By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.8
If ever there was a car that proved that if you build it well, they will come (and buy it), it's the 2012 Hyundai Sonata. The Sonata was once was just a low-priced midsize sedan with a great warranty, but the current Sonata has taken the market by storm. From its stunning sculpted exterior, to its modern and feature-filled interior, to a suite of powerful yet fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engines, the 2012 Hyundai Sonata hits every target with pin-point accuracy. Up against heavy hitters like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, the Sonata comes out smelling like rose, and a very inexpensive rose at that. Its engine uses the latest gasoline direct-injection technology to deliver some of the best fuel economy figures in the segment, and there is even a hybrid model to appeal to the super-green consumer who still needs the practicality of a big, roomy sedan.
If you're looking for a midsize sedan that is fresh, stylish and loaded with the latest technology for less than $30K, the 2012 Hyundai Sonata is a must drive. Its base price starts around $20,000, but it won't cost much more to move to the higher trim levels, which include a turbocharged model and a super-efficient hybrid.
Unless you're turned off by the 2012 Hyundai Sonata sedan's looks or untested long-term repair history, there isn't much not to like about a midsize sedan that looks like a high-end luxury car, has a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and touts resale figures just a few percentage points behind the segment-leading Honda Accord sedan.
For 2012, the Sonata Limited gains a 3-piece panoramic sunroof, while all trims receive Hyundai's Blue Link infotainment and safety system. Cars equipped with navigation also come with HD Radio.
Driving Impressions For how quickly and smoothly the 2012 Hyundai Sonata pulls away from a stop, you'd swear there was a V6 engine under its sleek hood. But, what resides there is...a 2.4-liter direct-injection 4-cylinder engine producing 200 horsepower and delivering fuel economy figures of 24 mpg city and 35 mpg highway. If that's not enough power for you, the 2012 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T sedan adds a turbocharger that brings output to a very healthy 274 horsepower. The Sonata excels in every category, with responsive power steering, excellent brakes and a suspension that delivers smoothness when the road get nasty and level cornering when the asphalt starts to curve. If there is a weak spot with the 2012 Hyundai Sonata sedan, it's that interior noise levels are a bit higher than in competitors such as the Chevy Malibu and Honda Accord. From a comfort standpoint, our Limited trim's seats were very comfortable, the dash and instrumentation were nice to look at and easy to figure out, and all but the tallest test drivers found the rear-seat headroom and legroom to be exceptional.
Heated rear seats
While some luxury-oriented sedans and SUVs offer heated rear seats, it isn't something you generally see in an affordable midsize sedan. And the fact that they're standard on the Limited trim makes them even more attractive.
HD Radio doesn't have the commercial-free appeal of Satellite Radio, but it sounds better and it's free. We wish more automakers offered HD Radio, and we're glad the 2011 Hyundai Sonata offers it on all trims.
Like its dynamic exterior, the 2012 Hyundai Sonata midsize sedan's interior is a work of art. Following the exterior design theme, the Sonata's interior is a mix of bold shapes, smooth finishes and lots of attractive blue backlighting. The available two-tone interior package looks particularly inviting in black and wine leather, and features such as the Limited trim's heated rear seat are practically unheard of in other competitors. However, while we do like the look of the rakish rear pillars, the design somewhat cuts into rear seat headroom.
The 2012 Hyundai Sonata sedan is truly an original that will be hard to top. From its deeply-sculpted hood to the careful use of chrome trim highlighting the beltline, there is something old-Detroit-classic about this car, a throwback to a time when designers took risks and weren't afraid to produce something unique and dramatic. With its beautifully-detailed grille and swept-back headlamps, its high belt line and sharply-raked rear window, the 2012 Hyundai Sonata sedan projects a formidable presence few cars, let alone midsize family sedans, possess. The Sonata's wheel and tire sizes vary by trim level and range from 16-inch steel wheels with plastic covers to 19-inch split-spoke alloy wheels. One of the 2012 Hyundai Sonata's more appealing exterior features is the Limited trim's standard dual-panel moonroof.
Hyundai prides itself on offering vehicles chock-full of standard features, and the 2012 Hyundai Sonata sedan is no exception. The standard equipment list includes Hyundai's new Blue Link infotainment and safety service, Bluetooth phone connectivity, iPod/USB music integration and steering wheel-mounted audio/cruise controls. An impressive array of standard safety equipment includes six airbags and electronic stability control. Like many of its competitors, the base-priced 2012 Hyundai Sonata is saddled with covered steel wheels and a 6-speed manual transmission.
In addition to common upgrades, including a moonroof and leather seats, the 2012 Hyundai Sonata midsize sedan extras list includes a touchscreen navigation system, backup camera, multiple premium audio systems and XM SatelliteRadio/traffic/weather. When ordered with the moonroof and navigation package, the SE trim can now be equipped with a rear backup camera.
A turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and hybrid powertrain join the lineup for the 2012 model year, but the most popular engine choice for the 2012 Hyundai Sonata sedan remains the most powerful, most fuel-efficient 4-cylinder (non-turbo) in the category. The 2.4-liter engine with direct injection is mated to either a 6-speed manual (in GLS trim only) or a 6-speed automatic transmission.
2.4-liter in-line 4
190-200 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm (varies by trim and state)
179-186 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm (varies by trim)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/35
2.0-liter in-line 4-cylinder Turbo
274 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
269 lb-ft of torque between 1,750-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/34
2.4-liter in-line 4 Hybrid
206 horsepower (166 hp from the gasoline engine and 40 hp from the electric motor)
154 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 34/39
By NoHyundai on Thursday, September 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 79,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good MPG, Strong 4 Cylinder Engine, Superb Stereo"
Cons: "Rattles, Unreliable, A Ton Of Recalls, Cheap Parts"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"We have a 2011 Hyundai Sonata that was purchased in 2013. At the time of purchase the car had 57,000 miles on it and now it has 79,000 on the odometer. The car looks great, but we have had the following problems: *Dome Light- The dome light is supposed to come on when the car door is open. The light wouldn't come, therefore the dealer had to replace a switch. COVERED UNDER THE 60,000 MILE WARRANTY *Steering Wheel Paint- The paint is peeling and others are experiencing this problem as well. *Tire Sensor- One of the tire sensors went bad and had to have that replaced. The constant light on in the instrument panel is a headache. *Front Fender- The fender cover is easy to crack. We have two cracks because the plastic is so cheap and flimsy. Don't hit anything because it will ruin it. TOUCH IT AND SEE FOR YOURSELF *Fuel Pump- The fuel pump went out at 73,000. I was backing out the driveway and it just cut off. We had it towed to the dealer and they replaced the fuel pump. COVERED UNDER EXTENDED WARRANTY ($600.00 repair) *Steering Rattle Over Bumps- The steering wheel is now rattling over bumps. They say the part is $9.00, but the labor will cost an additional $200.00. (NOT COVERED UNDER WARRANTY) *Gear Selector Issue- Sometimes the car doesn't show the selected gear in the gear box. When this happens, the car usually jerks really hard and acts as though it doesn't want to accelerate. We also had other problems where the gear shift didnt want to shift out of PARK. This was fixed under a recall. This car has had several recalls including a recall with the brake system. The radio makes a weird noise at times when the car is started and I don't know what is causing this issue. I also hear a bumping noise that is coming from the back, so this could be something with the suspension. I live in Texas and the AC doesn't start to cool until the car is driven for a few minutes. I thought Hyundai's were reliable, but we have had so many problems with this car. The warranty expires at 100,000 and it will go back to the DEALERSHIP. NO MORE HYUNDAI FOR ME!!!!"
By loki on Thursday, September 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 53,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This is a very good car. the controls are in the right places and perform well. The driving is very good. a few comments: 1- the fuel pump failed at 50K. fully covered under warranty 2 - the mpg is not quite as good as the EPA rating. I rarely get 34 on the highway (admitted I drive a little faster than the speed limit) 3 - the door unlock buttons on the exterior front doors are annoying. one push for one door. two pushes for all doors but only if in a very short time. I never get it right the first attempt."
By CoachJDS on Thursday, September 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,800overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great value"
Cons: "Some quirks"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Overall, I am very pleased with the car, and you get a lot for the money. 2 things have bugged me. First, sometimes the engine randomly makes fairly loud clicking or fluttering sound for a few seconds on start-up. The service technician told me it was normal (of course), but he did know immediately what I was talking about and did have a logical explanation (that I cannot remember enough to repeat here). Second, the car has a reading for average fuel economy. However, it automatically resets every time you get gas, so you cannot get a reading over a meaningful length of time. Oddly, you can also manually reset the reading at any time. Why would you do that if it's going to reset at your next fill up anyway? This may be one of the stupidest and most useless pieces of electronics I have ever seen in a car. Anyway, I do like the rest of the car."
By Nacrina on Sunday, September 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 61,200overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Very affordable vehicle for its beautiful design and style. I enjoy driving it until I could afford a Lexus ISC but I was happy with its acceleration and keyless startup. I would highly recommend the vehicle. Only issue I had was that my neighbors had the same vehicle."
10 people out of 20 found this review helpful
By Steve on Monday, September 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "looks great, good price"
Cons: "not so much comfy seats and not a lot of head room"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Bought in late 2010 for 25,700 (1400 off with rebate, 1000 below invoice) and was a great decision. Pros - Looks sharp, good gas (says 24/35 and I drive a lot of highway and get 33 normally), good pickup/torque, great technology features (although it lacks the lane departure and backup warnings the new 2015 sonata is but not an issue with the 2013). Cons - Not the most comfortable. As it is an inexpensive car, luxury seats, arm rest, little head room are not that easy to get used to. Other than those and 100 bucks to upgrade the GPS maps are my only complaints."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Laura on Sunday, August 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "great style great ride and great fuel milage"
Cons: "problems with the 4 cyl turbos"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"Purchased used with 22k miles. We have had it in the shop twice in the first year. Now the third time it is in the shop getting a new engine. It only has 32k miles. Was told that they have had problems with some of the turbos. I loved every thing about the car, but I think we will trade it in when we get it back and get a Toyota Camry like my last two cars. Glad Camry has changed there body style in the 2015 model."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful