Pirelli Scorpion AS Plus 3 vs Michelin Crossclimate 2

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The Pirelli Scorpion AS Plus 3 is a Touring All-Season tire tailored for crossovers, SUVs, and pickup trucks, while the Michelin CrossClimate 2 comes in a Grand Touring category, (suitable for sedans and coupes, for the most part). Both tires have distinct features, and considering them, let’s find a better tire for you.

Jeep Cherokee
AS Plus 3 is a great pick for Jeep Cherokee.

So overall, the Michelin CrossClimate 2 stands out for its exceptional dry directional grip with shorter braking distances, resistance to hydroplaning with its V-shaped lugs, and winter traction. In contrast, the Pirelli Scorpion AS Plus 3 excels in dry handling, (offering enhanced lateral grip during cornering), maintains a solid wet grip through dense siping, and offers a quieter overall ride, relatively.

Available Tire Sizes and their Specs

The Michelin Crossclimate 2 comes in 16 to 22 inches with 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.

Review this tire in greater detail: https://tiredriver.com/michelin-crossclimate-2-review/

The Pirelli Scorpion AS Plus 3 comes in 17 to 22 inches wheels. And all of those sizes have following specifications.

  • Speed ratings: T, H and V.
  • Load ratings: SL and XL.
  • Tread depth: 11/32″ on all.
  • Weight range: 29 to 42 lbs.
  • Treadwear warranty: 70k miles.
  • UTQG rating: 800 A A.

Review this tire in greater detail: https://tiredriver.com/pirelli-scorpion-as-plus-3-review/

Layout of Tread Pattern

Let’s start off with Pirelli’s structure.

Pirelli Scorpion AS Plus 3
Pirelli Scorpion AS Plus 3 central most rib carries all biters shapes (seen elsewhere on tread).

The tire is characterized by an asymmetric tread design.

It has four longitudinal channels, with the outer two interconnected.

However, because of its continuous central rib, the inner two circumferential grooves remain separate.

This design, along with its compacted outer shoulders, poses some challenges in water clearance.

And that goes especially when compared to a directional tread on Michelin.

Though when it comes to biters, the tire clearly excels, with each rib coming in with a ton of in-groove notches, complemented by both linear and wave-like siping, ensuring an impressive grip.

Additionally, its streamlined shoulders, combined with offset edges and a mix of lateral and longitudinal (slanted) siping, promise reliable handling as well.

In terms of internal construction, the Scorpion AS employs 2 ply polyester, 2 nylon cap plies, and 2 steel belts.

On the other hand, the Michelin Crossclimate 2, comes with a totally different structure.

Michelin Crossclimate 2
Michelin’s tread is enriched with thermal adaptive polymers.

Now this tire is expertly designed for superior winter traction.

I mean, much like many winter tires on the market, its tread also comes with a directional pattern characterized by V-shaped lugs.

These expansive, curved lugs serve as the tire’s traction enhancers, efficiently displacing water, slush, and snow with their extended arms.

They basically push back the ground, generating greater acceleration against it, relatively.

The shoulders, separated by longitudinal slits, come with mere lateral linear siping.

And although the similar siping pattern is seen towards the middle, the central most area contains wave-like slits, which are more effective, overall.

I’ll explain that further in it’s respective wet performance section.

Internally, the tire comes with 2 ply polyester, reinforced by 2 steel belts and topped with a single nylon cap ply.

Dry (Directional) Grip

Directional grip is the tire’s ability to adhere to roads, while moving in a straight line. And here overall contact patch, tire’s weight and (tread’s) rubber composition are the most crucial factors.

All of them basically define the tire’s braking abilities, which is what’s this grip is all about.

Now upon examination, it becomes pretty apparent why the Michelin Crossclimate 2 nudges ahead here. The tire exhibits almost 7 feet shorter stopping distances (on average), when both tires are tested/brought to halt (from 60 mph), with full braking.

This is mainly because of the tire’s more streamlined tread design, with fewer tread features, or should I say, disruptions in the rubber-to-road interaction.

Moreover, although the tire is on the heavier side, when it comes to other Grand Touring tires, it’s much lighter compared to Pirelli. This is significant, because with lighter weight, the tire reduces it’s momentum inertia, and is easier to slow down.

And yes, it’s rounded contact patch is further helping this aspect, as it’s a design element, that allows for the tire’s weight to be distributed more evenly among it’s tread lugs.

Dry Overall Handling

Overall handling is tested by looking at the tire’s steering characteristics, and overall lateral grip it provide while cornering.

Now looking at the lateral grip first, it makes sense why it’s seen better on Scorpion AS Plus 3 (demonstrated through its impressive g-force metrics).

The tire simply put has more compacted up shoulder lugs, so you get better contact with them as you’re turning.

Basically these shoulders/sidewalls bear the most weight concentration, as the tire corners. And since they get pressed more firmly against the road, (while the tire is taking the turn), their design matters the most here.

That’s why Pirelli leads here with a better contact patch. Moreover, it’s linear siping, running in both vertical and horizontal angles, further adds to it’s overall grip, (though it’s primarily designed for wet conditions).

Furthermore, despite being a heavier tire out of the two, it’s still able to give you a superior steering response as well.

It’s shoulder lugs having ridges in between (connecting them), and reinforced foundations underneath, allow for superior, especially when the tire is right in the middle of the turn.

On the other hand, the Michelin Crossclimate 2 lacks in both areas. I mean it’s more voided up shoulders can’t offer the same grip.

And with it’s softer winter tire like rubber, you get a relatively slower outputs to all steering inputs, especially the harsh ones, (where the tire tends to under-steer, for the most part).

This happens because it’s lugs deform more easily (while they are stressed with turns), which necessitates a longer period to return to their original shape.

And this recovery time can incrementally increase lap times, as evidenced in it’s comparative performance testing.

Wet Performance

Overall wet performance simply put, is the tire’s ability to clear the road (in front of it), as it rolls. This leads to improved resistance to hydroplaning, and overall wet grip/traction.

Let’s explore both dimensions.

Hydroplaning Resistance

Now most of the water is channeled out through the grooves. And this rapid evacuation of water is essential for maintaining control, as water cannot be compressed.

So, if not cleared promptly, it can create a barrier between the tire and road surface, leading to floating of a tire or “hydroplaning”, which of course means a complete loss of all traction.

Having said that, the Michelin Crossclimate 2 is one of the best tire for the job here. It’s V shaped directional lugs, effectively channel the water from its center, towards it’s shoulders, expelling it out effectively.

Moreover, it’s lateral grooves are also longitudinal connected by small circumferential slits, adding to the tire’s overall water-clearing efficacy.

On the flip side, you get almost continuous-running ribs on Pirelli, with smaller voids, which makes it difficult for the tire to evacuate water out as efficiently, especially in the lateral direction.

Wet Grip and Handling

Now although most of the water gets out through grooves, there’s still a little left behind, which direct comes in contact with the rubber, and can still cause slippage.

And this is where sipes come in.

These are just slits which provide water particles “a place to go in”, when they are pushed between the rubber and the road. So yes, they should be flexible enough as well, to function properly.

In this context, the Pirelli Scorpion AS Plus 3 is taking the upper hand, especially when it comes to handling, thanks to its denser siping structure.

Moreover, it’s sipes also maintain their flexibility, even when the tire is taking vigorous turns. This is achieved through its intricate siping design, where they have multiple angles to them.

Meaning, they don’t get stiffer/or close up, in all types of maneuvers, i.e. handling, braking, acceleration and so on.

On the other hand, the Crossclimate 2 lacks relatively, which makes sense as it’s tread is severely missing with sipes, especially towards shoulders.

I mean sure, it features linear slits there, they tend to get stiffer with aggressive cornering. Moreover, their thicker design is primarily optimized for snow, and not as much for wet conditions.

Nonetheless, the Michelin’s tire still gets to be better in terms of wet braking, thanks to it’s central interlocking/wave-like siping structure.

Winter Performance

For those in search of an all-season tire adept at conquering wintry conditions, let me tell you, the CrossClimate 2 stands as a premier choice within the grand touring all-season category.

I mean, this tire excels in all essential performance aspects, showcasing impressive acceleration, braking, and handling over snowy and icy terrain.

I’m personally pretty impressed with it’s steering response, which simply put offers both agility and precision.

Its distinctive V-shaped tread design is engineered for exceptional traction, effectively scooping snow, slush, and ice towards back, resulting in an excellent forward momentum, or should I say, acceleration.

This particular aspects rewards this tire with the 3-Peak Mountain Snowflake certification (meaning it’s 10% better in snow acceleration compared to standard AS tire without this label on it).

On the flip side, although the Pirelli Scorpion AS Plus 3 features a lot of intricate biters, they aren’t really effective for colder, wintery conditions, especially when temperature drops below 40 degrees °F.

Moreover, the also can’t offer the same scooping abilities, like the Crossclimate 2 does with it’s “swooping lugs”, with it’s directional design.

(It’s in-fact, the main reason, why most of the winter tires are designed with such tread patterns).

Noise Generation

Tire noise is primarily a consequence of how air particles interact with the tire’s tread blocks. They particularly enter through the shoulder voids, and the impact of them striking with the tread walls, is what’s creating the primary, raw noise.

That noise then echos within the walls, depending on the rubber composition, further adding in, what they call, in-groove resonance. And yes, they also cause cavity sounds too, and that’s based on tire’s internal construction.

Now, staring with the Michelin Crossclimate 2, the overall noise comfort it provides can be improved, with it’s design including more more prominent voids, particularly towards shoulder/sidewall area.

This allows for a greater volume of air entry, which then play around, within the tread pattern. And of course, this increased airflow contributes to the overall noise level, which is further amplified by the tire’s softer composition, resulting in-groove resonance.

Though Michelin here, is still on the quieter side, especially when you look at other tires in the touring category, and that’s because the tire doesn’t emit too much growling noise, which comes as a side-effect of having a lot of biters, like seen on Pirelli AS Plus 3 here.

Also it’s rounded contact patch and superior variable pitch (producing) tread, further contributes to it’s performance.

This configuration, simply put, creates sound waves of varying wave-lengths, and frequencies, which then try to cancel out each other.

Final Thoughts

Considering which tire tops the other? It’s not straightforward as each has its advantages and drawbacks. Though let me break it down.

Now here the Michelin CrossClimate 2 takes the lead when it comes to:

  • Dry directional grip, as seen by it’s relatively shorter braking distances.
  • Hydroplaning resistance, thanks to its V-shaped lugs that channel water efficiently.
  • Winter performance, with a tread design that provides excellent traction on snowy and icy roads, as evidenced by its 3-Peak Mountain Snowflake certification.

On the other hand, the Pirelli Scorpion AS Plus 3 shines in:

  • Dry overall handling, with compact shoulder lugs, (offering superior lateral grip during cornering).
  • Wet traction, where its dense siping structure.
  • Noise reduction, due to a tread design that minimizes air turbulence and internal resonance.

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