Friday, May 12, 2006

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:

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