- Dry and wet performance is excellent
- High comfort and low noise levels
- Superb aquaplaning resistance
- Decent amount of grip and traction in light snow conditions
- Not the most affordable option on the market
- Straight-line tracking needs improvement
What kind of tire do you get when cross good performance, great refinement, and longevity? A touring one, of course. Having all of these in a single package make these a popular choice for many people.
Considering that most of us drive a normal car, like a sedan or a minivan, we don’t need a tire that can deliver performance on a track. The good news with this is that there are multiple touring categories that vary in terms of performance and price.
Among the several categories are the standard touring tires, which are just as it sounds like. These tires are designed for the longest possible lifespan without too many compromises in terms of performance or refinement.
If you’re looking for the best that the tire industry offers, you need to look at the premium manufacturers, among which is Michelin. The company has a plethora of options and the one I have for today’s review is the Defender T+H.
What are the features of the Michelin Defender T+H?
Michelin released the Defender T+H in 2017, and as a touring tire, it had all the bells and whistles that the company had to offer at that time.
One side of the Defender T+H that Michelin brags about is longevity. To achieve that, the company utilized its special rubber compound rich with silica. It means that not only will the tire last longer, but it will also perform well on colder surfaces like damp roads.
While I’m on the wet performance topic, I should mention the tread pattern. Michelin designed the Defender T+H with circumferential grooves and lateral notches to further improve the performance. The result of this should be better traction and improved aquaplaning resistance.
The tread pattern also features Michelin’s IntelliSipe technology, made of countless zig-zag sipes. Michelin utilizes these to ensure that the tire provides traction in slippery conditions. With these, we should see some good performance on snow-covered roads.
As a touring tire, the Defender T+H is also designed to be well refined. To adhere to the theme, Michelin developed a computer-optimized asymmetric pattern. This should result in a tire that won’t produce a lot of noise and provide a smooth driving experience.
How does it behave on dry tarmac?
In the premium segment, Michelin is the brand that makes some of the best tires, which is evident from the Defender T+H. Within this category, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a tire that can significantly outperform it.
In typical everyday situations, the Defender T+H can provide more than enough performance for the average driver. The traction levels are superb, and the tire gets going without any slip, even in slightly more aggressive scenarios. With the excellent traction, you also get some of the shortest braking distances in its class, making it very safe. The story of positive performance continues in the corners, and thanks to the high levels of grip, you won’t see any problems.
So, the Defender T+H is the best performer in dry? Yes, but only when compared to tires from the same class. It’s not as sticky as something like the Pilot Sport 4s, so you should keep that in mind. Even though the tire has high levels of grip and traction, you can push it, but not a lot, mainly because it’s not made for that. It means that you should look at other categories if you’re looking for that kind of performance.
Dry Rating: 4.5/5
How does it behave over wet and slippery roads?
The main goal of the tread pattern and rubber compound is to deliver good performance in wet conditions. I’m happy to report that the Defender T+H doesn’t disappoint.
As in dry conditions, the Defender T+H is among the best in its class and will be more than up for the task at hand. The traction levels are superb, and the tire eliminates slip without any hesitation. Naturally, getting too aggressive will result in slip, which is why this may not be the ideal choice for performance cars.
Things remain equally impressive when it comes to cornering grip. The Defender T+H has no problem clawing to the road and eliminating the infamous understeer some tires are prone to. It remains planted and gives you confidence and a safe driving experience.
The braking distances are also among the shortest in the class. Combined with the excellent aquaplaning resistance, the Defender T+H is among the safest tires in the category.
Wet Rating: 4.5/5
How is it over snow?
The Defender T+H continues with positive performance, and even in winter conditions, it delivers good results. With that said, the tire isn’t as good as a proper winter model like the Pilot Alpin 5 or the X-Ice Xi3.
When it comes to driving in winter conditions on clean roads, the Defender T+H has no issues. Michelin’s rubber compound does an excellent job at keeping the tire pliable in freezing temperature and doesn’t struggle to put the power down.
Like most all-season tires, the snow performance is limited but still usable. The Defender T+H does pretty good in terms of grip and traction over light snow. Michelin did a pretty good job with the zig-zag pattern and sipes, enabling the tire to perform acceptably well even over unpacked snow.
The things that plagues most all-season tires plagues the Defender T+H as well. While it’s usable in light snow, the tire struggles in deep snow or on ice-covered roads. For those conditions, I always recommend getting a proper winter tire.
Snow Rating: 3.5/5
Is it comfortable and refined?
Michelin is known for making well-refined tires, and the Defender T+H is no exception. Like in most tests, it performs very well, putting it near the top of its class.
In the comfort department, the Defender T+H is a very solid performer. The tire does very well with minor imperfections and provides a very soft ride. While doing so, it also eliminates most of the vibrations even when you hit a larger pothole, a true mark of a premium touring tire. With that said, there is a slight drawback. Since it’s a softer tire, it doesn’t settle as quickly as some of its rivals. It’s not as bad as with the CS5 Ultra Touring, but you may notice it from time to time.
Noise levels are also very low, which is to be expected. The Defender T+H produces very little noise around town and a bit more when driving on the highway. In both cases, you won’t notice it unless you’re driving an electric car. Over rougher surfaces, you can expect to get some roar, but it’s the same with most of its direct rivals.
Comfort Rating: 4/5
Is the Michelin Defender T+H ideal for sporty driving?
Most grand touring tires aren’t the best choice for sporty driving. With that said, the Defender T+H isn’t ideal, but it’s not the worst.
In terms of performance, the Defender T+H is decent and can handle getting pushed a bit. I wouldn’t take it to a track, that’s for sure, but it can go around a corner without plowing straight through.
On the handling side of things, the Defender T+H is better than I thought it would be. The responsiveness is pretty decent for a touring tire and does better than most of its rivals. With that, you also get pretty good feedback through the steering wheel. One thing that is a bit disappointing is the straight-line tracking. You will need to make minor adjustments as you drive along, especially if the road isn’t completely flat.
Noise Rating: 4.5/5
Michelin Defender T+H Warranty
As a premium model, the Defender T+H delivers in terms of warranty and, again, is among the best in its class. With an 80,000-mile treadwear warranty, it’s on the same level as the TrueContact Tour and a bit behind the Assurance MaxLife.
Michelin Defender T+H Pricing: Is it worth the money?
Michelin does many things right in terms of performance, but that usually comes at a price. The Defender T+H is among the more expensive in its class, so for a 15-inch model, you are looking at a difference of at least $15.
Value Rating: 3.5/5
Should I buy the Michelin Defender T+H?
The Defender T+H is an excellent tire, there’s no denying that, but the main thing that may get many people thinking is the price.
As with most Michelin tires, the performance in all conditions is excellent. Plenty of grip and traction, short braking distances, decent handling, and high levels of refinement are only a handful of advantages you’ll get.
If you get the Defender T+H, you will be paying a higher price for excellent performance. You can get similar performance from other premium brands. With that said, if you manage to get it at a discount, don’t even think about it, just buy it.
Overall Rating: 4/5
What Vehicles Will the Michelin Defender T+H Fit?
Here’s a sample list of cars that the Michelin Defender T+H will fit:
- Audi A1, A3, A4
- BMW 3, 5 Series
- Ford Focus, Mondeo, Ka
- Honda Civic, Accord, Legend
- Hyundai Elantra, Sonata
- Kia Optima, Rio
- Lexus IS, ES
- Mazda 2, 3, 6
- Mitsubishi Lancer, Galant
- Subaru Legacy, Impreza
- Toyota Corolla, Camry, Yaris
- Volkswagen Golf, Passat, Jetta
Tire Sizes for Michelin Defender T+H
- 185/65R14 86H
- 185/70R14 88H
- 195/70R14 91H
- 185/60R15 84H
- 185/65R15 88H
- 195/60R15 88H
- 195/65R15 91H
- 205/60R15 91H
- 205/65R15 94H
- 205/70R15 96H
- 215/70R15 98H
- 185/55R16 83H
- 205/55R16 91H
- 205/60R16 92H
- 205/65R16 95H
- 215/60R16 95H
- 215/65R16 98H
- 225/60R16 98H
- 225/65R16 100H
- 235/60R16 100H
- 235/65R16 103H
- 215/55R17 94H
- 215/60R17 96H
- 215/65R17 99H
- 225/50R17 94H
- 225/55R17 97H
- 225/60R17 99H
- 225/65R17 102H
- 235/50R17 96H
- 235/55R17 99H
- 235/60R17 102H
- 215/55R18 95H
- 235/60R18 103H
List of Michelin Reviews