I bought this tire based on the November 2010 Consumer Reports article that put it in second place (tied for 1st in points) out of 17 tires in the Ultra-High Performance All-Season Tires Category. The price point was so low, too, among the cheapest available in 225/40-18 size to replace the two Dunlop SP Sports (front) and two Michelin Pilot Sport A/S tires (rear) that came on the GTI I purchased used. Those tires had okay tread depth (not much on a tire of this size anyway) but the Michelins especially had severe weather cracking and the rolling noise of the four tires was very loud and non-uniform across the rotation (slipped radial belt, I figured). I liked that the Sumitomos were noted as being the quietest tire in the category by Consumer Reports--if they give up some performance for it, I haven't noticed.
They've indeed made a huge difference in noise and ride smoothness. I hope that lasts as the tires wear. Coincidentally we've had major snow and ice storms in Indiana since I put them on, and I'm impressed how well they do. Never felt out of control or immobile.
Basically my only gripe was with tirerack -- their competitor Vulcan Tire beat them by a few bucks on price, had cheaper shipping, and didn't charge me sales tax, so I went with them. Another possible gripe is that these tires don't have rim protectors, so be careful parallel parking. But otherwise these have not disappointed and I am picky about tires. If you drive more or less normally and like to step on it from time to time, I think you'll find these perfectly adequate, with low price and quiet ride (relative to the category) plus serviceable light winter traction to boot.