By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 8/3/2012
In a segment historically defined by everyday practicality and restrained styling, the 2013 Hyundai Sonata breaks the mold with its sculpted exterior design, feature-laden cabin and three efficient yet engaging 4-cylinder engine choices. Add to that an industry-leading 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, and it becomes apparent that the Sonata will continue to seize market share from well-established competitors, such as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Ford Fusion. Both the standard engine and the 274-horsepower turbocharged version employ direct-injection technology to deliver impressive fuel economy figures without sacrificing power, while the 2013 Sonata Hybrid represents the pinnacle of Hyundai fuel efficiency with its 40-mpg highway rating and lifetime-warrantied hybrid battery.You'll Like This Car If...
If you're in the market for a mid-size sedan and the usual suspects fail to arouse your emotions, the 2013 Hyundai Sonata could be the perfect choice. Given its generous level of standard equipment, its lengthy warranty and rising residual values, the Sonata offers perhaps the best value of the group.You May Not Like This Car If...
While Hyundai's groundbreaking Fluidic Sculpture design language resonates with many new-car buyers, some might prefer the more subtle looks of the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord or Chevrolet Malibu. When stacked up against the second-generation Camry Hybrid, the Sonata Hybrid suffers from deficiencies in driving dynamics, fuel efficiency and overall ride quality.What's New for 2013
For the 2013 model year, the Hyundai Sonata receives a handful of minor revisions to its feature content. GLS trims equipped with the Popular Equipment Package now include fog lights and heated front seats, while Limited models get a traditional moonroof in place of the previously-standard dual-panel unit. Standard heated front seats for SE trims round out the changes.Driving It Driving Impressions
For how quickly and smoothly the 2013 Hyundai Sonata pulls away from a stop, you'd swear there was a V6 engine under its sleek hood. Instead, 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 2013 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T sedan adds a turbocharger that brings output to a very healthy 274 horsepower. The Sonata excels in virtually every category, with excellent brakes and a suspension that delivers smoothness when the road gets nasty and level cornering when the asphalt starts to curve. Steering feel, however, is somewhat vague, and interior noise levels are a bit higher than those in competitors such as the Chevy Malibu and Honda Accord. From a comfort standpoint, our Limited trim level'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.Favorite Features
HEATED REAR SEATS
While some luxury-oriented sedans and SUVs offer heated rear seats, it isn't something you generally see in a mainstream mid-size sedan. And the fact that they're standard on both the SE and Limited trim makes them even more attractive.
HD Radio doesn't have the commercial-free appeal of satellite radio, but we have no qualms about a subscription-free radio service that broadcasts your favorite radio stations in CD quality. We wish more automakers offered HD Radio, and we're glad the 2013 Hyundai Sonata offers it on all trims.
Like its dynamic exterior, the 2013 Hyundai Sonata'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 2-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.Exterior
The 2013 Hyundai Sonata 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 headlights, its high belt line and sharply-raked rear window, the 2013 Sonata sedan projects a formidable presence few cars, let alone mid-size 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 Sonata's more appealing exterior features is the Limited trim's available panoramic moonroof.Notable Standard Equipment
Hyundai is renowned for outfitting its vehicles with a comprehensive serving of standard features, and the 2013 Sonata is no exception. Topping the list is Hyundai's Blue Link infotainment and concierge service, Bluetooth and a USB port with iPod connectivity. Safety equipment includes six airbags, the usual sprinkling of electronic safety aides and active front headrests to help reduce the severity of whiplash-related injuries. Like many competitors in the category, the Hyundai Sonata in base form includes a 6-speed manual transmission and rides on steel wheels with full-size covers.Notable Optional Equipment
In addition to common equipment upgrades, such as leather seats and a moonroof, the 2013 Hyundai Sonata boasts an alluring list of optional features, which consist of a rear backup camera, a pair of premium audio systems and a navigation system with a 7-inch touch-screen and real-time traffic, weather, sports and stock updates. The once-standard panoramic moonroof is now available as part of the Limited Premium Package.Under the Hood
Since both the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and hybrid powertrain are engineered with a specific purpose in mind, the vast majority of Sonata owners will choose the balanced performance of the standard 2.4-liter direct-injected 4-cylinder. Transmission choices include a 6-speed manual (in GLS trim only) or a 6-speed automatic transmission. Although it is Hyundai's first mass-production hybrid vehicle, the Sonata Hybrid is packed with innovative tech bits. Leading the charge (pun intended) is a lithium polymer battery pack that weighs 25 percent less than a conventional nickel-metal hydride system. Moreover, the 2013 Sonata Hybrid is capable of all-electric speeds up to 74 mph – better than most plug-in hybrids. When Hyundai corrects the sluggish throttle response issues and elevates the fuel efficiency to competitive levels, we might be looking at the next leader in hybrid technology.
190-200 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm (varies by trim and state emission regulations)
179-186 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm (varies by trim)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/35 mpg
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
274 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
269 lb-ft of torque between 1,750-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/34 mpg
2.4-liter 4-cylinder hybrid
206 net horsepower
154 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 35/40 mpg
A base 2013 Hyundai Sonata GLS sedan has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting a little over $21,500. The automatic transmission adds $1,000 to the starting price. Opting for the sportier, paddle shifter-equipped SE trim will bring the cost to just above $24,000, while the range-topping Limited 2.0T starts around $27,000. Compared to most of its competitors in the mid-size sedan segment, the Sonata falls on the lower side of the pricing spectrum, right in line with its "value pricing" philosophy. To get the best deal on your 2013 Sonata, be sure to check kbb.com's Fair Purchase Price, which gives you 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, and only a few percentage points shy of the mighty Honda Accord.