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See the new Hyundai Sonata and Mazda2


Hyundai Sonata

Hyundai has taken a back-door approach to accessing the Amer­ican automotive market. Ori­gin­ally, they just copied other successful models and sold them at a lower price with longer warranties.

Then they began adding more features than the competitors and improving quality. Now in an outlandish move, they are taking the lead in innovation and making a run at becoming the class leader.

The new Sonata’s styling is groundbreaking — making most of the competitors look dated and passé. I’ve always contended that it doesn’t cost any more to make a good-looking car than an ugly one. Hyundai has proven my point by shaping the body panels differently.

The car is large, but the weight has been kept low with clever engineering. Lower weight means a smaller engine can get the job done, translating to a lower price and higher fuel economy. The Sonata’s base price is low, a mere $19,195 before incentives and discounts. This is a well-equipped car and is a great value, especially compared with many smaller cars that auto companies are charging a premium for merely because they are small and perceived to be more popular.

The vehicle driving dynamics are really quite good. It favors the comfort side of the automotive landscape, but the car goes where you point it and screens out the unpleasantness of the outside world.

The interior styling is also very attractive. The gauges and instrumentation are informative and nicely styled. A full suite of technology is offered including navigation and audio connectivity. Interior space is ample and the trunk is large. The seating is inviting and the car has a very nice driving feel — even with the base 4 cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic transmission.

The Sonata’s EPA economy rating is 24/35, a very good number for this size  car.

The standard engine is a 2.4 liter 4 cylinder with 200 horsepower. That’s the same power as a 3.0 liter V-6 just a few years ago, but the fuel economy is better. The Sonata is also offered with a turbo 2.4 boosting power to 274 horsepower and a 22/33 EPA rating. There will also be a Hybrid offered (see photo) with new lithium polymer technology allowing smaller and lighter batteries and even better economy.

The new Sonata a very good, very satisfying car at a very attractive price.

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Mazda2

Mazda is actually very good at making small cars. They’ve had decades of experience. Small cars have prevailed as the vehicle of choice throughout the rest of the world for a long time. In our country, we are just now getting on the bandwagon.

These very small cars are classified as sub-compacts and many are now appearing in showrooms. Historically, they didn’t receive much design attention and weren’t very appealing. Today’s sub-compacts are still small, but are more satisfying vehicles.

The Mazda2 showcases Mazda’s ability to make a really good small vehicle. This little car is the benchmark of sub-compacts. Not only does it check all the boxes that a sub-compact is expected to check but it does it in a way that delivers a really great feeling and is fun to drive. After driving the Mazda2, you’ll be convinced that it did indeed get a full ration of design resources from the Mazda home office.

The exterior styling is interesting. The interior is purposeful, efficient, comfortable and contains the necessary equipment. It’s a high quality, yet small and efficient car. Don’t expect to find leather seats or a navigation system.

It is powered by a 1.5 liter 4 cylinder engine with 100 horsepower and either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic transmission. The best EPA fuel economy numbers are 29 city and 35 highway. I could routinely get an indicated 40 mpg on the highway in my test vehicle.

Most cars in this class get excellent fuel economy, have efficient interior packaging, do pretty well in crashes for their size and aren’t terribly expensive. Most of them, however, don’t deliver a pleasant driving experience.

The driving experience and the handling is where the Mazda2 really shines.  It has surprisingly good power for an engine that is not much bigger than some motorcycles. It is solid, controlled and very composed.

This is the car that you can fall in love with all over again. You’ll bond with it. It’s one that you’ll remember for years after it’s gone. You’ll treat it like a pet and you may even give it a name.

By Kelly Foss; www.car-data.com


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