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Another Prairie Drive with a Sonata

You could not make this up, if you tried.

A few years ago we had an opportunity to go for an extended Prairie drive in Manitoba with a Hyundai Sonata, our story is

In the interim we had an opportunity to review a Sonata Sport 2.0T.

A few days ago in Saskatchewan on a very tight schedule we get another Sonata, a 2015 Sport to go for another prairie drive. If Manitoba is flat, northern Saskatchewan is flatter if there is such a thing.

First thing that captures our attention, another prairie drive, another Sonata.

Doing a review there is always time to leisurely inspect a vehicle, drive it under different circumstances, roads, reflect, and perhaps even mentally compare to other vehicles.

It starts at the rental counter "What car do you have for me?" the reply "A blue Sonata" and we are given the key fob.

This was a case of flying in, stopping at the counter to pick up a rental vehicle, and having to travel an additional few hundred kilometers.

Mentally "Another Prairie Drive, another Sonata, can't make this up if you tried."

This Sonata is a Sport, with push start, keyless entry, dark blue metallic, a cool car.

If you have ever driven in the Prairies, the total flatness, the road and scenery disappearing in the horizon, has a tendency to generate "velocity creep". From the perspective that you are never catching up to the road, scenery. Its an eerie feeling.

Its a stunning bright sunny day, late morning, and this Sonata starts to "rock and roll" down the road. Its a Sport the suspension is stiffer, this car is similar in handling to the 2.0T we reviewed without the power which in the Prairies is a good thing in light of velocity creep.

This car feels good, inspires confidence, is comfortable, and after travelling a few hundred kilometers you are still refreshed to hold a business meeting.

To our travel companion "You know this Sonata feels good, and is a cool car to drive in the Prairies"

As an aside if you have to travel in remote areas of Canada, ensure that your mobile phone carrier provides service. In our case when we travel we have 2 mobile phones, with different carriers, its always the same phone, that defaults to "no service" in remote areas. Check with your carrier.

One more thing, travel in good weather, daylight, and augment your level of caution. The roads are good, the markings for curves are non existent, the signs of wildlife possibly crossing the road are numerous, as well as "open range stock".

Hyundai Sonata and a Prairie Drive is a memorable experience.




Explorer Winter Experience

A few days ago we had an opportunity to experience the new 2011 Ford Explorer in ideal winter conditions with snow, ice, even snowmobile trails. Starting in Quebec City driving east on route 138 towards La Malbaie, as guests of Ford. While absolutely taking the longest possible route to experience the Explorer under a variety of conditions. 

The photo gallery/slide how of the experience

Explorer is synonymous with SUV, the practical, useful vehicle for the active family, and yes its an enduring brand that Ford redesigned for the 21st Century, and wants to continue. 

You may ask...who needs another SUV especially one on the larger side of the spectrum. The "utility" market in Canada from the smaller to the larger segment has been steadily increasing, while the minivan market has been decreasing. We have mentioned on numerous occasions that Canadians prefer a vehicle that transcends winter, ideally with a sense of utility, and practicality.

Obvious that when the opportunity to experience the new Explorer in winter conditions presented itself we jumped, being especially curious to see how Ford engineered, packaged, styled this new Explorer, as well as experiencing first hand the various technologies.  

We find the styling appealing especially the curved rear area glass which creates a distinct identity, accompanied by an element of cool. The Explorer we were driving was a white Limited with Pecan two tone leather interior, rear bucket seats, and 3rd seat. The Pecan leather is a wonderful combination with the white exterior, especially with the glass top. The Limited version is full featured with power folding 3rd row seat, adaptive cruise control, Sony entertainment system with 12 speakers, blind spot information system, Xenon headlamps, power tailgate to name a few. The multi function touch screen in the center of the dash is a wonderful application, requiring a small learning curve, while doing away with numerous buttons. In addition to all the safety technology from curve control, inflatable rear seat belts...yes rear seat belts that inflate to name a few.

All the information, specifications, configurator for the

For the drive we were paired with Mark Toljagic who is a cool individual, we exchanged thoughts and perspectives on the Explorer, the auto industry, and anything else that came up during the drive. 

Out of Quebec City, route 138 is unique for the scenery the long uphills, the steep downhills, then we migrated to "rangs de campagne" (side roads) with more snow, lots of icy portions (it rained the previous Friday) to truly appreciate the capabilities of the various systems.

It started with "Lets try the adaptive cruise control, its totally cool, there its slowing down to keep the set distance, change lanes it will accelerate again". We were told that Ford is emphasising low end performance, and torque, as well as mid range, which this Explorer with the 3.5L V6 has a good measure. Usually when the low and mid is good the top end is conservative...not this Explorer, it aggressively attacked uphills with authority when asked. Absolutely...the 3.5L is well tuned across the entire RPM range, while the 6 speed automatic is responsive to the various road conditions.

The off road section (the snowmobile trail) presented an opportunity to experience the terrain management system, hill descent system, manual mode on the transmission. The Explorer communicates that it can deal with the present conditions and more. 

While making it look, and seem much easier than it is, and curve control will save an inadvertent driver from embarrasing situations.

This truck had 20 inch wheels with Continental winter tires that provided excellent traction on snow, ice, and whatever else appeared as a driving surface. Yes...winter tires make an appreciable difference!

We drove a further distance to arrive at the dynamic driving course at La Malbaie airport, stunning sunshine, not warm, lots of ice on the course. How often does one get the opportunity to experience the various systems in a vehicle. Here was the ideal opportunity to see what all these systems can do. 

The Terrain Management System is totally cool, while adjusting the acceleration for the available traction, we experienced Normal (dry pavement), Sand (allows wheel slippage), Snow (controls wheel slippage). Experiencing the modes under hard acceleration, and on the slalom course validates the sophistication, safety, and usefulness of this technology. Snow mode will save an individual from himself on snow and ice. While the curve control will keep the same individual on the road under adverse conditions. 

Its a superb full sized SUV for the family that is active, enjoys travelling with a vehicle, seeks adventure, requires a rear seat for adults, or full sized children. While providing exceptional on road and adverse condition capabilities that inspire confidence.

If you require a versatile vehicle that will serve for a myriad of activities, from dealing with snow, ice, adverse conditions, with ease and aplomb, while having the capacity to pull up to a 5,000 lbs trailer. As well as commuting the kids to various activities, or going out on a Saturday night.

Make it a point to experience the new Explorer.