By KBB.com Editors
Quickly becoming a major player in the U.S. market, Hyundai demonstrates an uncanny ability to produce high-quality products at bargain-basement prices. The latest example of the company's accelerated design evolution is the Sonata, a roomy and well-equipped sedan challenging the dominance of the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry (at least on paper) but costing thousands of dollars less. Built at Hyundai's factory in Alabama, the Sonata boasts an impressive list of standard safety equipment, helping it earn a five-star crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
If you're attracted to the idea of a feature-filled mid-size sedan that won't bust your budget, the Hyundai Sonata should be one of the cars on your list. Also worth noting is Hyundai's very real commitment to including a high level of standard safety equipment on every vehicle.
The Sonata carries the unenviable burden of competing in the same category as the Accord and Camry, perennial industry benchmarks not only in popularity but also in quality. For anyone accustomed to that top-level refinement, the Sonata's higher level of equipment for the money might not be enough to tip the scales in its favor.
The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is now available on all trims, while the GLS trim can now be had with a V6 engine. XM Satellite Radio is standard across the line and the SE receives a power driver's seat. Limited models now feature a six-speaker Infiniti sound system with separate subwoofer.
Driving Impressions The Hyundai Sonata drives like a small car. On the plus side, that means more nimble and confident handling. On the flip side, that means a ride less insulated from...rough roads. Over smooth highways, our V6 Sonata GLS was comfortable and quiet, even with its low-profile tires. It also delivered brisk accelerationboth off the line and in short-order passing situationswhile the five-speed automatic transmission shifted smoothly and responded quickly to manual commands. Overall, the new Sonata does many things well. But, unlike some of its world-beating competitors, the new Sonata is merely equal to the sum of its parts.
Automatic Air Quality System
When a sensor detects an excess of pollen or diesel fumes, for instance, the ventilation system automatically switches into the recirculation mode.
Aggressive Low-Profile Tires
The same tires you might expect to find on a sporty coupe help to make the V6 Sonata a worthy companion on meandering roads.
Although the Sonata competes in the mid-size sedan category, the EPA actually groups it in the "Large Car" category due to its generous interior space. Even though it barely makes the "Large Car" cutoff, the Sonata treats front and rear passengers to a cabin that is spacious and comfortable, although some might find the front seat cushion lacking in thigh support due to its minimal up-angle adjustment. The attractive environment also features nicer materials and cleaner designs than many might expect, with the possible exception of the center of the instrument panel, and the Sonata's designers have done a fine job in minimizing the effects of inexpensive plastic.Exterior
The Hyundai Sonata features significantly more contemporary styling than previous generations, though some might argue the design is also somewhat generic. The SE trim's available features, like dual chrome exhaust outlets and 17-inch aluminum wheels equipped with aggressive Michelin Pilot tires, provide a little more character. Overall, we like the Sonata's new styling, even if it's squarely on the conservative side, and don't see any single design feature likely to turn anybody away from the car.
One of the Sonata's key selling points is its impressive equipment list, including an admirable array of standard safety features. The base Sonata features a sophisticated 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system, cruise control, keyless entry, power windows and door locks, heated power side mirrors and leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel (V6 only). The long list of standard safety equipment includes front, front-side and front- and rear-curtain airbags, electronic stability control, traction control, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) and whiplash-reducing active front head restraints.
Available upgrades include a 234-horsepower V6, four-speed and five-speed automatic transmissions with manual gear select, sunroof, Infinity AM/FM/6 CD/MP3 sound system, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, automatic headlights, trip computer, fog lights, heated front seats, eight-way power driver's seat and auto-dimming rearview mirror. Many of these features are standard on the SE and Limited.
The base powertrain package in the 2008 Hyundai Sonata is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder mated to a five-speed manual transmission, which complements the car's nimble handling better than the same engine in combination with the available four-speed automatic transmission. With dual overhead cams and continuously variable valve timing, this all-aluminum engine is good for 162 horsepower and 164 pound-feet of torque. The best partnership under the hood, however, is the sophisticated new 3.3-liter V6 and the responsive five-speed automatic transmission. With 234 horsepower, 226 pound-feet of torque and manually selectable gears, it isn't hard to coax the V6 Sonata into having a little fun.
2.4-liter in-line 4
162 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
164 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/31 (manual), 21/30 (automatic)
234 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
226 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28
By grandma on Saturday, December 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "roomy, safe and comfortable"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Test drove all the competition in 2007 and liked this one most of all. Much better value for the dollar than anything in its class. After 7and a half years only thing I replaced on the car was tires recently, other than standard oil + filter changes. Rides like a full sized luxury sedan with as much room as any of them and yet still gets great gas mileage. I will be buying another Hyundai in the future without a doubt."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By James on Saturday, November 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 78,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I bought this car because it was cheap and I thought it would be reliable. It is not reliable. The transmission needed rebuilt at 65000 mile. I will never buy another hyundai again. I will stick with Honda. These Korean cars are very inexpensive and maybe I just had bad luck and got a lemon but the build quality and driving experience are so very poor. I feel like I'm driving a plastic throwaway toy. Never ever ever buy a 2006 Hyundai Sonata. Bottom line poor quality and poor driving experience. Buy a toyota or a Honda."
8 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By butterum on Saturday, November 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 96,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "engine is the best (oil),comfortable,affordable"
Cons: "Not good with potholes"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This car was purchased as a "new used" car at 38000 miles. I have had no engines problems until because learning it is very important to change the oil at least every 3 months. I am having issues with the oil pump and it is taking a haul on my engine. But this car has amazed close friends and family while having it for about 6 years with very little Maintanence. It ran well with minimal problems. Not good for city streets, many axle problems due to pot holes. DC potholes are enormous! If you visit, it's worth swerving to miss them."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By SuziBinSC on Monday, November 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "For a medium sedan the value cannot be beat"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I had to special order the car because I wanted the Cocoa Metallic paint color, and was certainly happy when it arrived. The mileage I get is wonderful-3 weeks on a tank of gas-and a very reliable vehicle to boot! My father is over 6 ft tall and can sit in the back seat comfortably, the trunk holds just about anything, and the back seats fold down for everthing else. I love this car, one of the best I've ever owned, and plan on buying a new Sonata in a year or so, but I'm not tired of this one yet. I'm waiting to see what new colors they come out with, as I like something a little different than all the silver and white ones on the road. The only probelms were when the dealer service dept scratched the dash and left the battery terminal loose(reset all my xm stations!)"
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By jerry on Monday, November 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 69,775overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Cons: "Rough Ride"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"My wife and I have really enjoyed our car. No mechanical problems is a plus. Our Hyundai Service department has been outstanding."
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By maddogmorgan on Tuesday, October 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 62,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "mechanically reliable, fast enough, better than ma"
Cons: "Slow poke gas savings, cramped legs after hr drivg"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"This car ran reliably and without mechanical failure. The car mileage was hard to create: to match what the manufacturer promises, the car needed to be driven slow poke slow. It handled mountain driving at reasonable speeds, but with a loss of mileage. My husband liked the interior better than I did. The trunk held lots of stuff: definitely a value for people with lots of stuff or who want lots of stuff."
8 people out of 18 found this review helpful