On sale in January, Hyundai's all-new 2011 Hyundai Sonata shown at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show shares much of its basic design philosophy with the redesigned Tucson crossover. In addition to transitioning from EPA "mid-size" to "large" category, the boldly contoured bodywork on this spacious front-drive four-door embraces the automaker's new "Fluidic Sculpture" character, giving the Sonata both a more riveting visual presence as well as an impressive 0.28 coefficient of drag. Like the Tucson, the 2011 Sonata also jettisons the optional V6 engine of its predecessor in favor of advanced four-cylinder power. Initially, the GLS, Limited and sport-oriented SE trim levels will share the same 2.4-liter naturally aspirated version of Hyundai's new gasoline direct-injected Theta II engine. Also benefitting from dual variable valve timing, the Theta II GDI is tuned to make 198 horsepower in the GLS and Limited and 200 ponies in the SE, courtesy of its dual-exhaust system. Also cranking out a class-leading 184 lb.-ft of torque, the Theta II GDI can be matched with either a standard six-speed manual transmission that delivers 23/34 city/highway EPA mpg or a new super-efficient six-speed automatic that boasts 23/35 mpg stats. Later in 2010, Hyundai plans to introduce a 2.0-liter version of turbocharged version of the engine as well as a Sonata Hybrid Blue Drive model that matches a 2.4-liter Theta II with an electric motor fed by a lithium-polymer battery pack. However details on those two variations on the theme won't be released until the New York Auto Show in April.
Underpinning all 2011 Hyundai Sonatas is an aluminum-intensive, fully independent suspension that teams MacPherson struts up front with a multilink rear setup and features energy-conserving electric power steering. The standard tuning on the GLS/Limited also brings low-rolling resistance tires on 16 or 17-inch wheels. Beyond its more overtly aggressive character, the SE suspension comes with grippier low-profile rubber on 18-inch rims. All versions feature standard electronic stability/traction control and anti-lock disc brakes with Brake Assist and Eletronic Brake-force Distribution.
All members of the Sonata set enjoy a long list of standards as well as some impressive optional equipment. In addition to iPod/USB inputs, the 2011 Sonata comes with Bluetooth connectivity and offers factory digital HD radio technology in addition to four different audio systems, all of which will include three months of XM Satellite Radio, NavTraffic and Data Services. A new voice-activated navigation system with a 6.5-inch WVGA touch screen, 8GB of flash memory and streaming audio also will be on the extras menu.