Pity the designer or engineer that has to come up with a midsize sedan that isn’t an Accord or Camry. It’s gotta be tough work. Not only do you have to create a car that does it all for the American driver – aces safety tests, fits five people and their stuff in maximum comfort, sips fuel, is reasonably priced and holds its value, has a solid warranty, and oh yeah – stops, goes, handles, feels and looks great – but you have to do it year after year without faltering.
Tag - accord
Hyundai’s midsize sedan has undergone quite the transformation in the last four model years. Take the 2011, for example – radically restyled compared to the car that came before it, the previous Sonata probably had the most pronounced impact on Hyundai’s catapult rise to the American mainstream. Glancing quickly at this new Sonata, it might be easy to label it a more conservative restyling of the same basic car. But to write it off as such would be doing the 2015 model a great disservice.
When Volkswagen introduced the current North American market, US-built Passat in 2011, it was a move seen as either heresy or necessity, depending on which side of the VW enthusiast fence you sat on. After all, if the company wasn’t going to trade on its “Continental manufacturing for the mainstream” appeal, what was the point? At least, that was the counterargument to VW’s claim that a midsize sedan designed specifically for the North American market would finally allow them to compete on price, size and content with competitors from Asia and the US. Despite being three model years in, we haven’t yet covered the “NMS” Passat on these pages. No time like the present…
The thought of hybrid loanership for a week usually fills me with the sort of dread reserved for visiting a dentist’s office with a dull ache in your jaw – the only way through the period of time ahead is to envision how much better you’ll feel when it’s behind you. It’s not that hybrids are bad cars, mind you – they certainly serve a purpose for a portion of the buying public – but very rarely are they geared toward car lovers, and instead tend to focus so single-mindedly on efficiency that the duty of actually driving becomes drudgery in their presence. Such was the case when I approached the Sonata Hybrid pictured – “here we go again”.
by Byron Hurd. Photos courtesy of Honda.
It takes about six seconds to travel from the stop box to the “time writer” official at a NASA Mid-Atlantic autocross (or “NASA-X”). If you’re in it to win it, those six seconds are excruciating. What should really be a short time might as well be an hour-long debriefing. Six. What did I screw up that time? Five.Did that wobbler back at the offset box fall over? Four. Did I tap one in that second slalom? Three. Does Jon Felton hate Miatas? Two.
But this time, I don’t give a damn. I’m not playing for keeps. Brian, this heat’s time writer, is smiling and shaking his head as he leans in to his radio. He writes it on a post-it note and reaches out toward my driver-side window as I roll up. “You are consistent.” He tells me, laughing. I know what that means before I take the slip from him.
That’s a healthy six seconds off what would be my normal pace for a course this size. I normally peak mid-way through my session, and if I’ve settled to a 67.49 on run four, it’s pretty much a given that I’m not going to improve much from here. So why the lack of concern? Simple. Today, I’m not driving a Mazdaspeed3 or an RX-8 or a NA Miata. I’m not even driving our Focus.
I’m driving a 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour. And let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like hanging out the ass end of a 4100lb hatchback-on-stilts.