As I mentioned yesterday, we finished our tour of Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama by getting into a 2015 Hyundai Sonata and driving it straight off the assembly line. This was something of a “Surprise roadtrip” – I knew we’d be test-driving the new vehicles, but I didn’t realize we would spend the whole day driving through the Alabama countryside by ourselves. This was my first-ever visit to the state, so it was a true adventure to step right into a brand new vehicle and start driving in a new area, armed just with a book of directions – part of the challenge was that we were asked not to use the GPS, so this just added to the mystery!
I was paired up with Tonya of The Traveling Praters, who would be my driving partner for the duration of the trip. We both drove two legs of the roadtrip in two different vehicles: The 2015 Sonata base model and the 2015 Sonata Sport 2.0T. Our goal was to drive from HMMA to Pursell Farms for lunch, then head back to the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel where we were staying.
Driving the 2015 Hyundai Sonata: Leg 1
I drove the first leg of the journey, getting into a brand-new Sonata that was parked on the assembly line. We tried to get some snapshots of the car before we started, as bloggers do, but once I felt the assembly line start to move I knew we had to hurry up before it rolled away. I actually pulled over in the parking lot so I’d have a minute to properly adjust the mirrors and make sure I could reach the pedals – ha!
Tonya read from our instruction book and told me where to drive from the plant. It was a total mystery to both of us and a true adventure to be in the middle of nowhere in an unfamiliar car, unsure of your destination. The 2015 Sonata has a ton of great features including full iPhone integration with Apple CarPlay and a built-in USB charger that Tonya and I used to keep our devices charged up; but I must say that I didn’t really spend much time taking advantage of all the car could do, because my attention was fully on trying to find our destination and drive safely. For the first half of the drive, I was white-knuckled on the steering wheel trying to navigate through lanes on an unfamiliar Alabama freeway and make sure I didn’t miss a turn. I’m what you might call a defensive/anxious/uptight driver, so I don’t like to mess with settings on the car and be distracted while I’m driving. There wasn’t a great deal of time to stop and get familiar with the vehicle as we were on a schedule for getting to lunch and didn’t want to hold anyone up, but once we got off the freeways and into the countryside, we did make a few quick pit stops for photo opps!
Since this was my first time in the state, I thought it was great that we got to drive through the country and see things that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Although I didn’t take advantage of all the Sonata’s bells and whistles, it did leave an impression on me as a comfortable, easy-to-drive vehicle. It was smooth to drive and I didn’t have to worry about anything other than trying to figure out where I was – I thought that was a testament to it; had I hopped into a vehicle with poor visibility or unintuitive controls, it would have made the drive a lot harder.
There was a pit stop at Shaylee’s Place gas station where we enjoyed yummy sno-balls from NOLA Ice and switched places. Tonya drove us from the gas station to Pursell Farms, a beautiful property in Sylacauga.
We had a really great time at lunch – I ate fried pickles and chatted with my friends, who had me literally crying with laughter at their stories! It was the perfect way to relax after biting my nails during the first half of the drive, so when it came time for us to leave and drive the third leg of the journey, I was a lot more relaxed.
Driving the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0T: Leg 3
I drove my final leg of the journey from Pursell Farms back to Shaylee’s Place gas station in the 2015 Sonata Sport 2.0T. This model has a turbocharged engine and is a lot of fun to drive – I think part of that is user bias since the drive back was less stressful for me and thus more enjoyable by default, but the Sport 2.0T also handles very nicely and is just a nice ride in general. It was definitely my personal favorite!
We stopped at a railroad crossing at one point during the journey, and while we were parked and waiting for the train, the people in the car in front of us did a less-dangerous variation of “Ghostriding the whip”, where the driver and passenger got out of the car, ran around it in a circle, and got back in. It would’ve made a perfect Vine video if we’d been fast enough to catch it.
I had more opportunity to use some of the features in the Sonata on the way home, so I did flip through stations on the Sirius XM/FM/AM stereo and managed to find one that had an interview with Adam Levine, because of course I did. With pop tunes going, I cruised through the winding country roads and had so much fun with Tonya. Our adventure was a true bonding experience! At one point, we were deep into a girly conversation about hair products when Tonya said, “Oh no, I forgot to tell you to turn!” We had gotten just a little bit distracted. Fortunately, the highway we were on had many easy turnoff areas where you could make a U-turn and get on the other side, so I simply pulled into one of these. As I prepared to make my turn, I wanted to make sure I pulled out at an appropriate speed to keep up with traffic. In the Sonata base model, I noticed that it did take a little bit of a push to get up to speed, so I pushed the gas pedal down accordingly; however, the Sport 2.0T has no hesitation getting up to speed, so I completely peeled out and flew into my turn, tires screeching and literally burning rubber and leaving black marks on the highway behind me. We both started cracking up! Tonya, my condolences on being trapped in a car with me for that long!
We made it back to our hotel and snapped one last pic in the car. What a grand adventure we had together! I’ll never forget my experience on this road trip, from driving out of the assembly plant to winding through country roads next to buzzards. Both the 2015 Sonata base and Sport models made it easy to drive and find my way in a new place. The handling is good – it’s the type of midsize car I feel most comfortable in, but with the leg room and spacious interior of a larger vehicle. Living in Seaside, Jai and I make a lot of short road trips similar in length to my Alabama drive – this week alone, Jai has made three round-trip drives to Portland and one to Seattle – so the route we took was actually pretty similar to much of the driving I do at home. I could definitely see us driving a vehicle like the 2015 Sonata in our day-to-day life!