Michelin has been lauded as one of the giants in standard touring tires, hence the unsurprising popularity of its Defender2 model. A quick look at the tire does reveal typical design elements of Michelin, such as wide grooves, carefully-built sipes, and strong water channels.
Our tire review will summarize Defender 2’s actual performance in real driving conditions and how the above-mentioned features translate from theory to practice.
In this review:
Michelin Defender2 Specifications & Features
Michelin Defender2 aims for all-season performances (snow included) by entailing:
- Symmetrically-molded compounds allow flexible rotations to block irregular wear.
- Interconnected treads ensure stable, predictable handlings during dynamic maneuvers while reducing airborne noise.
- Circumferential grooves offer generous pass-through volumes, working with the lateral notches to prevent hydroplaning.
- Integrated longitudinal and lateral sipes create more bites on wintry roads and slippery pavements in rough weather.
Michelin Defender2 Review & Performance Test Result
1. Dry Performance: 9.3/10
Dry Traction: 9.3/10
There is nothing to worry about on dry surfaces; Michelin Defender 2 delivers very good grips on here that can assure even the most nervous beginners.
Our 2016 Civic had no trouble settling at 45 MPH right in the beginning and breezed straight through lane changes, riding across slightly rugged concrete roads and smooth asphalts alike with relatively the same confidence. Speed changes to 75 MPH did not result in significant stutters; if there were any, it was hard to notice.
If you must travel through chip seal paths with layers of crushed gravel and stones intertwined, Michelin Defender2 will also likely deliver a good experience with its well-built sipes. The sidewalls and contact patch ground through inconsistent texture in bold self-awareness, allowing us to lean slightly more outwards without losing your footings. Going from extreme speed high to extreme low with decelerations or brakings was generally smooth.
Brick roads were just as breezy; however, with cobblestone roads, you need to be slightly more discreet with your maneuvering. Some sidewall flexes of Micheline2 did not cope well with aggressive inputs on these rough surfaces and caused solid traction loss, so remember to change speeds in gradual, careful turns.
Corner Stability: 9.2/10
Michelin Defender2 has excellent, reliable cornering stability. Honda Civic remained composed (even borderline polite) when diving into wide-angled corners without much speed changes from our previous straight-line test. The on-center ribs did a great job keeping the tires on stable tracks.
If you have adventurous souls, you can also try out tighter-necked corners like hairpins or off-camber bends; Defender2 did not disappoint us here with its delightful confidence and aggressive yet communicative tread patch.
Still, Road crooks that required more subtle adjustments like doglegs or slalom curves seemed to ask too much from the available traction, so we had to make slow yet certain entries first.
Steering Response: 9.2/10
Steering response is a non-issue for Michelin Defender2; punctual and responsive during most of our tests. Basic road situations like lane changes, reversing, and backtracking could be handled with ease, and even unexpected roadblock maneuverings only resulted in slight shakes that were quickly swallowed.
This lighthearted steering feedback will benefit tons in your daily driving at low speeds as the required inputs are minimal. Rougher sections on grooved roads or brick pavements did not pose much of a challenge for us, either, but be prepared that you might have to insert more forces when turning at wider degrees or within short notice.
2. Wet Performance: 8.8/10
Wet Traction: 8.8/10
Michelin Defender2 loses some original confidence from previous dry-condition rides, but what was left for its traction could still carry us through shallow puddles at regular driving rates (40 to 55 MPH). Corners were admittedly slippery but refilled themselves quickly with consistent steering – and if prepared for at least 5-6 seconds ahead, they could be as stable as smooth straight-driving asphalts.
Snow-melts and rain-soaked gravels in winter (no snow) were also delightful, so you do not need to equip snow chains, studs, or other extra add-ons in these cases. Still, in stagnant water of 7 inches onwards, the muted feedback did become more frequent, requiring us to keep the steering wheel steady at a particular chosen driving rate with as few changes as possible.
Hydroplaning Resistance: 8.8/10
Hydroplaning was almost non-existent in shallow water or puddles; the water evacuation channels tackled and redirected them well, hence our effortless tire rolls throughout the first 2/3 of the road trip. Wet bridge decks with more waterlogged patches challenge other tires but not Michelin Defender2, so your car can carry on uneventfully here without panic brakings.
However, as mentioned above, stagnant water beyond 7 inches seemed to spiral out of the channels’ control. The sipes and grooves could not work out the intruding water in matching speeds with our inputs and end up letting some rainwater seep underneath the contact patch. We suggest you keep things low at 35 to 40 MPH and only accelerate when necessary as we did.
3. Winter/Snow Performance: 8/10
Light Snow Traction: 8.5/10
Our Honda Civic bonded with powdered snow almost instantly. The difference between these terrains and dry groove paths was very indistinct, so we almost felt like returning to on-road summer pavements again. Needless to say, speed changes within short notice were within reach and did not really need snow chains.
Melting snow caused more slippery around the flanks, but in general, not that much different from typical wet surfaces. Regardless of model and make, your car can handle it just fine.
Real troubles started lurking around when the road textures became more inconsistent. Light snow alone was a non-issue, but light snow over compacted snow was a different story: Defender 2’s traction significantly reduced here.
Packed snow around tight curves was also fairly dangerous with stuttering inputs, so it would be better if you bring along snow chains and reduce loaded cargo in the trunks.
Deep Snow Traction: 8.1/10
Packed, well-paved deep snow did not bring in as much difficulty as expected. Guaranteed no abrupt braking or speed surges, we actually managed the same confidence as on light snow at 35-40 MPH.
But in harsh winter regions, nicely-paved snow cannot last long, so expect your car to start tripping on serious snowdrifts.
Slippage tendencies also increased on slushy snow (deep snow mixed with rainwater) and worsened in wind-blown snow with varying, inconsistent traction depths. For the latter, accelerations to highway speeds without snow chains could send you straight to accidents.
Ice Traction: 7.6/10
Performances on glazed ice were generally tolerable; much less sharp and confident, of course, but nothing that our car could not handle with careful maneuverings under 30 MPH. Removing passengers and cargo also helped with maintaining the rib’s center stability.
Isolated ice patches might be rather dangerous with careless driving; still, you can sidestep them easily by avoiding unplanned accelerations and always keeping an eye on the road (at least 4-5 feet ahead).
Serious thick ice ridges, unfortunately, seemed out of Michelin’s league despite its strong sidewalls. Collisions and accidents were a constant threat as our rides kept being disrupted by muted traction around the corners; unless you are absolutely confident in your driving skill, it would be better to find another path.
4. Comfort: 8.8/10
Ride Quality: 8.9/10
Michelin Defender is the class leader in ride comfort. Large bumps or patches still caused certain drifting and jostles underneath the tread, but they never crossed the lines to become truly disruptive. Smaller road cracks, meanwhile, were an obvious competitive edge: once we settled into the path, it felt like they did not exist at all.
One important note: Defender2 is a tire tailored for daily situations at the end of the day, so sporty driving is not really its style. It is still doable to a certain extent, but you should not hope for smooth cornerings or bumpless maneuvers at turns.
Road noises were mostly kept under control; the low humming on shallow puddles or light snow might grow more constant with aggressive steering but was still considered tolerable. After 15 to 20 minutes or so into the ride, even beginners can tune them out with ease.
Rugged brick pavers or deep snow with inconsistent textures, on the other hand, resulted in tire whinings. They were thankfully not frequent, but still hard to ignore.
5. Treadwear and Durability: 9/10
The tire wear is excellent; our test is admittedly too short to come to a more definitive conclusion, but the way Defender2 whisked off sharp debris and dust without falterings already gives us a positive hunch about its durability over extended usage.
Given that you will likely use this tire for leisurely, regular driving (which is by no means as intensive or straining as our test rides), Defender2 can last you at least 80,000 miles. Cold snow/rainy conditions brought in stalls and freezes more often than we would have liked, but from our observations, they are unlikely to result in serious, long-term damage.
6. Michelin Defender 2 Test Result Highlights
- 2023 Quietest Tires Test: Ranked 1st out of 10 tires
- 2023 Michelin All Season Tires Test: Ranked 3rd out of 7 tires
- Top All Season Tires Choice For Honda Civic, Subaru Outback, Tesla Model 3…
Michelin Defender 2 Pros & Cons
Excellent traction on dry roads
Generally very confident on wet roads
Decent handling of snow
Good riding comfort and noise control
Durable tire, great treadwear and road life (80,000-mile warranty)
Slightly underwhelming on ice (but still class-leading traction)
Michelin Defender 2 Competitors & Alternatives
- Michelin Defender2 all-season tire is a true defender on dampening roads with excellent steering responses that are hard to beat. However, we do wish that some snow traction improvements are implemented to match the tire’s aggressive reactions on other terrains.
- Continental TrueContact has excellent wet grips that beat Defender 2 by a short margin and Goodyear Assurance by long. Nevertheless, the tire’s feedback can sometimes get quite choppy on rugged terrains.
- Goodyear Assurance leads the group in extreme road handling and comforts, smoothing out road imperfections nicely. This all-season tire would have even better ratings if there had been a significant bump in its wet grip, though.
In our Michelin Defender2 tire review and comparison, this tire leads the competition in every metric. Even its ice traction, while not as confident as performances on other terrains, still leave same-sector tires in the dust. You can trust this competitive tire as the true loyal assistant in every daily driving situation for all-year weather, minus harsh snow storms and serious icy conditions.
President & Automotive Expert at COR Wheels
Robert Herrera has been with COR Wheels for 17 years and has a great passion for the automotive industry. During his time at COR Wheels, he has driven and test-driven a variety of vehicles.