While winter hasn't served up any hard hits to Michigan, it has delivered snow with the regularity of a Detroit newspaper (which is not so much daily, as it is three times a week). Accordingly, the roads surrounding our Ann Arbor office seem to constantly be covered in a thin layer of snow, but that has hardly fazed our Hyundai Sonata shod with winter tires.
"In fresh snow, snow-flattened-to-ice, and just regular ice, the Bridgestone Blizzaks were virtually unflappable," praised senior web editor Phil Floraday. "Only once during a turn that was a touch too fast for the road conditions did they allow the car to slide, but a little countersteer and some ESP intervention corrected the car's course before I had a chance to be surprised. There's no way the correction could have happened on all-season rubber under those conditions."
As pleased as we are with the Blizzaks' performance in snow, they can only do their job if they're filled with air, and over the holidays managing editor of digital platforms Jen Misaros left a friend's house to find the right rear tire almost completely deflated. The car sat overnight and Misaros called for Hyundai roadside assistance, which is included for five years and unlimited miles, the next morning. The phone operator took down the details and offered to notify Misaros by email, text message, or phone call when the local service company was en route. The text message arrived before she had even hung up the phone.
"Before we could even get to our friend's house, which is just 10 minutes away, the technician called," Misaros recalled. "He was in the driveway and was going to get started on removing the tire. Like the call-center employee, he too was pleasant, helpful, and quick. The spare was on within moments once we arrived, and he even took the time to look closely at the flat tire to see if he could find the reason for the flat."
The flat, we'd later find out, was caused by a loose tire-pressure monitoring sensor that was leaking air. It was an installation error that had slowly worked its way into a problem since the winter tires were mounted in November-by a tire shop, not the dealer. So despite the inconvenience of a flat tire, the incident left Misaros with a new positive impression about Hyundai. "If this is any indication of the level of service that all Hyundai owners receive, I'm thoroughly impressed."
Indeed, after creative director Kelly Murphy's recent experience with roadside assistance in our Four Seasons 5-series, it seems BMW could learn a lesson from the Koreans.
With less than 18,000 miles on the odometer, our Sonata began emitting a handful of rattles and creaks. Floraday pinpointed the driver's visor and behind the dashboard, while another driver suspected the passenger-side door as a culprit. "I could see extremely cold temperatures letting a few squeaks come through," noted Floraday. "But it was 36 degrees and the interior had warmed up to the point where I had turned down the heater and the squeaks persisted. Not a good sign in such a new car." We'll know for sure in the next five months if the rattles are in fact a product of the cold weather or a telltale sign of the build quality.
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