The wife and I have been car shopping. Because it was for "my" car, I'd estimate I had about 70% of the say in the final decision. Here's how I convinced myself--and my wife--that I should drive a Honda.
For the last six years, I've driven a Malibu, a cheap V6. Despite its numerous flaws, I've apparently gotten too used to having the extra horses in the barn when I need them, too used to the feel of a midsize sedan. Goodbye, Elantra Touring. Goodbye, Honda Civic. Goodbye, Mazda5. Six cylinders in a flying V.
In the end, I was torn between a Sonata ('09 Limited) and an Accord ('07 LX). Torn because of the crazy features available on the Sonata, but because I really liked driving the Accord--and I got a great price on a high-demand model.
The Accord won.
Responsiveness. The Hyundai's stability control, touted as a safety feature, made me feel like it wanted to go where it wanted. Steering and handling felt mushy. The Honda, on the other hand, would do whatever I wanted it to, whether that meant cornering, accelerating on a short onramp, passing uphill, or navigating a parking spot. (The salesman pumped the Accord's "grade logic," but I didn't really notice it too much--our steepest grades are hills, not mountains. But it might be nice for road trips to see the folks in Wyoming.)
Reliability. Hyundai has vastly improved in this regard, but the car in my price range, the '09, was the first of a redesign, whereas the '07 Honda was the last. Hyundai has released 14 service bulletins for the '09 Sonata, versus 5 for the Accord (in two more years). Honda also offered the Certified Used program, with a powertrain warranty out to 7/100,000, while Hyundai clipped short its normal powertrain warranty, from 7/100,000 down to 5/60,0000 on a used Sonata.
Resale value. The edge here goes to Honda, and my informal assessment of the glut of '09 Sonatas on the lot, in 4- and 6-cylinder editions, versus the hard-to-find Accords with higher MSRPs, is that this trend will continue.
It wasn't a huge factor, but styling went to the Accord. I actually prefer the '07 edition to the '08 redesign, which looks chunkier. The Sonata is clean, but bland. Trim, even in the Limited, looked and felt cheaper. (One car I initially considered, the Camry, really surprised me with its cheap plastic components. And the nose on that thing--looks like it swallowed a warthog.)
I spent about 1900 less on the '07 than the best price on the Sonata, opting for cloth over leather and fewer powered accessories. (The more knickknacks, the more potential longterm failures.) I pressed hard for the Hyundai dealer to make a better offer, but they wouldn't budge, and I have a feeling they're going to regret it in a month, when the '11s roll in and the V6 is still sitting on the lot.
If I'm wrong, no matter. I'm a happy Honda owner, and glad to put the ol' Malibu behind me for good.