Tire comparisons are a common thing, and you’d be surprised how many people are having difficulty deciding between two or more models. Sure, some have a preference and usually go with that, but people like me tend to change things up. The main reason is that the industry is moving forward, and new technologies bring new improvements.
People often look at two representative models from different companies, so in those cases, we often look at the brands themselves. On the other hand, there are cases where there is a duel between two models from the same brand, which seems weird.
While newer tires tend to be a better option, there are instances where the older product can be a better bargain. This isn’t always the case, but it’s a commonly asked question.
For today’s comparison, we have two all-season grand touring tires from Michelin, the CrossClimate 2 and the CrossClimate Plus. The French brand released the CrossClimate lineup in 2015 with the first version, followed by the Plus, which was “retired” once the 2 came out.
So, is the CrossClimate 2 worth it, or is the previous Plus version a better deal?
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All-season performance is covered by several aspects, one of which is the compound. Michelin utilized its Thermal Adaptive rubber, designed to remain soft in warm and cold weather, making the CrossClimate 2 usable in summer and winter.
The company abandoned the traditional tread pattern and went with a V-shaped one, claiming that it offers some improvements with it. As part of the design are the V Ramp champers and the 3D SipeLock. Both of these work to enable the CrossClimate 2 to increase the contact patch, thus increasing overall grip and traction.
Another area Michelin intended this design to offer improvements in is the wet and snow performance. The biting edges help the tire over wet tarmac and help it dig into snow and deliver traction in both cases. For aquaplaning resistance, the angle of the grooves is what channels the water outward, which should make the tire very stable at higher speeds.
Down the middle, the CrossClimate 2 doesn’t have a central rib, but the design should help it with grip. The blocks are designed to be aligned with the fore and aft forces, creating virtually an uninterrupted area intended to improve performance and the way the tire handles.
The CrossClimate 2 is a grand touring tire, meaning refinement is vital. To achieve this, Michelin used the PIANO Noise Reduction Tuning on the tread pattern. The computer-generated design aims to reduce noise thanks to the geometry and variations, making the tire quieter.
Michelin CrossClimate Plus
Even though the CrossClimate Plus is technically the older tire, it’s not one that’s lacking features. Michelin went with the extreme silica rubber compound, designed to keep things flexible throughout the year. It means that the tire can remain usable even in freezing temperatures, which a summer tire cannot do.
Also, thanks to the silica in the compound, Michelin ensured that the CrossClimate Plus could deliver traction on wet roads. This is backed by the edges of the blocks, which should help the tire provide improved grip and traction over damp roads.
At first glance, the tread design seems identical, and for the most part, it is. Even though there are some smaller differences, the V-shaped pattern aims to enable the CrossClimate Plus to remain stable in heavy rain, meaning that you should have excellent aquaplaning resistance.
The tread blocks additionally improve snow and wet performance with bevel edges and 3D sipes with central locking. The edges help the CrossClimate Plus with improved traction on slightly wet surfaces, while the sipes are task with traction over snow and ice.
Some tires tend to lose performance over time, something that Michelin aimed to rectify with the CrossClimate Plus. As part of the tread design are the Emerging Grooves, meaning that as the tread depth decreases, the performance loss shouldn’t be too noticeable.
Despite both tires being from the same manufacturer and class, there are a few years difference between them, so we should see some performance differences.
How do they perform in dry conditions?
Grand touring tires shouldn’t be your first choice when it comes to ultimate performance, and the same can be said about the CrossClimate pair. With that said, both of them have some surprises.
Let’s start with the older one, the CrossClimate Plus, a tire that impressed me with the levels of performance it was able to deliver. Across the board, the tire is among the best in its class, regardless of which area you’re looking at. It delivers very high traction and grip levels, accompanied by one of the shortest braking distances.
So, is the CrossClimate 2 better? Yes, for the most part. When compared with the previous generation, the newer tire brings some improvements to the table, making it a good upgrade. The levels of traction are slightly improved, meaning that even in aggressive situations, the tire won’t have any issues. You can also expect some slight improvements in the braking distances. In the corners, the tire is also excellent as far as the levels of grip are concerned.
While I’m on the subject of corners, I have to note that both tires aren’t designed to be pushed hard. They can deliver exceptional levels of grip in a corner, but the primary goal of Michelin wasn’t to make them track-ready.
How do they perform on wet roads?
Rain isn’t something that has posed a problem for premium grand touring tires from Michelin, and the same goes for the CrossClimate Plus and 2. With that said, the difference in performance is a bit more noticeable when compared with how well both fared in the dry tests.
The performance on damp roads with the CrossClimate Plus is superb. There are very high levels of grip and traction, making the tire feel planted, putting the limit relatively high.
As a comparison, the CrossClimate 2 is a tire that can offer better performance in these conditions. The bump in grip and traction levels puts it near the top with the rest of its premium competitors like the PureContact LS.
The area where a larger difference is noticeable is in terms of braking distances and aquaplaning resistance.
Michelin tried their best, but the CrossClimate Plus is older than its competitors, so the braking distances aren’t as short. Don’t get me wrong, they are still very safe and short, but the tire gets outperformed by some of its competitors, including the CrossClimate 2.
Then there’s the aquaplaning resistance, which in the case of the CrossClimate Plus, I’d call it above average. The tire does relatively fine at slower speeds but gets slightly unstable at higher ones. On the other hand, the CrossClimate 2 can handle more speed which is on par with the other premium models in this category.
Can they be used on snow?
The CrossClimate Plus and 2 both come with a 3PMSF rating, meaning that they are better than M+S tires in snowy conditions. Technically, they are considered all-weather tires, making them a better option for winter conditions. This became evident during testing, where both tires proved to be strong contenders.
Michelin nailed it with the CrossClimate Plus, and the trend continued with the latest version. Both tires are excellent at providing traction in lighter snow conditions. Both tires remain stable and safe, enabling you to control them even at the limit.
The difference in performance between these and all-season tires becomes evident in deeper snow patches. Most all-season tires will struggle in these conditions, while the CrossClimate ones will have no problem.
Once you start going for the more extreme conditions, the tires will begin to show weaknesses. With that said, they are among the best suited for snow driving out of all tires in this class and category.
In terms of differences, there are some, but they are minor ones. The CrossClimate 2 seems to deal with deeper snow a bit better and offers slightly shorter braking distances.
Will they deliver good off-road performance?
There are several reasons why the CrossClimate 2 and CrossClimate Plus shouldn’t be driven in off-road conditions.
Both tires are designed for paved roads, and the rubber compound won’t handle constant abuse in those conditions. Damaging the blocks can lead to uneven wear, and the tires won’t last as long. On top of that, sharper rocks can make a cur or puncture them, so you’ll need to replace them.
Short drives over dirt roads may be doable, as long as you don’t drive them like you’re on a rally stage. The performance will be limited, and pushing the tires too much can damage them.
Are they good in the handling department?
This is where things get a bit weird when we compare the CrossClimate Plus and CrossClimate 2. There are some noticeable differences, but not in favor of the model you think.
The CrossClimate Plus is a tire that managed to surprise me with its handling characteristics. As a grand touring tire, it’s very responsive and has a lively character. Out of most grand touring tires, I feel like this is the one that would adhere to most enthusiasts’ requirements. The instant response with the feedback the tire provides is a big A+ in my book.
On the other hand, the CrossClimate 2 was a bit of a disappointment, especially when coming from the CrossClimate Plus. I wouldn’t classify it as terrible, but it feels more like the rest of the grand touring tires. There are some decent levels of responsiveness, but the levels of feedback aren’t something to write home about. The weakest point is in wet conditions, where the tire feels a bit twitchy when pushed to the limit. Under normal driving, the tire is fine; only when you push it will you notice that it doesn’t like it.
How well-refined are the tires for everyday driving?
Grand touring tires are all about refinement, something that Michelin aimed to achieve but sort of failed with one of these two.
The CrossClimate Plus is a tire that I cannot categorize as the best in its class, mainly due to its handling characteristics. I can praise Michelin for making a grand touring tire that handles this good, but that comes at the cost of refinement. The comfort levels are acceptable, as long as you are aware that you will feel vibrations and jolts over uneven surfaces. It can absorb some of the bumps, but it’s not the most comfortable one in class.
Noise levels also aren’t class-leading and are behind the competitors. There is a noticeable hum at lower speeds, which increases as you drive faster. To be fair, it’s not the loudest tire in this category, but it’s far from the quietest either.
On the other hand, you have the CrossClimate 2, a tire that feels like it’s from a different class than the Plus model. The comfort levels are excellent, and the tire manages to absorb a lot more of the road imperfections and isolate the cabin from vibrations. Noise levels are also exceptional, and the tire remains very quiet even at higher speeds. In some cases, you can compare it with the Turanza QuietTrack, which is one of the best in this class.
Do any of them offer a warranty?
When you are looking for grand touring tires, the warranty can play a huge role in deciding which one to get. In this case, the CrossClimate 2, being a newer tire, is the winner.
Michelin offers the CrossClimate Plus with a 50,000-mile treadwear warranty, which isn’t too bad. Even though it’s behind some of its competitors, it’s not the worst. On the other hand, with the CrossClimate 2, you are getting a 60,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is 10,000 miles more.
Keep in mind that models with higher speed ratings have less warranty.
How do they compare in terms of price?
Older tire models usually tend to be slightly cheaper than the newer version, which is why people still hand on to them. A small performance bump may not be a priority for some car owners, so they get a good bargain. In this comparison, you are looking at the opposite.
Even though the CrossClimate Plus is technically the older tire, the price is a bit higher than the CrossClimate 2. The difference isn’t huge, but you are looking at a roughly $10 increase on a standard-sized 16-inch model, which increases if you go up the scale.
Michelin CrossClimate 2 Pros and Cons
- Longer treadwear warranty
- Better refined tire
- Performance improvements over the previous generation
- Not as dynamic as the previous tire
- Doesn’t like to be pushed hard into a corner in wet conditions
Michelin CrossClimate Plus Pros and Cons
- Excellent handling
- Plenty of grip and traction in dry and wet conditions
- Very usable even in deeper snow
- Refinement takes a hit
- A bit more expensive than the newer model
Which of the two is a better option?
Considering everything, the CrossClimate 2 is the tire to go for, right? Yes, but not in every case.
Even though the CrossClimate 2 has better grand touring characteristics than the CrossClimate Plus, it’s not the better option by default. Some car owners may appreciate the handling characteristics of the older model and may lean towards that.
If you’re looking for a comfortable touring tire with a decent warranty and plenty of performance, then the CrossClimate 2 is the better option. With that said, if refinement isn’t a priority and you manage to find the CrossClimate Plus at a discount, then you are looking at a good choice.
At the end of the day, both tires are good in their own way, so go for the one that better fits your needs.