So, where did you go on your date?
The Hyundai Sonata Elite arrived in the CarAdvice garage ahead of its involvement in our medium sedan comparison. The recently released Sonata has a major point of difference to that trio of rivals, however: a turbocharged engine. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine produces 180kW and 350Nm - the same as a $70K-plus BMW 328i.
Spending a weekend doing the usual runaround - grocery shopping, ferrying my daughter to her myriad extracurricular activities, lunches out - provided the opportunity to get to know the car well.
Ideal first date?
The Sonata is a great size for small families and corporate types who spend a bit of time on the road. The urban environment suits this car, and it's no slouch away from the city either as we discovered during testing for the comparison on the drive loop through regional areas - it's a comfortable and capable tourer.
Hot or not?
The South Korean car looks long and sleek, measuring almost 4.9 metres nose to tail. With those slanted headlights giving it a bit of attitude, there's also a bit of the Genesis in its DNA thanks to Hyundai's Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language, and in my opinion it's one of the best looking medium sedans on the market.
It's what's inside that counts, what do you think of the interior?
The focal point of the centre console is a large 8.0-inch touchscreen. The function buttons are laid out in a horizontal strip directly beneath - it's a comprehensive, user-friendly layout. The Elite has Bluetooth and USB connectivity - just pair or plug in your smartphone and off you go. Some aspects of the dash look a little cheap, and the carbonfibre-look trim on the dash and doors is interesting, but overall the theme is understated style.
The seats are really comfortable, trimmed in soft leather with plenty of under-thigh support, and there's plenty of leg and elbow room up front.
Absolutely the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. It's effortless, quick off the mark and smooth, inspiring confidence when picking a gap to cross an intersection, roundabout or when merging. It handles well and the ride is comfortable, while road and engine noise is well contained.
The infotainment system comes standard with satellite navigation, a DVD player, and even the base model Active gets a reverse-view camera.
The boot space is impressive - 510L with a wide opening - and 60:40 folding rear seats for when you need more room. The gooseneck hinges are a bit old-school, however, and can be problematic, squishing anything under them when you have a full load.
This is an all-round impressive vehicle.
Minor issues include the angle of the touchscreen, which can reflect light in your eyes, and the low-quality graphics of the sat-nav system.
It also lacks some of the tech features of its rivals (the Subaru Liberty's EyeSight system, for example), though some additional active safety functions will be available in the near future.
Ready for a family?
Yes. There is more than enough room in the back for a couple of children.
Even better though, mum and dad don't have to compromise on being able to have a bit of fun. As well as being a sensible family car, I'd be taking it for a spin every now and again to stretch its legs and take advantage of the turbocharged engine.
The Sonata comes with Hyundai's five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty with lifetime capped-price servicing.
None that spring to mind after spending a couple of days with the Sonata Elite.
So, is it serious or just a one night stand?
The Mazda 6 is the top privately purchased car in the medium sedan segment, and the Sonata is a serious competitor. In my opinion it has the looks, performance and space to be a serious option for anyone shopping around in this space of the market.
Keeping your options open?
There are many to choose from... the Toyota Camry, Subaru Liberty, Mazda 6 are the ones we chose to go head-to-head in our comparison.
If it's not for you, who would you recommend it to?
Anyone with a growing family, young, middle-aged, older - this car should appeal to a broad range of buyers who are looking to buck the SUV trend.