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After many months of being driven in and out of the CarAdvice garage, it was time to hand back our long-term 2015 Hyundai Sonata to the team at Hyundai. It was a shame really, because CarAdvice staffers were unanimous in agreement that this medium sedan put a smile on the faces of everyone under our roof.
Having spent a week or so driving the Sonata through the city, my wife and I decided to take a longer trip out to Orange, NSW. With our first child on the way, we were keen to see if the Sonata would make it onto our shortlist of “first family car” options. Having amassed a great deal of points with its city capability in our second long term report, it was time to consider how a weekend away would affect the score.
The mid-size sedan segment in Australia is well occupied with very attractive looking machines, from the Mazda6 to the Ford Mondeo. The Sonata has a typically “sedan” profile, although with a slightly frumpy rear in comparison to the Mondeo. Fluid lines down the body give it a thoroughly modern look that shouldn't date too much over the years to come. I do prefer the grille on the Sonata over the Mazda6 but it lacks the aggressive mouth of the new Ford.
Comments from friends and strangers likened the Hyundai to more expensive luxury brands, and when I did a sideways glance at the car's reflection in the side of a glass building, I felt it did look handsome when rolling on the road. Many might consider the Sonata for the older generation, but its good looks would surely make anyone glance twice.
Comfort in the Sonata is impressive, with great bolster in the leather seats, and rear perches big enough to accommodate myself and two friends while still keeping air between us. Visibility out the rear window is great, with none of the pillars creating massive vision-blockers for the surrounds of the vehicle that would otherwise cause a problem when changing lanes.
The loan Sonata showed no visible signs of wear and tear throughout the long-term test, but one irk was found when the bright sun made reading the console screen display difficult. The other main problem encountered was a distinct and notable engine ticking and rattle when cold. Upon starting up, the engine chattered and rattatatatatatted along with the regular engine hum.
The overall driving experience was ideal, particularly when cruising on the open road. On the highway, there were limited bumps, very little roll and few unseemly shakes. Hyundai has taken obsessively great lengths to tune the Sonata for local conditions, and it shows in the Sonata's cruising attitude. When parking the Sonata, it would be reasonable to think that a car of its size would be more trying when compared to smaller sedans, but the reverse camera gave clear visibility for tight spots (provided the bright Aussie sun wasn't glaring down heavily on the screen).
Driving through the winding bends as we descended from the Blue Mountains was pleasing and satisfying, without any queasy stomachs and objections from the other occupant in the Hyundai. The plunge from the Blue Mountains could hardly be considered a hard-cornering slalom, but the Sonata held its own with great enthusiasm.
Fuel consumption in the Sonata returned 10L per 100 kilometres, with a fuel stop draining $80 from me to fill the car from fuel light to full.
Performance can be described as “adequate”. It won't win any drag races any time soon, but the 2.0L engine held its own while comfortably cruising on the open road highway and on the swerve down from the Blue Mountains.
The favourite feature of the Sonata would be that massive rear seat. The sheer size of that bench gave me confidence that I could haul two teenage lads to and from the training paddock in comfort. I was less fond of the consistently annoying rattle that greeted me on each start up on those cold Orange mornings. The car is definitely sizable, so couples living in inner-city apartments that have tiny allowances for cars would need to really consider their parking space before deciding.
The Hyundai Sonata does come recommended for those seeking a good sized sedan. The other alternative would be a Ford Mondeo, but the Sonata definitely makes its own compelling case for your attention.
2015 Hyundai Sonata Premium
Date acquired: March 2015
Odometer reading: 9623km
Overall distance travelled: 1143km
Overall fuel consumption: 10L/100km
Christian Clark is CarAdvice’s commercial director.
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