Cooper vs Michelin Tires – Which One Is Best? (Buyers Guide)
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Let’s be honest, choosing the right vehicle tires is a process most car owners would rather not deal with. And with so many tire options available, we cannot fault them.
Everyone wants the best tires on the market, but unfortunately, most people don’t have the budget for them. Moreover, not everyone needs insanely expensive tires. Because of this, we’ve prepared an in-depth comparison between two popular brands in different price categories – Cooper and Michelin.
Generally, Cooper is known for manufacturing great tires at an affordable price point. On the flip side, Michelin is a premium brand focused on making the best tires but at a higher price than Cooper.
We’ve reviewed several Cooper (mid-range) tires, and it’s surprising how close they are to Michelin tires in performance. Some even provided enhanced performance.
Without further ado, let’s jump into the review.
Cooper is younger than Michelin by a couple of decades. It was founded in Akron, Ohio, in 1914 as M and M Manufacturing. M and M Manufacturing produced rubber products, including tire patches, repair kits, and rubber cement.
After a couple of years, they acquired Giant Tire & Rubber Company and moved their headquarters to Findlay. After the merge, M and M Manufacturing changed its name to Cooper Tire & Rubber Company and switched to tire production.
From the start, Cooper’s approach to tire production was to present the masses with well-performing and affordable tires. Their strategy saw them grow amidst stiff competition from well-established tire companies. Their growth is also attributed to acquiring smaller brands like Avon, Mastercraft, and Mickey Thompson.
Now, as a mid-range brand, you’d think the quality would be somewhat wanting. On the contrary, Cooper infuses new technologies and features in their tires, allowing them to deliver more than decent performances in different conditions and terrains.
Aside from replacement tires, it’s worth noting cooper provides OE tires for Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, and Ford. For these brands to work with Cooper, it means they trust their quality and reliability.
Cooper categorizes its tires based on use case and application. This approach makes it easier for car owners to pick the best tire for their vehicle and terrain.
Endeavor is Cooper’s Grand touring All-Season tire category. They designed this tire category for sedans, coupes, and small crossover drivers looking for reliable traction in wet and dry conditions. Beyond this, these performance tires are well-balanced for every season and have great tread wear.
The all-season tread compound is designed into a five-rib symmetric design that improves surface contact for better dry handling and steering response. The pattern helps to regulate the airborne noise for a quieter and more comfortable ride. On the other hand, its improved construction technique disperses load forces, promoting even wear over time.
Granted, the name is a little weird, but it works. CS tires are similar to Endeavor tires but with emphasized longevity and refinement. CS tires come in a lot more variety and range than Endeavor tires. These include the CS1 to CS5 and the CS7, which cover a wider range of vehicles from compact hatchbacks to large SUVs. In terms of weather, the tires are ideal for every season with optimal performance.
If you’d like a little more performance than the touring tires offer, then the Zeon family is what you pick. These Cooper tires are designed with performance in mind. As such, you’ll get higher levels of traction and grip. Unfortunately, this is slightly at the cost of your comfort.
For passenger tires you’ll look at the RS3-G1, RS3-S, and RS3-A, each having significantly different features. SUV and CUV owners have the LTZ as an option, but this doesn’t have traditional tire performance.
The Endeavor, Zeon, and CS are summer and all-season models. While they are decent in light snow, their performance is generally impeded in snowy conditions. In this case, you need WM tires. In addition to having top-notch performances in winter, they are also slightly sporty.
Cooper presents its WM tires in different variations for Passenger and SUV options. For passenger cars, the SA2+ is ideal. Depending on your car size, you can pick the T-speed or H/V-speed rating for smaller and larger passenger vehicles.
Some experts claim that Cooper intended the Discoverer tires to be the wildest among all the families. And true to this, the Discoverer family has tires for various weather conditions with varying performances. Because of this, they excel as touring tires for off-road use and performance.
Cooper designed All-Season and Winter tires for passenger cars, while for SUVs and CUVs, they have AT3 Sport, XLT, ATT, and AT3 LT. Among these, there are some great all-terrain options you can consider. Lastly, the S/T MAXX and the STT PRO are designed for mud-terrain areas.
Evolution tires are similar to Discoverer tires. Evolution tires have a range of use and application despite having fewer models. They offer more traction in sand, loose dirt, mud, uneven terrain, or uneven rock. Moreover, Evolution tires are durable and help expel lodged stones.
The Evolution family has Winter and Tour models for passenger cars and SUVs. On the other hand, M/T and H/T options are for off-road vehicles, light trucks, and larger SUVs, respectively.
Cobra Radial G/T
Unlike the other categories, the Cobra Radial G/T isn’t exactly a tire family but a single tire. We’ve included it here because it’s made for muscle car owners.
Generally, it’s an all-season option with decent performance and unique looks that captures car owners’ hearts. Cooper deliberately retained the retro tire style, and today the five-decade-old design is catchy.
Despite creating tires with decent performance at an affordable price, Cooper saw it fit to switch things up by adding another category – the Trendsetter SE. This tire is made for older vehicles and car owners that may not find what they need in the premium categories.
Although they don’t excel in performance, Trendsetter SE comes in a range of smaller sizes that are perfect for people who own 80s and 90s cars.
Michelin Car Tires
Michelin is older than Cooper – it was formed in 1889 by the Michelin brothers in Clermont-Ferrand. The goal of founding the company was to manufacture removable bicycle tires. These tire designs would reduce the time taken to replace them, reducing costs.
Not long after its formation, Michelin made a bicycle tire for long-distance racing, which was a winner despite doubts from many. Around the same time, the automotive industry was picking up pace, so Michelin made a calculated decision to switch to car tires.
The years of experience manufacturing tires have catapulted Michelin to where it is today. They’ve leveraged innovations and introduced new technologies to improve their products. As a result, they’ve built a name for themselves in the racing space, including Le Mans, WRC, and Formula 1. So, if there ever was a doubt about Michelin tires’ performance, this should be enough to make you a believer.
The categories Michelin uses are similar to those Copper used. As a result, it’s easier for car owners to choose the type of tire they prefer based on their needs.
This is one of the most popular families of tires. Michelin designed these tires to have the best performance of all. If you need something that’ll stick to the road courtesy of high traction and grip, Pilot tires are perfect for you.
For summer passenger cars, Michelin has the Sport 3, 4s, and 4. And for larger vehicles, it offers the Sport 4 SUV, which comes in a large size. The All-Season 4 and the Sport A/S are all-season options made for passenger vehicles only. Aplin options cater to winter tires and are for SUVs and passenger vehicles.
Primacy tires are touring tires hence comfortable and have less noise. They are made to cover as much ground as possible and are available in various models, including the LTX, MXV4, Tour A/S, and the MXM4. These models cater to a range of cars, including SUVs and CUVs. Primacy tires are also available in all-season and summer options.
Like most tire manufacturers, Michelin has multiple touring tire families. Like Primacy tires, Premier tires are manufactured for longevity, refinement, and decent performance.
Unfortunately, they have limited options. The A/S is ideal for passenger vehicles, and the A/S is perfect for SUVs and CUVs; the LXT is perfect. But on the bright side, both model options are all-season tires perfect for any weather condition.
With every tire family, Michelin included sizes for CUVs and SUVs. But when it came to the Latitude, Michelin dedicated the entire tire lineup to SUVs and CUVs. To offer variety and cover more bases, Latitude comes in different models. These models suit different weather conditions and driving characteristics.
Yes, Michelin has winter options in a couple of its tire families. However, it chose to dedicate the X-Ice family to winter use. Because of this, X-Ice tires perform better in snowy terrain than other tires. But in comparison to Alpin tires, X-Ice tires are more touring.
For light trucks and passenger cars, X-Ice has non-studable tires – the Xi3 and Xi2. If you need outstanding performance on the ice, North is better since you can use studs.
Back to the touring tires, the Defender tire lineup is a perfect option. Although they don’t have the exact design, they are excellent and deliver refinement and longevity as expected.
Under the Defender Lineup, Michelin offers two all-season models; the T+H tire and the LTX M/S. The former is for passenger cars, SUVs, and cars in between. On the flip side, the LTX M/S is a larger model for light trucks and SUVs.
Electric and hybrid car owners prefer tires with significantly low rolling resistance, a need that Michelin meets with the Energy tire line. Overall, there are two model names, but only 3 options exist. The LX4 tire is an all-season tire, and the Saver is located in all-season and summer variants.
When Michelin introduced the CrossClimate tire family, the goal was to showcase to the tire industry how touring tires should be designed and manufactured. Not only did these tires check the right boxes as a touring tire, but their performance was great.
This tire family provides two options, CrossClimate 2 and CrossClimate +. The original model is hard to find; even if you do, it’s a little too old. Owing to their size, you can install a CrossClimate tire in an SUV and passenger car.
Finally, the LTX line of tires was made for large vehicles. Although it has some similarities to those we’ve mentioned this far, there are some subtle differences – most LTC options can comfortably go off-roading.
The LTX has the A/T2 available in light trucks and SUVs. On the other hand, the M/S2 is a highway tire – so basically, it’s a touring tire. These models are all-season, and their performance is top-notch.
Key Differences Between Cooper and Michelin Tire Brands
Even before diving deep into performance differences between Cooper and Michelin tires, we should mention they’re both high-quality tires implementing unique tread designs. However, these tire treads differ with Cooper using Wear Square technology and Michelin using EverTread compounding. With that said, let’s dive into their performance differences.
Michelin and Cooper’s tires match up on their products designed for all terrain and all seasons. However, Michelin tires are slightly hardier on off-road applications than Cooper tires which are designed for both off-road and all-season use. Going by this, it’s recommended to choose Michelin truck tires if you go off-roading often. But at the same time, you’ll rarely need off-road recovery with comparable Cooper tires.
When it comes to braking, Cooper tires have better performance on tarmacked roads compared to Michelin tires. On the flip side, Michelin tires seem to brake better on gravel surfaces than Cooper tires (although this is debatable). We’ll shed more light on this under wear and tear.
Lastly, all-season performance is better on Michelin (being a premium brand) than on Cooper, a mid-range tire brand.
On dry surfaces and during summer, the debate between Cooper vs. Michelin tires leans more towards Cooper. Cooper tire performance is more impressive since it offers smooth traction with reduced noise. Michelin tires handle summer and dry surfaces well, but they are noisier because of their hardy grip.
But there are different dry surfaces, including gravel, off-road, and tarmac. For off-roading, Michelin has better dry performance while Cooper’s dry performance is better on the tarmac.
Michelin tires perform better on wet surfaces than Cooper tires. You’ll encounter wet tracks during winter or when it rains, and Michelin tires excel here because they have more grip and traction. For winter applications, Michelin and Cooper provide studable tire options for a better grip, smooth rolling and improved wet and snow performance.
But despite the stud feature, Michelin still performs better than Cooper and Cooper than other tire brands on wet surfaces. However, if you’ll be cruising through heavy snow, you’ll need specialty tires with better performance.
Road Noise and Comfort
Generally, cooper tires are quieter than Michelin tires. Also, since Cooper tires are more smooth rolling, they provide better cruising serenity, comfort, and noise reduction. Although Michelin tires are a little noisier, they have acoustic technology that reduces vibrations.
As for comfort, Michelin tires win by a slim margin. For ample support, Cooper tires are manufactured with micro-gauge siping, StableEdge, and modern tread compounds. Although their efforts are evident in the results, different tire models have different comfort levels.
On the other hand, Michelin tires use Helio Plus technology that guarantees effective traction, comfort, and grip on every surface. With that said, when making a choice, you’ll have to choose between comfort and noise.
Both Cooper and Michelin tires are durable, but either shines on different applications. For instance, Michelin tires are designed with robust sidewalls and strong shoulder blocks, a quality that makes them ideal for off-road use. These features work together to prevent premature tire failure.
Indicators of Wear
Cooper uses wear square lines as indicators, while Michelin uses an arrow indicator to show wear and tear. When you see these indicators, it’s time to replace your tires. Not replacing your worn-out tires results in skidding and may cause accidents.
Traction and Grip
Grip is a key safety factor. Generally, grip helps in a car’s braking, stability, turning, and acceleration. Both wet and dry performance depend on grip for effectiveness. On the other hand, traction is categorized based on the rain, shine, and snow.
Both Cooper and Michelin categorize their traction from C to A (highest). So provided you choose tires with the same traction rating, they should be the same regardless of brand. On the flip side, Michelin tires seem to have better grip, hence better road safety.
Cooper tires fetch a mid-range price, while Michelin tires have premium pricing. We should mention that the price between the brands is significant on specialty tires.
Generally, the warranties between the tire brands vary with individual tire models. Michelin is known for industry warranties, while Cooper offers warranties on workmanship, materials, and treadwear. Michelin also offers workmanship and material warranties, but their assurances are somewhat limited.
Michelin and Cooper have a 60,000-mile limited treadwear warranty on their all-terrain tire options. This says a lot about tire quality. Where Michelin beats Cooper is providing flat tire roadside assistance.
The Cooper tires vs Michelin tires debate isn’t about to end. Both tire brands emphasize the quality of their models. The differences between them are in affordability, performance, features, and warranties.
You should know your tire needs and intended application to make an objective decision. But if it’s a case of affordability, Cooper tires are your best chance. But if you want a little more performance and durability and can push yourself to spend a little more, Michelin tires are for you.
I’m Ruiru Kibet, an avid writer and techie that has taken a keen interest in offroading. As I explore nature and troubleshoot with different offroad products and techniques, I’ll share them with you. The goal is dumb it down and help you experience the best of nature.