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
A base 2012 Hyundai Sonata GLS sedan has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $20,500. The automatic transmission adds $1,000. Opting for the sportier, paddle shifter-equipped SE trim will bring the cost closer to $24,000, while the range-topping Limited 2.0T is around $27,000. Compared to most of its competitors in the midsize sedan segment, the Sonata falls on the lower side of the pricing spectrum, right in line with its "value pricing" philosophy. To make your best deal, be sure to check kbb.com's Fair Purchase Price which gives an idea of what others in your area have paid. In terms of projected resale value, the Sonata has climbed its way into the top half of the class.
By MarkSoren (KS) on Monday, December 02, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable, easy to drive and affordable"
Cons: "Seats are a bit stiff in the GLS model."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My MPG is around 30 on average and I love the way this car handles. I have no complaints other than the fact that I have the GLS model and the seats are a bit stiff. They aren't terrible, but they are stiff. But that's the only thing I don't love about this car. Every thing else is what I expected or more. The audio is fair, not awesome, but that's not too important to me. The bluetooth works great. The steering and brakes are awesome. The engine has plenty of pep for me. The controls are all easy to use and very easy to find. Plenty of room for a 6'2" guy. The trunk has more than enough room. The backseats have plenty of room for most people that get in it. I have had no trouble with this car and if it performs well down the stretch, I will be getting another Sonata next time."
By GinaJoseph (MA) on Sunday, November 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,500overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good looking, comfortable seats"
Cons: "terrible gas milage, transmission, rough cruising"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I paid just over $27,000 and have kept up with the maintenance. Transmission was completely replaced and the gas milage is the same as their 6 cyl gas model. Thought about trading it in but the best I could get was $16,800 on a $46,000 new car. That's some serious depreciation on a reputable vehicle. My first and last foreigh hybrid. Regarding the transmission, the issues that alerted me to a potential problem before the original transmission was replaced are happening again. I took it to a reputable transmission shop and was told the engine and transmission are binding and that the car is junk. Waiting for his written report."
By hsd (MD) on Tuesday, November 05, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great value. Comfortable, stylish, nice drive"
Cons: "Feel the road, Blue Tooth erratic"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have owned this car for 3.5 years and am very happy. On an average, I drive over 300 miles every week in this car. Other than scheduled maintenance, I never had to take it to the shop. Considering I paid less than $20,000 for the new car (yes, I didn't add some of the bells and whistles), I think it has been great. The car drives very well on all types of roads and driving conditions, if you can get used to feeling the road somewhat. The Blue Tooth has been erratic on occasions, which has been a bit irritating. Its 4-cylinder with fuel injection works superb, though it can be somewhat noisy when you rev it up."
By lou on Sunday, November 03, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"pros:great styling,responsive preformance, decent mpg, big trunk, best warranty available. cons: terrible steering, harsh ride,inaudible turn signals, hard to reach safety belt latch, confusing heater control, noisey valve lifters, growling sound in drive under load."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Alienimp (FL) on Tuesday, October 29, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,240overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive-Love the Sirius XM and other features"
Cons: "Lower gas mileage than the Elantras"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My Hyundai Sonata-little road sound experienced in the car and an iPod link for my convenience. I love the Bluelink option with the car. BlueLink helps me with Navigation, as well as remote lock out help. The Lumbar Support and the Blue Tooth option spoiled me, with the link up to my car, keeping me from having to look for the phone to call anyone or looking for my phone when someone called me. I have owned this car for 10 months and it is the best car that I have ever owned in 43 years of driving. I have purchased many cars in the last 43 years, but my family currently owns 3 Elantras and then I had the Sonata. I never had a moment's worry with the car. There were no problems, the car started all of the time and ran smoothly. I ownly had my Sonata for 10 months and had a prior Sonata that I leased for 3 months. My family has purchased 9 Hyundais in the last 18 months. We just love these cars for their mileage and their dependability. All of my comments are in the past tense due to my Sonata being stolen 4 days ago and it is a total loss. Am I going to buy another Hyundai? Definitely! I will be buying another Sonata as soon as the insurance settles on the car."
By Piggy (TX) on Thursday, October 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great look good MPG"
Cons: "Rattles & seems a bit cheaply made"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Keyless entry & start, heated seats, sun roof and look are great. Lots of rattles, cruise control intermittent problems. In shop a lot."
6 people out of 8 found this review helpful