Monday, May 08, 2006

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:

No comments: