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If you're willing to take a gamble on a non-cachet brand name for your midsize sedan, the Sonata just may pluck at your heartstrings.
Excellent warranty, stylish sheetmetal, lots of bang for your family-sedan buck.
Noisy four-cylinder engine, some cheap interior bits.
Available Sonata Sedan Models
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The 2002 Sonata receives a new look, a refined suspension and an available automanual transmission. The standard features list is lengthened to include such niceties as remote keyless entry and, on GLS and new-for-2002 LX models, 16-inch wheels. In September 2002, Hyundai announced that it had misstated the horsepower ratings for all of the models in its lineup -- the Sonata's 2.4-liter four-cylinder is now rated for 138 hp, while the V6 is now at 170, the previously advertised 2002 power upgrade (11 horsepower) apparently notwithstanding. To compensate, the company is offering owners (of 2000 models and newer) three options: 10 years of roadside assistance, 6-year/72,000-mile basic warranty coverage or 12-year/120,000-mile powertrain coverage.
The Sonata is a thoughtfully designed family sedan that makes for a viable alternative to the more expensive and popular Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Three trim levels are available for 2002: base, GLS and a new top-of-the-line LX.
Under the hood of base models is a standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine making 138 horsepower. Buyers can upgrade to a more powerful V6 or get it standard if they spring for either GLS or LX trim. This V6 is an aluminum 2.7-liter motor making 170 horsepower. Sonatas come standard with a manual transmission in base and GLS trim, or can be ordered with a four-speed automatic (standard on LX) that includes a Shiftronic automanual feature.
The Sonata offers decent steering feedback, and body roll is kept to a minimum. Road and wind noise are adequately muffled, and the brakes stop the car with confidence. Riding on a front double-wishbone suspension and a rear five-link setup, the Sonata's ride and handling can be characterized as stable, smooth and responsive.
Inside the monochromatic cabin are plush seats, an adequate driving position and a nice-looking dashboard. Drivers will also find well laid-out radio and climate controls, a nifty penholder and a leather shift knob on GLS and LX models. The trunk is spacious with an extremely low lift-in height for ease of use, and the rear seats on higher trims fold down conveniently in a 60/40 configuration to expand the cargo area.
Standard safety features such as side airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners and a passenger-presence airbag detection system all contribute to a safer environment in the Sonata. Optional ABS with traction control is offered, as is a power sunroof.
Hyundai has one big advantage over most other manufacturers peddling bread-and-butter sedans these days. Aptly called the Hyundai Advantage, the company's warranty program is a great incentive to buy a Hyundai over one of the many other choices on the market. With the purchase of any Hyundai vehicle, consumers will receive an awesome 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, 5-year/100,000-mile corrosion coverage and a limited bumper-to-bumper warranty for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Roadside assistance is part of the deal, too, for 5 years and unlimited mileage.
Incorporating dependability and cutting-edge style in affordable packaging, Hyundai has come a long way lately, and the Sonata is proof of it. Desirable, safe and well equipped, the Sonata is perfect for hauling the family around town. If you're still not convinced that the Sonata could lure you away from that bare-bones Camry, Accord or Passat you've been salivating over, go drive one. You'll be surprised by what you discover.
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