Monday, February 23, 2009

Tires: Michelin Primacy MXV4

Overall rating: Thumbs up.

UPDATE APRIL 2ND, 2011: This post seems to be popular based on the internet traffic it draws - in relation to my other posts, not in terms of # of hits.  But I wanted to update those that may surf on into this post from an internet search engine:  The Michelin Primacy MXV4, after over three years and about 30K miles, are still riding very well, still holding their pressure well, and knock on wood, not one of them has had to be replaced yet.  There's little doubt I'll buy another set when the time comes, which is likely later this year or early next based on current tread wear.  On to the original post!


When it was time for my wife's 2000 Lexus ES300 to get new tires last year, we wanted to be somewhat picky while on a budget. We had heard great things about Michelin, and I also knew Pirelli was good. I knew Continental pretty well as they came stock on my Mercedes E-class, so this was going to be a difficult decision.

The tires we settled on were Michelin Primacy MXV4. A few notes about what brought us to our decision:
  • I've never been fully satisfied with how my Contintental ContiProContact tires have handled turns in the snow, and that's big for a New Englander. When you're driving a performance vehicle in weather - safely, of course - you want a tire that will allow you to retain some of those performance characteristics in the snow. The Contis were sure-footed in any kind of rain and even in bad snow when moving straight ahead, but, well...take a look at my Insurance Nightmare post; a contributing factor was definitely the hydroplaning of the Contis on ice. Would a Michelin have handled better? It would have been a wider tire on the E-class than on the Lexus, so I'll never know for that particular incident.
  • I didn't know enough about Pirelli to make the decision to go with them. And even though I know the brand to be a good brand, I had a bad experience with old, cracked Pirellis on the tires that came with my 2002 E-class. Not a fair way to assess a brand, but I figured, I'll have plenty of time to try them out in the future.
  • Once again - I had heard great things about Michelin, and particularly this tire. My preferred alignment shop highly recommended the Primacy based on what I told the owner about my wife's driving style.
So how have they held up over time? They only have about 6-7K miles on them, but so far, so good. Understanding that the tire has a bigger sidewall because the Lexus has 15" wheels, and also understanding it's a fairly narrow tire compared to that of some other brands in the same class, the wet traction is better than the Contis on my AWD Benz. The ride is a bit stiff, but I'm used to a stiffer ride in my wife's Lexus because it's a smaller, front-wheel drive car vs. a rear-wheel biased AWD vehicle in my E-class. They may be relatively noisy, but since they're mated to a Lexus, with all that sound dampening, it's not extremely noisy and the ride overall is still comfortable.

They have held their "round" and their pressure very well and I expect to get them rotated in the near future, so we'll see how the tread wear has held up over the course of those 6-7K miles. Knowing my wife drives very conservatively I don't expect any issues.

You now know what I like about the tire - so are there are any cons?

Sure: for a ride like a Lexus ES300, these may be a bit too stiff and may allow a bit too much in the way of bumps into the cabin. I don't' have a very good basis for comparison because we've only owned the car a year, and the previous tires were pretty much cooked when we bought the car. Still, I prefer a stiffer ride and I'm willing to make the sacrifice of a little more noise and a little more stiffness for a tire that lasts a while and handles well in rain and snow. For those that prioritize comfort over anything else, these are not the tire for you, and you may be better off going with a Conti (Pirellis, in my experience, tend to be more performance-oriented and stiff, but I'm no expert).

One more note: from the reviews on the Tire Rack website, it seems previous "Energy MXV4" owners liked the wet traction in that tire better. This makes me wonder why Michelin would ever discontinue that tire since I believe the wet traction is stellar on this replacement of the Energy. This may say more about my distrust for Continental after my accident than anything.


  1. I am riding on my 3rd set of Michelin MXV4 Plus Energy XSE 205\55r16 and have been very pleased. My 2003 C240 Benz 1st set got 50K miles 2nd set got another 58k miles and I am going on 70K on the current set (planning to replace in the next few weeks) mainly highway driving I drive 110 miles 5 days a week! Very comfortable ride and I rotate them every 7500 miles. This tire was OEM from Mercedes and I am so glad I have not changed tire brands/models.

  2. Michelin seems to be a good all around choice. I'm currently deciding between Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus, or Michelin Primacy MXV4 for the next set on the Benz. In terms of snows my alignment shop said that between Blizzak WS60 and Michelin Alpin PA3, go with the PA3 because the X-Ice's will be discontinued soon.

    I forgot to mention in the original post that my Contis are V-rated, so they were going to wear down faster anyway...

  3. I've had 2 sets of Michilens on my 2002 Jetta TDI and tried Yokohoma's the next time around.
    I found they didn't hold the road as good as the
    Michilens particularly on a road surface that had a small amout of rain on the surface.
    I also had a blowout on the michilins, one day I was driving onto the highway via a turnon ramp,
    there was a piece of metal in the road about the same color. it flattened both tires on 2 people before me and damaged the wheel as well. me my tire had a blowout at 55 MPH and it still maintained it's integrity. I understand other tires shread on impact.
    I just bought another set of michilen's this week-end for the em...feel safest with them!


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