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How Well Does A Hyundai Sonata Drive In The Snow? (Answered)

How well does a Hyundai Sonata drive in the snow? If you’re planning on buying a Hyundai Sonata, that’s, of course, a relevant question, especially if you live in areas where snow is widespread. Let’s start with a quick answer:

Thanks to all that advanced tech that keeps the Sonata firm, the older models haven’t been great in the snow while the latest models are doing wonders. However, some necessary tweaks are required to reach the maximum potential; but overall, the 2021 Hyundai Sonata is not a bad choice.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We have plenty of more aspects discussed in detail as to whether or not this Sonata is good for you in your regional climate. A front-wheel-drive midsize sedan won’t be like an SUV in terms of its traction; drivetrain, ground clearance, wheelbase, etc., but we will see how much traction we can get from the Hyundai Sonata.

Also read: How Many Miles Can A Hyundai Sonata Last?

Experience Of Hyundai Sonata Owners

First, we feel the urge to let you know what the owners have commented on their American-made Sonata’s drivability in snow. We went through many different forums to give you an insight into what happens when you drive it in snow.

Most people gave positive comments, but there were still several people who have said otherwise. We have taken into account all of them, and after doing some serious calculations on numbers, we will give you the rating for Sonata’s drivability in snow. So let’s dive into the comments section.  

Also read: Types Of Gas A Hyundai Sonata Takes (Explained)

I was coming from an AWD car so I was concerned about the change but I didn’t have any issues. The biggest annoyances were snow build up in the Hyundai badge which would shut off the cruise control and collision warning system until being wiped off, and the front and side cameras having salt build up. 
The badge issue seemed worse a day or two after snow fall when it was melting enough to be splattered up by other cars but not warm enough to melt. I don’t recall any ice issues, or issues with the rear sensors (I try to clear all of the snow off before I drive, and the salt didn’t impact them for me)

BIGGEST ITEM: Clean your headlights fully before you drive, and don’t leave any remnants of snow. Don’t expect the warmth of the bulb to melt snow/ice because they’re LED. One storm last year I had to pull over at night because the lights became coated and so dim I couldn’t see.

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last week or so i drove in some slushy snowy weather. it took very little time for all of my sensors to stop working. the ACC sensor is not heated for whatever reason, so the slush accumulated on it within minutes. which 100% disabled ACC and the front collision detection. there is no warning that the blindspot sensors have stopped working, they simply just won’t ever light up. so that is something that anyone needs to be aware of. the side view cameras did an okay job of remaining clean.

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I know the water pooling in the rear door sills does freeze into a block of ice.

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Some Videos

Hyundai Sonata slipping in the snow (Source) (2:10)

Hyundai Sonata Stuck in Snow (Source)

Does Hyundai Sonata Have Snow Tires?

Form factory, you get the all-season tires, which can do pretty good in all types of weather for sure, but they can’t give traction when you are driving in a lot of snow. No matter what systems you have integrated to prevent your wheels from sliding, you will suffer in winter without snow tires.

If you live in a region that sees a lot of snow, then make sure to put on nice snow tires so the wheels will remain happy with their relationship with the road. Otherwise, they will block their connection with it, and you will lose signal from the road, which will cost you big time.

Why should you go with the snow tires? The normal all-season tires can only work at a temperature above 45 degrees, anything below will result in the rubber getting hard, and hard means no traction. On the other hand, the snow tires give you lots of traction as they remain soft even at cold temperatures.

Moreover, the snow tires have microscopic pores that wick the thin layer of water that starts to melt under the tires. We strongly suggest you put on snow tires before the expected first snowfall because if the snow starts falling before you were to leave the office, then your ride back home will be a memorable one, but not in a good way.

If you want to buy snow tires, we advise you to use Tirerack. They have a great tool that allows you to find the perfect fit for your exact model, so you won’t have to worry about fitment issues. Furthermore, they also offer free shipping on most of their orders. Check out their store here!

According to Hyundai Sonata Owner’s Manual

“If you equip your car with snow tires, they should be the same size and have the same load capacity as the original tires. Snow tires should be installed on all four wheels; otherwise, poor handling may result. Snow tires should carry 4 psi (28 kPa) more air pressure than the pressure recommended for the standard tires on the tire label on the driver’s side of the center pillar or up to the maximum pressure shown on the tire sidewall, whichever is less. Do not drive faster than 75 mph (120 km/h) when your vehicle is equipped with snow tires.

Also read: How Well Does A Hyundai Santa Fe Drive In The Snow?

What Drive System Does A Hyundai Sonata Have?

All the trim levels have front-wheel drive and, yes, even the Sonata N line. Having front-wheel drive is actually not that bad, especially when you want to drive in snow. The 4×4 and all-wheel drive are definitely better, whereas the rear-wheel drive is the worst in snow. 

A vehicle with front-wheel drive is good, and Sonata does have FWD but is it enough? Well, we have many aspects that will decide if the Sonata is a good fit for snow. So let’s look at those factors as well.

Also read: What Transmissions Does A Hyundai Sonata Have?

What Electronics System Help The Hyundai Sonata In The Snow?

Auto Hold

This feature helps keep your Sonata standstill on a slope even when the brakes are not applied. Once the vehicle is at rest, you can push the auto hold button, and the Hyundai Sonata will keep its tires firm on the road.

ECS

ECS stands for Electronic Stability Control. This is one of the most important features that help you maneuver your vehicle in snow. This is the system that saves lives, especially when you are traveling in extreme weather conditions. Keep in mind that cruise control will be disabled when the ECS is in action.

This system is ever needed because so much stuff is being automated, and you are hardly connected with the road.

One way or another, everything has been integrated with electronics, and you won’t be able to tell if the wheels are losing traction. So when the rear end even thinks of going sideways, the ECS kicks in, and the system will maneuver the vehicle in the direction according to the steering input.

In other words, if your steering is tilted to the right, but you are sliding to the left side (understeer), the ECS will make corrections by reducing the speed and adjusting power so that the vehicle can easily go to the right side, just as you originally intended.

Disabling ECS Will Help You In Snow? You should never disable the ESC by any means. There are only two instances where you can turn off the ECS.

  1. If you want to perform the rocking maneuver, where you rock the vehicle back and forth in case you are stuck in snow.
  2. If you want to have an accident.

Other than these two instances, you should never turn it off.

Another system that comes integrated into the ECS is Vehicle Stability Management (VCM). It helps ensure the vehicle stays stable during sudden braking or hard acceleration, whether on slippery mud or very slippery snow. 

ABS

The Anti-lock Braking System is now a standard feature in all modern-day vehicles. Why is ABS so important? This system would ensure that the wheels won’t lock when you slam the brakes, in an emergency, or even in a normal situation. This feature will prevent your tires from sliding, thus increasing traction several notches.

Had it not been for the ABS, hard braking would have locked the wheels while turning and steering at the same time, and if the wheels do get locked and you happen to be turning, then that situation is a recipe for disaster.

You should never disable ABS in any condition. If someone tells you that turning off ABS will help you in the snow, they lie. Without ABS, things will always go sideways.   

Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC)

This is one of the best features that help the driver maintain traction even when going up a slippery slope, which otherwise wouldn’t have been possible to climb. The older models have outdated tech, which won’t perform well. However, the latest models have amazing bells and whistles that make the Sonata drive extremely well, even on the snow.

Some minor problems are going to be dealt with in this article in detail. Make sure you carry out all the necessary improvements. And after you have made all of those improvements, you will be good to go in the snow.

Also read: How Well Does A Hyundai Tucson Drive In The Snow?

Weight Distribution

The weight distribution differs in each trim level, and on top of that, it can differ even among the same trim levels due to different packages and add ons. We will be giving an average front/rear weight distribution.

2021 ModelsWeight Distribution F/R
Hyundai Sonata SE60/40
Hyundai Sonata SEL60/40
Hyundai Sonata SEL Plus57/43
Hyundai Sonata Limited57/43
Hyundai Sonata N line62/38
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid52/48

Because the Sonata is a front-wheel drive, the weight distribution is okay to give you better handling on dry paved roads, but it will experience some understeer when things get slippery.

Also read: 8 Common Problems Of A Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Ground Clearance (in): 5.3

Let’s talk about the ground clearance of our Hyundai Sonata. All the trim levels come with the same ground clearance, 5.3 inches. Now is the ground clearance of the Hyundai Sonata any good for snow?

This is one of those important factors that decide whether you will get traction on snow or not. The sweet spot of ground clearance comes at 8 inches and above. But if you live in an area that sees only a few inches of snow, less than 3-4 inches, then this 5.3 inches is not bad at all.

You will experience issues only when the snow is 8+ inches deep on a powder day. But with good snow tires, you can overcome that snow. Alert! You can easily get stuck on those piles left by the plows on the sides, so make sure to steer clear from those at all costs. You should drive on the tire marks left by other vehicles after the plow. 

Wheelbase (in):111.8

The distance between the front wheels and the rear wheels measured from the center of the wheels is considered a wheelbase. But why is the wheelbase an important factor to the drivability in the snow? Well, understeer is related to the wheelbase.

In simple words, the vehicle will lose traction easier when it has a shorter wheelbase compared to the one with a longer wheelbase. Understeer is a phenomenon where the front wheels are locked with a turning angle, making the contact patch much less, and thus the car will not turn and go straight into the next thing on the road.

You can prevent this by easing off the gas pedal and making peace with the steering by keeping it straight to regain traction. If you try to turn more, then brace for impact. So is the wheelbase of Hyundai Sonata any good for snow? Well, it definitely is one of the shorter wheelbases out there.

It’s not really that great, and because of that, understeer will happen, but to overcome that, the Hyundai Sonata has been given the ESC.

What Traction Device You Can Use On The Hyundai Sonata?

If you live in an area where a lot of snow tends to still be on the road when you’re about to drive, then you can, of course, buy snow chains to provide the car with more grip. In the owner’s manual of the most recent Sonatas, Hyundai gives a few suggestions for these ‘snow traction devices,’ as they like to call them.

For all trim levels of the Sonata, Hyundai suggests using SAE “S” class wire chains. And note that Hyundai advises against using chains on aluminum wheels and, if unavoidable, use the wire type chain less than 0.59 inch (15mm) wide to avoid damage. You can find the one that fits your requirement here on Amazon

Furthermore, Hyundai also suggests installing tire chains on both left and right front tires. It should also be kept in mind that installing tire chains will provide a greater driving force but not prevent side skids. And last but not least, do not install studded tires without first checking local, state, and municipal regulations for possible restrictions against their use.

Happy driving.