“Hyundai has done it again, delivering a very attractive car, full of features and at an attractive price…”

“We had air conditioning in case it got really hot and directions via the navigation system in case we wanted to go to Hell and back and lost our way.”

Ann Arbor, Michigan.

If you’re driving to Hell, what kind of car would you want to be in?

An SUV? A sports car? One that if you never come back, at least your missing person’s report would list you last seen: “in something fast, flashy and awesome?”

When my driving partner and I stumbled upon Hell, Michigan, or at least the sign that directed us that way, we were in the all-new, 2015 Hyundai Sonata; a sedan that is now seven generations strong.

We had air conditioning in case it got really hot and directions via the navigation system in case we wanted to go to Hell and back and lost our way. And comfortable seats in case the crossing of the River Styx was long and arduous. Furthermore, we had the power to get us out of there if we needed to leave in a hurry.

Okay, enough about Hell and back to the car… for 2015, the Sonata gives you two engine options; both of which have been revised for the seventh generation.

The first is a peppy 2.4L, 4-cylinder with 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque.

Then there’s the spirited, optional, 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 245 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Both engine variants are linked with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

There’s a lot going on with Hyundai’s mid-size sedan. It’s built with an all-new chassis, which equates to a more comfortable ride, better handling and an overall improvement in NVH (Noise, Vibrations, Harshness.) To test that out, we took it to the streets of Ann Arbor in Michigan, as well as the backcountry roads that have sweeping corners and tight turns.

The first thing I noticed was how much better the handling was, especially when you have it in Sport mode. The 2015 Sonata gives the driver a choice of three drive modes. These modes work together with the sedan’s engine, transmission, and Motor-Driven Power Steering (MDPS) to suit different driver preferences.

In Sport, powertrain responsiveness and heavier steering weight are both increased. The steering weight definitely comes in handy on the twisty parts of the road. In Normal mode, steering isn’t as responsive but better suited for urban environments. And if you’re in a fuel saving mood, pop the car into Eco mode. This softens throttle response and recalibrates transmission response so you get the most out of your tank.

Speaking of steering, Hyundai mentions, “The 2015 Sonata’s steering wheel features an irregular shape with increased rim thickness and ergonomic grip rests. These subtle changes ensure more of the steering wheel surface remains in contact with the driver’s hands. In turn, the vehicle offers enhanced steering system feel, especially at high speed.”

I’d agree with this. My fingers were comfortably placed at 9 and 3 o’clock and felt pretty good there.

But it’s not just the driving modes and steering wheel that make the Sonata as popular as it is. The 2015 comes with all new styling inside and outside.

Let’s start with the cabin, since the driver will spend more time looking at a centre stack than they will the front, hexagonal grille.

Featuring even higher quality materials than before, it’s softer to the touch and the layout is optimized for the driver. ‪Placement of the buttons and switches in the Sonata ‪was paramount and was a major focus for designers and engineers.

On the outside, you’ll see a family resemblance to the Sonata’s big brother, the Genesis.

The character line is more pronounced, yet the cumulative look is more sophisticated and mature.

It’s a tough segment to be in. When you have frontrunners like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Mazda6 and more, it can get pretty heated. But the Sonata remains cool and collected and has the goods to keep up with the best of them.

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata has a starting MSRP of $23,999. The top of the line Sport 2.0T Ultimate has an MSRP of $34,799.

Visit www.hyundaicanada.com for more information.

Contact: alexandra [dot] straub [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

Good looking and great value, the sixth generation Hyundai Sonata is an excellent used car choice…

Hyundai gave the Sonata dramatically curvaceous new styling for the 2011 model year and dropped the V6 engine option for the all-new (sixth generation) model.

A lighter and more fuel-efficient 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder became the engine upgrade offered in this popular mid-sized family sedan, with a full-sized interior

The base engine was an impressive new GDI (gasoline direct injection) 2.4-litre four-cylinder that can produce 198-horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. That’s considerably more than the departing base four (175 hp / 168 lb-ft) in the 2010 Sonata. It offers better fuel economy and is rated at 9.4 L/100 km in the city and 5.7 L/100 km on the highway (with automatic).

Most buyers will find this base engine completely satisfies their power requirements and it’s more reliable, based on Consumer Reports owner survey results. It possesses good off-the-line power and performs impressively smooth and quiet. A green “eco” icon also shows up on the instrument panel to reward the driver for being easy on the gas pedal.

A six-speed manual transmission was only offered in the entry-level GL version and all other trim levels came with a six-speed automatic. Called Shiftronic this automatic has a manual mode sequential gear selection feature on its floor shift lever. The other trim levels offered in 2011 were GLS, Limited, 2.0T and 2.0T Limited.

There is a price to pay for the Sonata’s swoopy sexy styling in terms of rear-seat headroom (for tall adults). A high rear shelf and a steeply raked back window also restrict the driver’s rear vision. That said, the side mirrors are a decent size and many editions come with a back-up camera.

Sonata performed well in crash tests and offers a safety package that includes active front seat head restraints. Electronic stability control and a Bluetooth hands-free wireless phone connect feature are standard features. The Limited edition also comes with repeater turn signals on the side mirrors.

No major changes were made to Sonata for the 2012 model year, but heated rear seats were added as standard equipment in the GLS and 2.0T trim levels. The Limited models also got standard proximity key entry with push-button engine start and a panoramic sunroof replaced the standard sunroof.

For the 2013 model year a new SE trim level was introduced between GLS and top-line Limited. The SE comes with leather seating, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual exhaust tips, and a stiffer suspension calibration. Enhanced breathing also increased the 2.4-litre engine’s output by a couple of horsepower. The 2.0T trim level was discontinued and a manual transmission edition was no longer offered.

Good looking and great value, the sixth generation Hyundai Sonata is an excellent used car choice.

Price Check: 2011 – 2013 Hyundai Sonata (April 2014)

Year                    Edition                                                 Expect to Pay Today

2011                     GLS                                                        $13,000 to $16,000

2012                     GLS                                                        $15,000 to $18,000

2013                     GLS                                                        $17,000 to $20,000

Prices vary depending on a used vehicle’s condition, mileage, usage and history. A complete mechanical check should always be performed by a reliable auto technician prior to purchase.

Safety Recalls: 2011 to 2013 Hyundai Sonata:

2011: The front inside door handle may not return to its normal, stowed position and the door latch can remain in an unlatched position, when attempting to close the door. If the driver or front seat passenger does not notice that a front door is unlatched, the door may open while the vehicle is being driven. Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, replace the door latch assemblies.

2011: The steering column intermediate shaft universal joint connection may have been improperly assembled and may produce noise or a loose or unresponsive steering feel. If no corrective action is taken this could eventually lead to a loss of the driver’s ability to steer. Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, tighten steering column u-joint bolts to specs.

2011: The stop lamp switch may fail and cause intermittent operation of the brake lights. Dealers will replace the switch.

2012/2013: Due to a defect in manufacturing of the inflator module, the side curtain airbag(s) could deploy without warning and potentially cause injuries to vehicle occupants. Dealers will replace the affected side curtain airbag(s).

Contact: bob [dot] mchugh [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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