The drive from Michigan to New York City takes roughly six times as long as hopping on a plane, but that didn't stop associate web editor Evan McCausland from making the ten-hour trip in our Four Seasons Sonata last month. Our Sonata was the affordable way to travel, as the frugal 2.4-liter four squeezed 35 miles out of every gallon of regular over the 1378-mile journey. And sacrificing time means big rewards in comfort. "The Sonata's cabin is by no means luxurious," he reports, "but it's far more hospitable than a cramped coach seat on a Bombardier CRJ."
Days before McCausland's trip, we took a look at the mid-April sky, said a little prayer, and finally removed the winter tires. The Sonata is back on its original eighteen-inch wheels and Hankook Optimo all-season. We're exited to have the Sonata back on stiffer rubber that brings more responsive steering, better handling, and an improved ride -- exactly the stuff that earned the Sonata its All-Star award last year. And our timing proved to be just right.
Although the bitter cold has disappeared, the rattles that we first noted a couple months ago have not. "When you're driving on a rough road and have the radio off or the volume low, it can be very annoying," noted copy editor Rusty Blackwell. Several drivers have traced the noise to the sunroof area and observed that closing the shade either stops or significantly dampens the chatter.
While our Four Seasons fleet has plenty of utility vehicles, the Sonata's large trunk proved just as practical for new homeowner McCausland, who loaded the car with provisions for cleaning: "Mops, vacuums, folding chairs, card tables, et cetera. I was able to fit everything in the trunk, although I folded a portion of the rear seatback to make room for a tall vacuum." Not long thereafter, senior web editor Phil Floraday easily filled the trunk with "a big roll of plastic (to replace the rear and side windows in a race car) plus a couple pieces of luggage." His home-brewed beer would have fit, too, but it rode in the air-conditioned cabin instead.
Floraday's Ann Arbor-to-Chicago trip was flawless save for a minor hiccup in pairing an iPhone via Bluetooth but playing audio through the USB cord. "Unfortunately, the phone wanted to communicate with the Sonata's stereo through Bluetooth streaming instead of the dock connector," he grumbled. "Each time I got in the car, the iPhone would play music through the dock connector for a few seconds before defaulting to the Bluetooth audio connection."
The solution is fairly simple, but inconvenient when you want to jump in the car and drive without fussing with the phone. To send the audio through the phone, the audio source has to be changed on the iPhone after both connections are made. "I presume this is an Apple software issue since I recently upgraded my iPhone OS and I don't remember this happening with our Sonata before," he noted. "It was a bit annoying to have to manually change the audio source each time I got in the car, but the system worked very well once I did my part to make it work."