Back in black
Five years ago when I turned in my 1991 Mercury Tracer for a brand-new Mazda 6, I'd realized I'd missed on a few generations of car improvements -- air bags, side curtain air bags, digital odometers and readings, power locks and even a folding key that popped out like a switchblade.
When I returned to the showrooms after less than five years, I didn't expect many changes. But the field is clearly different with the car that I purchased to replaced my wrecked one.
One of the first things starts with the key fob, er fob, as there is no key.
You just keep it in your pocket and the door will unlock for you as you open it. Same goes with the ignition. With the fob nearby, all you do is put your foot on the brake and push the start button.
The car has Bluetooth, meaning that calls can come in through the car's system and speakers. Even after I bought my '6, I'd said that my next car had to have an iPod dock. This one does.
In addition to the airbags that my '6 used to have, this 2011 Hyundai Sonata SE comes with side air bags located on the side of the driver's and passenger's seat. It has a stability control that I'm told was invented by Mercedes. I was surprised that when I called my insurance to transfer the car over, they said coverage would be cheaper than my old '6, something that I attribute to these safety improvements.
It's interesting to note that the car's 200 horsepower from its small 2.4L engine is what my old 1977 Pontiac Trans Am produced in its 6.6L engine. (6.6L!) From what I've seen so far, it does carry a bit more power than my old Mazda, although what I've read in reviews is true -- the '6 had a lot sportier suspension. But all the extras thrown in (including steering wheel-mounted paddle gear shifters developed by Audi) are what makes this car worth getting.
I do miss my '6 but am happy that a sportier and hopefully safer alternative was available.