Michelin X-Ice Xi3 Review: an Excellent Winter Tire

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  • Excellent traction on packed and unpacked snow
  • Short braking distances and safe handling on snow
  • Very good handling on dry surfaces
  • Outstanding hydroplaning resistance
  • Very good traction, handling, and braking in rainy weather
  • The longest treadlife of any winter tire, only bettered by the successor (X-Ice Snow)
  • An excellent 40,000-mile treadwear warranty, unique in the category
  • Worse braking on ice and snow than the class-leading Bridgestone Blizzak WS90
  • Handling on ice isn’t as impressive as other premium tires
  • Pricier than most rivals

When it comes to driving in foul wintry weather, there is no better choice than a proper winter tire. Sure, some all-season or all-weather tires can provide you with some traction, but those are still far from usable in very demanding situations, such as deep snow, ice, or slush. 

And, when you look for winter tires, make sure that you opt for Nordic winter tires, like the Michelin X-Ice Xi3. These tires are designed primarily for extremely cold winter weather, and surfaces covered with snow, slush, or ice.

Of course, Nordic winter tires will not be usable in very hot conditions, which means that you can’t really use them in the summer. Nonetheless, drivers that live in areas with harsh wintry conditions don’t really have a choice – winter tires are a must in those conditions.

And, when it comes to performance, you can almost never go wrong with a premium winter tire. Sure, these tires might be expensive, but they tend to offer safer driving in harsh wintry conditions. Moreover, in my experience, premium winter tires last longer, which makes them a better proposition for long-distance driving.

When it comes to price, the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 is one of the priciest Nordic winter tires out there. That’s expected from a product that comes from Michelin, a company that prides itself on always using the latest technologies and investing heavily in research and development.

Still, while the X-Ice Xi3 certainly looks promising on paper, it competes with some really amazing premium winter tires. The Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 is the first that comes to mind. It’s a tire that aces in almost every measurable category related to winter driving.

Furthermore, the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 provides the driver with relentless traction even in hazardous wintry conditions. Also, Michelin recently launched the X-Ice Snow, an improved version of the tire with a completely new tread compound and design.

The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 has some aces under the sleeve, though, and they are mostly related to longevity. This is the only winter tire that comes with a treadwear warranty, which is a big plus for the owner.

With that said, buyers in this category are always most concerned with traction and braking on slippery surfaces. So, does the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 deliver? Well, spoiler alert, of course, it does.

However, if you want a more detailed explanation, I suggest reading the whole Michelin X-Ice Xi3 review. There, you’ll be able to find how this tire fares in foul winter weather, but also how it works on dry and wet surfaces. I also cover the durability of the tire and comfort levels.

Before we jump to conclusions, though, let’s see what features and technologies Michelin utilized in this tire.

Michelin X-Ice Xi3 Review

On its website, Michelin states that the X-Ice Xi3 is a tire designed for great fuel efficiency and one that has long-lasting winter tread. Moreover, the company also states that the tire provides ultimate snow & ice confidence.

To achieve all those things, the French manufacturer utilized many of its advanced technologies for winter tires. These include Cross Z Sipes, Micro-Pumps, and the FleX-Ice compound.

The tread compound is probably the most advanced feature of the tire. The rubber used here is silica-based, which makes the tire firmer at higher temperatures, without damaging the low-temperature flexibility. Moreover, the tread compound itself, according to Michelin, improves traction over packed snow and ice.

The rubber compound of the X-Ice Xi3 is molded into a directional tread design, which features the previously-mentioned variable-angle Cross Z Sipes. These sipes bring clawing action, which improves traction on packed snow, but also on ice. Meanwhile, the micro-pumps create even more biting edges and enhance traction even further.

The Cross Z Sipes play another important part – to stabilize the tread of the tire. As a result of that, the X-Ice Xi3 should be more stable at higher speeds, be more responsive behind the wheel, and have longer treadlife.

The directional area of the tread pattern also contains wide grooves for better water evacuation, which improves the hydroplaning resistance and overall traction on wet roads.

The internal construction of the X-Ice Xi3 is standard for a passenger-car winter tire. It includes twin steel belts reinforced by spirally-wound nylon for enhanced high-speed stability.

What are the maintenance indicators?

Like most modern tires, regardless of the category, the X-Ice Xi3 comes with the regular TWI’s (tread wear indicators). These maintenance indicators can help the driver monitor the tread depth of the tire, which on winter tires is very important for safety.

Without sufficient tread depth, the tire won’t be able to provide the driver with reliable traction on snow and ice. Moreover, hydroplaning resistance and wet traction will also be worse. For that reason, keeping an eye on the tread depth of the tire is crucial for safe driving.

On the Michelin X-Ice Xi3, the minimum tread depth is 4/32-inch. When the tire reaches this point, you should immediately replace the whole set. Otherwise, you risk severely damaged traction and braking.

The TWI’s can help you monitor the tread depth easily. They are narrow rubber bars built into the tread of the tire, which are recessed when the tire is new. However, they become more visible as the tire wears down. When the tread depth reaches 4/32-inch, the bars will be completely flush with the surface.

Fortunately, Michelin provides a 40,000-mile treadwear warranty on the X-Ice Xi3. That’s not only longer than any other competitor – it’s unique in the winter tire category. Yes, no other winter tire, even those from premium manufacturers, come with a treadwear warranty.

Meanwhile, you can find great stories for treadlife on the X-Ice Xi3 on the internet. Owners of the tire are very satisfied with how long it lasts, especially when it comes to treadlife.

How does it behave on a dry tarmac?

Michelin X-Ice Xi3 Review

As expected, the X-Ice Xi3 doesn’t handle dry roads like a summer tire, and it even greatly trails all-season tires. There is simply not much grip in the corners, the traction is limited, and the braking distances are very long.

That said, Michelin’s winter tire fares well when you compare it to similar products. The handling is safer than most tires, and the braking distances are okay for a winter tire. Certainly not exceptional, but also not bad.

How is it over wet and slippery roads?

The aggressive tread pattern with wide grooves gives this tire outstanding hydroplaning resistance, even in some very heavy rain. The traction is also very good for the category, and the braking distances aren’t very long. Compared to most winter tires, the X-Ice Xi3 is actually favorable for driving in wet conditions.

With that being said, how is it on snowy roads?

Michelin X-Ice Xi3 Review

In isolation, you certainly won’t be disappointed by the winter traction of the X-Ice Xi3. The tire performs outstandingly well over snow, with great traction, sure-footed handling, and short braking distances.

Performance in slush is another strong point of the tire, perhaps thanks to the wide grooves and multiple sipes. Traction on ice is still very good, but here the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 and Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 fare better. That’s especially pronounced on the handling course.

Overall, though, I’m really nitpicking here. The X-Ice Xi3 is a fantastic performer in foul winter weather and one that will certainly not disappoint its owner.

Is it suitable for off-road driving?

While the aggressive tread pattern does provide increased traction on slippery surfaces, such as gravel or mud, the X-Ice Xi3 still isn’t a very good option for off-roading. The rubber compound on this tire is very soft and can be easily damaged if used on those surfaces for prolonged periods. And, if you damage the tread of the tire, you might need to replace it immediately.

Is it comfortable and refined?

The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 is a supremely comfortable tire, especially over larger bumps on the road. Noise is also not very pronounced in cold weather, but it becomes worse as the temperature rises. In warm weather, the tire can be very loud at higher speeds.

You can see more Michelin X-Ice Xi3 Review here: Video created by Motoring TV

Should I buy the Michelin X-Ice Xi3?

With the X-Ice Xi3, Michelin offers a unique set of characteristics. This is the only winter tire that works well in the winter, while also having excellent treadlife. The French company even covers that with a 40,000-mile treadwear warranty.

However, while I still recommend the X-Ice Xi3, please note that the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 and Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3, and the newer (and more expensive) Michelin X-Ice Snow offer even better winter performance.

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