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Michelin is arguably the best tire manufacturer in the world. The French company’s creators actually invented the pneumatic tire at the start of the 20th century and changed the automotive world forever. And they didn’t stop there. Michelin invented the radial tires, which increased the performance abilities of automobiles but also dramatically increased the longevity of the tires. Moreover, the French tiremaker also created the first run-flat tire in 1934!
Recently, the company again shook the world with the invention of airless tires, which can’t be punctured. Expect these tires to be standard in the next few decades. Was that enough to convince you that Michelin makes great tires? If not, you may want to continue to read forward. In this article, I’ll compare the most popular tire lineups from the company – Defender, and Premier.
Both models cover seemingly the same types of vehicles and come in similar sizes. However, the similarities stop there. Michelin Defender vs Premier are different in many ways, including the way they drive and how long they last. Michelin even focuses on different types of customers when they develop and design these products.
They have some things in common, though. For instance, you can’t go wrong with either product. Michelin invests a lot of funds in R&D, and its products are always among the best in their respective categories. Purchasing tires from the French company means investing in your family’s safety and ensuring long-lasting performance from your tires. I’ve never been disappointed by Michelin tires, and that’s especially true for the Defender and Premier families of tires.
With that said, there are numerous products within both ranges, all designed for different types of vehicles. Let’s see which are they and then jump onto the differences between the model lineups.
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1. Overview of Model Lineups
Touring Tires: Defender T+H and Premier A/S
1. Michelin Defender T+H
Both the Defender and Premier lineups include touring tires. However, the Defender T+H is more of a regular all-season touring tire, while the Premier A/S is considered an all-season grand touring tire.
But, what’s the difference between touring and grand-touring tires? Well, for starters, grand-touring tires come in higher speed ratings, which means that they are designed for faster cars. Also, they come in larger sizes, up to 19-inch wheel diameter. Meanwhile, standard touring tires usually stop at an 18-inch wheel diameter.
2. Michelin Premier A/S
In other words, grand-touring tires are more geared toward owners of faster premium cars, while standard touring tires are for regular cars. However, that is not always the case – you can put Defenders on your Mercedes-Benz¬ , and Premier’s on your Chevrolet.
SUV and Truck Tires: Defender LTX and Premier LTX
Both the Defender and Premier families also have SUV and truck tires. However, in this case, the differences are a bit clearer. The Defender LTX is an all-season highway tire, while the Premier LTX is an all-season crossover/SUV touring tire.
So, what does all that mean? Well, highway tires are designed for heavy-duty tasks. In other words, they are geared toward owners of heavy-duty trucks and off-road-focused SUVs. Cars like the Ford F-150 and Jeep Wrangler are all great candidates for a set of Defender LTX’s.
1. Michelin Defender LTX
Meanwhile, the Premier LTX is designed for road-focused SUVs and crossovers. These tires aren’t designed for heavy-duty applications, such as towing very large trailers. However, they also offer better on-road performance and comfort. The Premier LTX is great for Honda CR-V, Toyota Sequoia, and Chevrolet Tahoe.
2. Michelin Premier LTX
Again, though, you can put Premiers on your F-150 and Defenders on your Tahoe. Just keep in mind that the latter model comes in higher load ratings and is better suited for heavy-duty work.
2. Driving Experience
Most Michelin tires will provide you with a positive driving experience. The company designs tires that provide good responsiveness and steering feel, and the Defender and Premier lineups aren’t an exception.
However, there is a difference between both. The Premier lineup will provide you with much better responsiveness, and it will feel better behind the wheel. Defender tires aren’t bad at all – they are actually one of the best in their respective categories.
Still, if you want the best possible driving experience, there is no question that the Premier lineup works better.
3. Dry Traction
Both the Defender and Premier tires work outstandingly well on dry roads. Even if you try them side by side, you probably won’t notice the difference, provide you drive on public roads. At normal speeds, these tires will provide you with more traction that you will ever need. They also provide some of the best stopping distances in their respective categories and the best cornering grip.
Nevertheless, and I think you already know where this is going, the Premier lineup fares better. In controlled scenarios, you can easily tell the difference if you push the tires to the max. The Premier’s offer a much higher grip in the corners, stop better and give you better acceleration traction. Therefore, if you value a sportier driving experience, these tires are definitely the way to go.
Keep in mind, though; you will only feel these differences during high-performance driving. For daily driving, both products perform excellently.
4. Wet Traction
Like with dry traction, Michelin’s tires are among the best in the rain. In this case, though, the difference between the Premier and Defender lineups widens. But that’s because the Premier lineup is absolutely incredible in the rain. It fares so well that it even beats most competitors when its tread is worn-down 50%.
Seriously, you need to try Premier A/S and LTX in rainy conditions. The hydroplaning resistance is simply outstanding, even in very heavy rain. They simply cut through puddles of water. Moreover, there is a lot of traction on both damp and wet surfaces, outstanding cornering grip, and excellent stopping power.
Even more impressive is the way that Premier tires feel in the rain. Your vehicle will be easily controllable at the limit, which gives you more confidence to push forward.
The Defender lineup is also excellent for rainy conditions. However, it’s evident that it has less traction and grip overall. The hydroplaning resistance is excellent, though, and overall, you won’t be disappointed.
Both products have the EverTread Compound, which keeps the wet traction for longer than comparable tires.
5. Snow and Ice Traction
In terms of snow and ice traction, the Premier and Defender lineups are closer together. Both will provide you with usable traction on light snow but won’t be the best choice for icy surfaces. That’s because these tires have an all-season tread compound, which isn’t designed for very harsh wintry conditions. If you live in areas with freezing winters, you might want to purchase a set of winter tires – Michelin has some excellent ones.
Between Premier and Defender, though, the former works slightly better. It feels more controllable in the snow and provides shorter braking distances. The differences are very small, though. Thus, I think that the slightly better Premier snow performance shouldn’t be a factor in your decision.
6. Noise and Ride Quality
Both lineups are among the best in their respective categories in terms of comfort. They have excellent ride quality but without the softness of some cheaper tires. Also, they produce only a slight tread growl, which is drowned by engine and wind noise.
Between Premier and Defender, though, I think that the former is slightly better. That’s especially evident in the ride quality, which feels better on bumpy roads but also on smooth highway pavement. Please put an accent on that “slightly better,” though.
Things change drastically when you consider treadlife and durability. The Premier lineup is designed with performance and comfort in mind, but it’s also less durable. Meanwhile, the Defender lineup is designed with cost and longevity in mind.
For instance, the Defender T+H comes with an 80,000-mile treadwear warranty, compared to only 60,000-miles for the Premier A/S. This means another season of driving in the US on what is already a cheaper tire.
For the Defender LTX and Premier LTX, the difference is smaller – 70,000-miles versus 60,000-miles. However, in this case, the Defender LTX has a tougher casing, which makes it less susceptible to cuts and punctures. Thus, the Defender LTX is a better choice for off-roading than the Premier LTX.
There is a clear winner when it comes to cost – it’s the Defender family. On average, the difference is around 20%, which isn’t insignificant. That is expected, though, especially since the Premier family is designed for more luxurious driving experience and utilizes the latest technologies.
If you read carefully, you probably learned that there is no winner here. One product might work better for you, but it might not for other drivers. When choosing between Michelin Defender vs Premier, you need to first choose your priorities.
For drivers that value durability and safe traction for daily driving, the Defender family of tires is simply outstanding. Contrarily, drivers that want more joy behind the wheel and value performance driving will be better served by the Premier A/S.
It’s really that simple – you should purchase tires that work best for you. Only then you’ll be completely satisfied with the purchase!
8 thoughts on “Michelin Defender vs Premier: Which is Better?”
Thank you for this comparison of the tires it has help me understand the difference between the two and help me choose which to purchase today. For my truck.
Thanks for the review on the two types of tires. It helped me decide which way I’ll go. Since I do a little off-roading and hunting I will decide to go with the defenders.
My family has always been Michelin customers on every car we owned. I was torn between selling my Ford Escape or going a couple more years. After reading I decided to go with new Michelin Defenders and I put Teal and Purple stripes on the car and rims. I know I will be happy for more years to come. New tires make me feel like I have a brand new car, especially after I dressed her up with cool 1″ stripes. Must keep a lady looking good to be ready for anything!
I just put Defenders on my Grand Cherokee. Previously had Premiers. I’m not sure I didn’t make a bad choice.
At highway speeds it feels like the car is wandering on the road. Almost like driving in a crosswind.
I’m going to reduce the inflation a bit to see if things improve, but I’m not hopeful. Pretty disappointed that I was talked into buying these tires.
While our pick between the two is definitely the Premiers, the issue you’re describing with the defenders isn’t normal at all. It sounds like something else is going on there. Maybe alignment?
I had Michelin Tire since I got my RX350 in 2013. I think I had either Latitude or another type of Michelin before. Today I replaced four tires with Defender after I spoke with the America Tire representative. Afterward, I read your comparison between these two tires; I felt happy that I chose defender this time as we’re going to Yosemite this weekend.
I have always liked the Michelin tires. My Uncle was a salesman for the company and he said they were the best tires you could buy. I have been buying them from Sam’s Club for several years now. But I am not happy now. I am suppose to get an exchange on a tire. They are out of stock and this has been going on for over a month. It is just a good thing that I kept one of the tires from the previous set. Because they told me to just keep air in the tire and watch it. They took my tire off and put my used tire on because with me traveling for doctors appointments I didn’t want to take a chance on driving to Birmingham and Huntsville from my location . Every time I call Sams they tell me to call back it is still out of stock. What do I do now ? I am very disappointed . They said I could have the defender instead of the premier but I didn’t want to mix them but it looks as though I will have too.
I put Defenders on my trucks (f150 and Tacoma) and I just put Premiers on my Daughters Explorer. Can’t go wrong with these tires. Thanks for the review!