Comparing the best in a particular industry isn’t the easiest task. Companies that managed to get to that level did that by pushing themselves to be the best, so people usually think it won’t make a difference in the brand you choose. Unfortunately, things aren’t as simple as that, and there are more differences than you can imagine.
In the world of tires, there aren’t too many manufacturers that are on the top. These premium brands are usually the oldest ones in the industry and the ones that implement as many technologies as possible. Unlike the mid-range options where the features don’t come in abundance, with the premium tires, you are also looking at a premium price tag.
When you consider that you’ll need to pay more, there are some considerations you should make. Not all tires are created equally, and I’ve experienced slightly cheaper options being better performers than their more expensive rivals. Therefore, comparisons are essential, and I’m here to make one today.
There aren’t too many names that can be considered premium ones. Among those are BFGoodrich and Michelin, both of which have made some excellent tires over the years. With that said, how do they stack up against each other, especially since Michelin technically owns BFGoodrich? Let’s find out.
Of the still active companies and probably in general, BFGoodrich is the oldest one. The company was born in 1870 in Akron, Ohio, after its founder purchased the Hudson River Rubber Company a year before that. Initially, the company continued the trend of the Hudson company, making rubber products, but it still wasn’t making tires.
Once the car industry began to increase, BFGoodrich included tires in its lineup, and a little over 30 years after it was founded, it began supplying Ford with tires for the Model A. That same year, the company got the crown for the first tire manufacturer that produced tires for the first car to cross the US.
BFGoodrich delivered some innovations and technologies that helped improve the tire industry throughout the years. Making the first tubeless and radial tire in the US shows how committed the company was to bringing new and improved features to its models. Thanks to constant research and development, the company had several successful products and technologies for the aeronautics industry.
Racing is another area where BFGoodrich is known for delivering some excellent results. In 1914, it provided tires for Indianapolis 500 and brought home the win. This led the company to enter in other prominent racing series like Baja, Paris Dakar, WRC, and many more. Having many successes in the off-road series means that this brand knows how to make a proper off-road tire, which I’ll get to in a second.
I mentioned that Michelin owns BFGoodrich, and this purchase happened in 1988, meaning that for over 30 years, the US manufacturer has been making tires under the French umbrella. Regardless of that, even before that era, BFGoodrich was a brand that made excellent tires.
BFGoodrich’s tire families
When it comes to tire families, BFGoodrich follows a familiar path, grouping tires based on their use cases.
Touring tires are a common sight in the tire industry, and BFGoodrich’s answer is the Advantage family of tires. These are designed to be longer-lasting and provide excellent comfort levels, covering all basis for what the average driver needs throughout the year.
There are a handful of options, but luckily, BFGoodrich designed them to cover a wide range of vehicles. On the passenger car side of things, you have models like the Control, T/A, and T/A Sport, which offer various features. Some are leaning towards better refinement, while others provide a bit more agile handling. For the CUV, light truck, and SUV segment, the T/A Sport comes in an LT variant, combining everything its little brother has with all-weather performance.
If performance is what you’re after, then look no further than the g-Force lineup of tires. These tires are the opposite of the previous two groups, meaning that you may lose out a bit on refinement, but you’ll get tires capable of sportier performance.
In this family, you have tires that can only be fitted to a passenger car, so CUV and SUV owners are out of luck. The COMP-2 comes in a summer variant and an all-season one called the COMP-2 A/S Plus. Both can deliver superior dry and wet performance, with the second one being usable in the snow. For even more performance, you have the Rival S, a tire designed primarily for the track, delivering superior performance in dry conditions. There are also the Winter models, which, as you’ve guessed, are winter tires but with some performance built into them.
On the slightly more affordable side of the performance segment, BFGoodrich also has another family of tires that may be a good option. The Radial models may not be on the same levels as the previous ones but are a good choice for people looking for some sportier tires. Essentially, these are a middle ground between the g-Force and Advantage tires.
Like the previous family, these are tires that can only be fitted to passenger cars, and the models are all-season only. Speaking of, there aren’t too many models to choose from. You have the T/A and the T/A Spec, where the second tire brings some minor improvements.
Moving away from the passenger cars, we come to a family of tires designed for vehicles capable of off-roading. Based on the name, you can probably guess that the All-Terrain models from BFGoodrich are intended to bring a balanced tire capable of delivering decent performance on the road and off it.
Under the All-Terrain family, there is only the T/A KO2, which comes in a wide range of sizes, meaning that fitment shouldn’t be an issue. I have to mention the Trail-Terrain T/A in this family even though it doesn’t carry the All-Terrain name. With this tire, you are looking at a toned-down performance from the T/A KO2, and the tire is set up to be more usable on the road.
This is another family of tires that need no explanation. The Mud-Terrain models from BFGoodrich are the tires you’d be looking at if you need something capable for the most extreme off-road conditions. Like with the previous family, there aren’t too many models, but they cover a wide range of sizes.
The Mud-Terrain comes in two flavors, the T/A KM2 and KM3, with the second one being designed to replace the first. Despite that, you have tires capable of delivering superb performance in the harshest conditions. Also, the T/A KM3 comes in a UTV variant for people that own those kinds of vehicles.
While there are some winter options within the other families on this list, BFGoodrich also has dedicated winter tires. In this group, you have studless tires offering superior performance in winter conditions when compared to all-season or all-weather ones.
You have only one model to choose from – the T/A KSI. This tire comes in a very wide range of options, and it covers the entire passenger car lineup. Considering the options, it may even fit some CUVs or SUVs.
Don’t let the name fool you. The Commercial group covers the touring segment of the larger vehicles, so in this case, you have a highway tire for SUVs or light trucks. Naturally, you can also use it for commercial vehicles if the size is correct.
Currently, the only model on sale is the T/A All-Season 2. You get usable performance in snowy conditions as an all-season tire from a well-refined tire designed to last long.
On Michelin’s side of history, we have a company founded in Clermont-Ferrand, France, in 1889 by two brothers. Initially, the company was producing rubber products and didn’t have too much in terms of tires. Things changed when the brothers wanted to speed up the process of fixing a tire by making one that could be replaced.
Producing replaceable tires for bicycles pushed the company into racing in the early days, which brought home a win, helping Michelin with its popularity. This bump came around the same time cars were becoming popular, so the brothers tried to cover that segment as well and make car tires.
Covering that part of the market meant that the company needed to work on improving the products to stay relevant. Thanks to the research and development facilities, Michelin managed to stay on top either by bringing innovations to the tire industry or improving the existing ones.
Michelin was involved in racing since the early days with bicycles, and the trend continued with cars. Part of the innovations and new technologies were put into the company’s racing department, enabling the manufacturer to participate in series like Le Mans, endurance races, WRC, Formula 1, etc.
Even though Michelin was founded a while after BFGoodrich, the French company managed to climb the ladder and position itself as one of the best. The company’s success over the year enabled it to purchase several other brands, including BFGoodrich.
Michelin’s tire families
On the grouping side of things, Michelin is pretty standard, and each family of tires has a specific set of features that differ from the other ones.
Even though I usually start with the touring options, for Michelin, I’m going with the Pilot family of tires. These are the ones you’d be getting if you want the best possible performance and you’re willing to sacrifice some of the everyday refinement most people expect from a tire. With that said, not all of these models are harsh, so there are some decently comfortable options.
In the passenger car segment, Michelin has models like the Sport All-Season 4, Sport 4s, and Alpin 5, which cover all 3 weather conditions. The same models can be found with an SUV badge, meaning that that portion of the market is also covered. Plus, for this group of cars, you have the Diamaris model. For a more comfortable experience from these types of tires, Michelin offers the Pilot MXM4, designed to be excellent in terms of grip and traction but without being too harsh.
Moving away from the performance-oriented options, we have Michelin’s best touring family of tires – Primacy. Designed with the latest and greatest technologies, these tires can offer decent performance but are one of the most well-refined tires you can find on the market.
From this family of tires, you have models like the Tour A/S, LTX, and XS, which are designed to be fitted on anything from small economy cars to larger SUVs. These models are all-season only, just like the MXM4 and MXV4, and there are others that cover the summer segment. For those conditions, you have HP and Primacy 3, both of which come in sizes for passenger cars only.
The Premier family of tires seems similar to the Primacy one in many ways. Like the previous group, these are touring tires, and thanks to the wide range of sizes available, you shouldn’t have any issues finding one that fits your vehicle.
There are only two options here – the A/S and LTX, both of which are all-season models. The first one is for passenger cars, while the second one is for CUVs and SUVs. As with most touring tires, these aim to deliver a well-refined feel and a relatively long lifespan.
Within Michelin’s lineup of families, there are ones like the Latitude that are designed for specific vehicles. The best part about this family is that it covers multiple weather conditions, each offering different flavors regarding features and driving performance.
Michelin grouped the Latitude tires into 3 main models, Tour, Alpin, and Sport, designed as all-season, winter, and summer tires, respectively. Each group has a few additional models, meaning that the Latitude offers a wide range of options for people that own CUVs and SUVs.
Driving in winter isn’t impossible, but you need proper tires for that. Even though Michelin has winter options within the other families, there is one specifically for these conditions. The X-Ice family primarily covers the passenger car segment, but there is an option for SUV owners.
As part of the X-Ice lineup, there are models like the Snow, Xi2, and Xi3, which are non-studdable options. For the SUV owners, the Snow model is also available as Snow SUV, covering that segment as well. There are cases where you may need extra performance on ice, something you can get with the North. This is Michelin’s studdable tire, which can be found in a wider range of sizes, covering passenger cars as well as CUVs and SUVs.
Michelin is known for making some overlaps in its families, and the Defender is an excellent example of that. These are touring tires, meaning that longevity and refinement are the manufacturer’s prime goals. While this doesn’t differ too much from some of the others on this list, the technologies and some of the features aren’t identical.
The Defender lineup covers most of the car industry with only 2 models – T+H and LTX M/S. With the first one, you have options for anything from passenger cars to smaller SUVs, while the second one covers the larger vehicles, including light trucks. Even within these two models, there are some overlaps, especially with the sizes for CUVs.
Many premium brands try to offer some models at a slightly more affordable price, and the same goes for Michelin with the Energy family. Even though these touring tires cannot compete with the big players in the game, they are designed to compete against the other brands in the mid-range segment.
The Energy family of tires comes in two variants, the LX4 and Saver. While both of these come in the form of a summer tire, the LX4 can also be found as an all-season one. In terms of applications, Michelin aimed to offer a wide range, including the smaller models which people will older cars will appreciate.
Michelin constantly works on improving its models or bringing new ones on the market, and the CrossClimate is one of those. This family is Michelin’s latest addition to the all-season grand touring segment, and so far, it has shown to be a very strong contender.
The original CrossClimate model is hard to come by these days, which is no surprise. With the updated CrossClimate+ and the CrossClimate 2, you’re looking at some of the best grand touring tires on the market. In addition to that, thanks to the wide range of sizes, these models have a wide range of applications.
The last family of tires is the LTX. If you’ve been paying attention, Michelin has some LTX models in the previous families. Still, the manufacturer went with entirely new models for these. Naturally, the applications range from CUVs to light trucks, and there are two models based on what you need from the tire.
For the on and off-road conditions, Michelin offers the A/T2, an all-terrain tire capable of decent off-road performance without some massive drawbacks on the road. If you don’t take your SUV or light truck off-roading, you have the M/S2, which is essentially a touring tire. Regardless of which models you choose, the tires you’ll get will be all-season ones.
Differences between BFGoodrich and Michelin
Even though Michelin owns BFGoodrich, you shouldn’t assume that both brands offer identical products. There are differences, and I’ll go over them in the following sections.
Since both manufacturers are offering premium tires, the differences won’t be as big as when comparing Michelin to Nexen.
When you look at the touring summer options from the Advantage and Primacy lineup and compare the results, you’ll see how close these models are. In the passenger and SUV models, the Michelin has a slight lead over the BFGoodrich with a bit better traction and handling characteristics. This changes in wet conditions, where the US tire delivers slightly better braking performance, but not in handling.
The winter options seem to offer more consistent results, where Michelin is the better performer. Comparing the g-Force Winter 2 with the Pilot Alpin 5 reveals that the French manufacturer managed to make a tire that can outperform the one from BFGoodrich across the board. To be fair, I’m not saying that there’s a massive difference or that it’s a bad tire, and even though there are differences, they aren’t massive.
What about the grand touring options? Well, the CrossClimate 2 goes up against the Advantage T/A models, and the results don’t go in favor of the domestic brand. Again, I’m not criticizing BFGoodrich for making a bad tire, but Michelin made a better one. In almost all conditions, the CrossClimate 2 can deliver slightly better performance than the Advantage T/A twins, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. I’ve praised Michelin’s latest addition to this segment as being one of the best, and it shows.
Off-roading is a popular thing with people who own SUVs, and it’s an area where BFGoodrich is definitely in the lead. In the all-terrain segment, the All-Terrain T/A KO2 outperforms the LTX A/T 2 on the road and of it. The Michelin is just a tad bit better refined, but in every other situation, the T/A KO2 is a better option.
For the most extreme off-roading conditions, a comparison is pointless. Michelin doesn’t play well with off-road tires, and there isn’t a mud-terrain option, so BFGoodrich takes the crown here, technically.
Just by looking at the number of families, you’ll have an idea of which brand offers a broader range of options. Even when you compare the individual families with similar tire categories, you’ll notice that Michelin is the more flexible choice in most cases.
Regardless if you’re looking at the touring or performance segment, BFGoodrich is down on options. While the company covers a wide range of vehicle applications, Michelin has multiple models, so there are more to choose from. There are even tires with similar features from different families, so you can choose between models with different characteristics.
The same can be said about the types of vehicles. BFGoodrich, for example, has one or two touring options for CUVs and SUVs, while Michelin has a lot more. You can say the same about the performance or track-oriented tires, where, again, you have a lot more flexibility.
In the all-terrain segment, things favor BFGoodrich, mainly because Michelin has only one model from this category. On the other hand, BFGoodrich is a much better choice in the mud-terrain part of the industry, mainly because Michelin doesn’t have tires designed for the most extreme off-road scenarios.
Even though the performance differences aren’t massive, you may manage to find some price differences which are noticeable. Take the g-Force COMP-2 A/S Plus and the Pilot Sport All-Season 4, for example. A 17 inch model with a similar size gives a difference of around $30 in favor of BFGoodrich. The most important thing to note here is that the Michelin model has a lower speed rating.
A similar difference can be found in the grand touring all-season segment with the CrossClimate 2 and the Advantage Control. In this case, the Michelin has a higher speed rating, so technically, they are more closely matched. A larger difference can be seen between the CrossClimate SUV and the Advantage T/A Sport LT, where the BFGoodrich option is around $40 cheaper for a 16-inch tire.
The trend continues in the all-terrain segment, with the LTX A/T 2 coming at around $30 more expensive than the All-Terrain T/A KO2. The load ratings of the 16 inch model in question are the same, with the Michelin being rated for lower maximum speeds.
Even though Michelin isn’t known for providing tires with the longest warranty, in this comparison, it seems to be a bit better in some cases. Take the all-terrain options I just mentioned. The BFGoodrich model comes with a 50,000-mile treadwear warranty, while the Michelin one has 60,000.
For the grand touring all-season models, there are some mixed results. The CrossClimate 2, Advantage T/A, and T/A Sport all come with a 60,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is more or less similar to most of their rivals. With that said, the Advantage Control offers 5,000 miles longer warranty.
There are some models where BFGoodrich is a better choice, and those are in the grand touring SUV segment. The CrossClimate SUV has a 50,000-mile treadwear warranty, while the Advantage T/A Sport LT has 65,000.
Advantages of BFGoodrich
- There are mud-terrain options available
- Slightly cheaper in most cases
- Performance is very close to its Michelin rivals
Advantages of Michelin
- More options to choose from
- Slightly better performing tires
- Longer treadwear warranty with some tires
Which brand to choose?
Choosing a better brand isn’t as simple as it may sound. There are tons of models, and not all of them have the same performance difference to make one of the other a better option.
Generally speaking, Michelin is a slightly better brand, especially when you look at the available options and the performance its tires can offer. While they are a bit more expensive, you will be getting tires that can perform better than the BFGoodrich ones, especially at the limit. Yes, there are some models from the US manufacturer that can deliver better performance in some conditions, but as a whole, the French one manages to take the trophy home.
To be fair, this doesn’t make BFGoodrich a bad option by any means. It has excellent models, and even though the options aren’t as extensive, it can still keep up with Michelin and the rest of the pack in the premium segment. The best part about it is that in some cases, you will be paying less for a tire that can offer a bit more in certain areas, like the warranty. As for performance, it’s either on the same level as Michelin or a bit behind.
One area where BFGoodrich gets ahead is with the off-road capable tires. The first problem is that Michelin doesn’t have a lot of those in its lineup and the ones it has, aren’t as good as the ones from BFGoodrich, especially in off-roading conditions.
To sum things up, if you’re looking for excellent road-going tires and price isn’t an issue, Michelin is a great option and maybe a bit better. Keeping in mind that most people won’t be driving their cars to the absolute limit, these are the things they may not notice.
BFGoodrich is the more budget-friendly option, which can appeal to people who need a set of tires that can perform well but not overload their budget. In this case, you will be saving a few bucks and get a set of tires with very good performance.