Risen to the top.
The Sonata is the most important car in Hyundai’s lineup, so the company has a lot riding on the model, which was completely redesigned for 2011. Like all the Korean carmaker’s recently launched models, the Sonata is truly a world-class effort that helps wipe away any memories of the heinous Hyundais of a couple decades ago. The mid-size Sonata is at or near the top of its class in a broad range of categories — some you might expect (low price, fuel economy) and some you might not (power, torque, interior space, driving dynamics). The volume engine is a 198-hp, 2.4-liter direct-injected four-cylinder (200 hp in the SE model, which has dual exhausts). Instead of an optional six-cylinder, the Sonata’s more potent engine is a 274-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Filling out the lineup is the 206-hp Hybrid model, which costs about $6000 more and sports a strangely aquatic face. It boasts fuel-economy ratings of 35/40 mpg city/highway and bangs heads with the Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Toyota Camry Hybrid. The styling of the Sonata is a big step up from that of its predecessor, with nice proportions and an elegant arc that sweeps from front to rear, although the distorted-looking grille can take some getting used to. Add in a low price, and the Sonata is one of the stronger contenders in its hypercompetitive class.
new for 2013
The two-pane panoramic sunroof is now available only on Limited models, which now get a traditional smaller sunroof as standard equipment. Also, heated seats are now standard on all Sonatas except for the base GLS.
Front, front side, and side curtain air bags; active front head restraints; ABS; traction and stability control; the Blue Link telematics system; electronic brake-force distribution; and tire-pressure monitors are standard on all Sonatas.
A star in a tough segment
Excellent fuel mileage
Steering feel is artificial
Brakes aren’t very confidence inspiring
Base Price Range: $21,670–$28,370
TRIM LEVELS: GLS, SE, SE 2.0T, Hybrid, Limited, Limited 2.0T
BODY STYLE: Sedan, 5-passenger
ENGINES: 2.0L turbo I-4, 274 hp, 269 lb-ft
2.4L I-4, 198/200 hp, 184/186 lb-ft
2.4L I-4/electric hybrid, 206 hp, 195 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: 103.8 cu ft
CARGO SPACE: 16.4 cu ft