The new Michelin X-Ice Xi3 is once again ConsumerSearch's best all-around winter tire, making it six straight years for the X-Ice line. Both experts and owners give it top marks for handling, comfort, noise and durability. However, it doesn't do well on dry or wet pavement, or with long braking distances, which is not unusual for a severe-winter tire.
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 plummets. 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 Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D (Est. $115) instead.
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. The model it replaced -- the Michelin X-Ice Xi2, which was named a ConsumerSearch Best Reviewed snow tire for four years running -- still ranks as one of the most durable snow tires in owner reviews there, as well.
Michelin backs the Xi3 (like the Xi2) 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 removing 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
The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 wins the studless tire competition in this Swedish publication's incredibly detailed 20-tire comparison test. It "handles easily on all road surfaces" -- snowy, icy, wet and dry.
Review: 20 Winter Tires -- From Dangerously Horrible to Ridiculously Good, Robert Collin, Autumn 2013
3. Teknikens Varld
The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 earns a mediocre score in this exhaustive Swedish comparison test of 15 studless tires. It brakes and handles well on snow and ice, but poor performance on wet roads drags down its rating. Editors here prefer the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2.
Review: Winter Tire Test 2013, Linus Pröjtz , Oct. 10, 2013
4. Auto Motor & Sport
Here's another Swedish test where the Michelin Xi3 falters on bare pavement. It does fine on icy and wet roads, but other winter tires perform better on snowy and dry roads. Again, the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 wins this test of eight studless tires.
Review: The Best Friction Wins, Nils Svärd and Oleg Rastagajev, Autumn 2013
5. Tire Rack
Experts at this retail site conduct their winter tire shootout on ice (at a hockey rink) and on dry pavement. Although three of the four tires -- the Michelin X-Ice Xi3, Continental ExtremeWinterContact and Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 -- perform similarly on snow and ice, the Michelin rides and handles best.
Review: Testing the Newest Studless Ice & Snow Winter Tires, Editors of TireRack.com, Not Dated
6. Tire Rack
Amazingly, the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 earns all 4- or 5-star reviews from more than 90 owners here -- and this site isn't shy about posting bad reviews. It's the top-rated studless severe-winter tire in TireRack.com's customer survey.
Review: Michelin X-Ice Xi3, Contributors to TireRack.com, As of November 2013