Confident 3-Season Grip
I work for a rim and tire shop. I can, and often do, drive on any tires I want, since I like to know what I'm talking about when I recommend tires to my customers. The Nokian WRG2 is by far the best bad weather tire I've ever driven, and has for many years been my personal choice for tires in the wildly varying conditions of a New England winter. They take on the worst snow and ice as well or better than nearly any dedicated snow tire out there, and handle ski trips into the wilds of northern Vermont and Maine with ease and grace. While I find that I can deliberately break the car loose into a skid on packed snow, it is actually quite difficult to do, and the tires recover extremely well. They stay rock steady even through lane changes in heavy slush, which is a white-knuckle maneuver on many tires. I don't even think they know how to hydroplane at all. These are tires that inspire a lot of confidence, largely because they always seem to come through in the worst of conditions.
Weaker Summer Performance
Dry pavement in general is the WR G2's weakest area, although “pretty good” is only a weakness in comparison to “excellent.” In hot weather the tires do feel noticeably softer, and performance is just good at highway speeds. As with any winter-capable tire, treadwear is accelerated in warm dry weather.
I personally have found the tires to be remarkably quiet even on a Prius hybrid, but customers whose opinions I trust as well as some online commentators have complained of worse than usual road noise from the WRG2. Others have expressed surprise at how quiet the tires are. I confess that I have found no pattern to this phenomenon, and I suspect that there may be other variables involved.
The Bottom Line
Overall, the WRG2 is a truly great bad-weather tire that is good enough to ride on year-round. It does, however sacrifice some summer performance for winter punch. I therefore prefer to use mine as 3-season tires, putting them on in late fall and swapping them out for summer performance tires in mid to late spring when the rain has dried up. This cuts down on summer treadwear, extending the life of the tires and saving the tread for when you need it most. But I don't have to do that; it's a luxury.
The WRG2 is ideal for areas with very mixed winter weather, the kind that can cycle quickly through rain, snow, ice, slush and dry conditions. For areas where the snow comes heavy and stays for long periods, dedicated snow tires like Nokian's Hakkapeliitta R or Michelin's X-Ice might be a better choice. Drivers in areas with more temperate winter conditions might want a less winter-biased tire such as the Bridgestone Turanza.
The WR G2 is priced somewhat higher than comparable tires, but this is partially offset by the low rolling resistance. If you want superior performance over a full range of conditions and you don't want to swap out tires, the Nokian WR G2 is a little bit more money for a whole lot more tire.