General Altimax RT43 vs Michelin Defender: A 2021 Review

| Last Updated: September 28, 2021

Both the Michelin Defender T+H and the General Altimax RT43 compete in a hotly contested market. Family vehicles for daily driving. 

In this review, we will see how each brand has done its best to earn the trust of drivers and demonstrate its superiority in terms of grip, safety, and durability.

The question is, which one is better for you? The purpose of this review is to help you to answer that question.

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TL;DR: General Altimax RT43 vs Michelin Defender T+H

Before starting this review, it is useful to understand the pros and cons of each tire.

General Altimax RT43

General AltiMAX RT43 Radial Tire - 205/70R16 97T

PROS

  • Great value
  • Excellent tread life
  • Better wet and snow/ice performance

CONS

  • Marginally lower ride quality
  • Slightly worse dry performance

Best For:

Drivers of sedans, minivans, and family crossovers for daily driving who need a tire with exceptional wet and snow/ice traction.

Michelin Defender T+H

Michelin 76339 Defender T + H All-Season Radial Tire - 225/60R17 99H

PROS

  • Amazing dry grip
  • Outstanding tread life
  • Unsurpassed ride quality

CONS

  • A bit more expensive
  • Slightly worse wet and snow performance

Best For:

Drivers of sedans, minivans, and family crossovers for daily driving requiring a tire with unmatched warranty and durability as well as exceptional ride quality.

Performance Ratings: Altimax RT43 vs Defender

Understanding the reliability of the ratings is everything when comparing two tires. In that sense, the number of reported miles plays a crucial role as it is the main indicator of how reliable the ratings are. 

In the case at hand, we have the Michelin Defender, which ranks 4 out of 18 in the Standard Touring All-Season tires segment with 2.2M miles reported. On the other hand, we have the General Altimax RT43, which ranks 15 out of 57 in the Grand Touring All-Season tires segment with more than 20M miles reported. 

Besides the fact that both tires belong to different segments, it is important to note that the General Altimax RT43 has enough miles to consider its values highly reliable. However, keep in mind that the same does not apply to the Michelin Defender, whose ratings may still vary considerably as more users submit reviews.

Having said that, here are the links corresponding to each category to be discussed.

Dry Performance: Altimax RT43 vs Defender

Dry Performance Ratings

General Altimax RT43

Michelin Defender

Dry Overall

8.8

9.3

Cornering Stability

8.6

9.2

Dry Traction

9.0

9.5

Steering Response

8.7

9.1

The Michelin Defender's ratings may not be as dependable as those of the Altimax RT43, but that doesn't diminish the merit of surpassing it in this category. 

We do not doubt that using a state-of-the-art asymmetric design surely had a lot to do with this triumph. This is not to say that the Altimax RT43 does not have a good dry grip or that its cornering stability is not up to the most demanding expectations.

On the contrary, the Altimax RT43 is one of the best in its segment. However, if you are looking for the tire that offers the best performance between the two, both on straights and curves, the Michelin Defender is for you.

Wet Performance: Altimax RT43 vs Defender

Wet Performance Ratings

General Altimax RT43

Michelin Defender

Wet Overall

8.5

8.8

Hydroplaning Resistance

8.6

8.9

Wet Traction

8.5

8.8

If both tires had a similar number of reported miles, we would say that the results shown above are a technical tie. However, we are inclined to favor the Altimax RT43 in this category. 

The use of General's exclusive Anti-Slip Sipe Design Technology and circumferential grooves have certainly paid off in the Altimax RT43. On the other hand, Michelin has also used circumferential grooves and a tread material with high silica content to improve wet traction. Still, we will have to wait a little longer to see if this is enough to maintain its ratings in this difficult category. In terms of wet performance and hydroplaning resistance, the Altimax RT43 is definitely your safest bet.

Snow / Ice Performance: Altimax RT43 vs Defender

Snow / Ice Performance Ratings

General Altimax RT43

Michelin Defender

Snow / Ice Overall

7.5

7.2

Snow / Ice Overall

8.2

7.9

Deep Snow Traction

7.4

7.0

Ice Traction

6.8

6.6

In this category, the superiority of the symmetrical design of the Altimax RT43 is once again evident. 

Although the ratings of both tires are similar, we must remember that the Altimax RT43 has a number of reported miles 10 times higher than the Michelin Defender, so its numbers are quite solid. 

Moreover, this is usually one of the most demanding categories for all-season tires, so every decimal place counts. That said, Michelin has done an amazing job in getting the Defender to have such an outstanding level of snow and ice traction. However, if we must declare a winner in this category, we would again go with the Altimax RT43 as it delivers proven performance on snowy and icy roads.

Comfort Performance: Altimax RT43 vs Defender

Comfort Performance Ratings

General Altimax RT43

Michelin Defender

Overall Comfort

8.5

8.7

Ride Quality

8.7

8.8

Noise

8.3

8.5

One of Michelin's hallmarks is its commitment to providing tires with an unmatched level of comfort. The Michelin Defender is no exception. 

While its lead over the Altimax RT43 in this category is small, we are inclined to believe that such a margin will be maintained or even increased over time. We back up this belief in the fact that the Defender uses Michelin's IntelliSipe technology, which optimizes the tire's contact with the road which coupled with its new tread compound guarantees a second to none ride quality. If you are looking for a tire that gives you an upscale driving experience, then the Michelin Defender is your best choice.

Treadwear Performance: Altimax RT43 vs Defender

Performance Category

General Altimax RT43

Michelin Defender

Treadwear

8.3

8.8

This is an interesting category since both tires are aimed at family vehicles for daily driving. 

The Altimax RT43 has an enviable reputation for excellent tire life. However, for the Defender, Michelin has drawn on all its expertise to create a compound focused on providing the greatest possible longevity. Michelin's confidence in this new compound is such that it backs the Defender with a staggering 80k mile warranty. Knowing Michelin's track record in this regard, we are convinced that they have finally managed to surpass the legendary Twin Cushion Silica Tread Compound used by General on the Altimax RT43. 

In terms of durability, the undisputed winner is the Michelin Defender, which gives you the longest tread life available on the market today.

Warranty: Altimax RT43 vs Defender

Warranty Type

General Altimax RT43

Michelin Defender

Treadlife Warranty

6-year warranty or 75,000 miles (65,000 miles for H & V rated tires), whichever occurs first. This warranty is halved for rear tires when they are different in size from the front tires.

6-year warranty or 80,000 miles (whichever occurs first). This warranty is halved for rear tires when they are different in size from the front tires.

Uniformity Warranty

One year of use or the first 2/32" of wear.

One year of use or the first 2/32" of wear.

Workmanship / Materials Warranty

6-year warranty and free tire replacement for the first year, 2/32" wear, or 25% wear.

6-year warranty and free tire replacement for the first year, 2/32" wear, or 25% wear.

Road Hazard Warranty

None

None

Tire Rack Road Hazard Warranty

Refunds of up to $40 for repairs per tire per occurrence. Refund of the original purchase price or replacement purchase price (whichever is less) when the tire suffers non-repairable damage (valid within the first 2 years of use).

Refunds of up to $40 for repairs per tire per occurrence. Refund of the original purchase price or replacement purchase price (whichever is less) when the tire suffers non-repairable damage (valid within the first 2 years of use).

When it comes to warranty, Michelin goes all out by offering a spectacular 80,000-mile Treadlife Warranty for the Defender. In addition, Michelin also offers a special 60-day satisfaction manufacturer's warranty. General is not far behind by backing the Altimax RT43 with a solid 75,000/65,000-mile warranty and a special 45-day satisfaction warranty. All in all, if you are looking for the best manufacturer's warranty, the winner is the fabulous Michelin Defender.

Specs & Options: Altimax RT43 vs Defender

In terms of market coverage, the Altimax RT43 is available in sizes ranging from 13-inch to 20-inch wheels and rim widths from 175 to 255. This is a clear advantage over the Michelin Defender, which is available in tire sizes ranging from 14 inches to 18 inches and widths from 185 to 235. 

In terms of UTQG, the Altimax RT43 has a 700 A B rating while the Michelin Defender has an 820 A B rating. For more information about the UTQG, we suggest you read this article.

Regardless of the make, year, or model of vehicle you drive, chances are that the Altimax RT43 is available in the right size for your car. 

Reviews: Altimax RT43 vs Defender

When it comes to premium tires, it is very gratifying to read driver reviews. It is very rare to get nothing but praise and good comments about the performance of these two tires.

To that end, we have not been able to detect any trend in the reviews that would indicate any weakness in either option. We are referring to complaints in specific driving conditions such as dry, wet, or snow. On the contrary, both tires have an overwhelming number of positive comments from satisfied customers.

Photo credit: otobemo.com

Nor have we detected significant variations in the type of cars using either of these tires. They are mostly family sedans or 5-passenger crossovers. 

What has not been a surprise is that we have confirmed that both tires offer outstanding tire life. There are numerous reviews from drivers who have used the General Altimax RT43 for over 75k miles, as well as many reviews from drivers who have managed to exceed 85k using the Michelin Defender. 

From the perspective of drivers who have used both products, either tire will give you the safety and performance you expect from a premium tire. In that sense, you can't go wrong choosing either one.

Quick Recap

General AltiMAX RT43 Radial Tire - 205/70R16 97T

General Altimax RT43

Dry

8.8

Wet

8.5

Snow / Ice

7.5

Comfort

8.5

Treadwear

8.3


Michelin 76339 Defender T + H All-Season Radial Tire - 225/60R17 99H

Michelin Defender T+H

Dry

9.3

Wet

8.6

Snow / Ice

7.2

Comfort

8.7

Treadwear

8.8

End of the Road

Throughout this review, we have seen how each manufacturer has focused their attention on different aspects of daily driving tires

The Michelin Defender concentrates on providing better dry performance, longer tread life, and unsurpassed ride quality. On the other hand, the General Altimax RT43 focuses on wet and snow performance without neglecting other aspects. 

Considering that the General Altimax RT43 is slightly less expensive than the Michelin Defender, the final decision will depend a lot on your expectations and budget as neither of these two tires will disappoint you.

Damaso has been in the automotive world since he was 14 years old and his father decided to bought an auto repair shop. Years later, his passion for electronics, computers, and automotive mechanics motivated him to graduate in Mechanical Engineering and venture into the sales of automotive equipment. For years Damaso worked as a technical advisor assisting car dealerships, tire shops, and even the plants of Toyota and Mitsubishi that operate in his country. He has over 25 years of experience reporting on topics ranging from DIY jobs, technological analysis, automotive news, and more. He is a wealth of information and a valued member of our team.