If, like most SUV and light truck owners, you spend the majority of your driving time on paved streets and highways, an all-season tire is likely your best choice. These tires "have soft sidewalls (for a good ride) and a mild tread pattern (for quietness)," says Ken Brubaker at Four Wheeler network. If you do take your vehicle off road on a regular basis, look toward an all-terrain tire or mud tire instead (covered elsewhere in this report), as all-season tires don't offer the traction and durability to cope very well with more rugged driving conditions of off-road trails.
For this edition of the report, we found two Michelin tires that rise to the top of the heap in expert reviews and user feedback. Which one is best for you will depend on which tire characteristics you value most, but on balance, we think that most drivers will be very happy with our top selection, the Michelin Defender LTX M/S (Est. $165). For what it's worth, we have had a set of these on our crossover since the fall of 2016, and have been thrilled thus far with their performance on city streets and highways, and under a variety of driving conditions, including dry and wet pavement, and light snow cover.
The Michelin Defender LTX M/S is the successor to the Michelin LTX M/S2 (Est. $185), which can still be found in limited sizes. It's not been as extensively tested as the M/S2, but all feedback we spotted indicates that is a worthy and worthwhile step ahead. "Compared to the popular Michelin LTX M/S2 it replaces, the new Defender LTX M/S tires share the same highly functional tread pattern, and offer improvements in wear life/longevity to better meet the high-torque demands of modern trucks," the experts at TireRack.com say. Owners posting there agree thus far. While it hasn't racked up the number of reviews or miles driven as its predecessor, it still rises to the top in the highway all-season category in user reviews.
The Michelin LTX M/S2 was a top performer in tests that we have seen over the years, and the Defender LTX M/S is following in its path. Autoguide.com doesn't review a ton of truck tires, but it took the LTX M/S for a drive and comes away pleased. The tires are tested under a variety of conditions, on road and off, and on a variety of vehicles including a Ford F-350 Super Duty pickup and a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Road manners on asphalt were refined and "about as quiet as you could ever hope," says Craig Cole. Cornering is confidence inspiring as well, though Cole concedes that he didn't really push the tires too hard. "A top-heavy truck with live axles front and rear is hardly an ideal vehicle for slicing and dicing circuitous roads," he notes. Off road testing consisted of climbing to the top of a mountain via a ski slope access path. "We wouldn't have made it without these Michelins, though, to be fair, the Jeep's generous ground clearance, skid plates and low-range four-wheel drive deserve credit as well," Cole says. The Defender LTX M/S is available in versions that are load-rated for light trucks, so regardless of your vehicle, there's likely to be a tire in the series that fits your needs.
If you are willing to give up a little tread life and don't drive where snow is much of an issue at all, a sportier touring tire might leave you even a bit happier. In this category, the Michelin Premier LTX (Est. $150) gets some terrific feedback. Customers at TireRack.com make it the top-rated crossover/SUV touring all-season tire. Experts there test it too, putting it and two competitors on a 2016 Porsche V6 Cayenne, and driving them under a variety of road conditions. The Michelins win out. "This tire raises the expectation of what a Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season tire can do in wet and winter's worst weather," the editors say.
These two Michelin tires have some notable differences. The Premier has a lower profile for a sportier look, but also has lower tread depth -- something that's reflected in its lower treadwear warranty compared to the Defender (60,000 miles versus 70,000 miles), and that surprises some owners in some reviews that we spotted. However, it also has Michelin's EverGrip technology, which reveals hidden grooves that are exposed as the tire wears, maintaining solid traction on wet surfaces throughout the usable life of the tire. ConsumerReports.org tests this technology on a passenger car tire and finds that it largely delivers on its performance.
So which tire should you choose? In a TireRack.com blog post, Hunter Leffel compares the two tires and says, "In summary, if your need is for the best wet grip, take a look at the Michelin Premier LTX. If you're looking for good light snow traction and longevity, start your search with the Michelin Defender LTX M/S."
As the price point shifts from premium to budget, many tires can maintain a high level of performance or durability, but they rarely feature both. A reduction in life span is common -- and with the cost to mount and balance tires, some experts say it can be worth it to spend more on tires and replace them less often. For shoppers looking to spend less than $150 per tire, however, a few all-season models stand out. It may not seem like cost difference is particularly significant per tire, but when you're looking at cost across four tires, it adds up -- and that difference can be much more pronounced at specific sizes.
Among budget tires, we once again give the nod to the Continental CrossContact LX20 EcoPlus (Est. $125). Tire experts, and tire owners, rate it highly. Editors with TireRack.com say it "offers excellent wet and dry traction." That opinion is echoed at ConsumerReports.com, where it finishes fourth among all-season truck tires, good enough to earn a Recommended rating. Winter performance isn't a highlight, however, particularly when it comes to braking on ice -- but that's not a surprise in a touring all-season tire. Users at TireRack.com rate the LX20 EcoPlus as the 4th best tire in the crossover/SUV category, with most saying that they are happy enough with performance and value that they would probably buy it again. The 6-year, 70,000 mile treadwear warranty is a plus, though treadwear itself only grades out as okay among both experts and users.
The Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season Plus (Est. $135) also looks like a terrific choice. It's a little pricier than the Continental, but liked just a hair better by experts and users. The Pirelli excels on dry pavement, according to reviews, with slightly less traction on wet roads. In a comparison test by TireRack.com, editors say its handling is "responsive and nimble with a very direct feel in the steering wheel." Their test in the snow illustrates the Scorpion Verde's weakness, where it "could provide only adequate traction." That's confirmed in testing by ConsumerReports.org, where the tire is the third rated all-season truck tire -- finishing one spot head of the CrossContact. Ice braking is rated a notch better, at Good, but winter performance overall takes a back seat to the Very Good to Excellent ratings the tire earns in tests on wet and dry pavement . User reviews are strong at TireRack.com; it's been eclipsed by the Premier LTX in the crossover/SUV touring all-season category, but still finishes second based on roughly 190 reviews and more than 1.6 million driving miles. Pirelli covers treadwear with a 50,000-mile warranty.
Among highway all-season tires, the Firestone Destination LE 2 (Est. $125) is another choice to consider. Though it scores a few points behind the Continental and Pirelli tires above at ConsumerReports.com, the editors seem fairly impressed nonetheless, calling it "Well rounded with few shortcomings." Dry stops and resistance to hydroplaning are notable highlights, and snow traction rates Very Good, though ice braking is still only okay. The testers at TireRack.com would like to see a little bit better wet traction, but praise the tire's "Comfortable ride and intuitive steering feel along with good snow grip." Among users, it's the third rated highway all-season crossover/SUV tire at TireRack.com, trailing only the Defender LTX M/S and the discontinued LTX M/S2, based on over 400 reviews and over 5 million driving miles.