Michelin Defender T+H vs X Tour A/S 2 vs Defender 2

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Looking at both the Michelin Defender T+H and the X Tour A/S 2, it becomes apparent that their innovative tread compounds and performance capabilities justify their investment, as they feature remarkable performance in wet, dry and snowy conditions. But how well would they be able to hold up against the Michelin Defender T+H? Well let’s find out!

Michelin Defender T+H
The Michelin Defender is proudly made in USA.

Both the Michelin X Tour AS2 and Defender 2 excel in dry on-road traction, fuel efficiency, noise reduction, and tread life. However, their single-ply polyester casing makes them less durable than the Defender T+H, and they’re also taking a back-seat when it comes to winter performance mostly due to their harder rubber compositions. Moreover the Defender T+H is also a superior pick when it comes to wet conditions.

Michelin X Tour AS2 and Defender 2 are the Same!

Both tires are essentially identical, differing only in name due to targeted marketing strategies.

The X Tour AS2 is an exclusive offering available only to Costco members. While the other is for everyone.

Moreover, the two tires share similar key specifications, including weight, section width, and tread depth. And the only discernible difference lies in the number of sizes each model is available in, for example, the Defender 2 is offered in 33 sizes, while the X Tour AS2 comes in 19 sizes.

Also note that both of them are engineered to give out exceptional dry road traction, optimal fuel efficiency, minimal noise, and impressive tread life, above all. I mean they come with 85k miles warranty.

Tire Sizes – What to Know?

The Michelin X Tour AS/2 (and the Defender 2) comes in 16 to 18 inches (rims), with following specs.

  • Speed ratings: H on all sizes.
  • Load ratings: SL and XL.
  • Tread depth: 10.5/32″.
  • Weight range: 22 to 32 lbs.
  • Winter ratings: only M+S.
  • Tread mileage rating: 80k miles.

The Michelin Defender T+H is available in 14 to 18 inches.

  • Speed ratings: H.
  • Load ratings: SL.
  • Tread depth: 10/32″ on all.
  • Weight range: 17 to 28 lbs.
  • Winter ratings: only M+S.
  • Tread mileage rating: 80k miles

Design Appearance

Let’s start things off here with Michelin Defender T+H.

Michelin Defender T+H

The tire features shoulders, which are separated from one another with varying lateral voids.

Moreover, they also come with a complex blend of rectilinear and wave-like siping along with those voids, which are considered as in-groove notches.

And as they feature different structure on each side, you get an an asymmetric tread pattern (unlike the Defender 2 and X Tour AS2).

Same is the case with the lugs in the middle. The three ribs there are very different form one another, and form a combination of various tread voids, sipes, and incisions.

All of these provide you with amazing water-dispersion abilities.

(However, the inclusion of more sipes or lateral grooves slightly compromises dry traction, as it reduces the tire’s contact area with the road).

On the other hand, the Michelin X Tour AS2 features a central rib doesn’t form any blocks, a design choice aimed at increasing road contact.

Michelin Defender 2
Michelin Defender 2 and X Tour A/S 2 are both the same.

These 3 ribs in the middle, also feature reinforced foundations, along with countless interlocking sipes and a combination of lateral and longitudinal grooves.

All of these features provide decent dry and wet gripping values.

Furthermore, the tire’s new generation rubber is also equipped with a more prominent shoulder lugs.

These are characterized by a distinctive “J” shaped groove pattern, that seamlessly integrates with the first circumferential grooves, as can be seen in the image.

These J shaped incisions, basically provide you with epic noise reducing capabilities.

Moreover, these shoulder lugs also carry wave like sipes, just like seen else where on the tread.

Fuel Consumption

Rolling resistance is governed by the tire’s tread composition and weight, which for the most part, has a direct impact on fuel consumption.

But not in the case of Michelin Defender T+H. I mean , the tire, despite being lighter, still exhibits a higher overall fuel consumption compared to the Defender 2 and X Tour AS2.

But why is that?

Well, mainly because of its softer compound, which is way more stickier towards the roads, relatively.

This affect is further compounded by the tire’s asymmetric structure, and more in number of biters, which don’t let go off the surface too easily, resulting in greater fuel consumption.

Durability

Both the X Tour and the Defender 2, aren’t that impressive when it comes to overall durability, as they show up with a less robust inner construction compared to others.

Whereas the majority of tires in the all-season category typically feature a 2-ply polyester casing for their inner construction, both these models are equipped with just a single ply.

And even though this single polyester casing is reinforced with twin steel belts and a nylon cap ply, in both tires, they are still overall weaker in front of the Defender T+H tire’s 2 ply polyester carcass.

Tread Life

Michelin’s tests indicate that the newer tire can clock almost 24k more miles than its predecessor (the Defender T+H). And this is, despite both tires having similar Uniform Tire Quality Grading (UTQG) ratings of 840.

So, what is that the case?

Well, the answer revolves around two key factors: tread depth and compound composition.

As previously mentioned, the Michelin Defender T+H utilizes a softer compound, which tends to wear out faster. And its shallower tread depth isn’t helping to that either.

Meaning, with shallower tread voids, it reaches down to 2/32″ of legal limit quicker in comparison.

Ride Quality

Aspects such as sound levels, comfort, and the ability to absorb impacts, all come under ride quality. So let’s check them out individually.

Tread Noise

Air is the main cause of noise generation in the tread. That air primarily gets in (the tread) from the shoulder gaps, and hits the walls around. And that impact is what produces noise.

Now having said that, it makes sense why the design of Michelin Defender 2 and X Tour AS2 gets to be quieter on roads.

Their J shaped outer grooves combined with ridges/connectors between the shoulder blocks restrict too much air flow (from getting in). And the lugs in the middle feature variable pitch patterns to dampen noise levels further.

Such pattern basically account for slight (block/lug) size variations, generating different sound frequencies when air hits them, preventing the synchronization that causes amplification of tread noise.

The Defender T+H, is marginally louder on the other hand. The tire simply put, generates a lot more in-groove resonance.

On-Road Vibrations

The smoothness of a tire’s ride is directly proportional to its ability to handle road inconsistencies, a factor heavily influenced by its internal and external composition.

Meaning, tires with softer compound, tend to provide a more comfortable driving experience, stating the obvious.

So I have to go with Michelin Defender T+H here.

The tire features a softer tread rubber, composed of greater silica composition, and softer inner cap ply. Both of these are more efficient in absorption the shocks of the road, compared to other two.

The X Tour and Defender 2 on the other hand, although feature a single polyester casing, still have a much more stiffer rubber layer on top (basically made to enhance tread life), so you have to compromise more on the overall comfort a little bit here.

Winter Performance

When we look at the Defender 2 and X Tour AS2, both appear to fall short in terms of their total biting edges, despite being all season tires, having M+S ratings (like the T+H).

So it makes sense why they can’t offer the same snow holding capabilities as the Defender T+H.

Snow grabbing (in tires) is a must have features for optimal winter performance, as snow to snow contact generates greater frictional forces, compared to rubber to snow exposure.

So Defender T+H with a lot more notches, in-groove biters and siping (forming asymmetric pattern) does that in a better way. Furthermore, as its tread is also more thermally adaptive, it’s biters remain flexible even under freezing conditions, improving their overall snow gripping efficacy.

Note: Both tires are not branded with 3 peak mountain snowflake ratings.

Dry or Directional Grip

Both the Michelin Defender 2 and the X Tour (AS2) stand out here, with their enhanced contact patch offering, delivering robust grip on highways.

When put to the test, both these tires outperformed Defender T+H, in terms of dry grip, achieving shorter braking distances.

In contrast, the Defender T+H incorporates lateral gaps between the blocks, which somewhat compromises its overall rubber-to-road contact efficiency.

This trend extends to handling as well (see below).

Dry Handling

The handling and lateral traction of a tire hinges on two key factors: the shoulder’s contact patch offering and the flexibility of the rubber.

And considering them it can be explained why once again, the Defender 2 and X Tour shine here as well, thanks to their compact shoulder lugs crafted from a stiffer rubber compound.

Their tightly packed structure allows for better road connection, and their harder rubber composition limits excessive molding or bending of the lugs,leading to superior steering responsiveness.

On the flip side, the Defender T+H, with its softer compound, tends to exhibit more under and oversteering in comparison.

Wet Traction

The Defender T+H really shines when it comes to wet conditions, demonstrating a superior grip on watery surfaces. Let me explain why.

Achieving a reliable grip on wet roads, basically highly depends on an optimal blend of siping and flexibility, within the tire’s tread.

And although both the Defender 2 and the X Tour AS2 feature an abundance of those sipes, they lack the necessary flexibility for their movement.

You see, the primary function of sipes is to vacuum up the water particles that find their way beneath them, and with missing elasticity, the overall suction efficacy gets limited.

On the other side, Michelin Defender T+H goes above and beyond with its IntelliSipe Technology, which incorporates a greater number of sipes.

Moreover, its softer compound makes these sipes even more effective at their job.

Additionally, the tire also excels at expelling water laterally, reducing its overall susceptibility to hydroplaning, whereas with continuous ribs, the other two tires can’t offer similar float speeds.

Summary

The Michelin X Tour AS2 and Defender 2 are both same tires, and they are only named different for marketing purposes.

Both of these, excel in dry roads, in terms of traction, and give out amazing tread life, noise reduction, and fuel economy.

Their robust grip on dry surfaces, and effective steering response, is due to their superior uniformity of lugs, and elastic tread compound (having a lighter weight).

Though their light weight mostly comes form their just single polyester covers (inside). So you can say, durability is not a strong point here.

The Michelin Defender T+H on the other hand, shines in wet conditions, with its IntelliSipe Technology and softer compound supplying superior water wiping abilities, and bringing about good enough impact comfort on pavements.

Moreover the tire’s asymmetric design also holds unique capabilities on snowy terrains.

5 thoughts on “Michelin Defender T+H vs X Tour A/S 2 vs Defender 2”

  1. Yes I have the Michelin Defenders on my Armada!
    Just can’t find them cheap anymore!
    Or from Discount Tire!
    I need some for my 2021 Honda CRV EX!!!
    Can you help me out on this matter?

    Reply
  2. I have to replace a T+H (was hit while street parked). Can’t find T+H so may need to buy 4 for ‘17 Forester. Defender 2 or ? Any suggestions? I have blizzaks for winter.

    Reply
    • Yea Defender 2 is the newer version of T+H, so you can get that, its a pretty decent tire for dry roads. PS do check out my list of top standard touring tires. You’d be able to find it with the help of search bar provided.

      Reply

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