June 9, 2005
Luxury, performance, touring, all-season.
While an interesting contrast exists among this group of four adjectives when applied to a tire, they are exactly the ones Michelin has chosen to describe the Pilot HX MXM4 Grand Touring All-Season tire. Already fitted as the Original Equipment tire on some of today's top luxury cars from Acura, Audi, BMW, Honda and others, Michelin has expanded the list of available sizes, allowing replacement fitments on a wider range of vehicles.
As a group, Grand Touring All-Season tires are designed to blend much of the appearance, as well as some of the responsiveness and handling of a performance tire with the smooth and quiet ride of a passenger tire. And as with any blend, there are inherent compromises that normally take place as a result. To find out how sporty and comfortable Michelin's Pilot HX MXM4 tire is, Tire Rack team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive, comparing the Pilot HX MXM4 with several popular tires from the Grand Touring All-Season category. The Bridgestone Turanza LS-V has become a top choice for drivers who elect to put a non-Original Equipment tire on their vehicle when it's time to replace that first set of tires. We also included Continental's ContiTouringContact CH95, which has been a popular Original Equipment fitment on a wide variety of European and domestic vehicles.
Our evaluation used 2003 BMW 330Ci coupes, with new, full tread depth 225/50R16 tires mounted on 16x7.5" wheels. We also included a fourth, 2003 BMW 330Ci fitted with the Original Equipment (OE) 205/50R17 Goodyear Eagle RS-A High Performance All-Season tires mounted on factory 17x7.0" wheels. We have included this vehicle/tire combination in other tire evaluations, and have found it helpful to have an OE-equipped vehicle in the test to evaluate the impact of installing the other products.
Our 5.6-mile loop of expressway, state highway and county roads provides a great variety of road conditions that include city and highway speeds, smooth and coarse concrete, as well as new and patched asphalt. This route allows our team to experience noise comfort, ride quality and everyday handling, just as you would during your drive to school or work.
As a group, all three of the Grand Touring All-Season tires in this test displayed excellent road manners. Our team found the ride quality of the Bridgestone Turanza LS-V to have a slight advantage over the rest of the group, with the Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 very close behind. The Continental ContiTouringContact CH95 offered appropriate ride quality for the category, but was not quite as refined as the Michelin or Bridgestone products. The more performance-oriented Goodyear Eagle RS-A OE-comparison tire was the firmest of the test by a small margin, transmitting more of the impacts and bumps than the three Grand Touring All-Season tires.
Noise comfort is also a strong attribute for this group, with all of the tires producing limited amounts of tread and impact noise. Across the variety of surfaces on our road evaluation route, the Bridgestone Turanza LS-V was found to have a very slight advantage over the Michelin Pilot HX MXM4. The ContiTouringContact CH95 and the Goodyear Eagle RS-A were also reasonably quiet along our route.
While delivering responsive handling is an objective for Grand Touring All-Season tires, it cannot come at the expense of ride comfort, and so none of these tires were expected to provide the laser-sharp steering response or ultimate cornering grip of a High Performance tire. In this test, the Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 was found to provide the best handling of the group, with steering feeling light and responsive to inputs. The Bridgestone Turanza LS-V was a close second to the Michelin, providing a good blend of handling and responsiveness. The Continental ContiTouringContact CH95 slotted in third, just ahead of the Goodyear Eagle RS-A.
Our 1/3-mile per lap test track course includes 90-degree street corners, lane changes and simulated expressway ramps. Run in both dry and wet conditions, the test track allows our team to experience the traction, responsiveness, handling and drivability normally only encountered during abrupt emergency avoidance maneuvers or competition events.
In dry conditions, the Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 again provided the most responsive handling of the group, responding nicely to driver inputs. This helped the Pilot HX MXM4 negotiate the slalom and other tighter corners on the track more easily. The Bridgestone Turanza LS-V did not deliver steering response that was quite as crisp, but felt as though it had somewhat more overall grip than the Michelin. This resulted in the Turanza LS-V generating the highest level of steady-state cornering (average g's lateral acceleration), but could not match the responsiveness (or average lap time) of the Michelin.
In the wet, the Bridgestone Turanza LS-V was rated the highest by our team, while also delivered the best overall grip level. It felt the easiest to control at its limit, and was able to produce the quickest lap time of this test. The Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 was found to have the best steering response, feeling nimble and responsive. This responsiveness was not enough to overcome the higher overall grip level of the Turanza LS-V. The Continental ContiTouringContact CH95 and the Goodyear Eagle RS-A offered appropriate levels of wet traction, but were not up to the level of the Bridgestone or Michelin tires.
Bridgestone Turanza LS-V (Grand Touring All-Season): The Turanza LS with UNI-T AQII tires featuring H-, V- or Z-speed ratings are Bridgestone's Grand Touring All-Season tires developed to meet the needs of the drivers of sporty coupes and luxury performance sedans by blending responsive handling and comfort with dry, wet and year-round traction, even in light snow. Turanza LS tires feature UNI-T AQII Technology that uses advanced tread compound and construction features to enhance and preserve wet traction through the tire's life. The Turanza LS with UNI-T AQII in H-, V- and Z-speed ratings keeps wet traction up - even as it wears.
Continental ContiTouringContact CH95 (Grand Touring All-Season): The ContiTouringContact CH95 represents Continental's most advanced all-season tire technology. The tread pattern features three wide center grooves for efficient water drainage and large, stable outer tread blocks. The tread pattern is also heavily siped for good traction in light snow. With such good all-around performance, it's no wonder the CH95 is being selected as original equipment on many European cars like the Mercedes-Benz C- and E-class, Audi A4 and A6, and the BMW 3, 5 and 7 series.
Goodyear Eagle RS-A (High Performance All-Season, Original Equipment Comparison): The Goodyear Eagle RS-A is a High Performance All-Season tire produced with several speed ratings and in a wide variety of sizes. Its design is heavily influenced by its use as an Original Equipment tire by BMW, Volkswagen, General Motors, Chrysler and others. The Eagle RS-A features a subtle asymmetric tread design with larger tread elements in the outside shoulder intended to deliver more responsive handling, cornering, and steering. Smaller tread blocks on the inside shoulder combined with wide tread and lateral grooves are intended to enhance wet and snow traction. Read more.
Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 (Grand Touring All-Season): The Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 is an All-Season Grand Touring tire that was developed to provide driving harmony by blending responsive handling with good ride and noise comfort. It blends some of the looks and handling of a performance tire with the reduced noise and ride comfort associated with a premium passenger tire, as well as provides year-round traction, even in light snow. Read more.
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