A Korean Surprise: The 2010 Hyundai Sonata
Nobody will ever get excited over a washing machine. It does one job and if it does it well, that’s enough to make you smile for at least a few seconds, but you will never get tingly over it. The same can easily be said of midsize sedans. There will never be one parked outside of a very expensive Beverly Hills country club and no super spy will drive one. Yet, that won’t stop theHyundai Sonata from being a damn good car.
What makes this machine so amazing is the fact that Hyundai wrapped so much into a package that costs so little. You get a 2.4-liter direct-injection four cylinder with variable valve timing, six-speed automatic with manual shift, an Ipod/USB/AUX jacks with Bluetooth, ABS, stability control, power everything, and a warranty that will outlast some of the owners, 10 years/100,000 miles, all for $20,195. That cost saving bundle is more shocking than this year’s San Diego Padres.
The 2011 Hyundai Sonata is the sixth version of the sedan in the Korean automaker’s history. The plan with this car is to offer families more for their money than they get with the Honda Accord, the Toyota Camry, the Chevrolet Malibu, and so on. On paper, this is the best car for the money.
Hit the jump to read on.
One look at the spec sheet and you would have to be dense to not find the numbers amazing. Under the hood is a 198 horsepower motor that can achieve 35 miles per gallon on the highway. Some have even reported that they managed 40 mpg. The four-cylinder Accord LX only gives you 177 horsepower and 31 mpg. Not to mention the biggest problem with the Honda sedan; it’s $1,660 more than the Sonata.
We are not trying to say that the Sonata is a better car. Yet. We are simply saying that when you put brand imagery aside, you get one amazing piece of kit for the money. In a way, this car should be a huge hit with the public. Anybody who is sensible will usually investigate his or her next car before they buy it. During these epic investigations, it would be hard not to determine that the Sonata is top dog. The Hyundai is an Omega or a Tag Heuer, to the competitions Rolex. Just as good, but at a cheaper cost.
So, is the price the only reason to buy the Hyundai, or are there other reasons as well?
This is a gorgeous car. Not Aston Martin gorgeous, but a few notches below. While other car companies are creating new ways to open your doors without a remote, Hyundai has been working on style. The car has a handsome look, like it flows from the front all the way to the back. The chrome line that starts around the hood area and runs along the side of the car is a unique touch that helps this car stand out in a crowd. There is a small dash of Volkswagen CC and a hint of Mercedes-Benz CLS in the design.
Buying the Sonata proves that you are an intelligent human and that you can go out and investigate cars, not just run to one brand because you have been for years or because they are the safe bet. Buying this car tells people that you have style and it helps that the look of the car shouts luxury. The car gives off the same vibe as a BMW, Audi, or Mercedes. Take off the Hyundai badge and people wouldn’t have the slightest clue what you were driving. All they would know is that it looks incredibility nice and that it was probably pretty expensive.
Once you sit down in the big plush seats you realize that the interior is a pretty special place as well. It’s roomy, comfortable, and has some interesting design elements. The center console pours down from the dash like a waterfall and the buttons are so well made that they feel solid. That being said, there are some hard plastics and the door latches feel a tad hollow. If Hyundai is reading this, you need to add a bit more substance to the places that people touch.
On the road, for all the Sonata’s fuel saving high-tech injection, the motor has an interesting sound to it. The valve click is quite pronounced and it almost sounds like a European diesel. Luckily, there isn’t much engine noise in the cabin so you won’t here the odd noises the 2.4-liter makes most of the time.
In spirited driving, the Sonata’s 198 horsepower makes up for that odd noise. This isn’t a performance car, but one is on the way and we can’t wait. The Sonata Turbo should be a lot of fun. Those who want a V6 model need to look elsewhere.
The steering feels smooth and accurate, while the body roll is controlled. You could have a lot of fun with this car in the corners. The six-speed automatic is very smooth and pretty amazing. The manual mode helps the Sonata shed its daily commute attitude and become a real fun plaything for those spirited drives. Though it may be good, we would have liked the option of a manual, but so be it.
On the track, the Sonata can hit 60 miles per hour in just 8.1 seconds and then on to blitz the quarter mile in just 16.2 seconds at a speed of 88.6 mph. Might not be world beating numbers for a midsize sedan, but it’s good enough.
In the war of the boring, common, and suburbanite vehicles, the Sonata clearly stands out. If you like the way it looks, you won’t be disappointed by the way it drives. If the Sonata were a person, it would have dazzling good looks with the personality to match. There might be a few annoyances every now and again, but nothing that a normal person couldn’t live with.
The 2011 Hyundai Sonata still won’t make you get excited when you see it parked outside your house, but it’s a step in the right direction.