When a set of Michelin X-Ice Xi3 winter tires on hand for evaluation, we hoped for a bit of wintery weather. After all, the tires designed to handle the snow and cold so we wanted to test them properly. Unfortunately, we got our wish. The winter of 2013-2014 will go down as one of the worst in recent memory. Snow, ice, extreme cold and high winds relentlessly pummeled us for months on end, pushing our psyches to the breaking point.
But the X-Ice Xi3s never faltered. Combining four technologies in its tread block design, the X-Ice Xi3 uses what Michelin calls a “Cross Z” sipe that enables stable handling in wet conditions. The tire’s sidewall edge is a block design that provides more grip on snow and ice by clawing into the surface. And in extremely west conditions, there are the “Micro-Pumps” that absorb water and expel it during as the tire rotates. Like any modern winter tire, the X-Ice uses a rubber silica-based compound that Michelin refers to as “FleX-Ice”.
A Winter to Remember
Installed just before the weather went biblical, we reported our initial impressions with the tire at the end of last year. We were impressed with the traction the tires retained in moderate snow covered roads as well as parking lots covered in ice. The biggest surprise came from how quiet they were on the road where the usual roar associated with winter tires was more-or-less missing. After driving on them for 3,100 miles, they did grow louder as they wore.
SEE ALSO: Michelin X-Ice Xi3 Winter Tire Review
Since our initial report on the tires, Mother Nature was kind enough to blast us with temperatures usually reserved for the Arctic Circle. But even when temperatures refused to rise above -20F, the tires continued to perform without issue. Towards the end of the season, when the winter had long broken our spirits and snow blowers, the Michelin tires were able to pull our test vehicle up an un-plowed driveway even though the snow was higher than the car’s front bumper.
Wearing Out Fast
Our only real concern with the Xi3 has to do with tread life. When we first installed the tires, we measured their tread depth at 11/32nds. After 3,100 miles of driving, the front tires wore down to just about 9/32nds with the rear tires had worn to 10/32nds. With proper rotation, this still doesn’t bode well for longevity, but the X-Ice does come with a 36,000-mile limited warranty for piece of mind.
See Also: AutoGuide.com Tire Reviews
The X-Ice Xi3’s main competitors are the Pirelli Winter Carving Edge, the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 and Dunlop Winter Sport. Pricing will vary for the tire depending on rim size, sidewall height and retail outlet. Our 195/65R15 set of tires costs $101.00 each on TireRack.com. The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 is available in 33 sizes, ranging from 14- to 18-inch rim diameters and is available at several retail stores and online sites.
The Michelin was subjected to some of the worst real world conditions we could throw at it this year and the X-Ice Xi3 didn’t just survive, it excelled. It’s far from being the cheapest winter tire on the market, but it is one of the best.