I read a bunch of reviews on the Pirellis that praised them. Tire rack has a video review. But I kept seeing low treadlife complaints. The tread design is similar to newer gen snow/ice designs as are the Premiers. They also have oil for cold temps to keep them pliable. Like you I'm not so sure about anything but highway driving and concerned about the lower treadlife. I had the MS2's on a Ram 2500. I put a couple hundred pounds of sand bags in the back and it was still light in the rear even though I had it leveled. It was very good in 4WDH in the snow and ice on the road. If I overpowered it (a hemi) of course it would get squirrely. I drove it offroad through mud, loose gravel, wet grass and ice and snow and was never looking for more tire. The Defenders are "suppose" to be an improvement especially in stopping and more sipes for ice. I can't wait for the snow!