The new Michelin X-Ice Xi3 takes over as ConsumerSearch's best all-around winter tire (the previous Xi2 held the title for four years). Its tenacious grip on snow and ice impresses even the toughest Scandinavian and North American testers.
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 clear dry and wet pavement, 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 3D (*Est. $105) 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 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 traditionally very durable. The brand-new Michelin X-Ice Xi3 hasn't had a chance to amass a durability record yet, and none of our sources has tested it for tread life. However, the model it replaces -- 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 at TireRack.com.
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 inches). That's dangerous, experts at TireRack.com say. They recommend removing winter tires when they have 5/32 inches of tread left.
Review Credibility: Excellent 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 before assigning it an overall score. Editors rank the tires from best to worst in a handy chart.
Review: Michelin X-Ice Xi3, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
Review Credibility: Very Good The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 earns a mediocre score in this exhaustive comparison test by the Swedish Automobile Association. It brakes and handles adequately on snow and ice, but performance on wet roads is mediocre.
Review: Best Winter Tires 2012, Editors of Motormännen, Oct. 19, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 proves to be a fair studless tire in this Swedish publication's incredibly detailed 28-tire comparison test. It brakes well on snow and ice, but not on wet and dry roads. Studded tires do much better in lengthy Arctic Circle testing, editors note.
Review: Sweden's Biggest Winter Tire Test, Editors of Aftonbladet, Autumn 2012
4. Norwegian Automobile Federation
Review Credibility: Very Good The Norwegian Automobile Federation participates in the same two-month Arctic tire test as Aftonbladet. Editors come to different conclusions about some tires, but they completely agree with Aftonbladet about the Michelin X-Ice Xi3. It brakes pretty well on ice and snow, but it underperforms on wet and dry roads and finishes mid-pack among studless tires.
Review: Winter Tire Test 2012, Rune Korsvoll and Jukka Antila, Oct. 11, 2012
5. Auto Motor & Sport
Review Credibility: Very Good This Swedish magazine conducts its own outstanding tests of 11 winter tires. Experts here agree with other Nordic testers that the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 brakes well on ice and snow for a studless tire, but that wet- and dry-road performance isn't great.
Review: The Stars of the Winter Road, Nils Svärd, Oct. 4, 2012
6. Vi Bilagare
Review Credibility: Very Good The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 is "one of the best tires on ice," this Swedish auto magazine declares. It's very good on snow and performs well on wet and dry roads, too. Slushy roads are its only real downfall in this ultra-detailed 10-tire review.
Review: Tires to Count On In Wet or Dry, Erik Rönnblom, Sept. 25, 2012
7. Tire Rack
Review Credibility: Good 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 the best, beating two-time champ Continental.
Review: Testing the Newest Studless Ice & Snow Winter Tires, Editors of TireRack.com, Sept. 28, 2012
8. Tire Rack
Review Credibility: Good Only a handful of owners have reviewed this new tire model so far, and they're all very enthusiastic about it. Popular tires like the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 quickly accumulate hundreds of reviews here.
Review: Michelin X-Ice Xi3, Contributors to TireRack.com, As of November 2012