction.

Which makes sense, because tires with stiffer material, and compositions aren’t able to provide you with smooth enough ride experience.

Having said that, the Crossclimate 2 is a pretty great performer here. It’s supple (winter tire like) rubber effectively dampen down the road vibrations.

Moreover, it’s thicker rubber on top provides with tread depth reaching up to 10.5/32″ also provide good enough area for bumps to settle down, before they reach the vehicles cabin.

Tread Longevity

Tread wear is affected by a lot of factors, and most important one, out of them is weight, tread composition and design.

Now when it comes to Michelin CrossClimate 2, although the tire does not offer too much rolling resistance (especially when you look at it against the tire’s grip), it still wears faster.

So why is that?

Well the most contributing factor in this tire’s case is it’s rubber composition. It’s very soft. And although it allows this tire to be one of the best for winter performance, its a trade-off with its tread longevity.

Fuel Efficiency

The fuel economy on Michelin Crossclimate 2 is above average.

The does not offer high rolling resistance despite being so good at dry grip.

But keep in mind, it’s fuel efficiency is dependent on the environment, as with higher temperature, it’s fuel economy goes down.

Take Home Points

The Michelin Crossclimate 2 is one of the best tires out there for snow, it’s snow traction is even on par with some of the average winter tires. That’s why the tire earn 3 peak mountain snowflake rating.

The tire also excels a lot in dry and wet conditions, where dry traction is a little better and on wet roads, as the tire offers less no of total sipes and is not as efficient in case of hydroplaning. But it’s not really a drawback, as it’s wet traction is still better than other premium all season tires.

But the tire does have drawbacks, and the first one is the noise. It’s on road noise levels are high and not impressive and they get poor with wear, which is also not great.

The tire although provides good fuel efficiency, it’s softer compound where provides you with better ride comfort as bumps get absorbed, it’s prone to wear.

But looking at the performance, it’s a tiny price to pay, which remind me, the tire is also not cheap.

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