A car tire that doesn’t give up grip as it wears

Wet or dry, impressive new Michelin Premier A/S retains traction

Last updated: August 14, 2014 09:30 AM

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Michelin has launched the Premier A/S tire to replace its aging Primacy MXV4 performance all-season tire. Rather than a simple refresh, this new tire marks an ambitious overhaul, introducing a new technology labeled as EverGrip to maintain wet braking grip as a tire wears. Given the boasts for this new tire, Consumer Reports took an in-depth look at Michelin’s new Premier A/S.

We set about doing a head-to-head comparison with the old tire, testing H- and V-speed rating variants through our complete suite of all-weather tests, including dry and wet braking, winter traction, hydroplaning resistance, rolling resistance, tread wear, and more. The tires were tested on a Chevrolet Cruze in size 215/60R16.

With conventional tires, wet stops tend to grow as the tread wears out. To combat loss of wet traction, Michelin uses clever innovations in the Premier A/S, including expanding rain grooves, exposing new grooves as the tire wears, and a new traction tread compound with sunflower oil to keep the tread flexible in cold weather. To explore this new technology specifically, we compared the stopping distances for tires shaved down to about 5/32”, simulating a tire about 40-percent worn.

Consumer Reports tests reveal Michelin’s EverGrip technology is very impressive, though not quite perfect.

First the bad news: Premier A/S dry braking stops are just average among performance all-season tires, and about six feet longer than with the Primacy MXV4. On shaved tires, things got worse for the Premier, as the dry stop difference grew to nearly 10 feet. By now Michelin representatives are reaching for their antacid if they are reading this. But wait, things get better.

The good news is that the Premier A/S maintained its wet stopping performance between full tread and 5/32”. Yes, the Primacy performed better, and most tires do on dry pavement. Add water and the Premier comes into its own, revealing what Michelin had in mind in developing the EverGrip technology all along. Simply put: the Premier A/S stops almost exactly in the same distance on a dry or wet surface, and with full depth or 5/32” tread depth tires.

The Primacy MXV4 cannot match this ability. It takes almost 32 feet longer to stop in the wet than it does on dry pavement on tires shaved to 5/32". On wet pavement, with full tread tires, the Primacy MXV4 takes about seven feet longer to stop than the Premier A/S; when the tread is shaved to 5/32” on both models, it takes about 24 feet longer. Overall, driving on the Primacy is guesswork, as the tire braking performances hinges on road condition and wear (tread loss). In contrast, the Premier A/S delivers safe, predictable stopping performance on dry and wet pavement and is and largely immune to the effects of tread loss.

What else does Michelin give up for the innovation? Not much. In comparison with the Primacy, handling, hydroplaning resistance, snow traction, ice braking, and comfort are about the same. Rolling resistance, a factor in fuel economy, is rated very good, too. And tread life is exceptional for the H- and V-speed-rated versions we tested. The Premier A/S today would potentially outscore the already impressive Primacy MXV4, which currently resides at or near the top of our performance all-season rating charts, depending on the speed rating of the version tested. We expect that EverGrip will find its way on more Michelin tire models in the future.

Consumer Reports will further evaluate the Premier A/S in our next tire report on family cars scheduled for 2015.

Gene Petersen

Premier A/S vs. Primacy MXV4
Results depict average stops of H- and V-speed rated Michelin Primacy MXV4.

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