Ford Mondeo and Hyundai Sonata comparison
MUCH hype has surrounded Ford's new Mondeo offering, not least because it aims to fill the mid-to-large family car void soon to be left by Falcon's departure.
The rise of the SUVs means the family sedan (or family hatch in Mondeo's case) is on the decline, but overlook them at your peril as there are some choice offerings out there.
Our long-term test Hyundai Sonata Premium for one has endlessly impressed with its cavernous space, decent comfort and excellent driving dynamics.
Ford's new Mondeo is an obvious rival to the Korean. We managed to secure a quick test in a 5-door Hatch Trend example, this being the mid-range Mondeo, not the range-topping Titanium that's just a tad more expensive than the flagship Sonata.
Regardless, a Sonata Premium and Mondeo Trend offer similar generous equipment, are both powered by 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol turbos with near identical outputs, and use six-speed autos.
On paper the Mondeo is the less thirsty of the two, but I typically average around 8-litres/100km in our Sonata, impressively lower than Hyundai quotes.
Parking the two same-coloured family cars together and they're both easy on the eye. An attractive pair indeed with desirable design and style, but for me the Mondeo's almost Aston/Jaguar inspired front end trumps the Sonata, but the big Hyundai looks more attractive in profile and from behind.
Size-wise both excel, as they should as family haulers. The Mondeo's hatch opening is the more practical, but so vast is the Sonata boot that I've never had cause for complaint loading in gear.
Where the Sonata edges it though is rear passenger space. Kids or adults will have no grumbles in the Mondeo's back seats, but the Sonata's rear leg room is otherwordly, making it feel like a true large car.
For the front occupants the dashboard in each of the cars is clean, well laid out and dominated by large touchscreens - both 8-inchers. And credit to Ford for dropping its over-busy and overwhelmingly button-heavy dashes of old.
Specification-wise the Mondeo edges it. I don't want for much in the Sonata Premium with its heated and ventilated leather appointed electric seats, dual zone climate, rear camera, navigation and panoramic glass sunroof, but the Mondeo Trend offers likewise (except the glass roof, standard on the Titanium) and adds more active safety gear like collision warning, Active City Stop, Lane Keeping Aid and even seatbelt-mounted airbags.
In short the Mondeo is impressively loaded even in Trend guise, and move into Platinum for $44,290 (just over $2000 more than Sonata Premium), and its specs are phenomenal, particularly on the safety front.
Live with either the Mondeo or Sonata and you're rewarded with cruisers that are equal in ride comfort and quietness; both will eat through the kilometres with ease.
But where the Hyundai stands out is on the off-highway stuff. The Mondeo's not bad at all - its engine has decent shove and sounds superb - but to my mind Ford has certainly erred towards ride comfort over driving thrills, and its six-speed auto is a bit tardy at times.
The Sonata with its regional-developed suspension set-up seems to ace both ride comfort and the twisty stuff - a source of constant pleasure and surprise to me. Show me a backroad through the hills and I'd go Hyundai over Ford, but that's more a reflection on how rewarding a steer the Korean is rather than there being a problem with the Mondeo.
A shame then it's the Mondeo that has steering wheel paddle shifters when it's the Sonata that would benefit most from them.
I'd be genuinely chuffed to have either of these mid-size family cars on my driveway, reaffirming my belief that too many buyers jump straight into SUV ownership without properly considering such alternatives.
Personally I'd stay loyal to my test Sonata as I've fallen for its backroad talents and near faultless cabin, but if you want the higher specification and goodies - and the Ford's beguiling design - I'd also recommend the Mondeo in a heartbeat.
Commodore and Falcon will soon be gone, but it's as if family car buyers have never had it so good.
Model: Hyundai Sonata Premium.
Details: Four-door front-wheel drive mid-size sedan
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol generating 180kW @ 6000rpm and 350Nm @ 1400rpm.
Transmission: 6-speed automatic.
Bottom line: $41,990.
Model: Ford Mondeo Hatch Trend.
Details: Five-door front-wheel drive mid-size hatchback
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost petrol generating 177kW @ 5300rpm and 345Nm @ 2300rpm.
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters.
Bottom line: $37,290 or $39,990 drive away from Pacific Ford Maroochydore, pacificmotorgroup.com.au