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 JiJi on Friday, January 30, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "see all of the above!"
Cons: "Only that you have to wash the car!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've owned MANY vehicles over my lifetime at various price levels and manufacturers (American and Foreign), this 2012 Sonata is by far the best car I've ever owned (even better than the 2008 Sonata that I once owned!). Handling is amazing, doesn't weigh 5 tons, and pick up is even better than the 6-cylinder Toyota Camry! It is so great on gas mileage that the gauge needle hardly moves (actually brought it to the shop to be sure the gas gauge wasn't faulty, and it wasn't!). It is roomy. Two large men can sit in the front and have to reach over to touch the other's shoulders! I've never seen so many cup holders and places to stash your belongings. A/C has no delay at all. Lots of trunk space. Added plus - if you are under 5'4", you will have a very confortable drive. Between the ability to raise the seat so you can see comfortably see over the steering wheel, other adjustments of the seat allow you to reach the gas and brake pedals easily *without feeling as though you're practically kissing the windshield*! Seat back and head reast are in perfect position for the human body. You may need a lumbar pillow for comfort, but that's it. Oh, tightness on U-turns is great - no stopping, backing up, put it back in Drive,hit gas, then go. Last and most definitely not least, the stereo is has great sound quality and will rock your whole neighborhood without even putting it at max level. It's killing me to part with this car, but I'm being transferred to Europe for job, it would be too expensive to ship."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By barhop on Thursday, January 29, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great price"
Cons: "none yet"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The car is very comfortable for four people to take on a road trip. It gets 31 miles to the gallon around town and 34-36 mpg on trips. I would buy this car again."
By sonny on Monday, January 26, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"have to lower seat so as not to hit my head when I am getting out. Very limited manual adjustment on passenger seat. Huge blind spot on each side around mirrors. Cloth on inside sides on leather seats. No backup camera and visibility poor. Lots of body twist due to panoramic roof to the point of making sounds when I turn into my driveway."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By Gracie on Thursday, January 15, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This is not a small car. This Sonata is spacious and has a lot of storage space. Strangers stop me to ask about my car. The mileage is not what was advertised but it is great for this heavy a car. Average 32 in town and 40 or better on highway. I do not plan to sell this car. I accessed this site to evaluate the value of my car. In my opinion, the value listed, at least for my individual car, is low. This car rocks. Only complaint is that I did not get a spare tire and the dealer did not point this out."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By JB on Tuesday, January 13, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "price, features, stylish"
Cons: "noisy ride, interior color is too light"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought a 2011 Hyundai Sonata used in 2011. I always said that the only way I would buy another car is if it was a Hyundai Sonata. I did buy a brand new Sonata in 2014. This car has been everything I wanted and more. The radio is touch screen and has all the options. The side mirrors have markers on them. The driver seat is power. The driver and passenger seats are heated. There are so many extras, I could go on and on. I get 40+ mpg on the highway. The only way I will buy another car is if I get my third Sonata :)"
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By john on Wednesday, January 07, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,500overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "good looks"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"i've had this car for two years.do not like electronic steering,very hard to make the car track straight without a lot of corrections.the tires are howling after 10,000 miles. sounds like a semi.has a lot of road noise in the rear of the car."
3 people out of 9 found this review helpful