Alternate title - "A funny thing happened on the way to the chiropractor" Having seen so many of the new vehicles recently at the New York International Auto Show, I never miss the chance to point out some of the newest to my wife when we are out driving somewhere. I pointed out the new Sonata and noted it was the only full size car available with a 35mpg highway rating, and it costs 2/3 as much as other full size sedans. Since my wife has a back injury, her first question was whether the seats would be ok for her. I had told her when I first sat in a Sonata in late March that they'd likely suit her well, and she said, "maybe I should drive one and see how it feels". I knew that my local Hyundai dealer had two 6MT Sonatas on the lot, one silver and one black plum, as of late March. So that night, I check stock again and I see the silver one sold, and they still had the black plum. The next day, we head over to the chiropractor, then do a little geocaching, and then decide to stop off at the dealer. We drive into the lot and what is in front of the dealer's front doors but a black plum Sonata. I trot over and look inside - salesperson behind the wheel - and I see it's a stick. I point and tell my wife, "this is the one". The only 6MT on the lot, and it was parked right in front of the door, engine idling. They were going to move it into the showroom. Because the Sonata is selling so fast, they keep selling whatever they have on the floor, and this stick version was probably the least likely to sell. So the salesman hears me say, "this is the one", and he asks me if we're interested. I said yes, we'd like to drive it. It'd be my wife's car, so she was the one behind the wheel. He took a copy of her license and we were off. The dash cluster was set on iFCD. I couldn't see much detail from the passenger seat, but I noticed as we drove along the expressway service road that a light touch on the throttle kept the iFCD pegged at 50mpg (the upper limit of the graph) in both 5th and 6th gears. This car has a lot of promise as a highway cruiser. The seats seem perfect for her. And she also remarked that the seatbelts are more comfortable, the ride seemed very composed with less harshness than her other car, and the steering seemed lighter and more precise. I would chalk those last two up to the Sonata's lighter weight and stiffer chassis. We have been looking for an inexpensive car for a couple of years now - one that we can run up a zillion miles without having to wear out our daily drivers - cars we love but cannot replace because they ended production. So my idea was to get something comfortable, safe, fuel efficient, and reliable enough that we can use it as an interstate runabout. The list has changed over the years, and it all seemed to come to a single conclusion in the Sonata 6MT. The EPA rating for the Sonata with a stick is 24 city and 35 highway. What sold me on it was seeing that iFCD pegged during gentle driving. My wife now wants a ScanGage so she will be able to see numbers over 50. Driving a car with an automatic, she hasn't been giving me the numbers from the gas receipts because she said the numbers never change. And she's right, for the most part. With a computer-controlled automatic, and driving the same car over the same routes using the same techniques results in fairly consistent mpg's. The only way to break through the everyday-mpg numbers is to throw the book at it. Now that she has a 6MT, she knows that she can make that car sing - or squawk or screech - depending on how she drives it. And she knows the basics and is a good student, too. This is gonna be a fun car. When the car left the showroom, the aFCD read 17.9mpg. That would include hours of idling and short bursts around the lot, and maybe a couple of test drives. My wife took great pride in boosting that 17.9 average to 19.1 after driving only 2.4 miles on suburban sidestreets. I included the 19.1mpg number in the photo gallery because it's the last time we will ever see it. The next tank will be 50% higher if not more. Interesting note: I read in the manual (I already downloaded the pdf so I can learn about all the features) that the aFCD resets itself whenever 1.6 gallons (6 liters) or more are added to the tank. So the aFCD on the new Sonata is a tank average and not a lifetime FE indicator. The car has less than 100 miles as I write this, so it hasn't been broken in or set up yet. The oil cap and owners manual both recommend 5w20 motor oil, and I am snooping around Hyundai sites to see if 0w20 is acceptable. The tires likely need more air (placard is 33, sidewall is 44), and then it will really start to shine. For now, I am leaving it "dealer original" to see what the first couple of tanks read when set up completely stock. The wife is taking it home to NEPA and will be running it around the highways up there, seeing how well it handles the mountains. I can't wait to see what's in store as the engine loosens up. If the Sonata delivers the highway fuel economy I think it will, it might just be the steal of the century. Our 6MT Sonata GLS has only two options - floor mats and iPod cable - and had a sticker total of a tick over $20k. Here are some of the standard features: - 6 speaker AM/FM/XM/CD radio, with bluetooth and USB and iPod connections. - Steering wheel controls for radio, bluetooth and cruise control. - Power windows, power locks (with remote keyless entry) and power heated mirrors. - Air conditioning with air filtration. - Four wheel disc brakes with ABS with EBD & brake assist, traction control, and stability control. - Six airbags, active front head restraints and seatbelt pretensioners. - Tilt and telescoping steering wheel. - Advanced trip computer (with iFCD and aFCD) and Eco indicator light. - Split folding rear seats. Trunk has valet switch to secure luggage compartment contents. For the price, the content level is impressive. And it's a truly modern full size car, with over 120 cubic feet of passenger and luggage space in a light weight (about 3150 pounds) aerodynamic body shell, and an EPA of 24/35. Hyundai just broke another all time sales record for this past April, so it seems that many buyers agree. Karen takes delivery of her new mpg machine An inviting modern interior places all controls in easy reach. Ride is quiet and well isolated. More pictures to follow below.