New Michelin Defender LTX M/S2 vs LTX M/S

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Both the Michelin Defender LTX M/S2 and its predecessor, the Defender LTX M/S, are decent contenders in the highway all-season tire category, each with their unique strengths. But is the newer tire better? Let’s find out.

Michelin Defender LTX MS2
Michelin Defender LTX MS2

Key Findings

The Defender LTX M/S2 excels in:

  • Enhanced dry performance and braking.
  • Superior handling and cornering grip.
  • Improved wet traction and water displacement.
  • Better performance on icy surfaces.

Meanwhile, the older Defender LTX M/S leads in:

  • Reduced noise and better sound management.
  • Smoother ride over bumps and irregularities.
  • Higher fuel efficiency due to lower rolling resistance.
  • Better winter performance when it comes to light snow.

Detailed Discussion on good old Defender LTX M/S:

Facts on Sizes

The LTX M/S comes in 58 total sizes, while the newer Defender MS/2 provides you with 25 sizes, currently. Both of them have following specs.

SpecsDefender LTX M/S2Defender LTX M/S
Rim Sizes16 to 24 inches15 to 22 inches
Speed RatingsS, T, HR, T, H
Load RatingsSL, XL, E and FSL, XL, C, E
Tread Depth11 to 14/32″10 to 13/32″
Weight30 to 67.2 lbs
(Lighter on average)
25 to 60 lbs
UTQGUp to 820 B AUp to 800 A A
Warranty70k for H and T rated
50k for for S rated.
70k miles for Non-LT
50k miles for LT
Additional RatingsOnly M+SM+S only

For Your Info: If you’re new to my site, and finding a perfect all-season tire for your car, you should start here:

Dry Performance

To fully grasp the concept of a tire’s dry performance, it’s essential to delve into its linear and lateral grip, along with steering responsiveness. Let’s explore them separately.

Directional Grip

A tire’s directional grip performance is profoundly influenced by how the rubber interacts with the road surface, especially from the tread’s middle.

But wait, why is this central tread section crucial here? Well, this is because, rolling straight, that area makes the most, you can say, “solid” contact patch with the ground.

And understanding this, it can be seen why the new Defender LTX MS2 highway AS tire excels here overall, showing better braking performance.

Defender LTX MS2
Newer Defender LTX MS2 feature more biters particularly towards its tread edges.

Sure the difference is marginal between the two (I’m talking a discrepancy of less than half a foot in 60 to 0 mph braking tests, on average). But its still an improvement, nonetheless.

But what makes this newer tire better? Well a lot of factors.

Firstly, the M/S 2 is designed with significantly more biting edges compared to its predecessors, featuring more aggressive siping and offset edges,(talking about those lateral voids between tread blocks).

These voids, connecting circumferential grooves, essentially create more powerful biters, providing superior grip and traction.

In contrast, the older Defender LTX M/S falls short, lacking as many biting edges. Plus its heavier too.

And this additional weight slightly slows the tire’s stopping ability, as more weight generates greater momentum, requiring extra effort to halt the tire, impacting its stopping performance.

Side Note: If you’re wondering what other types of all-season tires are out there, you should check out this out:

Overall Handling

The overall handling of a tire is gauged by analyzing two key aspects: its steering responsiveness and the lateral grip it provides particularly during mid cornering.

Now talking about lateral grip first, the new Michelin Defender LTX M/S2 demonstrates superior performance, as evidenced by its greater g-force readings on tests.

This enhanced performance stems from the tire’s improved contact with the road. I mean the M/S2 offers an array of improved biting edges strategically positioned to deliver exceptional traction, particularly during mid-corner maneuvers.

These in particular includes the in-groove notches at the edges of the shoulder blocks.

But yes, I should tell you that a more significant factor in MS2’s overall handling superiority, as seen in faster lap times during tests, is due to its enhanced steering response.

And this improvement is attributed to its meticulously engineered structure.

I mean the tire’s design incorporates lugs and construction with more robust, reinforced foundations, yet with overall lighter weight. And these features collectively work to minimize excessive lug bending, thereby sharpening the steering response.

On the flip side, the Michelin Defender LTX M/S, with its heavier weight and more flexible lugs, tends to exhibit understeer.

Michelin Defender LTX MS
Michelin Defender LTX MS lugs are more prone to flexing.

In other words, its lugs are prone to greater deformation under stress (while cornering) and require more time to return to their original shape. And this delay, though marginal incrementally increases overall handling times.

Winter Performance

When scouting for all-weather highway tires that do great on snow/ice/slush, you should know that both these Michelin boys here are pretty good.

I mean they nail it in all the key areas, with great snow and ice acceleration, solid braking, and handling that’s spot-on. And you can’t go wrong with either of these here.

I gotta say, I’m a fan of how they respond to steering inputs and zip through light snow even though they don’t come with 3-Peak Mountain Snowflake (3PMSF) ratings, (only M+S is available).

Side Note: If you’re scratching your head about 3PMSF, you should check this out:

But digging deep, there are a few things you should know about these tires. From what I’ve seen, the newer Defender LTX M/S 2 actually does a little better on icy terrains, while the older various is slightly better when it comes to powdery/soft snow.

So the newer LTS M/S 2 has the upper hand on slicker surfaces thanks to beefy, full-depth siping with a more aggressive interlocking (and 3D) structure. And yes, it also features more intricate biters in comparison too, providing you that micro grip highly needed on ice.

On the other hand, the old-school Michelin LTX M/S does better “plowing” through fluffy snow.

Simply put, it just scoops and boots snow backwards in a better way, generating greater forward push, and acceleration. Plus the tire’s design is more oriented in forming a better snow-to-snow contact, which is important because snow prefers to cling to itself rather than rubber.

Fuel Efficiency

Fuel efficiency in tires boils down to several key factors, mainly how much rolling resistance they have. And this resistance is influenced by things like the weight of the tire, both the inner and outer construction, and what the tread is made of.

So, when you think about it, the better fuel efficiency of the LTX MS (older variant) isn’t too surprising.

As I explained earlier, this tire doesn’t grip the road as tightly as the newer version, it comes out with lower rolling resistance. In other words, although it offers less traction, it pays off (literally) in terms of fuel economy, providing better mpg readings (as seen on tests).

Though keep in mind that the difference here isn’t really huge. And that’s because of the LTX M/S 2 having a stiffer and lighter structure.

Tread Noise

Comparatively, the Defender LTX M/S 2 exhibits a higher noise level. And this increase is primarily due to the tire’s tread pattern.

But why? Well to explain, first you need to know how tires generate noise.

So tires emit noise in several ways, but the principal cause is almost always the movement of air. I mean, as the tire rolls, air gets compressed in and out within the tread, and its that passing around of the air, and striking against the tread walls that creates primary source of noise.

Understanding this, it can be seen why the Defender LTX M/S 2’s more aggressive tread design exacerbates this issue, as it provides larger spaces for air movement, resulting in increased growling and more noticeable high-frequency sounds.

Defender LTX M/S 2
Defender LTX M/S 2 comes with more biters in comparison.

Conversely, the older Defender LTX MS variant manages this issue more effectively. Although it also features a similar tread void structure, it benefits from a more advanced variable pitch tread and the integration of special polymers.

Basically, the Michelin LTX MS’s design leads to a diverse interaction of air particles with variously shaped tread sections, producing a range of sound frequencies that tend to cancel each other out.

Additionally, the polymers within the tread absorb sound waves, significantly reducing the overall resonance within the tire, a phenomenon often referred to in tire technology circles as in-tread resonance.

Overall Wet Performance

When driving on wet roads, tire performance is primarily influenced by two key factors: grip and hydroplaning resistance.

The grip is largely a result of sipes, small slits in the tire that effectively capture and disperse water, maintaining a clear contact surface.

Meanwhile, resistance to hydroplaning is determined by the tread voids, which are responsible for channeling most of the water away.

Now, the Michelin Defender LTX M/S 2 excels in both these areas.

It features a deeper tread depth and an enhanced design of its four circumferential grooves. And these grooves are more aggressive, allowing the tire to displace a greater volume of water initially.

Consequently, there is less burden on the sipes (which come in later to handle residual moisture).

Speaking of which, the tire’s siping structure is also notably better, with an interlocking 3D design that efficiently absorbs more remaining moisture missed by the grooves.

Additionally, the abundant biters, which were highlighted for their effectiveness in dry performance, also contribute significantly in wet conditions, as they provide superior wet braking and overall handling.

On the other hand, while the Defender LTX M/S is an excellent tire, it falls slightly behind its successor, particularly in steering responsiveness. (Saying this from the comparative slalom tests).

To be more specific, the tire needs to improve its on-center feel.

I mean the older LTX MS tends to oversteer when accelerating and turning simultaneously. While this can be managed, it may require more skill from the driver, unlike the more cornering-friendly newer Defender LTX M/S 2.

Ride Quality

The smoothness of a tire’s ride is pretty much tied to how well it can soak up those bumps and dips in the road, and a lot of that comes down to what the tire is made of.

Basically, tires made with softer stuff tend to give you a smoother ride. But, you don’t want them too soft, or else you might run into other issues.

And here, the older Defender LTX MS hits that sweet spot just right. It’s got this softer, thermally adaptive rubber, where it’s also designed smartly with a moderate tread depth and a sturdy single-ply nylon cap ply.

This mix of soft yet firm qualities allows it to be better at gobbling up those road bumps, making your ride slightly smoother in comparison.

On the other side, the newer LTX MS/2 takes the back seat here with its bit firmer rubber. Sure, this gives you better feedback when you’re steering (as I discussed in the dry performance section), but it still lacks that cushioning ability of the road imperfections that the older Michelin tire offers.

To Sum Up

Each Michelin tires here presents a balanced mix of strengths, making both a strong choice depending on specific driving needs and conditions.

The Defender LTX MS/2 offers superior dry performance with better traction and handling, while the Defender LTX MS/2 leads in wet traction.

Moreover, the older LTX MS has the advantage in noise comfort and a smoother ride, whereas the MS/2 provides better steering feedback.

And for fuel efficiency, the LTX MS is slightly better, due to lower rolling resistance. Though there is no difference when it comes to tread longevity.

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