Winter tires are the best to ride on in harsh snowy conditions. Some all-weather options in the market can get you through light patches of snow, but they’re not going to be of much use in rougher weather. We’re talking slush, deep layers of snow, and icy roads.
If that’s the type of weather you get in the winter months where you live, you’ll have to get a set of reliable winter tires to get you through anything. There are a number of options here, like the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90, but today we’re looking at the X-Ice Xi3 from Michelin.
The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 is a worthy competitor within the Nordic winter tire category. Harsh winter conditions, including slush, snow, and ice, are the natural habitat of the X-Ice Xi3. These tires won’t do much for you in the summer, but in areas where winter lasts all year round, their utility could be off the charts.
In this review, we’ll take a look at the Michelin X-Ice Xi3’s performance in different situations — especially snowy conditions — to see if it delivers. Spoiler alert: Yes, it does, but let’s dive a little deeper.
Overview — Michelin X-Ice Xi3
Michelin markets the X-Ice Xi3 as a winter tire mainly designed for a lasting tread life despite rough snow usage and high fuel efficiency. The company also backs it with strong claims about its snow traction and confidence-inspiring handling on winter roads.
Many advanced Michelin technologies have gone in to make this possible. These include the FleX-Ice tread compound, Cross Z Sipes design, and Micro-Pumps.
The advanced tread compound is primarily designed with an aim for optimized snow performance. It takes a lot of credit for setting this tire a class apart compared to some of its leading competitors in the segment.
The compound remains flexible in freezing conditions but firms up at high temperatures since it’s silica-based. The compound also helps improve ice and snow traction, which buyers would expect from a winter tire from Michelin.
There’s the directional tread pattern with Cross Z Sipes. These sipes provide a significant boost in grip, making a clawing contact with the surface. The micro-pumps handle the rest of the job for extra traction with biting edges.
The unique sipe design also contributes to the tire’s stability. As for wet roads, hydroplaning resistance comes from the directional tread pattern containing wide grooves to channel out water effectively.
Overall, the design sets the tire up for a lasting winter tread life, high-speed stability, and steering responsiveness.
The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 has a minimum safe level of tread depth of 4/32-inch. Once the treadwear gets there, the tire will have compromised braking and traction and would no longer be safe to ride with. That’s especially true in harsh winter conditions or slippery wet roads.
But how will you know if your tires have worn beyond 4/32 inches? Well, that’s where maintenance indicators come into play.
The Tread Wear Indicators (TWI’s) have become more or less a standard on all Michelin tires, and the X-Ice Xi3 isn’t an exception.
These TWI’s sit pretty recessed within the tire’s grooves when it’s new — but as the tire’s edges wear down with continued use, these indicators become more and more visible. At some point, they’ll level out with the tire surface, and that’s when you know the tire is re-tired.
Maintenance indicators are vital on winter tires as worn-out tires are a genuine safety hazard — not just to the driver but also to nearby traffic. The tire’s traction, braking, hydroplaning resistance, stability will no longer be reliable or consistent, which means you can get into an accident any time on winter roads.
So, keep a close eye on those TWI’s. Thankfully, Michelin has got you covered with a 40,000-mile warranty on the X-Ice Xi3’s treadwear. That’s a more extensive warranty than all of its competition, and it shows how much the company believes in the tire’s durability.
If you’re going to drive your car on dry roads, the X-Ice Xi3 is the opposite of what you’re looking for. The cornering lacks grip, and you’ll have to schedule your brakes on the calendar because the distances aren’t short. However, that doesn’t take anything away from the Michelin X-Ice Xi3, as you can’t expect a fish to climb a tree — can you?
The wide grooves and an aggressively directional pattern on the tread translates to high hydroplaning resistance, impressive traction, and braking distances on wet roads. The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 deserves a spot in the top few tires within the Nordic winter category for its wet performance.
Now the sea is where the fish is at its best, and boy does the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 fit that analogy.
The tire will thoroughly please you with its performance on snowy roads, providing outstanding traction, competitive stopping distances, and well-planted handling.
Slushy surfaces also bring out the best in the X-Ice Xi3, perhaps thanks to the Cross Z Sipes and the tread’s wide grooves. Icy roads don’t take anything away from the performance either. However, tires like the WS90 from Bridgestone may outperform the Xi3 in this area.
However, no matter how brutal the winters get where you live, the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 is one of the best choices you can make in terms of overall performance.
The Xi3’s wet traction from the direction tread pattern isn’t present on off-road surfaces like mud, gravel, or rocks. Moreover, the tread compound can get severely damaged as its native winter conditions require it to be soft. We all know how dangerous it is to drive around with worn-out tires in the winter — so we wouldn’t take these tires off-roading.
You won’t have any complaints in the comfort department with the Michelin X-Ice Xi3. It easily absorbs all the vibrations from large bumps on the road, even at high speeds. Noise isn’t significant either, though higher temperatures can make it a tad louder.
Overall, the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 thoroughly impressed us with its top-class performance in even the harshest cold conditions. It’s prepared to take on any winter situations you might run into, including ice, slush, slippery roads, and deep snow.
The best part? It manages to accomplish all of this with an industry-leading tread life warranty of 40,000 miles. That’s what makes it easy to recommend over some other options in the category which don’t come with such an extended warranty period.