We were planning on talking about the driving characteristics of the 2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6 in this second post, but there a couple of trips left to take in it so we thought we'd save that portion of the review until we've had the most amount of seat time. Instead we'll focus on the car's interior and general livability. We have already gobbled up a good number of highway miles in the Sonata on a trip to visit family and have some fun at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH. This allowed us to use the car in much the same way many families would – packing up some gear, filling the tank and taking to the highway.
The new Sonata has a generous sized trunk that was easily able to swallow two baskets of laundry and a large duffel
bag. The picture is actually misleading as we later shoved those items another foot or so deeper into the trunk.
Compared to the Camry, Accord and Altima (added to the comparison at a reader?s behest), the Sonata?s 16.3 cubic feet
of trunk space beats all except the Camry?s 16.7 cubic feet. The Sonata?s trunk does feature gas struts instead of
space robbing hinges, one of the many nice touches we found throughout the Sonata.
Slip into the driver?s seat and you?re greeted by an interior that offers no surprises but is pleasant to behold, kind of like the exterior. The materials are of a surprisingly high quality and feel substantial to the touch. Buttons depress and knobs turn with a sort of deliberateness that you demand from an Audi but don?t expect from a Hyundai. Damping is employed wherever possible on such items as the grab handles above each door and little touches that are much appreciated like visor extenders can be found throughout the interior. Those small touches probably don?t add a lot of cost, but they go a long way in improving the quality of an owner?s time spent in the car.
The front seats were a point of contention in our jaunt across Northern Ohio. While I felt the driver?s seat was firm and that the seat cushion wasn?t long enough, my significant other said that they were fine and I should stop my bitching. The seats, in my bitchy opinion, were a weak point of the driving experience as it was difficult for me, an average size person at 5'10", to find a comfortable position. The seat cushion?s short length made me always feel like I was sliding forward, and adjusting the driver?s lumbar support only made it worse.
The Sonata GLS V6 does come standard with a SHIFTRONIC shift function that allows one manually select the five gears of the automatic transmission. The only reason I mention it now rather than later when we talk about the car?s performance is because this manumatic does nothing for the car?s performance. Though some people appreciate these faux manuals, a manumatic does nothing more than allow you to select the shift point of your slushbox. It will still shift just as slow as before and chances are it would?ve chosen a more appropriate time to shift than you anyway. Hyundai?s SHIFTRONIC is no exception and just adds another gate to the shifter?s track. Unless it?s a DSG or true electrohydraulic clutchless manual, I just leave it in D and drive.
We spent about four hours on the highway with the Sonata and were pleased with its demeanor. The GLS V6 with its 16-inch wheels and all-season tires is definitely tuned for a comfy highway ride, and the independent suspension soaks up potholes and expansion joints like a sponge. While there was a bit of wind noise while cruising up near 75-80 mph, it wasn?t substantial or unexpected in a vehicle designed more for Route 66 than the Autobahn. Steering wheel-mounted controls for the stereo are a standard feature, a quick tap of which increases the volume of the MP3-enabled CD stereo to the point where wind noise isn?t an issue.
We have a couple days left with the 2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6 and plan to make the most of them. The engine, transmission and handling of the vehicle are all left to talk about, so we?re wringing the car out as we speak. In fact, subject to the approval of our friends over at Hyundai, we may get to introduce this Sonata to its first Christmas tree, if you know what I mean. No promises though, so you?ll have to wait a couple days to find out if we were able to make it happen.