2006 Hyundai Sonata

Weekly Shopper with Pizzaz

By Kate McLeod

The Koreans are the newest guys on dealer lots and newcomers always have more to prove so they work harder to get better. The new 2006 Hyundai Sonata is a sterling example of that.

Hyundai benchmarked the top 4-door cars in this class – the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and even Audi.  These are tough competitors but Hyundai has cheap Korean currency on its side.  What it has created in the 2006 Sonata is a good looking, made-in-the-U.S.A family sedan with lots of stuff included at a bargain price.

This roomy, sophisticated-looking, fun-to-drive sedan for between $18,495 for the entry level four-cylinder GS to $23,495 for the top of the line V-6 LX is tempting. Cross-shop the Honda Accord LX V6: It’s like Instant Lotto to the tune of $4,468. Combine your winnings with accolades and rankings––Hyundai tied with Honda for second place in J.D. Powers Initial Quality Study in 2004––and you start to think—honey I’m off to the Hyundai dealership, pronto.  Unfortunately, Hyundai doesn’t make the gay-friendly list, so if that is important to you, you might want to consider a sedan from another manufacturer.

Not every gay person considers a company’s corporate policies when spending their money.  That is why we included the Sonata in our test fleet. However, it is safe to say everybody wants nice looking wheels at an affordable price and the Sonata classifies as sophisticated, sporty and affordable.   The front end is very conservative, a concave hood gives the car a sleek feel, and the short deck lid and 17” wheels, standard on the GLS and LX, add sportiness.

The new Sonata has more leg, shoulder and headroom and my average frame experienced the cabin as airy and comfortable. Oodles of trunk space—16.3 cubic feet––allows plenty of hauling capacity.

Two power plants are offered: a 4-cylinder with Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT), delivers 162 horsepower and 164 lb.-ft. of torque.  It comes with a standard equipped five-speed manual. A four-speed manumatic transmission is available. The V6 with CVVT gives 235 horsepower and 226 lb-ft of torque comes partnered with a five-speed manumatic transmission. There’s a broad range of torque in the V6 that gives good vroom at launch and a continuous stream of power.  It is flexible and balanced enough for fast lane changes and pleasantly steady on the straight. This car is not only smooth it is reassuringly grounded and it has a technically up-to-date suspension that allows for spirited driving. EPA ratings are around 24 city/34 highway for the 4-cylinder and 20 city/30 highway for the V6.

We drove a tight circle on broken pavement at full throttle to test the standard Electronic Stability Control. ESC is a life-saving technology in addition to making you look good behind the wheel.  It is one of the many standard safety features that include side-impact and advanced dual-stage front airbags, active head restraints, traction control and electronic Brake Force Distribution.

Luxury is great but sometimes simplicity is more luxurious than overkill and this interior with its easy-to-read gauges, no-brainer knobs and tasteful color schemes hits a high note without straining for it.  My personal favorite thing: no navigation system.

Starting early next year Hyundai is going to install XM satellite radios as standard on all models.  As Martha says, satellite radio is a “good thing” but it is Sirius, not XM that has the 24-hour gay station. Just another point that shows Hyundai’s target customer for this vehicle is not gay.

Hyundai’s reputation is growing especially among previous owners.  Hyundai repeat buyers now amount to 57.6%, up 18% higher than just four years ago.  They must be doing something right. 

If you are looking for a stylish, affordable 4-door sedan and don’t feel the need to let politics rule your purchase, you should add the Sonata to your consideration list.  After all, you can always get the gay channel in your boyfriend’s (or girlfriend’s) car.

Hyundai is not a gay-friendly company.

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