If you’ve been following my pieces on this site, you know probably that I’m not a fan of trucks. I can understand why people like them, but since I’m not into off-roading or hauling heavy stuff, there’s no point for me to consider them. Despite that, I consider myself to be a professional, so I cover these vehicles as well, including today’s comparison.
Light trucks or SUVs may seem like vehicles that would use “regular” tires, but that’s not the case. Even though we’re talking about normal tires, you can find at any tire shop, these are different. These kinds of vehicles are larger, so the tires are designed differently to withstand the weight and application.
Even though these are the tires that aren’t as common as the ones for passenger cars, there are still enough to get you confused. Having multiple models available leaves you wondering which is a better option. Today, I’ll be comparing two popular options and I’ll answer that question.
Recently I talked about the Defender LTX M/S from Michelin, but as a tire that would be used on a CUV or an SUV. The competitor for that tire today is the Bridgestone Dueler H/T 685, which covers a similar vehicle type. Which is the better option and why? Let’s find out.
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Michelin Defender LTX M/S
Michelin usually sets the bar high with all the technology and features it puts into its tires. Thanks to that, the models it puts on the market are some of the best and are usually the ones we praise the most.
The Defender LTX M/S features a symmetric tread pattern, which I’m not a massive fan of. The good news here is that Michelin claims to have stabilized the tread blocks, which should improve several aspects. One aspect it should help is that the tire should have better handling characteristics without feeling wobbly.
As part of the MaxTouch construction, Michelin worked on dispersing the forces. With this, the Defender LTX M/S should last a long time, because it should wear evenly across the tread. On top of that, we should see improved stability, especially in the corners, where most tires struggle to keep the footprint even.
Another feature of the Defender LTX M/S that should help with longevity is the use of the EverTread rubber compound. This is Michelin’s all-season rubber, which should provide usable performance throughout the year. The compound combined with the earlier feature work together to keep the tire lasting as long as possible.
Longevity is useless if the tire cannot perform. Michelin thought of that and designed the Defender LTX M/S with full-depth 3D and zig-zag sipes. The first ones handle wet performance, so we should see good traction on damp surfaces. As for the second ones, they’re aimed at snow performance, so the tire should be usable in those conditions.
Bridgestone Dueler HT 685
Bridgestone has the Dueler H/T 685 on offer, as a direct competitor to the Michelin model. It’s an all-season heavy-duty tire designed to offer balanced performance throughout the year and be as long-lasting as possible.
As an all-season model, we expect the Dueler H/T 685 to be a tire that can be used in multiple seasons. To achieve that, Bridgestone used its all-season rubber compound which should offer the tire some performance in winter conditions as well. Mainly, we should see the tire being pliable even when the temperatures are cold.
Part of the performance in multiple conditions is for a tire deliver in wet conditions. Apart from the sipes through the tread, the Dueler H/T 685 features circumferential and lateral grooves for water evacuation. The result of these should be a tire that will offer excellent traction on damp surfaces and superb aquaplaning resistance.
All-season tires aren’t the best choice for snowy conditions but should be good enough in lighter conditions. Apart from the rubber compound, Bridgestone worked on the tread pattern to enable the tire to deliver traction on snow. As a result, we should see decent biting force from the tire that should make it usable in winter.
At the end of the day, the Dueler H/T 685 is a touring tire, so longevity is something that the tire is designed for. To achieve that, Bridgestone went with a design that optimizes the footprint. This should result in even wear and a longer-lasting tire.
The Main Differences
Now that you have seen what both these tires can do, it’s time we put them in a head-to-head matchup. So that you know whether the Michelin Defender LTX M/S or the Bridgestone Dueler H/T 685 should go on your vehicle.
Comparing Off-Road Performance
Highway tires can do many things, but off-roading isn’t one of them. This is why the Defender LTX M/S and the Dueler H/T 685 shouldn’t be driven in those conditions, at least not the extreme ones.
Comparing On-Road Performance
How do they perform in dry conditions?
The application is the most important thing about these tires. They should be safe and perform well, but don’t expect miracles.
On the road, in daily driving situations, both tires will satisfy the needs of many. The Defender LTX M/S and the Dueler H/T 685 are technically touring tires, so the performance should be there. Picking up the kids from school or getting groceries is something that both will have no problem with, so most people will be fine with either option.
Once we started pushing them, we found that the performance difference increases. I’m not talking about a massive one, but it’s noticeable, especially if you drive them back-to-back. In this regard, the Michelin model comes up ahead with slightly higher levels of grip and traction.
You won’t fit either of these tires on a coupe or a sporty sedan, so you shouldn’t expect to drive them on a track. With that said, on a twisty road, the Defender LTX M/S will prove to be more capable than the Dueler H/T 685. This will seem like a tremendous advantage for the Michelin model. With that said, not too many people would push their trucks to the limit, so I wouldn’t consider this to be a massive downside of the Bridgestone model.
The same goes for the braking distances, which is the safety aspect of both tires. Yes, the Defender LTX M/S delivers slightly shorter braking distances than the Dueler H/T 685, but that doesn’t make the Bridgestone tire a poor one. Both tires perform as expected, despite the French one being a bit better.
One area where both tires seem to be closely matched is highway stability. When I say highway stability, I mean how stable a tire is at higher speeds. If I nitpick, I will put the Defender LTX M/S as the better option than the Dueler H/T 685.
Winner: Michelin Defender LTX M/S
How do they perform on wet roads?
Rainy conditions aren’t the most ideal ones for any tire, but regardless of that, manufacturers aim to make them perform as best as they can. The Dueler H/T 685 and the Defender LTX M/S are solid performers in these conditions, but there are some slight differences.
Most people drive cautiously on wet roads, so most tires feel similar. I can say the same for the Defender LTX M/S and Dueler H/T 685 in this regard. Both tires deliver the necessary performance to give you a safe driving experience. They can accelerate and go around a corner without too many issues. The braking distances are also short for the category, which is a good thing when you’re driving a heavy truck. With that said, the Michelin model will provide slightly shorter braking distances.
Most people wouldn’t push their SUVs or trucks hard on a track or a twisty road, so this is a rare scenario. Regardless, I pushed both tires to their limits, and I proved to myself that they aren’t designed for that. If you accelerate aggressively, both tires will slip. The Defender LTX M/S seems to offer a bit more traction than the Dueler H/T 685.
In terms of cornering, the Michelin model proves to be a bit grippier, something you’ll notice only if you push your truck to the limit. The Dueler H/T 685 does a solid job at holding to the road around the corner, but with the Defender LTX M/S, you can carry a bit more speed. It’s not a day and night difference, but it’s noticeable.
The last aspect of the wet performance is the aquaplaning resistance. Both tires seem to have no problems with evacuating water and remain pretty stable. With that said, the Defender LTX M/S can carry a bit more speed and remain stable. Naturally, at a certain point, both tires will become twitchy and unsafe.
Winner: Michelin Defender LTX M/S
Are they good in the handling department?
Both are technically highway models, which in essence means that they’re touring tires. As a result, the Dueler H/T 685 and the Defender LTX M/S aren’t the best options for spirited drivers in terms of handling.
For regular driving around town, both tires are good and get the job done. They are easy to maneuver, which is beneficial when you’re driving a large vehicle. As far as the responsiveness is concerned, I would say that the Defender LTX M/S is a bit sharper than the Dueler H/T 685. Neither of them will be driven on a track, so don’t expect wonders. If you get into a situation where you’ll push them a bit, you’ll notice that the sidewall of the Bridgestone tire flexes a bit more than the Michelin.
It’s a similar story in terms of feedback. Michelin’s model is a slightly better option if you’re the type of person who wants some more feedback. It won’t be communicative as a UHP tire, but it’s better than the Dueler H/T 685. To be fair towards the Bridgestone tire, some models are far vaguer.
Winner: Michelin Defender LTX M/S
Comparing on Snow Performance
Many people get all-season tires mainly for the ability to drive in wintery conditions. In this regard, the Dueler H/T 685 and the Defender LTX M/S are solid performers as long as you’re using them in lighter conditions.
Colder temperatures aren’t a problem for both tires. They’ll remain pliable and continue to deliver the necessary performance. It won’t be the same as on a hot summer’s day, but it will be more than enough for most drivers.
Once it starts snowing, we see bigger differences in how these tires perform. Right off the bat, you’ll notice that the Defender LTX M/S feels more stable on snow. It’s not as pronounced on unpacked one as the Dueler H/T 685 has enough biting force to deliver the traction most drivers rely on. Packed snow is problematic for the Bridgestone model. It doesn’t have too many issues, but the sipes on the Michelin tire do a better job of clawing into the snow and providing that extra bit of traction.
Ice is where we can see the biggest difference between the two. The Dueler H/T 685 is noticeably worse than the Defender LTX M/S. The performance is limited since both tires are all-season models. With that said, the Michelin tire is a bit more usable in these conditions than the Bridgestone one.
Winner: Michelin Defender LTX M/S
Comparing on Treadwear and Durability
The warranty is the area where we can see the biggest difference between these two tires. I wouldn’t put Bridgestone as the worst tire, but based on this, the Michelin one should be the longer-lasting of the bunch.
Michelin offers the Defender LTX M/S with a 70,000-mile treadwear warranty for the T and H-rated models and the R-rated ones come with a 50,000-mile warranty. On the other hand, the Dueler H/T 685 comes only with a 50,000-mile treadwear warranty for all models.
Winner: Michelin Defender LTX M/S
Comparing on Comfort
Touring tires, especially highway ones, are designed for a refined driving experience, regardless if it’s on the highway or around town. The Defender LTX M/S and the Dueler H/T 685 are part of this segment, but they don’t offer the same levels of refinement.
The biggest difference you’ll notice between these tires is the comfort levels. Both tires are very comfortable, there’s no denying that. They will soften up large hits and smooth out road imperfections. The problem is the bounciness. Michelin made the Defender LTX M/S stiff enough to be soft, but it doesn’t feel bouncy on bad roads. On the other hand, the Dueler H/T 685 has a softer nature, which softens up the blows a bit better, but it’s also bouncy.
As far as noise levels are concerned, I have no complaints about both tires. The Defender LTX M/S and the Dueler H/T 685 are quite tires, which is what most of us are expecting. Anything from smooth roads to rougher ones won’t be a problem for both tires. There will be more noise on the rougher surfaces, but it isn’t terrible. It’s the same story at highway speeds. The roar is there, but it’s not obnoxious.
Winner: Michelin Defdender LTX M/S
Comparing on Price
We know that Michelin’s tires aren’t the most affordable ones, so this is where Bridgestone has an advantage. It’s not a massive one, but it’s enough to turn the decision in its favor.
Taking a 16-inch LT size from the Defender LTX M/S and Dueler H/T 685 we can see how big of a difference we’re talking about. The Michelin model is slightly above the $300 mark, while the Bridgestone one is roughly $30 cheaper.
Winner: Bridgestone Duelet H/T 685
Pros and Cons
There are a lot of similarities between these two tires, but also a good bit of differences too.
Michelin Defender LTX M/S Pros & Cons
- Slightly better performance
- More responcive handling
- Longer treadwear warranty
- Fewer LT models
Bridgestone Dueler H/T 685 Pros & Cons
- More affordable
- The performance isn’t massively worse than the Michelin model
- Better coverage for light trucks and heavy-duty applications
- Will struggle on packed snow
- Feels a bit bouncy at times
Which Tire Should You Choose?
Throughout the comparison, I mentioned a few times the Michelin model is slightly better in some aspects. While that is true, it also doesn’t mean that the Bridgestone model is not a good performer.
When you compare both in terms of performance, the Defender LTX M/S is a winner in some situations, especially on snow. The Dueler H/T 685 trails behind, but it’s very close. This would make people choose the Michelin tire, but when you factor in the price difference, the Bridgestone becomes a good enough choice as well.
Both tires are solid options, as long as you’re prepared to make some sacrifices. With the Michelin model, you’ll get a slightly better performance, but you’ll pay more. If you decide to go with the Bridgestone one, you won’t get the same performance, but you won’t pay as much. At the end of the day, both tires are excellent at what they do – keep you safe.