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I once read a quote by Pete Seeger that said “Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don’t.”

Last month I had the privilege of truly experiencing the 2015 Hyundai Sonata. What started out as a trip to Montgomery, Alabama to test drive the new Sonata turned into a tour of the Hyundai manufacturing plant where we drove a brand new Sonata right off the production line. It would be an understatement to say this was one of the best experiences I have had at an auto event.

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Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) , is a production plant in Montgomery, Alabama where Hyundai builds their popular sedans— the Elantra and Sonata. The plant runs 24/7, breaking it up into three shifts where they produce 1,000 cars a day.

To start the tour we hopped on a tram that was waiting for us just outside. During the tour we saw rolls of thin metal being formed, welded by robots, and sent off to be painted in another building.

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Unfortunately we were unable to see the vehicles being painted due to dust we could bring in so we headed to the third building where we saw employees assembling the future Elantras and Sonatas. The cars are moved along a big conveyor belt from station to station for assembly.

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At the end of the tour we stepped off the tram where a line of 2015 Sonata’s were waiting for us to drive off the line. Seriously an amazing treat. Being able to tour the plant was a huge component in telling the Sonata story and I am so glad we were able to do this before driving the Sonata. It made us appreciate all the hard and valuable work put into making these— IIHS Top Safety Pick— Sonata’s.

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My drive partner, Kristin from In Deep H20, raced to the Sonata Sport 2.0T and claimed it as ours for the first leg of the trip. You can read about the Sport 2.0T here.

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For the second leg of our trip we traded in the Sport 2.0T for the Sonata Limited. I couldn’t wait to experience driving this model as it is a competitor to the Ford Fusion, which I currently own, and a vehicle that I could eventually consider.

The 2015 Sonata Limited has an attractive design. With its bold front end that features sleek LED daytime running lights and HID Xenon Headlights that compliment the chrome front grille, the design will immediately catch the eyes of those around you. The back end of the Sonata Limited features LED tail lights and chrome-tipped dual exhaust, giving the Sonata an overall sporty and modern look.

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Once inside the Sonata Limited you get a sense of a luxury that slightly reminded me of the Hyundai Genesis I drove back in April. The interior was impressively spacious and is quite larger than most mid-sized sedans I have driven in its class— including my current Ford Fusion.

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Woodgrain accents lined the interior which added to its sleek, premium look. Something I admired in the 2015 Genesis.

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The dashboard in the 2015 Sonata Limited is completely user friendly. With its intuitive design it helps drivers keep their eyes on the road at all times. The 8-inch navigation screen offers a unique dual screen appearance which allows the driver or passengers to view the turn-by-turn directions while being able to control the music on the Dimension® premium audio system.

Adding to the tech- forward multimedia system, Hyundai offers 2015 Sonata Limited drivers the next-generation Blue Link technology and Apple’s CarPlay.

If you are not familiar with Blue Link it’s an amazing technology that offers features like: Automatic Collision Notification (ACN) and Assistance, SOS Emergency Assistance, Maintenance Alert, In-Vehicle Car Care App, Remote Vehicle Start, Car Finder, Stolen Vehicle Recovery, Stolen Vehicle Slowdown — which gives you an ease of mind and makes owning and driving a car much more convenient.

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Word spread fast as Hyundai announced they were bringing Apple CarPlay functionality to the 2015 Sonata. Their announcement quickly became the talk of social media and journalists from all over couldn’t wait to be one of the first to try it out.

CarPlay is the smarter, safer and easier way to use iPhone in the car and gives iPhone users the features they want while allowing them to stay focused on the road. A Sonata equipped with CarPlay, lets drivers have the ability to make calls, use Maps, listen to music and access messages. With CarPlay, Siri provides drivers an eyes-free experience by responding to requests through voice commands and can be easily accessed directly through the Voice button on the steering wheel. Apple CarPlay is not quite available just yet but be on the lookout for an announcement in the near future.

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To help with the performance of the Sonata Limited you will see a Drive Mode button located near the shift knob. With the Drive Mode you are able to switch between Sport, Normal and Eco, which will help make minor modifications to the transmission, steering, and engine performance.

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As a mom, and someone who is on the road a lot, I love that Hyundai takes safety very seriously. With their advanced safety features they are quickly setting the bar.

Some safety features include:

  • Blind-Spot Detection system is used to help monitor traffic around the car. While driving, if a car approaches in your blind spot, a light appears on the side mirror to indicate you can’t change lanes. If you activate your turn signal while the light is lit, ignoring the warning indicator, an audible warning with steering wheel vibrations comes on to warn you.
  • Rear Cross-traffic Alert is a drivers dream come true when backing out of a parking space. This system scans areas to each side of the car when drivers are backing out of parking spaces.
  • Lane Change Assist sends out a signal to warns  you if it is unsafe to change lanes.
  • Lane Departure Warning sends a signal to warn you when departing the lane you are in
  • Forward Collision Warning can help drivers avoid rear-end impacts or minimize the effects.
  • Auto High Beam Assist automatically adjusts headlights from high to low beam helping drivers focus on the road
  • Driver Knee Airbag placed in the car.

 

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After driving the Sonata Limited it was no surprise that I actually liked it better than my Ford Fusion. Not only is it more technologically advanced, but the comfort, spaciousness, and style completely sold me. Plus, it is completely made in the USA (including the engine). After experiencing the tour of the manufacturing plant and spending all day driving the Sonata, it quickly became more than just an experience. I found myself wanting to drive it across country so I could take it home.

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata Limited gets 35 mpg highway and starts at $26,525.

 

Disclaimer: Hyundai flew me out to Montgomery, AL to test drive the New Sonata. All expenses were paid but opinions are my own.*