2015 Hyundai Sonata: A Warm Respite from Snakes
By Dan Frio, Automotive Editor on September 17, 2015
I might be the first person to think, let alone say out loud, that I was ready to trade the keys to a Dodge Viper for a 2015 Hyundai Sonata.
But after I pulled the Edmunds long-term Viper into my driveway after a Labor Day weekend mini road trip, after I'd stretched a leg to clear the baking, expansive door sill and warned my daughter and road-trip companion to do the same for the 16th or 19th time, and after unfolding my frame from the tiny cabin and doing 10 jumping jacks alongside the car, I said to my kid "Wow. That was fun. Now I'm ready for a normal car."
"Me too," she added. "This car is sure crazy."
You'll read all sort of commentary in future posts about this car and its daily livability. It's a simmering debate, at least among a few of us.
Kurt, for example, says it's the only car he'd buy if he had the money and that he would drive it every day, even just down to the Sail-In Liquor to buy a six-pack of Mickey's. Magrath and I, in agreement as rare as the passing of a comet visible to the naked eye, think he's nuts. We contend that when it came time to write the check, he'd opt for something more prosaic like a Z06 or loaded Cayman S.
But he remains steadfast that the Viper is so singular and theatrical that it's the only car he'd buy for that sum. Fair enough.
I was just happy to slide into the Sonata the following evening. Some things you just take for granted: An airy, welcoming cabin. Infinite seating adjustment. A padded armrest. Visibility.
No, the Sonata's direct-injection clatter doesn't warm the blood like the Viper's V10 at idle, or at 2,000 rpm, or anywhere in the powerband, really. But once on the road, the Sonata is smooth. It's quiet. It whips itself into gaps in traffic just fine. It will do most of the driving for you, if you prefer. I don't mean that in an autonomous car way, but rather in a way that melts away the outside world and lets you drive while letting your mind drift. The Viper demands your full attention all the time, every time.
And I concede that this is at the core of the Viper's appeal. It makes no concessions. Sure it has a stereo, but it can't keep up with 10 cylinders and side pipes. It has navigation and leather. It has seats. It's a driver's car in an era when that species verges on extinction. I tried to impress this on my kid as we neared home in the Viper.
"I know this car is loud and bumpy and tight, but I'm telling you, you need to remember this feeling and sound," I told her. "They won't be making cars like this when you're an adult."
Why not, she asked.
When you're an adult, I told her, many or most of the cars will probably be electric. You may not even have to drive them yourself. They most definitely will not use big truck engines. They probably won't be called Vipers, either.
As burly and visceral and endorphin-infused as the Viper is, I think it'd be a hard car to live with, to rely on, every day. For that, I'm glad there's the Sonata.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor