Q1: Original: Stock 16" rims and yokohama all-season tires.
Winter set-up: Walmart brand 16" steelies with 16" hakkapeliitta r2 non-studded tires (Had these installed on my GMC envoy and really liked the grip on them).
Q2: Last winter I drove with the stock set-up. Surprisingly, they were pretty good. A little slight slip here and there (especially on icy roads, of course). But they held up well and I had no accidents
. Mind you, I was driving extra careful last winter due to the fact that I was using all-season tires. I've driven in slush and fresh snow with stock and they performed OK, but if I installed winter tires, they would definitely out-perform the stock. I did notice ice freezing between the tread of the tires which made stopping a bit dangerous (like a car on skates lol). There were times I drove through 3 inches of fresh powder and had no issues, again driving carefully. It's definitely all about how mindful you drive. Use your brain and common-sense and you'll be OK!
Since I had previous experience with the hakkapeliitta r2, I know safety and traction will increase. Especially coupled with the AWD system. I seriously can't wait till we get a blizzard *prays* HAHAHA. I can't wait to test these tires out, now that they're on and ready to go!!!
It's snowing right now as I type away :P
Side note, I noticed a good reduction of tire noise after switching the tires. Since these tires were made by Nokian (Finland Company), I felt they were going to perform well (apparently summers are really short up there).