2006 Sonata traction control vs 4WD?

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Anyone have experience yet with how the traction control in the 2006 Sonata actually performs in the snow? We are considering the purchase of a new Hyundai vehicle, and are actually looking to replace an older
4-wheel-drive car (AMC Eagle) that was recently totalled in an accident. We're in the Northeast and have a fairly long, uphill driveway that the Eagle was able to navigate with ease even after a fairly heavy snowstorm.
The Tuscson looks attractive, but I'm concerned over reports about very poor gas mileage -- on the order of 15 to 20 mpg. (This is about the same as the ancient AMC with its emissions-strangled, carbureted 4.2 liter six and 3-speed automatic!) With the rising price of gas this is obviously a concern. Hyundai is still using their older series engines and transmissions in both the Tuscon and Santa Fe, but the design is not *that* old -- I would have expected some improvement in efficiency over an AMC drivetrain that dates to the 1960s!

designs, gets decent mileage (mid to high 20s) even with the V6. I've also heard people say that with traction control you "don't need 4-wheel drive," but how true is this? Would a Sonata with traction control be able to scoot up a snow-covered driveway?
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snipped-for-privacy@techie.com wrote:

My driveway is 1700' long and the last 600' or so is uphill, but not super steep. I can ride my bicycle up it, but I'm completely winded when I get to the top and that is in 1st gear on a 27 speed bike. :-) Then again, I'm 46 years old and no Lance Armstrong.
My 06 Sonata has handled my driveway fine so far this winter, but we've had no snowfall that exceeded about 4". The ESC light has only come on a couple of times while climbing the driveway so I can't really say if it helps much. The Sonata goes better than my Chevy truck in 2WD and better than my Dodge minivan, but I have no delusions that it would match my truck in 4WD. And it certainly won't match an Eagle.
Keep in mind that traction control only helps maximize the traction available to the FWD car, it isn't magic and certainly can't match the traction that the additional two wheels will provide in an AWD vehicle. Also, the Eagle had very good ground clearance for a car, almost as much as some pickups. The Sonata has decent ground clearance, but again less than most 4WD vehicles and less than even most AWD cars (Subaru, etc.). I'm guessing a snowfall of more than about 8" is going to cause enough drag on the underbody that you'll have trouble as compared to your Eagle.

I've not driven the Hyundai SUVs, so I can't comment about them, but I'll bet you a steak dinner that they will go much better in deep snow than will a Sonata with traction control ... unless you put chains on the Sonata!
The real question isn't whether the Sonata is as good as the Eagle or SUV, as it certainly won't be as good, but whether it is good enough for your driveway for most of the conditions you will see. Nobody can answer that but you. I think my Sonata will handle my driveway in almost all conditions as my minivans have handled it all but a couple of days out of the last five winters that I have lived here. On those days, I use my truck to plow the driveway so that the minivans can handle it! :-) And the one time it got really icy, I spread some wood ashes on it and that was enough to make the difference.
My option of last resort, which I've not yet had to invoke, is to put my cross bar chains on my truck and then drive it up and down the driveway to break the ice into ice chips. Fortunately, this hasn't been necessary, but I bought the chains when I got the snow plow just in case.

People who say that with traction control you don't need 4WD don't have a clue what they are talking about and obviously have no real understanding of the capability of 4WD.
Matt
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Matt Whiting wrote:

Yes, I do understand that, I'm just trying to determine whether the Sonata with traction control would be 'good enough' for our purposes. The Eagle was an extra vehicle, not used for everyday driving, so gas mileage was not all that much of a concern with it. However if we purchase a new (or late model used) vehicle, we'll be selling or trading the wife's 2000 Sonata and the new car will be a daily driver, so gas consumption is something we have to be a little mindful of. I checked some owner reviews of the Subaru Legacy/Outback (another obvious choice for 4WD), and people were complaining about the gas mileage and performance, just like I've seen with the Tucson! Obviously 4-wheel-drive is going to carry a penalty in those departments, but I'm surprised that all the modern tech is not delivering much more efficiency than our old Eagle did.

The AMC Eagle was way ahead of its time. We're really going to miss ours, even though in recent years it had become a real challenge to keep its nightmare emissions system serviced, and the dreaded tinworm was really starting to get the best of it.

The in-laws have a 2004 4WD Santa Fe with the 2.7 V6. They love it, but don't drive very much so gas mileage is not a big factor for them.

I have no doubt! Even the Eagle with its fairly primitive 4WD system was like a mountain goat in the snow. (And our '86 had an open center differential, power went to the wheel that slipped! They just didn't slip much. Other years used a viscous coupling.)
Of course it would also be possible to buy a new Sonata and look for another inexpensive Eagle or an old Jeep to do winter 4WD duty. (Eagles are not very common any more, but they are still out there. Actually saw one on the road yesterday. No "for sale" sign, though.)
Decisions, decisions...
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snipped-for-privacy@techie.com wrote:

That is really hard to say without seeing your driveway or knowing more about how much snow you get and how often. I'd say the Sonata ranks right up there with other FWD vehicles I own or have owned. I honestly haven't used the ESC enough to know if it adds much value. I'm guessing it doesn't add much to hill climbing traction. If you've driven in snow for as long as it sounds like you have, then you are like me and probably are pretty skilled at maintaining the maximum speed possible and slowly backing off on the throttle as you climb your driveway to minimize wheel-spin. ESC may help a little in this regard, but I really had to mash the throttle intentionally to even get the ESC to kick in on my new Sonata. It likely has more benefit in skid recovery than in straight-line hill climbing capability.
Matt
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get some good snow tires, you wont have a problem with the sonata unless its passed the bumper deep..

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snipped-for-privacy@techie.com wrote:

If you want to be safe in the winter there are three things you should do:
1- Install good quality snow tires on all four wheels. Nokian tires are my personal favorite.
2- Practice driving on slippery surfaces. Relying on technology is not a good idea, as it will often let you down when you need it most.
3- Drive sensibly. No car is foolproof and if you exceed the available traction, you'll be in trouble no matter what "gee wiz" technology your car is equipped with.
After 31 winters of driving in New Hampshire, I find no need for 4WD/AWD, ABS or TCS. Pick the vehicle you want, equip it properly and learn to control it under challenging conditions. Good driving skills and preparation trump technology every time.
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Brian and I disagree on this point and we both have roughly the same number of years of driving experience in the Northeast. I use good ASR tires (M&S), and Brian likes snows - we both get through the winters just fine...

... but that's largely because we both agree completely on the two points above.
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Brian Nystrom wrote:

Does that mean I'm not safe since I run all-season tires during all seasons? :-)
I agree with what Brian says, only adding that snow tires are one more thing I find no need for. I do find a need for 4WD as it is hard to plow snow with only 2WD. :-)
Matt
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Matt Whiting wrote:

They're fine...if you live in Florida. ;-)
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Don't forget that with the shiftronic Xmission, you can force it to start in 2nd gear. That helps a lot to start off in snow/ice. bill
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BillyGoat wrote:

Just like the old Rambler "Flash-O-Matic" transmission with its "D1" and "D2" positions. (For 1st gear and 2nd gear starts, respectively.) Everything old is new again!
Don't even get me started on that GMC SUV that has the sliding roof panel in the back like the old Studebaker "Wagonaire" station wagons...
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snipped-for-privacy@techie.com wrote:

Actually, many automatics still let you start out in 2 or even 3rd.
I just noticed your "handle" of pdp11. You do mean THE PDR-11, right? That sure brings back old memories. I still remember way too many RSX-11 commands...
Matt
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Matt Whiting wrote:

Yes, in another life I used to work for DEC in New Hampshire, and worked primarily with PDP-11 systems, though also some DEC-20 and Vax stuff.

I did so much Macro-11 programming that at one time I could practically do it in my sleep. Amazing what we used to accomplish in that 16-bit (64K) address space. These days that's not even a good-sized buffer.
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snipped-for-privacy@techie.com wrote:

My company was a significant customer of DEC back in the 80s to early 90s. In fact, I installed what was at the time the largest DY32 network in the world in our new fiber plant in 1985. Moving from the PDPs to the VAX was a nightmare. We tried at first to use compatibility mode, but as impossible so we had to rewrite all of our host applications to move them from the 11/44 to native VAX code.
Fortunately, the 11/23+ remotes worked pretty well with the VAX as a host. :-)

I was the same, but with F77 rather than macro-11. Yes, life before graphics took a lot less space.
Matt
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[original post is likely clipped to save bandwidth] On 20 Jan 2006 20:32:06 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@techie.com wrote:

I was in\ Maynard, small 11 development.
It amazes me how many of today's security flaws couldn't happen on most of the later 11's. Those 11's had stacks managed by hardware so no chance of a buffer overrun. Add I and D space and you can't execute data anyway!
gerry - DEC badge 49404
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gerry wrote:

I worked in Software Services, primary job was doing custom software development for DEC's customers, secondary was going out on pre-sales calls with the sales droids. (That was always a picnic!) In those days it was IBM that was the "evil empire."
I miss DEC a lot, really a shame what happened to that company; it was a great place to work in the 1980s. It started going downhill for a variety of reasons in the 1990s, which is when I left to start my own business. I was vested in DEC's pension plan, so I suppose in a few years I'll be knocking on HP's door for that. (Though I have no idea what HP's policy is on the obligations they picked up with their acquisition of Compaq, which of course initially acquired DEC. With the current crisis in private pension plans in general, who knows what's actually there. But I digress...)

I remember when I started working with separate I & D space machines, the freedom of all that extra address space!! I always dreaded getting the TKB message that the task was too large, as setting up overlays was always a PITA. Today's software in incredibly bloated, I remember fighting for every byte that could be conserved. I've toyed with the idea of trying to find an old Micro-11 to play around with, it would be fun.
DEC's systems have not died off completely. I have a friend working in a shop that still runs VMS (actually OpenVMS) on Alpha hardware. There certainly are still PDP-11s out there, quietly doing their jobs. That segment of DECs business was sold to Mentec (www.mentec-inc.com) which still provides hardware and software support for the PDP-11 line.
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[original post is likely clipped to save bandwidth] On 22 Jan 2006 08:40:51 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@techie.com wrote:

Well Compaq sure worked over DEC employees, you might be interested in
http://gogood.com/once_dec/index.html

It sort of bugs me I tossed out 3 11/23s and 1 one 11/83 with enough stuff to put together 2 systems in working order.
re memory - I recall the 11/04 bootstrap that had to work with RX01 and RX02s with 32 words! (64 bytes). It took 8 authors!

I don't recall the company but a German outfit had the right to build 11/83 class systems and used it at least until 1999 so you can be sure they still are in use. Unfortunately I lost my contact during the Compaq changeover.
An interesting recent Alpha article
http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20060123PR200.html
gerry
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snipped-for-privacy@techie.com wrote in

I've been driving in the northeasst for 20+ years. There was only one time I needed 4 wheel drive, and that was in the blizzard of 1996. We had 34" of snow in one day during that storm.
I've also never purchased snow tires (although a 1987 Honda Civic I had came with them). Never needed them.
Now to comment on the 2006 Sonata, it is by far the best car I have driven in the snow. I drove it in a 10" "mini-blizzard" and it was as if I was driving on wet pavement. We've had at least four mornings with black ice. I think that is where the traction control really comes into play.
But as others have said, if you don't know how to drive in the weather, and the limits of the car, you can still get yourself into deep water quickly.
If you get a really heavy snow, you are not going to be able to plow up your driveway without chains and/or snow tires. It's not going to be as easy as the AMC, but I think in most cases you will be just fine.
Incidentally, and anecdotally, the guy I work with has a 2004 Sante Fe. He only has a 2WD model, but his ground clearence is a little better than mine. He was unable to make it to work when wew had the 10" snow. Last Winter we had a good 18" snow while we were at work. When we left for the day, he could not drive his Sante Fe out of the plant we work at (about a 1500' driveway, up a slight hill with two turns). I was able to get in and drive it right out without any trouble.
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Eric G. wrote:

That sounds encouraging, we'll have to give the new Sonata a look. Another possibility we're considering is a late-model 4WD Santa Fe. I don't know why, but from what I've been reading of owner comments the Santa Fe seems to be better on gas than the smaller Tucson.
Usually I prefer to buy cars that are a few years old so the first owner takes the depreciation hit. Hyundai is a very attractive proposition to the used car buyer since depreciation works in his favor, and the 5-year bumper-to-bumper warrantee is great. You can buy a 3-year-old car and still have 2 full years of factory warrantee. (The 10yr/100K mile drivetrain coverage is not transferable.)

This is always the case. I shudder at all the SUV drivers I see driving like maniacs in slippery weather because they think they're invincible. I look at 4WD and/or traction control as another tool to give an edge in dealing with inclement winter weather, not as some magical silver bullet that lets one treat snow and ice as dry pavement.
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Thanks everyone for the comments!
We went to our local Hyundai dealer today and took a look at some used Santa Fe SUVs as well as the new Sonata! Needless to say after driving it, we really like the Sonata. From the comments here and looking at the car's ground clearance I believe it will do just fine for our purposes. (And hey, you never know when I'll run across another inexpensive Eagle I can pick up for a few bucks, though the wife may have something to say about that. :-)
With a variety of rebates and discounts applied, the dealer has quoted us a price of $16,831 for a Sonata GLS V6. We are also interested in the factory extended bumper-to-bumper warrantee, have not gotten a quote on that yet.
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