The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 is once again ConsumerSearch's best all-around winter tire, making it seven straight years for the X-Ice line. Both experts and owners give it top marks for handling, comfort, noise and durability. While it doesn't do well on dry or wet pavement, or with long braking distances, the compromises are modest in exchange for its sure-footed grip in winter weather.
Terrific for severe ice and snow -- but not the best choice for mild winters. Expect outstanding grip on ice and snow: The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 outclasses all rivals on winter roads in professional tests. But on dry or wet pavement that is clear of snow and ice, the Michelin's performance isn't as strong. It suffers from long braking distances in test after test. This is common for severe-winter snow tires, though. If you usually drive on cleared roads, consider a mild-winter performance tire like the very well regarded, but pricy Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 (Est. $225 and up) or the harder to find but more modestly priced Nokian WR G3 (Est. $120 and up).
Easy-riding and very quiet. Unlike most winter tires, which tend to make handling feel sluggish and are noisier than all-weather tires, the Michelin X-Ice Xi3's handle admirably, reviewers say. In two professional tests, the Michelin surpasses all competitors when it comes to handling and comfort. Owners and pros alike say the tires are very quiet. "There's almost no tire noise at all," one owner writes. "These must be the quietest tires I ever owned (including all-season)."
X-Ice tires are very durable. The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 earns the highest durability rating -- Superior -- from owners at TireRack.com. Michelin backs the Xi3 with a 40,000-mile treadwear warranty -- a rarity among snow tires, which usually carry no tread warranty at all. However, you can't collect until you've worn the tire nearly bald (2/32 inch). That's dangerous, experts at TireRack.com say. They recommend replacing winter tires when they have 5/32 inch of tread left.
Experts here test 16 winter tires for passenger cars, including the Michelin X-Ice Xi3. They judge each tire's snow traction; braking on icy, dry and wet roads; handling; hydroplaning; ride comfort; noise and more. Editors rank the tires from best to worst in a handy chart.
Review: Michelin X-Ice Xi3, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
2. Tire Rack
Experts at this retail site conduct their winter tire shootout on ice (at a hockey rink) and on dry pavement. The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 shares top honors with the Continental ExtremeWinterContact (Est. $75 and up), and is said to offer "great traction on the ice and in the wet while maintaining good road manners."
Review: Testing Studless Ice & Snow Tires: Winter Season Specialists, Editors of TireRack.com, Nov. 15, 2013
3. Tire Rack
The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 earns mostly 4- or 5-star reviews from more than 225 owners here -- and this site isn't shy about posting bad reviews. Only eight owners rate it 3 stars, and none give it a lower grade, resulting in an overall score of 8.64 out of 10.
Review: Michelin X-Ice Xi3, Contributors to TireRack.com, As of October 2014
Though Justin Pritchard allows that other tires could be better fits for some, depending on their budget or priorities, if he had to pick a winter tire to put on his car, it would be a Michelin X-Ice tire. "I've been consistently impressed with X-Ice rubber for years, though this year's relentlessly bad winter weather and the consistently terrible highway clearing have cemented them as my personal favourite," he adds.
Review: Northern Exposure: What is the Best Winter Tire? , Justin Pritchard, Feb. 19, 2014
5. Automobile Protection Association
The APA includes the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 in its category of top-rated winter tires for 2013-2014. Though testing does not appear to have been done, the APA says that" Optimized for ice and snow, this tire was among the favorites with tire dealers and experts surveyed."
Review: 2013-14 Passenger Vehicle Winter Tire Reviews, Editors of the Automobile Protection Association, Not Dated
This article reports on a long-term test of the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 through a tough Canadian winter. Mike Schlee writes "The Michelin was subjected to some of the worst real world conditions we could throw at it this year and the X-Ice Xi3 didn't just survive, it excelled."
Review: Michelin X-Ice Xi3 Long-Term Tire Test, Mike Schlee, Apr. 14 2014