July 31, 2014 at 1:00 am

Soup it up: Michelin regains ground with new all-season tire

Premier A/S All-Season model rolls to victory in authoritative TireRack.com competition

Michelin's Premier A/S impressed in testing for a range of vehicles. (Tirerack.com)

First, let’s deal with definitions:

“Grand Touring All-Season tires are designed to deliver a blend of refined ride comfort, good traction and handling, long tread wear and all-season capability,” TireRack.com reports, adding that all-season tires are popular with consumers and a key category for tire manufacturers.

Further note: We’re not talking tire-squealing, rubber-burning, high-performance tires here. We’re talking about tires designed for mid-level and premium coupes, sedans, minivans and crossovers. In other words, the sort of vehicle that you probably drive every day.

We quote TireRack.com because it is recognized as an industry leader, not only in selling tires but in testing them so its sales staff can make recommendations that fit the driving needs of each customer. If tires are like shoes for your car, TireRack isn’t some pull-a-box-off-a-shelf type store; it provides personal fitting services for your vehicle.

This year, TireRack.com is conducting tests on 10 categories of tires. It has just released the results of its test of what it calls Grand Touring All-Season tires. Those tests involve real-world driving and laps around TireRack’s own test track, which is adjacent to its huge warehouse in South Bend, Ind. The test track features a watering system so tests can be conducted on dry and wet surfaces.

Testing, which is done with identical BMW 328i sedans, takes two weeks per category because more than 100 sales staffers plus other company experts are involved in the driving and evaluation. Once testing is finished, data is analyzed, videos produced and all of it is published on the company’s website.

Although many brands are considered, testing is done only with the best of the breed, said Matt Edmonds, TireRack.com vice president. Thus for the GT All-Season test, Michelin’s new Premier A/S was benchmarked against the Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus, the Continental PureContact w/EcoPlus Technology and the Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus.

As might be expected, the new tire, Michelin’s replacement for the venerable Primacy MXV4, leapfrogged the competitors, though final scores were close.

“Michelin’s Primacy MXV4 had been around for a long, long time and had been surpassed by others and had to reclaim its position, and they did it with some really cool new technology,” Edmonds said.

According to TireRack’s website, that technology includes “a high-traction tread rubber compound, featuring extreme levels of silica and sunflower oil to aid wet and cold weather traction …

“Michelin has also found a way to mold the tread pattern in such a way that the main circumferential rain grooves get wider towards the base rather than narrower like in traditional tire designs. This helps minimize the restriction of water flowing through the tire footprint as the tread gets shallower (as the tire wears). Premier A/S also has emerging grooves in the shoulder block stat transition from a thin, slit-like sipe to an actual groove, also heeling give water a place to go when the rest of the tread is getting shallower.”

So the new Michelin won the test. But, said Edmonds, your individual driving style and environment should be considered when determining which tire is best for your vehicle.

For more information, visit TireRack.com, where you can find details on the various tests with extensive results charts, illustrative graphics and videos.

Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at ledsall@cox.net.