When I was a Junior in college I got my first car. A 2004 Honda Accord, though it was hardly “mine”: a hand-me down from my brother who had recently moved to The Big Apple, where having a car was impractical, with the title in my parents’ name and big proud TEXAS plates standing out like a tree on the Kansas prairie.
At the time I didn’t think much of that car. After all, what’s a budding car enthusiast supposed to think of a base model, 4-speed automatic, gutless, limp noodle handling family sedan? Yet somehow, 7 years since I gave that car back to my parents so I could buy a brand new Kia Forte Koup SX, I find myself thinking about that car more than anything else I’ve owned.
My fiancée owns a 2016 Hyundai Sonata, and it reminds me so much of that Honda Accord I think about so much. After all, both these cars are cars.
You see, what I failed to comprehend back when I had that Accord was that a car didn’t need to be fast or exciting to be good. A car doesn’t need to have exotic styling or fancy cabin features. For 99.99% of people 99.99% of the time, a car only has to accomplish a few tasks: reliably transport people and/or items from point a to point b at a reasonable degree of comfort.
The Sonata, much like the Accord, has a 4 cylinder engine of unknown specification attached to an automatic transmission of similarly unknown specification. The Sonata, again like the Accord, has mildly attractive if not completely anonymous styling inside and out. The Sonata, again just like my 2004 Accord, has a perfectly adequately comfortable cloth interior with a radio that works well, manual climate control that does its job, and just enough features to accomplish that one simple task it needs to.
To be honest, the Sonata is actually a genuinely good car even though it’s a terrible enthusiast’s car. For everything it lacks in excitement or fun, it makes up for in comfort, features, and refinement. Despite being a base model dealer demo with 25,000 miles on the clock, I never detect any rattles aside from the damn bracelet my aforementioned fiance insists on hanging from the mirror. The cloth seats are reasonably comfortable, and from a tech standpoint it’s actually impressively well featured with a sizeable responsive touchscreen with that all-important Apple CarPlay support. There’s even a handy little cup next to the shifter to hold your phone while it runs the infotainment system, pleasantly washed in soft blue light projected down from the headliner at night.
There’s even a number of interesting quirks & features© built into this economy car. The attractively basic gauge cluster has a center screen that displays an impressive amount of information, including one of the niftiest features I’ve ever seen on any car: it displays what setting your wiper is on when you adjust the stalk. How cool is that?
I daily drive a 2015 Mustang GT. It’s a great enthusiast’s car, though it’s honestly a pretty terrible car. It’s loud, the ride is fairly rough, it gets garbage gas mileage, and sitting a normal human being in the back seat requires below the knee amputation and a decapitation for good measure. My fiancée’s Sonata is gutless, with vague, lifeless steering, and yet it is comfortable, easily gets 30 mpg, and has an airy, spacious cabin with excellent outward visibility and more than enough room for four fully grown adults.
The 2016 Hyundai Sonata sure is a car. A pretty good one, too.