Michelin Defender Tires — Review

© 2013 Peter Free


04 December 2013



Highly recommended


I have owned more than 40 cars over the years, each with different tires.  I’ve concluded that nobody beats Michelin for consistent — although premium-priced — quality and performance.


I no longer buy any other brand.  Some are undoubtedly equal or better in some aspects of performance, but none (that I’ve owned) exceed Michelin’s consistent quality across the board.



Defenders tested on a 2010 Subaru Outback


This set of 4 Michelin Defender tires replaced the original equipment Continentals on a 2010 Subaru Outback.  The difference in feel and the boost in driver confidence, even as compared to the Continentals when they were new, were immediately perceptible.



Notable characteristics — rock solid handling


The 2010 Outback is a moderately tall SUV that, with its stock Continentals, was prone to a slightly Americanized lean in curves and emergency handling.


The Defenders take this annoying lack of precision almost completely away, leaving the driver with a car that tracks where you put it.  Where once I did not like the enlarged Outback’s intentionally softened feel (compared to the Forester), now I can live with it.


Not a trace of skittishness in gusty 45+ mph winds or in freezing rain conditions.  No slightly mushy sidewalls.  No erratic responses to grooved highway surfaces.  Immediate responses to driver input.


The Defenders superiority showed most noticeably in passing tractor trailers (at 75 mph) during periods of 45+ mph cross winds.  I had no difficulty keeping the vehicle on reasonably precise course going from side wind to relative stillness and back again.



No negative effect on fuel economy


Twenty-eight mpg in the fully packed Outback at an average of 65 to 75 miles per hour — on a nearly 3,000 mile Interstate highway trip, much in of it in high winds and wet.



The moral? — If you can afford these, buy them


Unless you have a car that requires high speed, high performance tires.  Most of us don’t.