Michelin Defender LTX Platinum Review


The Defender LTX Platinum is Michelin’s Highway All-Season tire designed to provide a great combination of longevity and performance (particularly in wet conditions). But how well the tire does in other key areas? Well let’s find out.

Michelin Defender LTX Platinum on Tundra
LTX Platinum looking cool on Tundra

As a tire engineer, my assessment of the Michelin Defender LTX Platinum highlights its proficiency in various aspects where it excels in wet traction, snow performance, (with its multiple in-groove notches), ride quality (due to a soft tread and noise-reducing pitch sequencing), and tread wear, thanks to advanced technologies. However, it falls short in dry performance and ice traction, and its heavier, stickier composition also leads to reduced fuel efficiency.

Available Tire Sizes

Michelin Defender LTX Platinum currently comes in just 5 sizes.

Tire SizeDiameter (in)Section Width on Rim Width
265/60R20 121S32.510.7″ on 8.0″
275/65R20 126S34.111.0″ on 8.0″
285/60R20 125S33.411.5″ on 8.5″
295/60R20 126S33.9″11.7″ on 8.5″
295/65R20 129S35.1″11.7″ on 8.5″

And all sizes come with a 70,000-mile warranty, black sidewalls, and similar 14/32″ tread depth. And yes they only have M+S in terms of winter ratings, and are missing with 3 peak mountain snowflake ones.

I’ll update the list as soon as Michelin releases more sizes with this tire.

Tread Design

The Michelin Defender LTX Platinum features a well engineered tread design optimized for robust performance across various conditions.

Michelin Defender LTX Platinum
Defender LTX Platinum’s tread is really growing on me.

The tire incorporates six columns of tread blocks, which are technically called “ribs” in the tire world.

And out of them, the outer shoulder ribs are notably more pronounced and reinforced, designed to provide stability and support during cornering (particularly).

These ribs are interspersed with aggressive biting edges, including V-shaped notches that extend towards the sidewalls, enhancing traction on loose or slippery surfaces.

And of course they also have prominent lateral voids, (with notches in them), connecting with the tire’s outer zigzag circumferential grooves aiding hydroplaning resistance.

Moving towards middle, the ribs feature a higher concentration of linear siping, critical for maintaining grip on wet roads and providing biting edges for snow and ice conditions.

But more prominently, this central region is mainly populated with strategically positioned rectangular box-shaped elements.

While these boxes further provide additional biting edges, the surrounding longitudinal (and continuous running) ribs add to the tire’s overall dry performance (as you’d see in its section).

Lastly, if I talk about its internal construction, it’s got 2 ply polyester with twin steel belts and single nylon cap ply.

Wet Performance

The overall wet traction depends on how effectively water gets evacuated from the tire’s tread and form road in front of it.

And this is where the Michelin LTX Platinum shines. In fact wet traction is the tire’s strongest point, all thanks to its well engineered sipe and groove design.

The tire features four wide circumferential grooves, as previously mentioned in its construction overview. These grooves are interconnected very cleverly, facilitating rapid water dispersion and offering excellent resistance to hydroplaning.

And while these grooves efficiently expel most of the water, the remaining moisture is managed by the tire’s biters and sipes which act like miniature water reservoirs.

Basically water coming underneath the lugs (trapped between the tread and the road) is funneled/squeezed into these slits by the weight pressure of the tire itself. And this creates a drier surface area for the rubber to grip onto.

Plus, the tire’s rectangular voids serve as temporary water collectors in the same way, expelling water as the tire rotates. These voids plus the overall efficiency of the grooves reduces the water-clearing burden on the sipes, enhancing overall traction.

That’s why compared to rest of the highway all-season tires, the Defender LTX Platinum provides above-average wet traction. But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement.

I mean the tire could really benefit from and improved siping design (providing more aggressive interlocking structures). Currently, the tire’s linear sipe structure tends to stiffen especially during braking.

I mean I am sure you can imagine why this is happening because lateral sipes close up during aggressive braking, but yes, they do provide superior handling performance for sure. And there aren’t any complaints there.

Noise Comfort

Tire noise is primarily generated from the interaction between the tire and air particles. These air particles typically enter through the gaps in the tire’s shoulders, impacting the tread walls. This interaction leads to pattern noise and tread vibration.

In this context, the Defender LTX Platinum stands out positively. The tire’s densely packed shoulders effectively limit the entry of air, significantly reducing noise generation at its source and consequently providing a quieter ride.

Additionally, the tire offers a superior composition that excels in absorbing sound energies, thus decreasing in-groove resonance.

And yes one more thing, the Michelin tire also features an advanced pitch sequencing technology, which involves varying the size and spacing of tread elements to minimize noise frequency peaks, further enhancing the quietness of the ride.

Dry Performance

Dry performance is not the strongest point of Platinum tire. Let me explain why by dividing this section in to its main parts, namely directional grip, lateral grip and overall handling.

Longitudinal Grip

When discussing longitudinal grip, it’s crucial to understand that this characteristic is predominantly influenced by the tire’s central area.

This is because this part bears the most weight pressure and distribution as the tire moves straight ahead. And in terms of performance, this aspect of the tire is best evaluated through its braking capabilities.

The key factors here include the tire’s central footprint, the design and orientation of the tread elements (biters), and the tire’s overall weight. And considering these elements, the Michelin Defender LTX Platinum shows room for improvement.

The tire does offer some advantages with its continuous central ribs, ensuring consistent contact between the rubber and the road. However, the elongated rectangular voids in the design aren’t quite “effective”.

Moreover, the longitudinal alignment of these voids contributes little to braking and acceleration. So most of the tire’s grip comes from the laterally arranged sipes and the outer lateral voids (towards edges) that merge into the shoulder grooves.

Another point to consider is the weight of the tire which is pretty heavier, especially significantly compared to the new Defender LTX M/S2 sibling. This means the tire generates greater momentum and so it takes more energy and therefore time to stop.

Side Note: You can compare the both old and new LTX MS variants here: https://tiredriver.com/michelin-defender-ltx-ms2-vs-defender-ltx-ms/

Lateral Grip and Handling

Tire handling involves a critical balance between lateral grip and steering responsiveness, and I’ve analyzed both these aspects separately for this tire.

Now speaking of lateral traction first, its the “force” the tire feels towards the middle of the turn’s apex/curvature. That’s why here, shoulder footprint of a tire is the main contributor.

Basically the weight on the tire shifts towards the edges of the tread, (its the centripetal force, think about the sensation of being pulled outward during a vehicle’s turn). So shoulders make the most road-contact during the tire’s turning.

In this respect, the Defender LTX Platinum performs beautifully thanks to its zigzag circumferential grooves and serrated shoulders providing substantial lateral traction (as seen by its impressive lateral g-forces on averaged tests).

However, this doesn’t necessarily equate to outstanding handling in terms of lap times. And this shortfall is largely due to the Michelin’s lagging steering response.

I mean there’s a noticeable delay in feedback upon steering input, and the tire doesn’t react as swiftly as other all-season tires in a similar price bracket, (Platinum LTX is very expensive by the way).

So what’s affecting its feedback?

Well, a major contributing factor here is the tire’s heavier internal structure. This additional weight basically exerts more pressure on the lugs, causing them to deform or flex more during cornering.

And this lug flexing then introduces a lag, (as lugs take time to get back to shape), disrupting the balance between understeering and oversteering, lowering overall lap times.

Fuel Economy

he rolling resistance of a tire is a crucial factor affecting fuel consumption, and it’s primarily influenced by the tire’s weight, tread pattern, and composition.

In the case of the new Defender LTX Platinum, I have to admit, it faces some challenges in this area.

This is simply because the tire weighs a lot and comes with a softer (and therefore stickier) rubber composition and both of them makes it less fuel efficient option compared to its other (Defender) family members at least.

Now this can be seen by the Rev/Miles the Michelin provides along with these tires.

Having said that, “on average” the Defender LTX Platinum has about 30 Rev/miles less than the new Michelin Defender LTX M/S2. However, its Rev/miles is almost similar to the older version of the Defender LTX M/S.

What this means is that while its fuel economy is comparable to the older LTX M/S version, it falls short when compared to the newer model of the LTX M/S2.

But wait what exactly is Rev/miles? Well let me put it this way.

A higher Rev/miles means the tire has to rotate more times to cover the same distance, potentially reducing fuel economy due to increased engine workload. However, if the difference in Rev/miles is small, the impact on fuel economy is likely negligible.

Snow and Ice Performance

The Defender LTX Platinum also excels in snow performance, particularly when compared to other tires in its highway all-season category.

The tire particularly stands out in powdery, soft snow across various performance metrics, including braking, acceleration, and handling.

This is because its diverse shaped voids and in-groove notches are adept at establishing effective snow-to-snow contact.

This capability is enhanced by the tire’s relatively narrower section width, an optimized contact patch, and heavier weight, which helps to lodge snow within its grooves, facilitating the necessary contact.

Snow-to-snow contact is a vital aspect of winter traction. Snowflakes have unique interlocking structures, enabling them to mesh well together and generate increased friction, which is critical for optimal performance in winter conditions.

However, it’s important to note that while this tire performs well in snow, its ice traction is merely average. And it makes sense as the tire doesn’t come with 3 peak mountain snowflake rating and is missing with thermal adaptive rubber (that works better when temperature goes below 44°F (or 7°C).

Wear Rate

Defender LTX Platinum is one of the best all season tires in terms of tread wear in the highway all season category. The tire offers nearly twice the tread life compared to original Defender LTX MS (even though both these tires come with similar treadwear warranties).

So what makes LTX Platinum so great? Well simply put, its two “updated” technologies:

The first technology is Max Touch 2.0. This isn’t just a marketing term: It signifies a design where the tire wears off uniformly. This uniformity is due to even distribution of pressure across all parts of the tread, ensuring balanced wear and tear.

The second significant feature is the EverTread 2.0 compound: This advanced tread composition includes resins, silica, and other polymers. These materials enhance the tire’s elasticity and make the tread more resistant to cuts and chips, thereby prolonging its life.

And yes, the tread depth of the tire is also pretty sufficient (14/32″). So with this thicker rubber layer, it takes longer to wear down to 2/32″ (the legal tread depth limit in the US).

Most highway all season tires only go up to 12/32″ at max, by the way.

Now, it’s common to assume that a greater tread depth might make the lugs prone to bending, leading to increased heat and rolling friction, which can accelerate tread wear. However, this isn’t an issue with the LTX Platinum.

This is because it offers a stiffer base of secondary rubber layer (giving lugs on the tread reinforced foundations).

This design ensures an optimal balance between longevity and rolling resistance, without significantly compromising grip.

Road Vibrations Comfort

The ride quality of a tire is greatly influenced by its capacity to handle road irregularities, a characteristic largely governed by the tire’s composition.

In this regard, the Michelin Defender Platinum excels notably, thanks to its particularly soft (enough) and pliable tread which provide decent level of cushioning.

This flexibility allows the tire to absorb road imperfections more effectively, contributing to a smoother ride.

Additionally, as the tire is designed with a deeper tread depth, it gets to provide a thicker layer of rubber between the vehicle and the road surface, further enhancing its ability to smooth out bumps and irregularities.

To Conclude

Overall, the Defender LTX Platinum is a robust choice in the all-season category, offering a blend of durability, comfort, and wet performance, albeit with some compromises in dry handling and fuel efficiency.

Its dry performance, particularly in terms of longitudinal grip and handling, shows room for improvement. However, it excels in wet traction, thanks to its efficient sipe and groove design, offering superior water evacuation and resistance to hydroplaning.

Plus the tire also performs well in snowy conditions, but its ice traction is just average.

And speaking of drawbacks it also needs to improve its fuel economy too.

Though the tire does a great job in terms of tread longevity and overall comfort, particularly excelling in noise reduction performance.

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