Tire selection isn't always about the picking the gnarliest mud-slinging, rock-grabbing monster-sized trail brawler you can find. Many of us also drive a more street-oriented truck. Since Michelin recently debuted a successor to their long-running Michelin LTX M/S line of light-truck tires, we thought it worth a look. They call it the LTX M/S2 but that little "2" brings in a whole lot of new technology.
A good chunk of the makeover effort went into the tread design and compound. The carcass retained many of its previous attributes, including three steel belts and Michelin's "Max-Touch" construction. Max Touch gives the tire a large, lozenge-shaped contact patch that delivers improvements in traction and wear over the more common oval contact patch. In a major tread design change, Michelin engineers opened up the outer tread blocks to improve lateral water removal. That was tricky and could have made the tire a little more "squirmy" in the handling department, but some new tire technology opened the door for the proverbial "having the cake and eating it too." They call it "3D Active Sipes," and it interlocks the siping to create a more rigid block of tread that maintains contact with the road better and also offers lots of edges for traction and grip. Michelin says that the M/S2 offers eight percent more biting edges in the tread than the previous-generation tire, and you can certainly see it. On top of the tread design changes, the compound was changed to a new type that contains silica. Adding silica makes the tires more grippy in wet weather.
The new Michelin LTX M/S2 is claimed to offer a significant reduction in rolling resistance compared to other tires in its class, or its earlier iteration. Michelin has a new Green-X program, the goal of which is to reduce rolling resistance across their entire range of tires and increase fuel economy while maintaining the best possible performance.
Michelin invited a number of media types to their South Carolina test and development facility to test the LTX M/S2 against some of their closest competition on a variety of trucks. The improvement in wet weather performance was deemed notable, so Michelin intended us to do some artificial wet-track testing at their Laurens Proving Ground facility. Preceding the track tests was a ride and drive through the hills of North and South Carolina. For once, nature cooperated and the remnants of an autumn hurricane swept in and soaked the area. The heavy rain added a real-world aspect to the event that even the skilled PR team at Michelin couldn't have arranged.
When asked about the Michelin LTX M/S2 capability in snow, Product Category Manager Bryan Gartman responded, "It's not being marketed as a snow tire, but it significantly outperforms the previous generation tire in snowy conditions. It has many of the attributes of a snow tire in its tread design, but the silica in the tread compound works against it a little in extremely cold temps. We had to choose a bad weather venue to idealize the compound for rain or ice. We chose rain."
If you're shopping for tires to mount on your "town" truck, we'd urge you to take a look at the Michelin LTX M/S2. If other Michelins and a 70,000-mile warranty are any indication, you'll be friendly with this tire for a good long time.
Tire: Michelin LTX/MS2
Size (tested): LT245/75R16
Load range: D
Max load (lb. @ psi): 2,065 @ 44
Sidewall: 3-ply polyester, 3-ply steel
Tread: 3-ply polyester, 3-ply steel, 1-ply nylon
Approved rim width (in): 6.5-8
Tread depth (in): 12/32
Tread width (in): N/A
Section width (in): 9.8
Overall diameter (in): 30.47
Static loaded radius (in): N/A
Revs per mile: 683
Weight (lb): N/A