Friday, May 12, 2006

2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6 Long-Term Test Update No. 9

2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6 Long-Term Test Update No. 9 January 6, 2006 by West Coast Office / American Auto Press Auto Climate Control, Stability Control and Traction Control are Worth the Extra Coin Our long-term Sonata put on a decent number of miles during the past two (ahem) weeks - OK, were a few days late with the update, give us a break - totaling 359 miles, from 3,565 miles when we dropped it off at the dealership for servicing and to get the scratch removed from its rear passenger-side door, to 3,923 miles, just as Jennifer was driving out of the parking lot to do a bunch of errands this afternoon (or yesterday afternoon as you read this). I suppose I was expecting the odometer to read lower, being that over the Christmas holidays we enjoyed a full-load Sonata GLS V6 (yes, despite having leather seats and other goodies our regular GLS V6 doesnt feature every last bell and whistle) in place of our regular car. While the servicing hardly took a week, we left the long-term car with our Hyundai rep while we tested out the one with all the options. This new car included automatic climate control, adjustable foot pedals, an auto dimming rear view mirror, traction and stability control system, trip computer, garage door opener and compass to our already well-equipped GLS V6. Rather than include comments on this replacement car in the regular log entries, as we werent keeping track of the mileage of a vehicle that we only had in our hands for a single week, well discuss it right now in a collective editorial. Overall, we all feel that the extras that came with this specific car, two of which we believe are essential for safety reasons, the first being electronic stability control, and the second, traction control, make the price to upgrade worth it. We mention stability control first because of its ability to pull an errant driver out of a tricky situation no matter on his or her ability behind the wheel. While the electronic driving aid wont help to claw back a cars velocity any quicker than the ABS-enhanced four-wheel disc brakes can, the latter already standard with our long-term car and all V6-powered Sonatas, it will help keep a skidding car, particularly one that has lost grip at its rear end and is starting to torque sideways, from losing complete control. The day that we tested it might have been the soggiest of the year, but unfortunately there was no snow on the roadway up to the ski hill near the office. No worries, the water was running down the pavement in streamlets, deep enough to pull the front wheels off their trajectory and unsettle the chassis, a bit, but thats where the Sonatas stability control came in. First of all, in order to test it properly, we were driving at speeds that, well, lets just say our men in blue might have been a bit miffed. But still the Sonata performed flawlessly, even when braking heavily mid-turn while going through a rather deep and fast flowing rivulet - dont do this at home... unless youre driving a Sonata GLS V6 with all the trimmings, mind you, in which case, unless you were just plain being stupid and taxing the car way beyond its limit, it would slow in a controlled, efficient manner, setting up the suspension to take the next right sweeping corner that lay ahead, in this particular case. Take-off from standstill is similarly benefited from traction control, which sapped away a little bit of the cars throttle response, but nevertheless helped to keep the front wheels gripping the pavement even under full throttle. Most of us in the office, at least those who drive fast for a living, would rather modulate the throttle ourselves, in most cases, but when its really slippery, such as the snowy conditions we had here on the West Coast recently, traction control certainly removes the guess work when getting out of the driveway is top priority, almost acting like all-wheel drive. As far as the other features go, the automatic climate control is much nicer to use than the manual setup, although it looks much the same, minus the centre fan speed dial, replaced with a digital readout. Being able to set the temperature and have the system do the rest is nicer than constantly modulating the dial. While Trevor and Rob could hardly care about the power actuated foot pedals, for Jennifer and Alexandra the feature made a big difference. "I was able to get the steering wheel and seat in the optimal positions for comfort and control," commented Jennifer. "Usually when my arms are in the proper, slightly bent 9 oclock, 3 oclock positions, my ears are up by the steering wheel. Not so with the power adjustable pedals." The automatic dimming rearview mirror is one of those frivolous extras, or at least we thought so until having to live without it. Its nice not having to reach up and click the dimming switch when someones lights blind from behind at night. Often the mirror just stays dimmed out of laziness to switch it back, which means that vision is impaired during the daytime. What we like about the auto dimming mirror is that while driving at night during a moment when there arent any lights shining into it, the image reflecting is brighter than a mirror that has been switched to the dimming setting manually. So, in effect, its probably a bit safer overall. Theres an integrated compass set right into the glass of the mirror, whatever, while the trip computer took care of remedial items, such as distance traveled and approximate distance before the need to fuel. We didnt try the garage door opener, because we dont have a garage door, but our collective guess is that it works fine. And now, before someone in the office has something more to add, or even worse, sends a last minute email about some new obscure award that the Sonata has won (OK, AJACs Car of the Year, Kiplingers "Best in Class", Sobre Ruedas Magazine "Best Sedan 2005 Award Winner", Popular Mechanics "Automotive Excellence Award", and many of the other awards mentioned - and some yet to be mentioned Im sure - are hardly obscure), lets get on with the log entries: Odometer: 3,570 miles Trevor: Picked the car up and I dont think Ive seen it so clean since it was new. I love it when dealers clean a car when theyre finished servicing it. The scratch is gone, thank goodness, and all is right again. Odometer: 3,580 miles Jennifer: Yeah, its near perfectly clean in here. But just the same, before it was polished up and shampooed back to pristine condition, I was impressed with how well the light gray carpeting looked cleaner than the dirt on it should have allowed. The same for the seats; and on that subject all you mothers out there might ask your husbands to buck up for the leather, because its oh so easy to clean. Odometer: 3,611 miles Trevor: Yeah, I want that auto climate control back, and the automated rearview mirror. Kaden (5) liked the compass, thought it was cool. Im OK without the traction control, but the stability control would make me feel safer when driving faster than I should be in wet weather. Its not that the Sonata has ever broken traction and started sliding, but more of a, "I know its there if I need it thing." Odometer: 3,627 miles Jennifer: Understood. Im missing the power actuated pedals. Never really found the Sonata to be uncomfortable before, but now that Ive tried those handy pedals Im wishing for the upgrade. If any of our readers are 55" or under, they should probably opt for this feature. Odometer: 3,674 miles Jennifer: Not unlike most holiday seasons, were doing a lot of inner-city traveling to visit family. The Sonata has become the vehicle of choice merely because it fits so many of us inside (5 in total, but two in child safety seats and one, somewhat squeezed, in the middle rear position). The other car Trevor booked for this week, a totally selfish move on his part, is a Lexus IS 350, which, while very nice, is too small for a family our size. Odometer: 3,741 miles Trevor: Now that were talking about the IS 350, I couldnt help but notice how much the two cars look alike, at least from the rear. I dont think that either brand copied the other, first because Lexus would never try to emulate Hyundai, no matter how good the Sonata looks, and neither car company would have had access to any of the other brands preliminary drawings (both cars were kept well under wraps for the last few years, when they would have been in final development stages). Its just great minds thinking alike, and while there are obvious differences, the Sonata featuring larger taillights, for instance, the basic shape of these are remarkably similar. The fact that both cars in my driveway are painted in a deep hue of blue didnt hurt the comparison, and the coincidence that both badges are situated high on the trunk lid, oval in shape and decorated in chrome. Speaking of oval, the Sonatas tailpipe tips might even look racier than the IS 350s circular ones, but lets stop the comparison there, as these are two very different cars attempting to reach two very different customers. But they both look fabulous, and are so good at what theyre designed to do. Odometer: 3,752 miles Alexandra: Took the Sonata while picking up our weekly testers, and am reminded of how wonderfully comfortable the big sedan is. Yes, its big compared to the cars I normally drive (relegated to entry-level models due to my entry-level age). The Sonata is so smooth, though, and so refined compared to compact models. I can see why people would want to move up from, say, an Accent or Elantra, or any rival brands subcompact or compact model. The ride is so refined, and engine so powerful. Gee, can I borrow the car more often? Odometer: 3,838 miles Jennifer: Oops. Its been awhile since I made a log entry, or for that matter, since anyone else has either. Oh well, its not like the Sonata has been sitting in the garage or anything. Actually, its getting more use than ever, zipping around town as our prime holiday shuttle. I heard those squeaking brakes again, but Trevor tells me that this isnt a problem so Im not going to worry about it. Odometer: 3,876 miles Trevor: I thought I had another prize for the Sonata trophy case when I found the Good Housekeeping Institute "What Women Want" Automotive Satisfaction Award for the entry midsize car category, when I was googling the net, but drat, its for last years car. But then, after a little more digging I found out that the new 2006 Hyundai Sonata beat Hondas Accord and Toyotas Camry, what are considered its, and every other midsize contenders primary competitors in the midsize sedan segment, and took first place in an Inside Line comparison test on July 17, 2005. There it is. I found the Sonata award of the week! Odometer: 3,894 miles Jennifer: Someone really should take you out more often, Trevor. As for me, I dont need someone else to tell me that the Sonata should win an award. Its won us over easily enough for all the reasons we tout week after week. Odometer: 3,924 miles Trevor: And with that, its off to Detroit on Saturday for the big kahuna of auto shows, the North American International Auto Show, live at Cobo Hall. Will the Sonata take home any more awards there? Hmmm... tough to say, but likely. Me? I think that Hyundai might take home a prize from an altogether different segment. What am I referring to? Check in on Jan 8 for a preview of something that I think will be defined as even more refined than the Sonata. It just keeps getting better and better, doesnt it? Source:

2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6 Long-Term Test Update No. 7

2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6 Long-Term Test Update No. 7 December 6, 2005 by West Coast Office / American Auto Press Yet More Awards for Our Long-Term Sonata Ever heard of the Kiplinger Awards? Its offered by a prestigious New York personal finance magazine that goes by the same name, and due to the publications focus on optimizing value winning one is a major coup for Hyundai. The new Sonata that we revere on a bi-weekly basis earned "Best in Class" and "Best New Car" categories from Kiplingers, now published in the December 2005 issue. The magazines senior editor Mark K. Solheim was extremely positive in his remarks. "It has classy good looks and is surprisingly refined. It also has the most standard safety features in its category," said Solheim. And in case you were wondering, Kiplingers test didnt just pick through a smaller group of all-new models, but rather focused on all vehicles in the midsize category, including Toyotas Camry, Hondas recently updated Accord, Nissans Altima, and the all-new Ford Fusion. Altogether, 45 new models went up for the awards. "Walking off with both trophies, pitted against some tough new competition in the mid-size car segment, says we hit a home run and touched all the bases, including safety, performance, value and fuel efficiency," commented a spokesperson from Hyundai. "This recognition from Kiplingers will help consumers make the right midsize car choice." Continuing on the trophy front, and this time north of the border, the Sonata also managed to garner this years Natural Resources Canada EnerGuide Award for large cars. As the name implies, this honor goes to the Sonata due to its fuel-efficiency among full-size cars, thanks to a base four-cylinder engine. No other large car offers a four-cylinder engine in base trim - the Camry and Accord are considered midsize cars - so the award, given to the Sonata GL four-cylinder, is a natural fit. "We are delighted to be receiving Natural Resources Canadas 2006 EnerGuide Award for fuel-efficiency ," said Steve Kelleher, Hyundai Auto Canadas President and C.E.O. "Thanks to advanced Hyundai engineering and technology, obtaining optimum fuel efficiency doesnt mean sacrificing interior spaciousness or power by purchasing a smaller vehicle. While being extremely fuel-efficient, the 2006 Sonata GL also develops 162 horsepower and offers the most spacious interior in its class." Kelleher has a point, in that the fuel efficient four-cylinder Sonata is still enjoyable to drive while delivering a fuel consumption rating of 25 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. "Although we have made fuel-efficiency a priority, the 2006 Hyundai Sonata over-delivers by combining unsurpassed fuel consumption with top-of-the-line performance, comfort, reliability, quality and safety," added Hyundai Auto Canadas Director of Marketing, Peter Renz. How do those marketing guys always manage to summarize a cars key selling points in one simple sentence? Just the same, weve experienced decent fuel economy from the V6 as well, and theres no way wed be willing to sacrifice all that forward thrust to save a few pennies at the pump (irate environmentalists please write to OK, were just having a little fun. Hybrids are welcome in these pages too, as regular readers are no doubt aware. And before the hole gets any deeper, here are the latest test logs: Odometer: 3,162 miles Trevor: Phoned Hyundai and the Sonata isnt due for its first checkup for a few more miles are passed. Stay tuned for some words on our dealer experience. Jennifer, do you want to take it in? Odometer: 3,163miles Jennifer: Not likely. Odometer: 3,195 miles Trevor: Why wont something break on this car so that I have something interesting to write about? Im sure thats not a common wish among Sonata owners, but they might as well settle into a rather uneventful ownership experience, at least as far as problems. I had a Lexus recently, and the seatbelt got jammed. The first time I was able to fiddle with it and something dislodged, making it operable again. The last time there was no way it was coming undone, so it remained parked and the Sonata got all of our seat time. Is this why the Hyundai finally beat out Lexus for Consumer Reports most reliable pick with last years Sonata? Dont get me wrong. Ive never had a problem with a Lexus before, and doubt I will for sometime in the distant future. Odometer: 3,239 miles Trevor: I had a Mercedes C280 this week, and despite its fancy seven-speed automatic transmission the Sonata kills it in acceleration tests. I wont go so far to say by how much, as it would be the last Mercedes Id get in a long time, but suffice to say that the Sonatas throttle response is what makes the initial difference. My guess is that Hyundai is being very conservative in the engines 235-horsepower rating. It feels a lot faster than the numbers suggest. Odometer: 3,269 miles Alexandra: Yeah, Trevor is right. This car hauls. I was driving the new H3 this week and, well, the word week, spelt "weak" comes to mind. I didnt test them side-by-side, but as cool as the Hummer looks its a slow-poke in comparison to the Sonata. But the H3 has better heated seats, which might be even more important to me. Actually, most cars offer multi-level heated seats, when any are offered, making the Sonatas one-way on-off seats a bit on the plebian side. Theyre also a little slow to heat up, but in this regard theyre quicker than that Lexus Trevor was talking about. These took forever to get warm. Odometer: 3,293 miles Trevor: "The weather outside is frightful..." yes, that means snow, and lots of it for this part of the world. That also means cold weather testing the Sonata GLS V6, a model that I might remind you doesnt come with traction or stability control! No worries, as long as youre light on the throttle and keep sideward movement to a minimum - i.e. smooth-on, smooth-off. The Sonata, with its stock all-season tires, grips the snow without too much slip-sliding away (whats with the lame song references anyway), and doesnt seem to get out of shape when pulling away. The car reminds me of days gone by when electronic driver aids were just figments in automotive engineers imaginations. I learned how to drive my old V8-powered rear-wheel drive cars in the snow without problem, so something as well-balanced as the Sonata is a breeze. Still, traction control would have made it just that much easier, and stability control would make it possible to drive without thinking, and that is, after all, the objective, right? OK, silliness aside, those not quite as comfortable negotiating the white stuff might want to buck up for the more expensive but still reasonably priced Sonata GLS V6 with the Premium package. Standard braking is ABS-equipped, mind you, making controlled stops in the snow reasonably safe. I say reasonably because, even with a top-tier ABS system if theres no traction between the tires and the road surface the car will not react to input in a predictable manner. Odometer: 3,333 miles Jennifer: Ive got no problem with the Sonata in the snow. Just put it in drive and go. Like Trevor said, youve got to make a few adjustments to compensate for lost grip, but as long as youre careful it moves along without concern. And theres also the benefit of a smoother ride (thanks to the soft snow) and reduced interior noise (less tire noise and added roof insulation when a few inches of the white stuff is stuck on-top). Odometer: 3,341 miles Trevor: Had to get downtown to the bus station to pick up my daughter and chose the Sonata over the Mercedes because it is so much quicker and easier to drive fast. Whats wrong with this sentence? Well, its true. Got to the station on time (which is a bit of a miracle unto itself) and was able to drive home at a more leisurely pace. Odometer: 3,365 miles Trevor: Thats horrible. Someone keyed the rear passenger-side door. Ive seen worse scratches, but why deface a Hyundai Sonata? Does this car look rich enough to tick off the have-nots? I guess so. I suppose Hyundai should take this as a compliment. My guess is that a Rio or Spectra wouldnt get the key treatment. Still, its ruined the beautiful blue paint job, and now requires me to take it into the dealer to have the scratch fixed. If the perp is out there reading this (which I highly doubt because a person who is stupid enough to key a car most likely cant read)... youre a jerk! Odometer: 3,424 miles Jennifer: Was testing a car today that didnt have heated seats, and I dont care what anyone else says about the deficiencies of the Sonatas bun warmers, theyre better than having none at all. Odometer: 3,456 miles Trevor: Ive spoken ad nauseam about the Sonatas quick off-the-line acceleration, but thats not the cars most impressive power-related attribute. I was passing a highway truck on a two-lane highway today and its 50+ mph acceleration was absolutely shocking. Again, I dont believe Hyundais horsepower specs are accurate, or maybe its competitors are bending the rules a bit in their favor. This thing is fast. Odometer: 3,494 miles Trevor: Wow, weve been driving a lot more during this two-week period... oops, two and half week period. All too often the Sonata has become our default transportation because it fits in the two car seats with room left over for our twelve-year old in the middle, its trunk is large enough to hall the stroller, groceries and all the stuff we picked up at the mall, its comfortable and still is pretty fun to drive. Source:

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6 Long-Term Test Update No. 6

2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6 Long-Term Test Update No. 6 November 18, 2005 by West Coast Office / American Auto Press Winning Accolades and Awards During the previous two-week period with our long-term Sonata GLS V6 tester it was the most popular car in the garage, racking up an unprecedented (for any long-term car) 641 miles. This last two-week period sets another record, but in contrast due to its lack of use. Actually, were quite stunned that weve only managed to add 142 miles to the odometer in this time period, but a combination of short trips off to local eateries and days spent at the airport parking lot, plus a variety of really interesting cars (one of which was a certain Hyundai Azera) that needed more of my attention, meant that we were only able to reach a total of 3,151 miles. Our staff was digging around the internet this week looking for some fodder for various reviews, and noticed that a magazine we do some work with has given our trusty Sonata top marks, naming it "Best 2005 Award Winner" in the sedan category, which puts it ahead of all rival 2005 models such as Toyotas Camry, Hondas Accord, Chevys Impala and Malibu, Mitsubishis Galant, Fords Five Hundred and Mercury Montego, plus Chryslers 300, etc. This should come as wonderful news to Hyundai, because the magazine, Sobre Ruedas, reaches more Spanish language readers than any other dedicated automotive publication - publishing 650,000 issues per month. That readership, by the way, out-strips the majority of dedicated car magazines numbers, giving this rather new publication some serious weight in the industry. Why did it win? According to a press release, "The all-new Sonata was designed with safety as a priority, with class-leading standard safety content including, six airbags (front, seat-mounted side-impact and side curtain), active front headrests, ABS with Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Traction Control System (TCS), and for the first time in the mid-size sedan segment, standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC). The 2006 Hyundai Sonata features a refined, sophisticated exterior styling with a spacious, comfortable cabin with increased legroom, headroom, and shoulder room that classifies it in the governments EPA as a large car. In addition to all that value, the all-new Sonata is protected by the Hyundai Advantage, Americas Best Warranty. According to Mr. Jaime Florez, Sobre Ruedas Magazine publisher, all these factors contributed to Sonatas win as Best Sedan 2005." No wonder we like this car so much. Previous to the Sobre Ruedas award, another popular magazine voted in favor of the Sonata for safetys sake. Popular Mechanics magazine gave the new Sonata its Automotive Excellence Award for safety, citing its many standard safety features previously only available at no extra charge on premium vehicles. "The Sonata truly merits the Popular Mechanics Automotive Excellence Award for safety because it offers a full complement of both active and passive safety features as standard equipment in every model," said Don Chaikin, automotive editor, Popular Mechanics. "By expanding the universe of automotive safety from the luxury end of the market to the very affordable, every-man end, the Sonata has broken new ground and crushed what amounted to very real market barriers." While not awards, accolades are also worth noting, and most major magazines and web portals are hot on Hyundais new midsize sedan. So, it seems like were not alone in thinking that the Sonata is a good bet, and with that well leave you with our somewhat abbreviated log notes: Odometer: 3,022 miles Trevor: Its Saturday and Ive actually absconded for the afternoon, off to my favorite electronics store to see whats new and possibly buy that 5-, 6- or even 8-color photo printer that Ive been wanting for so long. It seems that printers are kind of like car transmissions, the more colors (or gears) the more revered. And like a true enthusiast, a 5-color printer would never do. I dont need a fancy view screen, pretty useless anyway, but I want the best print quality possible. I suppose, like automatic transmissions especially, the more forward gears offered, the smoother the shift process and greater optimization of available power; shorter intervals between gears allowing an engine to maintain its "sweet spot", or more technically, the rev range where the engine is producing maximum output. This performance enhancer also improves fuel economy, because sixth gear is a tall overdrive, allowing for really low revs during highway cruising. So where does the Sonata fit into the transmission ranking system? It occupies middle ground, better than most and not quite as sophisticated as some. For instance, most of the cars its up against from General Motors, such as the Chevy Malibu and Impala, Buick Allure, and Pontiac G6, only offer four-speed automatic gearboxes, and then most dont feature manual mode shift capability. Most of the Japanese offer five-speed units, including Toyotas Camry, Hondas Accord and Nissans Altima, while Mitsubishis Galant still makes due with a manual-mode four-speed and Mazdas 6, on the other hand, offers a sophisticated Aisin six-speed automatic. The other six-speed automatics available in the entry-level midsize segment come from Volkswagen and its new Jetta and Passat sedans, plus Ford, with its larger than midsize Five Hundred and sleek looking new Fusion. As for the color printer, I went home not being able to find what I wanted at the electronics store after an annoying salesman tried to tell me I needed all the useless electronic gizmos that pushed the price of a six-color printer over $150, compared to the same printer without the extra features for $80 - he didnt have that one, you see. Sounds like I was talking to a pushy car salesman right? Its ironic how the lessons learned by car salespeople over the years, which have resulted in much more pleasant purchasing experiences, are lost on other industries that previously were less pushy. During my drive home I couldnt help but think about how much I like the new trend of multi-speed transmissions, and how this particular five-speed unit works so effortlessly, shifting so smoothly that its almost imperceptible unless on full throttle. Nice. Odometer: 3,052 miles Jennifer: Talk about a long entry... obviously Trevor was still hiding out in the car and not wanting to face the kids, or maybe me... hmmm... enough time for introspection later. Now Ive got to complain about this car not having automatic climate control. While the manual system works well, its a pain to modulate the fan speed, temperature and everything else, when Im used to just setting a temperature and having the system do the rest. Of course, not all automatic climate control systems work as well as they should, but for the most part they work better than me fussing about with a manual system. Can a person buy this car with auto climate control? Odometer: 3,077 miles Trevor: Yes, the car we have is appears fully loaded at first sight, being that leather covers the seats and trim, but theres a Premium package that can be had that features auto climate control, plus a garage door opener, an auto dimming rearview mirror, adjustable foot pedals, a stability control system, traction control, a compass and a trip computer. I tried these systems during the launch in San Francisco, and would personally buck up the extra $1,400 in a heartbeat in order to get the traction and stability control system alone, let alone the auto climate control and handy auto dimming rearview mirror. Im actually surprised Hyundais PR department put this car on the press fleet without it, but most likely they had a car given to them and it was either take it or leave it. I certainly would like to have the other options to talk about in the test logs, but such is not the case. So take my advice, if you have the extra change a month it will cost you, opt for the Premium package and enjoy the next three to four years even more. Youll probably end up getting most of the money back when you sell the car anyway, as fully loaded cars are worth more and sell faster than those with fewer features. Odometer: 3,109 miles Cool, my 12 year old daughter Julia and (almost) five year old son Kaden witnessed the odometer change from 4,999 km to 5,000 km... major odometer increments always big events in the Hofmann home. Just another Sunday, kids off to friends houses after church and Dad running around before dinner to pick them all up. Odometer: 3,128 miles Jennifer: I just want to say that I would choose to drive the Sonata, which I just took to a meeting across town, over the new Mercedes-Benz R-Class that Ive had all week. The Sonata is so easy to drive that I dont have to think about it. It just comes naturally. OK, there are a few things. Other than the radio controls, everything is where it should be. Ive already gone on at length about the inability to change radio stations on the steering wheel mounted controls, and I think that I also mentioned that its only a single-disc player when most cars in this class offer a six-disc unit, but it is also lacking a "mode" button on the steering wheel, so you cant change from AM/FM or over to a CD without taking your eyes off the road and onto the radio head unit that sits high on the centre stack. Thank goodness its up high where viewing it is easier, but Im still unsure why Hyundai put all this effort into audio buttons but only went halfway in doing so. OK, enough about that already. Odometer: 3,151 miles Trevor: Yeah, enough already about the steering wheel mounted audio controls. Obviously, not all such features are created equally, and I have admit that Im in agreement that they are not even close to the best Ive tried in this department. But the number of times this particular complaint has been raised speaks more about the fact that the Sonata is pretty well faultless in every other area. Sure, I had that problem with the power seat control, when the horizontal button fell off of its mount, but I pressed it back into position and it hasnt budged since. Ive complained a bit about the somewhat bland dash design, especially the center stack, but this is an issue about styling which is really a personal matter, isnt it? The fact is, Toyotas Camry doesnt exactly light up the senses with regards to interior design either, and no one seems to be complaining about that. Like the Toyota, this Sonata provides extremely good materials quality, excellent fit and finish and, so far, absolutely perfect reliability. While the odometer has only just broken 3,000 miles, thats a pretty good start. admit that Im in agreement that they are not even close to the best Ive tried in this department. But the number of times this particular complaint has been raised speaks more about the fact that the Sonata is pretty well faultless in every other area. Sure, I had that problem with the power seat control, when the horizontal button fell off of its mount, but I pressed it back into position and it hasnt budged since. Ive complained a bit about the somewhat bland dash design, especially the center stack, but this is an issue about styling which is really a personal matter, isnt it? The fact is, Toyotas Camry doesnt exactly light up the senses with regards to interior design either, and no one seems to be complaining about that. Like the Toyota, this Sonata provides extremely good materials quality, excellent fit and finish and, so far, absolutely perfect reliability. While the odometer has only just broken 3,000 miles, thats a pretty good start. Source:

2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6 Long-Term Test Update No. 5

2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6 Long-Term Test Update No. 5 November 2, 2005 by West Coast Office / American Auto Press EPA Fuel Economy Winner! A couple of weeks ago, as part of the Sonata GLS V6s fourth long-term update, we took a look at its top-tier five-star NHTSA NCAP crash test results, not too shabby. Today, the good news comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), rating the new Sonata number one in fuel economy among large cars. Yes, in case you werent aware, the Sonata is so roomy its classified as a large car, not a midsize, although from a maneuverability standpoint it doesnt feel any larger than the cars its up against in the midsize segment. The EPA winner is the entry-level four-door, sporting a 2.4-liter four-cylinder thats actually quite a bit peppier than initially expected. Of course, to meet the EPAs 24 mpg city and 34 mpg highway rating, any thoughts about brisk acceleration would have to be subdued. The same would be true for the V6-powered Sonata, the subject of this long-term test, which incidentally achieves 20 mpg in the city and 33 on the highway - not bad either - and that with an automatic transmission; the EPA winning car featured a five-speed manual. Does this mean it uses less fuel on average than a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry? Well, not exactly. The Accord manages 26 mpg in the city and 37 on the highway, which is noticeably better, while the Camrys 24 mpg city and 36 mpg highway rating is closer to the Sonatas. What it does mean, however, is that neither the Accord nor Camry qualify as a large car - that despite the Sonatas lower price - and the added roominess makes a big difference when the rear seats are filled up. The fact that there is only negligible difference in fuel economy ratings, gives Hyundai the advantage with all but the stingiest of consumers. In reality, the Sonata beats out its own Azera, also classified as a large car, Buicks Le Sabre, Chryslers 300, Dodges Charger, Fords Five Hundred and Toyotas Avalon, among others. So which model is thriftier than the Accord and Camry in the midsize class? The Toyota Prius, which is designated a midsize model due to its accommodating interior. We left you two weeks ago with the Sonatas odometer reading 2,367 miles, and now a total of 3,009 miles have ticked by, meaning that weve driven 642 miles in two weeks. Thats a long way, but once again they were largely uneventful kilometers. The car drove flawlessly, everything working as needed, and therefore theres little to report. Unfortunately, and fortunately, depending on your point of view, Hyundai was only able to supply a partially loaded GLS V6, so there are fewer specific features to talk about, but what makes this good is that the majority of Sonata buyers will purchase their cars the way this one is equipped, making what we have to say more relevant. Therefore, the log entries follow: Odometer: 2,389 miles Trevor: Once again I find myself behind the wheel of our long-term Sonata, comfortable, relaxed and enjoying the drive home. Sports talk radio is on, my hockey team is winning lately so theres a good vibe had by all, football team is in a slump but I can get over that, were still in first place, and whenever they start talking baseball, unless its about the Padres, Ive got a the FM dial to turn to, and the odd song worth listening to. Id really like a plug-in for my iPod, but no external plug exists so Im relegated to burning MP3 CDs. That said, it wouldnt take my old, scratched best of Bowie MP3 CD - unreadable. Alexandra swears this thing plays MP3s, so Ill have to take her word for it; the kid couldnt lie if her life depended on it. Either that, or shes got me fooled. Odometer: 2,418 miles Jennifer: While weve had a lot of interesting new cars and SUVs to test recently, many dont fit the child safety seats in back as well as the Sonata. Therefore, rather than test out something faster, more luxurious, or even better, optioned out with a DVD-player to keep the kids happy, Ive been taking the Sonata. The problem doesnt lie with any lack of rear seat room on the part of the other vehicles, but rather the design of the headrests. The Chevy Impala, for instance, features all-in-one built-in headrests, that unfortunately stick out too far to hug the child seatbacks, making them flop around and therefore rendering them useless. The new Jeep Commanders headrests are designed to flip down and forward when folding the seats. While handy when stowing, you cant move them up and down like regular headrests, and neither car seat would fit underneath resulting in the same problem as with the Impala. These werent the only offenders, but you get the point. Odometer: 2,463 miles Trevor: Driving over to my Moms to lend a hand. Nice night for a drive, not raining and the traffics light. With regards to what Jennifer was saying, I wish that more automakers would spend time with child safety seats before finalizing the design of rear seats. I cant believe that the Commander, a brand new family vehicle, wont fit them in properly. This would frustrate me to no end if Id just spent $30 to $40K on a new SUV. So, make sure and bring your child seats down to the dealership before bucking up for the new ride. Odometer: 2,548 miles Jennifer: Trevor took the Sonata and I got stuck with the Impala. Wow, its easy to see why GM is losing market share to the Asians. The Impala is a mid-cycle upgrade, looking almost entirely like a new car, but it seems so outdated compared to the Sonata. And Im not just talking about styling or interior design, its how it feels on the road. The Sonata feels more stable, delivers a smoother ride and much more power than the Impala (although Ive heard the Impala now comes with a V8). Still, the Hyundai is more refined overall, feeling like a much more expensive car even though it costs less. Odometer: 2,594 miles Trevor: I couldnt agree with Jennifer more, but have to say I liked the Impalas center stack a lot. Still, add two additional years of bumper-to-bumper warranty to all the things Jennifer mentioned, plus more interior room and reliability that should be higher than average, if Consumer Reports top rating on last years model is any indication of how well the new version will stand up, and the Sonata is a smarter bet. Odometer: 2,678 miles Trevor: I know that this Sonata comes equipped with traction control, but it still spins out when taking off in the wet, at least at first. It locks up the wheels in a few moments and then takes off, but some may find its initial reaction a little disconcerting. The trick, of course, is to go lighter on the throttle, but this is hard with this car as its just so much fun to drive quickly. Here I though I was getting a nice, sedate family sedan, and that my drivers license wouldnt be in jeopardy. No, the Sonata is hardly sedate. Maybe the powers that be will exchange this one for a four-cylinder automatic? No, just kidding Mr. Hyundai. Odometer: 2,766 miles Jennifer: I sure get a lot of compliments on the styling of this car. I have to admit that it looks nice, but its a midsize family sedan after all. How exciting can that really be? Still, people like it... a lot of people. Its funny how you can start liking something more when other people compliment you on it, you know what I mean? Odometer: 2,842 miles Trevor: The Sonata may have sat at Park n Fly all week, but it was nice to come home to. The car I flew to New York to drive, Lincolns new Zephyr, might have featured nicer appointments, softer touch interior plastics, cooler interior styling and an upscale badge, but its exterior styling isnt any more attractive, it didnt ride much better, its powertrain wasnt as refined and didnt offer any more room front or back. Whats more, the Sonata pulls away from stoplights with more vigor, features a manu-matic shifter and, oh yes, costs about $10K less. Hey, I really like the new Lincoln and think it poses good value in the entry-level luxury segment, but the Sonata is so much car for the money that its hard to beat. Odometer: 2,928 miles Jennifer: Good to have the Sonata back. To think that Trevor had it parked at the airport for almost a week and I was stuck struggling with car seats that needed pillows stuffed in behind to keep from tossing around. Who designs these things anyway? They should add a few moms into the mix during product planning to point out one or two things that really matter. I was able to pop the car seats into the back of the Hyundai, lift the headrests, and slot them underneath with everything fitting together like it was made to measure. The simple things in life bring such joy. Odometer: 2,993 miles Jennifer: One more thing... the seat heater only has one setting, which isnt good enough in my not so humble opinion. Its either on, or off, hot or cold. Most in this class offer a two- or three-way heated seat system, with some, like Chryslers Sebring and Volkswagens Jetta, optioned out with six-increment heaters. While but warmers dont necessarily define a car in the same way that cupholders are hardly critical to a vehicles longevity, they do enhance quality of life. I vote for multi-stage seat warmers, Hyundai, none of this white-black, all or nothing, hot-cold stuff. Trevor: Being that I walked out to the car to read the odometer on a cold, rainy night, I get the last word. Now, do I have anything relevant to say? Not really... just that the Sonata is wearing in well. All the complaints Ive read, and any Ive had personally are more or less trivial in comparison to the gripes Ive had about many other cars, some of which fight it out in the Sonatas mid- to large-size segment. I took home a new Hyundai Azera yesterday... what a car. First of all, I personally like the Sonatas overall exterior styling much more, but this said I would much rather spend time inside the Azera, what with its higher grade materials, quieter ambience, cloth-lined pillars, and much more attractive dash design. The seats are to-die-for comfortable, the ride is sublime and the general feel of the car is much more upscale than its Hyundai badge lets on. The Azera wheels are also gorgeous, and would look fabulous on our Sonata GLS V6 - is that swap possible? Probably not... at least not unless a great deal of money changed hands. The Azera made one thing very clear to me, however; that Hyundai hasnt merely fluked out with the Sonata, being that all of its new vehicles are winners. This quickly became apparent after driving the new Tucson, and Ive heard that the Accent is also a class leader. Next will come a new Elantra and Santa Fe (not necessarily in that order), and Im really looking forward to seeing how much better these vehicles get over the current versions - which are still very competitive in their own classes. This is a brand worth watching. Source:

Monday, May 08, 2006

2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6 Long-Term Test Update No. 4

2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6 Long-Term Test Update No. 4 West Coast Office: 10/19/2005 Only One Glitch Makes Sonata "Uneventful" Ride - A Good Thing! The rainy season is settling in on Vancouver (I can you laughing out loud as you wonder when it doesn't rain in the Terminal City, but it really isn't In the rainy season, the Sonata is substantial enough so that the water just parts as we drive on through, no commotion, and no uneasiness. as bad as the naysayers report), making me glad our long-term tester isn't a small, cramped sports car or anything too light. The puddles can build up next to Highway 1's medians, and others, like small lakes, and if a car doesn't roll along with authority it'll get pushed and pulled around in a disconcerting manner. The Sonata is substantial enough so that the water just parts as we drive on through, no commotion, and no uneasiness. I know I've got little to worry about, with its five-star NHTSA NCAP crash test results and all, but truthfully I draw the line with just how far I'm willing to test out every aspect of a given car. And now, with 2,367 miles on the odometer it's time to let you know if anything happened during the last two weeks and 448 miles. As follows, the log entries: Odometer: 1,948 miles Jennifer: I think the word for my day, and this car, should be "uneventful". I don't mean this in a negative way, as the Sonata has been flawless, for me, so far. It's just a vehicle that doesn't put up a big fuss; it doesn't overtax a driver's attention. You get in, you drive, and you're comfortable, warm, and unruffled. It's quick enough when called upon, roomy enough for everyone and their gear, everything is so easy to operate that the word "intuitive" comes to mind. So, not boring, not adrenaline inducing... but just right. Odometer: 1,982 miles Trevor: Wow, reading over Jennifer's last log entry and I think she put my feelings into words too. I really like this car, and it's been a faultless The Sonata has all the power I need while handling corners with surprising agility, rain or shine. performer. Its totally comfortable, completely accommodating, and even has all the power I need while handling corners with surprising agility, rain or shine. Personally, I would like traction and stability control, especially this time of year, but realize that I didn't order this car from the factory or even choose it from a dozen or so at a local Hyundai dealership, but rather accepted it from Hyundai Canada as is. Such features are available on the fully loaded car that I requested, but alas none was available. Odometer: 2,024 miles Trevor: Ah! A problem! The power seat kept sliding all the way forward and crushing me against the steering wheel, as if it had a mind of its own I really appreciated the calm, almost serene environment inside the Sonata. It's so quiet in here, blocking all the honking, hawking and other "H" words that go on in the city's core. and wanted to do me in. Fiddling around with the control mechanism, a long button attached to the base of the driver's seat, a noticed that it was askew. Somehow, it had come off of its moorings and was jammed into the forward movement position. I pulled it off, lined it up properly and snapped it back into place. No harm, no worries. Someone's shoe probably knocked it out of place just before I stepped inside, and there lies the problem. So far, this is the only "eventful" issue with our Sonata. Odometer: 2,069 mile Trevor: Jenn's got an SUV with a TV for the kids this week, so I've been driving the Sonata a lot more than usual. This is good, although she puts a lot more miles on any given car because of activities for the kids, shopping, etc. I tend to park my butt on my office chair and, you guessed it, write. But on the occasion that I need to run downtown for a meeting with a publisher, like I did today, I really appreciated the calm, almost serene environment inside the Sonata. It's so quiet in here, blocking all the honking, hawking and other "H" words that go on in the city's core, making me glad I live in such peace and tranquility on the North Shore. If construction equipment manages to break through the sound deadening materials in the Sonata's roof, doors, floor, etc, the audio system is up to the job of blocking it out. I stock a good supply of relaxing music, as well as head banging rock on hand, but have to admit to wishing I could plug my iPod in somewhere. Where is that accessory plug Hyundai? Hmmm... maybe next year's Sonata will have it. Odometer: 2,136 miles Jennifer: Did I mention that this car is fast? This is a good thing, of course, but it also burns out at every stoplight if I'm not careful. Just think of it. A A just-turned thirty stay-at-home mom, two kids in child safety seats in back, and two strips of black rubber left on the pavement after leaving a busy intersection. While some kids in the audience might think that I'm a pretty cool mom, I'm really a pretty embarrassed mom, especially when do-gooders pull up at the next stoplight looking over at me in disapproval. I cower, hoping that no one will recognize me, happy that I'm only known through print and cyberspace, with not with a photo attached. Traction control would be much appreciated! Odometer: 2,246 miles Jennifer: The trunk is... HUGE! Which is a good and bad thing. It's good, because I can fit pretty well anything within reason in there. It's bad because I let it fill up with what-have-you and therefore can never fit in anything that I need to in the spur of the moment. For instance, I had a stroller, a tall set of plastic drawers, a bag of top soil, a flat of pansies, and the rail to a bunk bed, with room still to spare. But when trying to stuff my rather large Sears catalog order in, it wouldn't go. Therefore, the front seat became a trunk extension and my daughter was squeezed in between the two child safety seats, in back. Odometer: 2,289 miles Trevor: I get so many compliments on the styling of this car that I'm starting to like it even more than I initially did. My brother in law said - during our week-late Thanksgiving dinner - that he had never liked Hyundai's before, but that this one really looked good. Better than any of the Japanese cars that it competes against. So, I'm proud to be seen behind the wheel of my Sonata. Trevor gave the Sonata to Alexandra this week, and put me in a new 2006 Chevy Impala. That was over fast, when I couldn't fit either of the child safety seats into the rear seat. Odometer: 2,312 miles Jennifer: Trevor gave the Sonata to Alexandra this week, and put me in a new 2006 Chevy Impala. That was over fast, when I couldn't fit either of the child safety seats into the rear seat. The Chevy features built-in headrests that stick out so far that the safety seats don't fit snuggly against the seatback. This has them tossing about at every corner, which just won't do. Where's my Sonata! Now I'm driving a four-door Dodge Ram pickup truck. Nice truck, but hardly a city cruiser. At least it's got a DVD player, so the kids are happy. Odometer: 2,356 miles Trevor: Yes, that Impala Jennifer is referring to is a big step forward for this model, and should provide excellent transportation for police officers nationwide, but if I was a perp I'd want the rear seats in the Sonata, which are much more comfortable and seem to deliver greater legroom. The Impala does feature traction control standard, mind you, which is a plus. What Alexandra and I noticed about the car as soon as we saw it, however, was the relative plainness of its dual exhaust pipes. Where the Sonata offers gorgeous oval chrome tips, giving the car an elegant yet sporty appearance, the Impala simply makes do with metal tailpipes, with the mufflers in full view. How drab. Kudos to Hyundai for spicing up an everyday ride. Odometer: 2,367 miles The Sonata offers gorgeous oval chrome tips, giving the car an elegant yet sporty appearance. It's nice to be back in the Sonata. Over the last couple of weeks I've driven a few domestic sedans, and also the new Hyundai Azera - which is very nice if I might say so - but the domestics are missing something. As much as I like the Dodge Charger - it's a fab sedan after all - it's just not a car I would want to run errands in all the time; one, because it is huge, two, that gas gauge needle quickly gravitates to empty, and three, it's so big that I feel kind a' lonely cruising around town solo. I also drove the new Chevrolet Impala for a while, which too is nice, but feels a little empty... empty in a sense that there is a whole lot of room but it doesn't have that cozy feel to it. Some larger sedans just feel more intimate. Do you know what I mean? The Sonata is one of these, and just makes me feel at home. I am very comfortable behind the wheel because I've driven it multiple times, and each time, it just feels great. In comparison with the Charger and the Impala, the Sonata drives and handles much smoother, and feels lighter and easier to maneuver. In the For an everyday car, it's got ample power from the V6, getting me where I want to go with a little extra punch when I'm running late. Sonata, I don't feel like I'm driving a boat. Handling is tighter and not so floaty. Plus, it is way easier to park the Sonata than the other two. I can actually see out the rear window when parallel parking, unlike the other two, and many others, which are high-rumped. There doesn't seem to be one specific feature or function that makes it stand out from its competition, but it's the sum of the parts that put it in a separate, higher class. It's a well-made car overall. I'm still a fan of the styling, and the interior trim impresses me. For an everyday car, it's got ample power from the V6, getting me where I want to go with a little extra punch when I'm running late. It's just a thoroughly enjoyable driving experience. Now that it's getting a little chillier outside, I've got the heat and the seat warmers on full blast. And even with the leather surfaces, the seats don't The stereo system in the Sonata is pretty decent. get too cold overnight. But then again, it doesn't really get that cold here on the West Coast! The MP3 player came in handy as one of my friends made me a CD with loads of songs. And now that I'm on the topic of tunes, the stereo system in the Sonata is pretty decent. I also recently received a Chemical Brothers album from the same friend. Those who know that group know that their songs incorporate a lot of bass and very little treble. The Sonata's system handled the excess bass fairly well. But it's not always Chemical Brothers blaring, Handel and Pavarotti had their turns too. Source:

2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6 Long-Term Test Update No. 3

2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6 Long-Term Test Update No. 3 October 4, 2005 by West Coast Office / American Auto Press Top-Tier Crash Test Vaults Sonata into Safest Sedan Territory No one who has followed Hyundais progress in recent years should be surprised to see its new Sonata perform as well as it has in the latest Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) crash tests. The new midsize sedan was given five stars, the highest ranking possible, in the frontal and side-impact crash tests for both driver and front passenger. Hyundai touts the Sonatas "all-new computer-designed rigid body structure" as a key reason why it maintains composure during frontal and side crashes. The car also features "reinforced bulkheads, pillars and side-impact protection to provide the foundation for a stiffer front sub-frame." Hyundai continues, stating that "extensive testing using computer simulation as well as real world testing has further optimized crumple zones and impact load diffusion paths." In case you werent aware, our GLS V6 tester, and all Sonatas for that matter, feature advanced dual front airbags, seat-mounted side-impact airbags for the driver and front seat occupant, and side curtain airbags for the driver, front seat passenger and outboard rear seat passengers. The front seats also integrate active head restraints for added protection against whiplash during rear collisions. The Sonatas full assortment of airbags and resultantly high NCAP results make all of us in the West Coast Office feel mighty secure when behind the wheel or riding along in our new long-term tester, something weve been doing a great deal lately. Its odometer reading has shot up from the previous updates 1,523 miles to 1,921 miles, a total of 398 miles, which represents about 50 percent more distance traveled than during the previous two week period - and that with no road trips. Our new staffer, Mary Elton, took the helm for the first week, after which Jennifer used it to shuttle the kids around to various activities (kindergarten, soccer, dance classes), as well as off to the gym for a little personal time. I subbed in once and awhile when in town, which was all of three working days - weekends not included. And now, without further ado, the log entries: Odometer: 1,523 miles Mary: Drove to across town to drop off Alexandra at the Mazda office. The car is peppy, with good pickup when needed. But the ever-important front cupholders werent designed to hold a medium sized cup snugly and could stand some retooling. Not good. Also, when rotating the vent controls all the way to the "blue" position (cool), warm air still came out of the vents, and this on a cool day. I needed to open the windows cool down. Odometer: 1,584 miles Mary: Drove to from downtown to the burbs. The radio is fine. But the hood and gas cap opener buttons are conveniently located and easy to use. Odometer: 1,590 miles Mary: Good steering wheel mounted radio controls. Volume is there, and I like the mute button, but why no station changer controls? Ive also decided that the seats, although covered in leather, arent cushioned enough for my liking. Odometer: 1,628 miles Mary: Seems to go up steep hills quite well, lots of pep. Good visibility out the front, as well as to the dash dials and other controls. Rear visibility is pretty good also, when shoulder checking. I like the sun visor extensions. Odometer: 1,693 miles Mary: Drove from one end of our two-million plus city to the other today. Enjoyed the drive. I also really appreciate its ease of parking. Again, I cant get over how simple the dash controls are and resultantly how easy they are to operate. Whats even better was the handy fold-down 60/40 split rear seatbacks. I had to carry my keyboard and it loaded in without any problems. Odometer: 1,732 miles Mary: Dropped off the car to Jennifer, and just wanted to say that it took awhile for my preconceived notions about Hyundai to abate. I wasnt expecting too much from this car. After all, werent Hyundais cars self-destructing, historically speaking? My first impression of the car is positive. This is a nice looking vehicle! I really like the paint job. I dubbed it midnight sparkle, subtle with a touch of glitter. The lines are clean and pleasing. The jazzy looking alloy wheels and soft gray leather interior are luxurious touches. The leather-wrapped steering wheel, power glass sunroof, nice sound system, easy-to-read and operate controls, and power drivers seat are added pluses. The center arm rest/storage extends for comfort. There are power seat controls and the power cord outlet is handily located for the driver. I like the look of the dual exhaust pipes. The back seat is roomy and as previously mentioned the 60/40 fold-down rear seatbacks are handy as we transported a keyboard that was too long for the trunk. I have to reiterate that the cushioning in the seats could be improved. For a long trip, I dont think they are plush enough. A bit more padding would add tremendously to the overall comfort. My initial reaction on starting and driving the car was that it had pep to spare! It handled well, was easy to park, and was powerful for the size of the car. It never missed a beat as I drove up a particularly long, steep section in North Vancouver called "the cut". Even with passengers in the car, it responds well. The visibility out the side and rear windows is good, and I noticed only minor blind spots. Fuel economy is another important issue, but I wasnt able to calculate the actual usage and compare it to the listed 24/37 city/hwy mpg. Maybe next time. The question of reliability can only be answered in time. How will it hold up over the years? That is an important issue for me. The great warranty is a comfort, but nothing takes the place of good old dependability and solid construction. Of course, the last model this one replaces managed top position overall for reliability in Consumer Reports member surveys, a pretty credible source, which bodes well for this new one. If this model follows in its predecessors footsteps then it should also be dependable over the long haul. It certainly feels well engineered. It is an extremely good car as far as first impressions go, and at a more than competitive price. Odometer: 1,767 miles Jennifer: Once again Im a single mom, keeping the house clean, kids at their various functions and, lest I forget, food on the table, while Trevor is staying at some five-star resort in Quebec driving Kias... boohoo. OK, no ones feeling sorry for me because, after all, Ive got a brand new car to do all of my errands in. While Im not a lead-foot, Im constantly surprised at how quick this car is at take-off. It must be in the gearing, because it feels a lot faster than a top-line Camry, for instance, even though both mirror each other for engine displacement and power - I believe the Sonata has a few extra horses but its a nominal difference. I like the manu-matic gearshift lever too, although I have to admit to not using it very much. But when I want it, its there. The design detail that surrounds the shifter is nice too - a brushed metal-look that appears very upscale. Odometer: 1,797 miles Jennifer: The Sonatas understated styling is growing on me. I liked the old version, because it looked distinctive compared to others in this somewhat staid entry-level midsize sedan class. I even like the styling of the model before that, which was also quite unique. But this one is less unorthodox, yet still offers a fresh look that seems to become more appealing with time. Its subtle. The slightly sporty grille opening, curvaceous fenders, clean shoulder lines, simple but elegant roofline, very attractive taillight clusters. Actually, I think its rear end is its most attractive angle, which is saying a lot. The Accord, for instance, isnt particularly good looking from its backside. Neither is the Camry. Mazda6, well, thats pretty nice, but the Sonata comes across a lot richer in design, a lot more refined and it looks like I paid more for it than the poor sods in their Hondas and Toyotas... which we all know isnt the case... ha... Odometer: 1,831 miles Trevor: Its good to be home after a week in Montreal, not only to see the family, of course, but to enjoy the ease of familiarity. Ive lived in other cities over the years, but have always returned to Vancouver. Of course, there are plenty of reasons to live in this beautiful part of the world, especially true if the sun is shining which it is now, but even if I grew up somewhere else I think that Id probably want to live where home originally was. I find my sense of adventure waning and the satisfaction in familiarity taking over as I mature. I like to know where the best deli is, my favourite fruit and vegetable stand, where to buy wholesale organics, which car dealer is trustworthy, the best guy to go to for a ski boot fitting, who can fix my TV 3 hours before the big race or hockey final, which trails are most rewarding for an afternoons hike, which gas stations are quickest to drop their price, etc. What has this got to do with cars, and particularly the Sonata? Well, its a car that is immediately familiar. The placement of interior switchgear is completely intuitive, which will bode well for giving non-Hyundai buyers a positive "first drive" experience. I always say to engineers, product managers and the likes, youve got one minute to make the sale. Its the first minute a person sits down in the car youve designed, and the sale comes if the person feels immediately at home. If the controls are odd and out of place, it had better be an amazingly dynamic vehicle to allow a customer to overcome being uncomfortable. The Sonata is immediately recognizable to most import buyers, which should translate into a good first impression and the more likely chance of turning prospects into buyers. If a car isnt intuitively set up, I tell the same people to train their retail staff to drive the car first with the customer in the passengers seat, making sure that all the controls are set up for the buyer before he/she takes the wheel, such as headlights, windshield wipers, etc, so that the customer doesnt have to touch anything and therefore feel uncomfortable. This isnt necessary for Sonata salespeople, however, unless, of course, the prospective buyer is coming over from a brand that doesnt feature intuitive controls. That might be good information for sales people to know. As for you, the prospective buyer, make sure you play with all the switches, buttons, knobs and gadgets before signing, so that you arent rudely awakened when taking deliver of your new car. Most likely, the Sonata will measure up to expectations. Odometer: 1,873 miles Jennifer: I think Id like to try a GLS with power foot pedals. While Im not overly uncomfortable, Id like to experience the difference adjusting the pedals would make. Odometer: 1,898 miles Jennifer: I loaded up a whole bunch of play toys for a mommy group (why do they call these mommy groups anyway, as theyre basically about getting the kids together so that they can play?). I was able to get large ride-on toys, containers of lego, toy cars, etc in the trunk, without having to drop the rear seats forward. Its a cavernous space, with a really large opening. Odometer: 1,921 miles Trevor: What? Do I have the last word? Hmmm... the benefits of being editor. Wish it worked as well in my audible world. Anyway, once again enjoyed how easy-going the Sonata GLS V6 is when tooling around town. It doesnt ask too much of its driver or passengers, but rather seems to support me, my back, my sleep-deprived head, and other extremities, protecting all from the cruel world outside in heated, leather seats, that are firmly sprung just the way I like them, in the "ergonomically correct" Germanic way. Of course, seat comfort is all about personal taste, and this one works for me. Some, like Lincolns Town Car, for instance, are too soft and pillowy, without enough lumbar support. I have no such complaints about the Sonata. All-in-all, another enjoyable two weeks spent in a car that should change a lot of peoples perceptions about the merits of Korean cars. Source:

2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6 Long-Term Test Update No. 2

2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6 Long-Term Test Update No. 2 September 20, 2005 by West Coast Office / American Auto Press Ride Quality, Interior Fit and Finish and Quietness Set Sonata Apart The Sonata performed flawlessly during its second two week stint, with the odometer now reading 1,523 miles. Having finished the last update with 1,266 miles on the ticker means that in two weeks we managed to drive 257 miles. Not much compared to some two week intervals in our previous long-term tester, but all things considered 257 miles would equal 26,465 miles covered in a year, much more than the average owner drives. And now for the log entries: Odometer: 1,278 miles Trevor: I know I should have grown up by now, but I just couldnt help myself when a rather racy looking fellow pulled up on my right in his previous generation Audi S4 (the 250-horsepower V6 twin-turbo one, not the V8) and proceeded to pull away from me in order to move in front after the light went green. Fortunately, I happened to be entering a highway which allowed me to "race" up to highway speeds... heh, heh...! Race a Sonata against an S4? Am I crazy? Well, maybe just a bit. To make a short story long, you should have seen the embarrassment in this guys face when letting him pass by, but only after leaving my mark slightly later I quickly passed by him and, neither driver letting up, kept ahead until hitting (slightly above) the highway limit. This Sonata V6 really goes quickly, surprisingly so. And its so ruddy smooth too, making its acceleration so deceptively sneaky it could really get a person in trouble fast. Odometer: 1,292 miles Jennifer: Speed, shmeed, this thing is just plain comfortable to drive. Its funny... when I first saw the Sonata I was a bit disappointed. I mean, cmon, from a pretty cool Japanese SUV to a midsize family sedan? Nothing more needed to be said, right? Anyway, Im really starting to warm up the Sonatas many merits. As Trevor was saying, this car is so smooth its a bit eerie, so quiet inside that carrying conversations along with the kids is extremely easy, although reaching back to hand through the drive-though "food" is difficult, because theres so much legroom the rear seats are more than an arms length away. I suppose this would be an attribute to some people. Odometer: 1,332 miles Trevor: On my way home from the bank I took the Sonata by my friend and tuner-car colleague Jeff Dann of Bishop Sales, Canadas Steeda (Ford Mustang, Focus and now Mazda tuner parts) agent (among other aftermarket tuner parts), and he and Tim from his crew poured over the car. I was a bit surprised at it getting so much positive attention from a young bunch of grease monkeys, it being a midsize sedan and all, but the accolades came in one after another. Tim (Wholesale Accounts Manager): I love the twin oval exhaust tips, are they stock? Trevor: Yes, pretty sweet, no? Jeff (owner): Wow. The sculpted hood is fabulous, and the way it blends into the A-pillar... nice. I like the arcing roofline too, and the roof is sunk down lower than the roof rails, like the Europeans. Doesnt Nissans Maxima do that too? The paint is really nice. Not just blue, but theres a little purple metallic in there too. Very high-end. And the panel gaps are really tight. Tim: And look at the interior. Leather; and more legroom than Ive seen in some of the luxury cars we tune. Jeff (after getting inside and poking around): Yeah, Hyundai sure has come far. The interior panels are as well put together as those on the outside. The steering wheel feels really good too. Trevor: Check out the HVAC knobs. Jeff: Man, theyre just like an Audi or something. Very upscale. Tim (fidgeting for the latch to get under the hood): This is burning hot. Feel this Jeff. Jeff (putting his finger on the hood latch): Ouch, why is that so hot. Have you been running it all day? Trevor: No, its been parked at the bank just now, and I only came down from my house (about 2 miles away). Jeff: Strange, but nice engine shroud. And a 3.3-liter? Impressive. Its so smooth too, no vibration at all. And so went the (mostly) positive remarks. It seems that everywhere I go people are happily surprised that the new Sonata is a Hyundai. A few more years and the Korean automakers reputation for refinement will match its hard fought credibility for dependability. Odometer: 1,345 miles Jennifer: I like the layout of the controls, especially where the stereo is positioned, high on top of the center console making it easy to reach, but wheres my auto climate control and 6-disc CD changer? Theres also no auto-dimming rearview mirror. I suppose Im spoiled, as the previous long-term vehicle featured all these creature comforts and, on the negative, retailed for about $15,000 more than this well-equipped Sonata GLS V6, and there has to be a few corners cut here and there to make up $15K. Overall though, the Sonata seems to be put together as well as the Mitsubishi Endeavor Limited, but its conservative interior styling leaves me a bit flat. And that 6-disc changer that Trevor reported about a couple of weeks ago, well its only available in the top-line LX model. While MP3 compatibility is OK for younger folks, most buying a Sonata will be more familiar with CDs, and I for one am used to a multi-disc stacker. I guess Im going to have to spring for an iPod. Christmas is coming... Odometer: 1,362 miles Trevor: Yeah, I got the hint, and I also have to agree with Jennifer on her comments about the multi-disc CD changer and interior styling. On the latter, its so well constructed that I kind of want to look the other way with regards to overall design, but after living with it for about three weeks Im finding its two-toned gray plastic and midsize domestic-like interior design less inspired than the svelte lines of the exterior. The lower dash plastic is, as mentioned, well put together, but its textured surface treatment isnt as attractive or as nice to the touch as Id like. The faux carbon fiber is a slick though, and I love the flush cloth finish around the sunroof. Most entry-level cars have an ugly rubber strip around this opening. Odometer: 1,374 miles Jennifer: The multi-use armrest is great - smaller bin up top, larger one beneath and a back-forth sliding feature for finding the ideal spot for resting the arm is comfortable. I like the grippy surface treatment on the door hand grips, making them easy to hang onto even if wet (yes, its starting to get back to the rainy season on the Wet Coast). Odometer: 1,420 miles Trevor: I got out of a domestic sedan, a Pontiac Grand Prix GXP, which was quite nicely done in most respects (especially compared to a 2004 model I previously tested), but putting it side-by-side with the Sonata, there was truly no contest. The first thing I noticed was panel gaps, which were nowhere near as tight on the Grand Prix. And when looking so closely I couldnt help see theorange peel on the Pontiacs paint, which made the Sonatas paint seem custom finished. Details such as the eautifully finished chrome door handles with body-color inserts, put the Sonata GLS in a class of few. Interior? Well Pontiac has taken giant leaps and bounds in only one model year, pulling the Grand Prix from quite horrible to quite good. Its more interesting than the Sonata, as far as shapes and gadgets go, but as far as this car has come its no match for the Hyundais tighter fitting, higherquality materials (the Pontiacs seats are good though, and the new dash and upper door plastics are extremely nice). And the Pontiac, in its GXP trim, costs about $10,000 more than the Sonata, although it comes with a 300-hp V8 - Yahoo! I know that its like comparing apples to oranges, but Pontiac offers a V6-powered Grand Prix that is a direct competitor to the Sonata GLS V6, and it falls short while costing more as well. The Sonatas trunk is also nicely finished, but whats probably more important is its gargantuan 16.3 cubic feet capacity, slightly larger than the Grand Prix but much more accommodating than most of its midsize contemporaries. Odometer: 1,455 miles Jennifer: Yeah, the Pontiac is like one of those guys that your mom warned you about and your dad would never let in the house, while the Hyundai is that trusty professional that your parents dreamed about you marrying one day, always home from work on time, all the bills paid before theyre due, and a number of mutual funds growing quietly somewhere safe, the promise of a comfortable retirement, nice little home with a garden out back, you know the type. Anyway, ones a lot of fun for a fling (prior to marriage of course), while the other is so much better to live with long-term. Which one did I marry? Hmmm... I suppose a little of both. Which car do I prefer? Ill reserve judgment until later, but the quiet, professional, easy-to-drive Sonata is sure appreciated when Im on my last legs at the end of the day. Odometer: 1,504 miles Trevor: I cant remember if I mentioned it already, but the Sonata GLS leather-wrapped steering wheel is ultra-comfor table. The car feels really light on its feet compared to most in this class too, and I know Ive gone on infinitum about how smooth it is but youve really got to experience this for yourself. Odometer: 1,523 miles Trevor: I just passed the keys over to our newest staff member, Mary Elton, a slightly more than 49-year old woman with mostly grown kids (one teenager left) and lots of regular errands to do. Mary should offer a unique perspective that Im sure many of our readers will appreciate. Look for her update, along with other comments from West Coast Office staffers, in two weeks time. Source: