WHEN I was growing up there were rules for car ownership.
As soon as a man was married and had kids, it didn't matter if he was driving a sports car, a convertible, a ute or motorbike; it was sold and along came the family sedan.
The only deviation from the rules was if dad still thought he was a bit outdoorsy and sporty, and then he was allowed a wagon. But beyond that, Family Man Dad needed his four-door sedan to suit his new "I'm a sensible grown up" status and to ferry the little darlings around in space and comfort.
In the space of a generation SUVs have picked up the goalposts and shunted them a few kilometres up the road, ensuring the family sedan has been losing market share at an astonishing rate as more parents opt for the high life of elevated crossovers.
I'm not here to slate SUVs, as having lived with a fair few over a number of long-term tests, I'm as much a convert as anyone.
But I haven't forgotten the sedans and wagons on the market, nor would I exclude them from my thoughts if I were to go new family car shopping.
I still believe, as a rule, that cars and not SUVs offer a more pleasing all-round driving experience, and can often be more practical and roomy than their SUV equivalent.
With the recent arrival of my second offspring, it was therefore an opportune time to live out what I considered my birthright from the early 1980s and become Sedan Dad.
I'd tested Hyundai's latest Sonata on Tasmania's superb Targa roads a few months ago, and the positive experiences helped reassure me we shouldn't give up on sedans anytime soon.
And increasingly, we normal folk have been eschewing the big four-doors for those market-snaring SUVs.
With 18-inch wheels and a pleasing body shape - I think the rear is particularly successful as a design - I'm quite chuffed having it gracing the garage.
Most impressive on my Targa test drive were the Sonata's road manners however. Shoving two fingers up to SUVs, its Australia-specific chassis tune makes the Sonata a staggeringly good steer, with balance and poise that nudges at the doors of costlier German sedan rivals.
With a 0-100kmh time of 7.2-seconds thanks to a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine it has some shove too, meaning overall it feels not only a sensible choice, but an enjoyable one too. Or is that just because I'm getting old?
All I know is at my age my old man was in his Normal Sedan Dad 1981 Ford Cortina 2.0L Ghia with its 74kW four-cylinder, AM/FM radio with not even a cassette player and a cloth rear bench seat where my three brothers and I would sit unrestrained - no belts back then, you see - for sedan family trips.
Now I'm the dad there are two child seats across the Sonata's leathery rear pew, and room still for an adult to fit alongside them.
A good start for this appealing Hyundai Sonata, so keep your eyes peeled for regular reports as I don my chequered slippers, light up the pipe (not with kids in the car, of course) and settle in to Sedan Dad life.
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