When it comes to motor vehicles, safety is an excellent synonym for quality. Certainly, reliability is also a key factor, however, with proper maintenance, the reliability factor of almost any vehicle can be improved. I recently had a first-hand demonstration of how important the strength of construction can be.

Sturdy SUV with a tough frame can be a lifesaverMy daughter, Shannon, had Hyundai Santa Fe, that manufacturer’s middle range SUV.

I must admit, when she purchased the Korean made vehicle, I was skeptical. Who knows how well it is put together? After riding in it a few times, and driving it, I was admittedly impressed with the comfort and handling characteristics. Fuel economy was respectable for the type of vehicle.

She kept up with the routine service specifications, and for three and a half years she drove her Hyundai with no problems. In late January of this year, she broke with routine. Instead of having lunch with co-workers from her office, she decided to go home and check on her dogs during her lunch hour. Her commute is a ten-mile dash up the Interstate, about fifteen minutes door-to-door, leaving her half an hour at home. She let the dogs out for a brief run in the yard while she ate a sandwich, then back on the road to return to work.

The State Department of Transportation is in the process of widening the highway along the stretch she drives daily. The traffic, although heavy, was moving at about sixty miles per hour. To avoid the construction, she was in the farthest left lane. A tractor-trailer rig next to her swerved slightly to avoid an obstruction. Her reaction took her left tires off the pavement onto the earthen median.

As Shannon attempted to pull back onto the paved surface, she apparently over-corrected and fish-tailed several times then lost control. Her Hyundai SUV, typical of the genre, has a high center of gravity. When a high center of gravity vehicle turns sideways at highway speed, the result is often a roll-over. In this case, it was two and one-half rollovers. Her vehicle came to rest blocking two lanes of traffic. It was lying on the leading edge of the hood and the front portion of the roof.

Much of the metal skin of the body was scraped, the hood dented, rear side windows were broken out, the windshield had a large concave indentation but remained in place, both outside mirrors ripped off. For all the impacts it absorbed, the roofline maintained its integrity. Not a single cubic inch of the passenger compartment was compromised. Knowing my daughter was behind the wheel during that wild ride, I was indeed thankful that the Hyundai company starts with a strong frame for their vehicles.

When the rolling stopped, Shannon unbuckled her seatbelt, lowered herself to the inverted roof and attempted to get out. Both front doors were jammed so she crawled into the back seat and exited through the rear door. A slight friction burn on the left side of her neck from hanging in the seat belt was the only injury she sustained. The investigating officer told Shannon her’s was the third similar accident of the day in that stretch of highway. She was not cited.

Would I like to see my daughter purchase another Hyundai? Absolutely! Will I shop Hyundai for my next vehicle? Without question!