Montgomery, Alabama, is the home of HMMA, Hyundai’s first manufacturing plant in the United States. The plant started production in 2005 and manufactures the popular Elantra and Sonata sedans.
Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to fly from my home in Ohio to Montgomery to learn more about the new 2015 Sonata. I admit, my knowledge of the car and Hyundai was limited at best, but I walked away with a deeper understanding of the company that’s worked hard to produce vehicles that are high in safety ratings and comfort. The Hyundai Sonata offers more interior volume than any other car in its class segment, with more legroom and headroom, which I discovered equated to a pretty comfortable road trip through Alabama’s countryside.
My visit to Montgomery began with a tour of HMMA, which is one of the most technologically advanced plants in the world. The plant is open to free public tours. Visitors begin their visit in the showroom where several Hyundai vehicles are on display. From there, visitors will watch a short movie and briefing and then board a guided tram which serves as transportation through the factory where you’ll see the many steps involved in the manufacturing process.
In addition to the 3,000 Team Members employed by Hyundai, over 250 robots automate both stamping and welding processes to ensure quality control, consistency and fewer injuries. Watching the robots stamp and weld with precise synchronized movements was incredible to view and one of my favorite aspects of the tram tour through HMMA.
At the conclusion of our tour, we jumped off the tram and directly into brand new 2015 Hyundai Sonatas that were rolling off the assembly line. Paired with a partner, we would navigate the roads of Alabama from Montgomery, northeast to Sylacauga, and back, about 150 miles round trip. We would have the the opportunity to drive two new Sonatas including the Sonata, Sonata Sport 2.0T or Sonata Eco. I had the opportunity to drive both the base model and the Sport 2.0T models. The route allowed us to experience how well the car accelerated, braked and how the Sonata handled the curves of US 231.
The 2015 Hyundai Sonata highlights the safety features I love; lane departure warnings, forward collision alerts, automatic high-beam assist to improve visibility, blind-side protection, lane change assist, smart cruise control and an automatic vehicle hold that when activated allows you to lift your foot off the brake when stopped and the vehicle will continue to hold it’s position. This is one feature that I’m pretty sure I would use regularly on a long road trip. Adding to driver confidence, more than half of the Sonata is constructed of advanced, high-strength steel and features seven airbags which includes a drivers’ side knee airbag. Improved fuel economy allows this vehicle a range of 23 city mpg, up to 37 mpg on the highway.
I admit, I didn’t use many of these features on the drive to Pursell Farms, as I was really focused on getting used to the Sonata on roads that I don’t normally drive while my partner read our directions from a map. I did feel that the car handled really well, with plenty of get-up-and-go when I needed it and great braking features for those moments when we spotted what we thought would be a perfect photo op with the car and the southern countryside.
The 2015 Sonata was a great road trip car. It was quiet, included built in USB chargers- perfect for a working blogger- or anyone who needs to stay connected, offers Blue Link Connected Care with safety features like emergency assistance, roadside assistance and automatic collision alert. It also allows you to remotely access your vehicle with your smartphone. I can assure you that starting my vehicle in the winter and turning up the heat before I ever step foot outside my house would be awesome for this Buckeye Girl. And for someone who always seems to make a wrong turn, the hands-free navigation is not to be overlooked.
Hyundai is also the first mainstream brand to integrate CarPlay, an exciting feature that connects an iPhone to the Sonata’s entertainment and information system. This allows users to access their phones features for music, navigation and hands-free texting for what is hoped will decrease driver distractions. While Android users are pretty much out of luck at this point, that won’t be the case for long. Hyundai has an Android option in the works.
A special thanks to Hyundai for introducing me to the new 2015 Sonata.
A couple more posts about Montgomery and Hyundai:
4 Free Family Fun Activities in Montgomery, Alabama
Big Turbo Fun in a Small Package: the Hyundai Veloster