I've got a new car on my wish list for 2006; probably won't happen but
a guy can dream....
Right now I drive a 2004 Chevy Malibu Classic, which is fully adequate
but no more. I've always been partial to GM but less so lately. I've
driven darn near everything in my day, but never a Hyundai---or for
that matter any Korean car. Never even ridden in one, as far as I
Like a lot of folks, I've started to pay attention to Hyundai lately
because word-of-mouth is their cars keep getting better and more
reliable all the time, plus the prices are much lower than Toyota or
Honda and a bit lower than GM, and of course the great warranty.
The past few days I stumbled across some great reviews of the '06
Sonata. Looks almost like my dream car: Roomy mid-size sedan, FWD,
5-star crash-test ratings, powerful 4-cylinder engine but still
(supposedly) 33 mpg highway, ABS, traction control, side airbags,
16-inch wheels, a great warranty, etc.
All for $18K fair market value for a bare-bones model with automatic
transmission, which is what I want. A key point is the features I want
that are options on the Malibu or even the Camry and Accord are
standard on even the base Sonata.
So, what's it like driving this car every day? I like a smooth ride but
decent handling and steering; yes that's a tough combination to find,
which is one reason I like Chevy; they have issues but their
suspensions/steering/braking suit me. Is the 33 mpg estimate anywhere
near accurate in the real world? What are the quirks or little problems
unique to this model? Oh, and since winters are moderately rough here
in northeastern PA, what are the OEM tires and how do they handle in
the snow and ice?
Thanks in advance for all advice and guidance.
I have about 3500 miles on my 2006 Sonata and love it for the roominess and
handling. I just returned to Georgia from a 700 mile trip to Reading, Pa.
We were loaded down with 3 people and as many gifts and luggage as would
fit! We got 31.7 miles per gallon at 75-80 mph for the trip. Around town
we get about 28 miles per gallon with some 15 mile open road trips to the
next town. Can't tell you anything bad about it.
The tires on my GLS model are Michelins. I have the 4 cylinder engine with
164 HP, which is more than enough for merging into traffic. No need for the
6 unless you enjoy paying the crooks for gas.
Tom, that is encouraging. I have just over 450 miles on my new GL (2.4/
5 speed) and it still has half a tank in it. It had 184 miles when I
picked it up so it isn't THAT good on fuel.
What are the EPA ratings for your GLS? Mine is 24/34 as I recall. I
think the 4 cylinder EPA ratings are for either transmission, but I'm
not sure if the auto has the same rating as the stick. Do you have the
standard 4 speed auto with your 4 cylinder or did you get the 5 speed auto?
I agree that the 4 cylinder has plenty of pep for normal driving. I
test drove the V-6 with the 5 speed auto and the GL that I ended up
buying. I bought the GL as its performance was nearly as good as the
V-6 with the automatic. I didn't drive a 4 cylinder automatic as I've
always preferred stick shift given a choice.
I'm anxiously awaiting my first fill-up to see how it does. I know it
may be a little low during break-in, but I think it is doing pretty well
even on this first tank.
I just looked at my sticker for the GLS and it's rated at 24/33 mpg. On the
first trip over roads at 55 mph, it averaged 34.5 mpg. It has the standard
4 speed auto. I have a 2002 Honda Civic also that has consistently given
me 40 mpg. It's an LX with 4 speed. Reluctantly, I have to sell it since
I'm now retired as of today and I don't need all these cars anymore. I know
it will go fast when I park it out front with gas the way it is. I looked
at the new Civics and almost bought one except for the fact that the Sonata
had more interior room in all directions. It's amazing how much room is in
there, isn't it?
It looks like the auto only costs you one MPG on the highway as compared
to the stick. It is amazing how good the new automatics are. I
remember when a stick shift was good for at least 10% better fuel economy.
I still like shifting my own gears, even if there isn't a mileage
benefit. I hate automatics that are always shifting in the mountains.
I guess the Hyundai automatic will hold the gear if you slip the shifter
into the "shiftronic" slot, but I still decided to go with the manual
after driving both.
Yes, the room in the Sonata is truly impressive. The car has a lot to
like. I've mentioned already a few nits I don't like, but they are
mostly minor, other than the lousy heater ... that is significant in PA
Yea, for the past 40 + years I've gone back and forth from sticks to auto's.
I'm like you - I like to shift when I want but on this one, I yielded to the
wife who can't drive stick. Once I tried to teach her on my old 356B
Porsche and when she shifted without ever touching the clutch pedal, I
figured that was enough. :O) I've had a 69 427 Vette with a 4 speed that
was the ultimate and a 67 Cougar 390 Gt with a stick. Both were a LOT of
The shifting is so smooth on the Sonata that you couldn't even notice as it
slipped out of lockup on the hills of Virginia. My Dodge Ram truck was
constantly shifting up and down. Very annoying. Glad to see it go.
Thanks for the info, Tom. I live about 70 miles northeast of Reading.
Hope you had a nice trip.
The mpg sounds encouraging. My experience has been that big sedans with
a 4-cylinder, (I mean 'big' by 4-cylinder standards, i.e. over 3,100
lbs.) fall far short of the EPA ratings unless you drive 55 mph with
cruise control on a flat stretch of highway.
Smaller cars can get closer to sticker fuel economy ratings at normal
highway speeds; I don't mean race-car driving, I mean the 65-80 mph
that's standard on all highways these days. There's a point past which
one cannot defy the laws of physics.
I guess living in Georgia you don't have to worry about the Michelin
tires' snow/ice performance. If anything maybe it's the opposite; are
they OK on very hot pavement in the summer?
Where I live we get the worst of both worlds. The winters are bad
enough that the roads are slippery to downright dangerous at times, but
not quite bad enough that dealing with winter becomes everyone's top
priority, as in New England or upstate NY.
Most folks here stick with all-season tires, though they make sure
there's plenty of good tread left on them. (Tire dealers love places
like this. No one with any sense lets their tires get below 5 or 6/32
tread on a vehicle they drive in winter.) I run winter tires when I can
afford it; I've got a set on my Malibu Classic now.
If I do buy a new Sonata it will stretch my budget pretty tight so I
would like to use the OEM all-season or touring tires for at least the
first winter, especially with ABS, traction control and stability
control. The Michelin MXV line gets mostly good reviews but not much
mention of their winter performance.
I live about 150 miles northwest of you, near Lawrenceville, PA.
I haven't owned snow tires in 20 years, other than on my K1500 pickup
which I use to plow my driveway. I've found the all season tires to be
adequate for all except one or two days of the year, and then I drive my
I know my GL has Michelin tires, but I didn't check to see if they are
the MXVs. They are the standard 16" Michelins that come on the base
Sonata. We haven't had much snow since I got the car, just a couple of
inches, but my driveway has been snow covered since Thanksgiving and is
uphill for half of is 3/8 mile length. The Sonata has had no problem
coming up the driveway and does better than my Chrysler minivan.
The only bad thing about the tires is that they seem to have just the
right size grooves to pick up the size stones/cinders that PennDOT lays
down. These tires just pummel the car with stones when driving on the
highways. I wish the dealer would hurry up and get my mudguards in!!!
Are you in Tioga County, near the NY state border? If so I'm surprised
you rely on all-season tires. Of course they take better care of the
roads up there, but still. (Please don't get me started on PennDOT;
good luck with the mud guards.)
We're a daring lot up here Eric. Not sure where Matt is from, but I'm up in
Oswego county and that's all we rely on. Almost nobody uses snow tires up
here. Brian and I had a discussion about that very thing not so long ago.
He's one of those wimpy guys from New England...
If it works for you, that's great. How hilly is it where you live? The
problem 'round here is the elevation. Plus the roads curve and wind
through the hills. Plus the area is growing fast and most of the
newbies have no clue how to drive in winter.
I live in Monroe County in northeastern PA; the foothills of the
Poconos. The difference in weather and road conditions between where I
live, in the valley, and 12 miles north, west and uphill from here can
I've found that real winter tires help enough to make them worth
getting; as usual it comes down to money.
It's true that some of the best all-season tires have reached the point
where they are almost as good in light-to-medium snow, slush or slop as
average snow tires. One of these days I'm going to try the Nokian WR
Still there's no all-season tire that will perfrom as well on ice as
will a good winter tire, as far as I've seen. Ice can be a real probelm
Of course, people get excited when the forecast calls for 6" of
snow---which should not be a huge problem if your road is plowed, you
have good tires, (even all-seasons) and you know how to drive. It's the
coating of ice that falls without warning and coats the road that's the
Thanks for the advice.
I thought for sure that last comment above would have brought Brian out -
he's been almost MIA for the past couple of weeks. Maybe someone should go
over to his house, just to check...
I'm pretty familiar with with Monroe County and the surrounding area.
Driven through there a lot. As far as snow fall goes, we'd call the annual
accumulation down there "a dusting". But... black ice is a common enough
occurrance as you encounter the Poconos.
That's where the rubber hits the road - so to speak. In the conversation
that Brian and I had this became one of the pivotal points. Brian really
likes what his snows do for him so in my opinion, that makes them worth the
money for him. I've had snows and I never saw enough benefit to them in the
upstate NY climate. We get 300 inches of snow a year around here and it's
not uncommon to plow snow with the car such that it's piling up over the
hood, just to get down the road I live on and up into my driveway.
As I pointed out in my discussion with Brian, for the most part I do not use
any of the cool tires. I take the 60 series tires off that come on so many
cars today and put on a 70 or 75 series that give me a better cut into the
snow. I also pick tires with aggressive sipe and tread patterns that bite
snow and drain water. I'm anal about that. Tires like these will do more
for a car - even on ice, than a lot of people realize. Depending upon the
manufacturer, they can still be found labeled Mud and Snow, which is what an
aggressive ASR used to be called, but that nomenclature seems to be
disappearing these days in favor of the simple ASR.
The one exception to what I say above is the tire that came on the Grand Am
I bought this year. It's an '03 and it came with a brand new set of some
Japanese(?) M&S radials. They're a 50 series tire and I was convinced that
I'd be replacing those quite quckly. Well - I didn't get around to it and
guess what... They have a very aggressive sipe and tread and they chew
through the snow in an unbelieveable way. They've handled hard pack
extreemely well too. So... the jury is out on these tires. Whereas I would
have condemed them initially and proclaimed them unsuitable for winter use,
they're still on the car now and I'm giving them their due. But.. it's an
extreemly aggresive tread for this style of tire. We'll see how they hold
up in terms of mileage, etc.
I'll add that they are good in heavy snow as well as light to medium - as
long as the tire is a good deep tread tire with sipes that create nubs that
weep to the sidewalls and good shoulders. That is a different design than
the more sporty low profile ASR that is so common today.
Correct. We have excellent snow removal around here, owing to the amount of
snow we get, but we can still find ourselves driving through a foot or more
of snow on a fairly regular basis. It's just a matter of the snow falling
faster than the plows can make their routes. Cars just go through it. The
bigger problem is on the interstates (I-81) where the hardpack can build up
and drivers are too stupid to allow for that. I don't care if you have
snows, studs, or metal cleats - hardpack is not a 75mph driving surface.
For the most part - I'd rather have some snow on the roads in the winter.
Snow is traction.
Yep. A big problem here is melt and refreeze. The temperature
fluctuates a great deal, especially as you get out of town and head
In a way you are actually lucky to get that much snow, in re road care.
People---including those charged with plowing and treating the
roads---have to take the weather seriously as a matter of survival.
Around here it's different.
I'm no expert, but as far as I know all tires that meet the "Mud and
Snow" standard---which can't be that tough, based on some of the tires
I've seen---have "M+S" marked on the sidewall.
My standard for running all-season tires in the winter is: Must be a
matching set of 4 radial tires, marked "M+S," must be graded "A" for
traction, must have at least 6/32 tread depth left with all 4 tires
within 1/32 treadwear. I wish I knew more about tread design and
technical aspects but I'm no mechanic.
Yep. It's the same way out near Erie. As noted, there are actually some
advantages to getting that much snowfall each winter, assuming the road
crews and drivers know how to deal with it. (That will never happen
Thanks for all the advice on tires for winter driving, guys. I think
we've about talked it out. I'm interested in hearing what it's like to
drive the Sonata on a daily basis, if anyone would care to share.
I'll be happy to post my impressions once I've driven mine a little
more. I'm just about to fill the tank for the first time, so I don't
even have an initial impression of the gas mileage as yet!
If there is something specific you would like to know, let me know and
I'll my current thoughts, but with only 400 miles of driving, keep in
mind that they will be INITIAL impressions only.
It's kind of hard to put in words, but what does the Sonata 'feel' like
on the road. As I mentioned I like a smooth ride---not floaty and
disconnected like a Merc. Grand Marquis, but definitely to the smooth
side of average---but also like decent handling, i.e. when you turn the
steering wheel the car actually turns right away, and you're not scared
to drive in heavy freeway traffic for fear you won't be able to correct
in time if someone does something stupid.
That's why I keep coming back to GM despite some issues with durability
and refinement. In most cases GM suspension and steering feel right for
The Malibu Classic I drive now just 'feels' good on the road. When I
hit a bump, on the one hand I know it's a bump; on the other hand it
does not throw either me or the car for too big a loop. If I steer
sharply to avoid the bump, the car will respond right away but will not
run off the road, (or if it does it's my fault).
My old Saturn sedan was even better in this respect. If I could do it
over again I would have kept that car and run it into the ground.
Problem was it was just too damn small; the Malibu/Sonata ('06)/Camry
size is just right for me.
This one is hard to say as feel is pretty subjective. I haven't driven
many GM cars lately, just the occasional Grand Am rental car. The
Sonata definitely rides smoother than the Grand Am and has more precise
steering. I like a little more feedback in the steering than the Sonata
provides, but it isn't bad. It is also much quieter than the Grand Am,
but probably not much more so than some Buicks I've driven in the past.
Braking is very good. I find the electronic throttle to be the worst
aspect. It doesn't have the tactile feedback that conventional
throttles have and is very light. This is especially trouble-some when
starting out with the standard shift tranny. The engine is quiet so you
lack sound feedback and don't have much feel from the clutch and
throttle. It is hard to watch the tach and also watch traffic. I find
I either overrev to 2000 RPM or occasionally stall it, and I've driven
standard shift for 30 years, including OTR trucks. I'm slowly getting
used to it, but it definitely isn't an easy stick to drive, at least
I'd say go test drive one. That is the only way to accurately gauge if
the feel will suit you.
Well - the Sonata in our family is my wife's car. It's an '04 GLS and we
both love it. Every time I drive it I continue to be impressed with how
smooth the car goes down the road. It's a beautiful little car. Very
nicely done inside, though I'm really a leather interior guy, so I wish it
had that. The seats sit too high for my preference and they're kind of
hard, but not so much so as to be uncomfortable.
Remember all that snow we get? Well, it's on the factory Michelins with
about 28,000 on them and they just chew right through everything we've faced
so far this winter. The car handles very nicely on snow and ice and is
quite predictable. That makes a big difference in how well a car is in the
Thanks for the info. If I do get a Sonata it will almost certainly be
the '06 model. That's a quantum leap improvement over previous
generations by most accounts. That's what made me consider Hyundai in
the first place.
Note that I don't have to buy a car this year---my Chevy is holding up
OK so far---and it would stretch my budget tight to get a new Sonata.
Still it sounds so good from what I've read and heard that I am
seriously considering it.
Of course if someone is giving away a low-mileage '04 or '05 Sonata for
pennies on the dollar value, I would consider it....
This is the crux of it. What you say is true....but compare the
potential down-sides to the trade-off.
Snow tires on dry pavement don't handle as well in turns or stay as
straight and true on highway trips, (depending on wheel alignment) and
the gas mileage might go down a click. OTOH, snow tires on icy or even
slippery roads can save your life---or at least save your car and
prevent or lessen injury---compared to all but the very best all-season
Right again, but you have never seen some of the new transplants to
this area from the city out there on the roads in their first winter in
the Poconos. Even in their SUVs with ABS, traction control and in some
cases AWD they can't handle it. As one of you guys said, winter driving
is much more about the driver than the equipment....still I'll take
good snow tires when I can afford them.
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