When I was growing up, my dad always bought sedans.
They were not flashy or luxurious—mainly Pontiacs and Chevys—but they were, in his estimation, capable and stylish.
On more than a couple of cars my brother and I sat in the back seat on the plastic seat covers that my dad bought from the JC Whitney catalog. (Which, in retrospect, was odd, because my mom never shrink-wrapped the living room furniture.)
Anyway, the point is that once upon a time sedans were “family cars.”
And although cars are giving way to crossovers, there are still families. Which would fit very well, thank you, in a sedan.
(Let’s face it: the vehicles that are selling as sedan replacements aren’t three-row vehicles, for the most part, but two. And trunk space is often not all that limited vis-à-vis the “cargo room” that the crossovers offer.)
While driving the Hyundai Sonata SEL I thought about the cars that my dad had.
It struck me that the Sonata is definitionally a “family sedan.”
Yes, there are Sport and Limited trim levels of the car.
But the SEL is a step up from the base model.
The exterior sheet metal is stylish. It is not exaggerated. It is not over-the-top. It is not blandly conservative. It holds its own among a cohort that includes cars like the Malibu and the Fusion.
The interior is roomy. The EPA passenger volume is 106.1 cubic feet.
The Malibu is 102.9 cubic feet.
The Fusion is 102.8 cubic feet.
Roominess is helpful in the back seat (if your older brother, say, has a penchant for poking you).
And while on the subject of volumetric capacities. . .
Sonata cargo volume: 16.3 cubic feet
Malibu cargo volume: 15.8 cubic feet
Fusion cargo volume: 16 cubic feet
The packaging engineers who worked on the Sonata clearly figured that it is important to provide family room.
The Sonata has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. There are dual overhead cams. There is dual continuously variable valve timing. That’s good for mpgs, which are 25 city and 35 highway.
The engine, which is mated to a six-speed automatic (the Malibu and Fusion also have six-speeds, although the turbocharged Malibu gets a nine-speed), produces 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque.
Again, this is completely satisfactory for the needs of the contemporary family sedan.
Contemporary includes such things as blind-spot detection and a smart trunk (no need to do the hokey-pokey under the truck; the key fob is detected and the trunk pops open). There is a seven-inch color touchscreen. There are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The dad wants something stylish. So there are a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. There is a chrome-tipped exhaust. There is a heated side-mirror mounted turn-signal indicator (which looks a little upscale and which is important in places like Michigan during the winter).
So it has it covered.
There are a couple of things that underscore the family sedan aspect of the Sonata.
First, this verbiage, straight from Hyundai:
All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by the Hyundai Assurance program, which includes the 5-year/60,000-mile fully-transferable new vehicle limited warranty, Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty and five years of complimentary Roadside Assistance. Hyundai Blue Link® Connected Care provides owners of Hyundai models equipped with the Blue Link telematics system with proactive safety and car care services complimentary for three years with enrollment. These services include Automatic Collision Notification, Enhanced Roadside Assistance, Vehicle Diagnostic Alert, Monthly Vehicle Health Report and in-vehicle service scheduling.
Which is certainly important.
Second, know that the base MSRP for the Sonata SEL is $23,700.
Hard to imagine that there isn’t considerably more consideration of this car.
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