The Hyundai Sonata brings to mind the 1990s Ford Tempo and Mercury Topaz compact sedans. What these vehicles have in common is plenty of bang for the buck.
Also like them, Sonata comes packed with value.
Tempo-Topaz came with a plethora of features that were optional in others. The trim levels were high and the creature comforts numerous. Styling was right up to snuff. The mechanicals were up to date and fuel economy was very good.
The ride was nice as well. Handling? Well, the ride was nice. The trim levels were high. Styling was right up to snuff.
Handling? Fuel economy was very good and creature comforts numerous.
Handling? Well, it was ok at best. The T&T compact twins like the Sonata were good point A to point B vehicles.
Although Sonata aims at a larger segment, the intermediate cars, the strategy is the same: a decided price advantage over the competition.
The Sonata GLS starts at $17,670 with a five-speed manual transmission and a 2.4L I-4. It rises to $24,470 for a 3.3L V-6 Limited with a five-speed automatic.
The tested $23,370 Limited came with the four-cylinder motor and a four-speed automatic. This is the first year Hyundai has expanded installation of the four banger to the top-of-the-line model.
|Hyundai Sonata Limited
•Engines: 2.4L I-4; 3.3L V-6
•Dimensions: 107.4" wheelbase; 188.9" length
•Base price: $17,670; As tested $23,370
•Fuel economy: 21/30 mpg
The results are what you would expect: a very nicely trimmed-out Sonata with the good fuel economy of the base – 21-mpg city and 30 highway. Only the manual transmission GLS barely beats that with 21/31.
The 2.4L Sonata of 162 horsepower pays the price in acceleration, posting mediocre times of 10.9 seconds for 0 to 60 mph. The car did feel livelier getting up there, though.
Handling? The Sonata goes well straight ahead with good on-center feel in the steering. On big curves, the car handles fairly neutrally until it begins to warn heavy-footed drivers not to push their lucks.
The hood is easily visible, side mirrors are a trifle small, and there could be more legroom for taller drivers. Cruise and audio controls are on the steering wheel and the interior is done in shades of beige with rampant fake wood. The eight-way power leather seat accommodations are fine. Seat belt chimes that sound off when the seat belt is unhooked, but before the driver can exit, are just plain annoying.
Welcome is a chassis that uses standard electronic stability control, four-wheel disc brakes with anti-locking, and brake assist on 17-inch wheels (for the Limited). The only Limited option is a power tilt-and-slide sunroof – worth it at $900.
The Hyundai Sonata stakes out its territory right in the middle of the road.