Full 2010 Hyundai Sonata Review
What's New for 2010
After an extensive refreshing last year, the 2010 Hyundai Sonata stands pat with the exception of the GLS trim, which is now available only with the four-cylinder engine.
If the 2010 Hyundai Sonata were a contestant on The Bachelor, it'd be the perfectly adequate one who just doesn't do enough to grab the guy's attention. It's hard to find glaring flaws in the Sonata's formula, but its strong suits aren't readily apparent either. Unlike some of Hyundai's more recent products, the aging Sonata doesn't add that special something that might entice traditional midsize-sedan shoppers to switch allegiances. As you'd expect of a Hyundai product, though, the Sonata is value-packed, offering desirable features for hundreds or even thousands of dollars less than its rivals.
Hyundai has certainly made an effort to keep the Sonata fresh. Last year it brought out a slew of significant revisions, including powertrain improvements and a sleeker dashboard design with better materials. However, the Sonata's underpinnings were largely unchanged, and they date to an earlier period in Hyundai's renaissance (2006 was this Sonata's first year of production) when the company was focused more on imitation than innovation.
Newer efforts like the Genesis sedan and coupe, conversely, are not only good values but also creative and genuinely desirable vehicles. But what this Hyundai lacks in sophistication and curb appeal, it at least partially makes up for with peace of mind and value.
Uninspiring though it may be, the 2010 Hyundai Sonata is still an adequate midsizer that's worth considering alongside segment stars like the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Mazda 6, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry. The ride isn't as cushy as we'd expect from such a soft suspension (sport-tuned SE model aside), but on the flip side, the Sonata boasts a reassuring 10 year/100,000-mile warranty and a fuller roster of equipment than similarly priced competitors. Savvy consumers will see that the Sonata is potentially marriage material, even if freewheeling bachelor types are unlikely to be impressed.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Hyundai Sonata is a midsize sedan available in GLS, SE and Limited trim levels. Standard equipment on the GLS includes 16-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, air-conditioning, cruise control, full power accessories, heated sideview mirrors, a tilt steering column, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob (V6 only), a 60/40-split rear seatback and a six-speaker stereo with CD/MP3 player, satellite radio and auxiliary audio and USB jacks. Optional features on the base GLS include an eight-way power driver seat, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, Bluetooth, a sunroof, a trip computer and wood-grain interior accents.
The SE starts with the GLS's standard features and adds 17-inch alloy wheels with performance tires, automatic headlamps, a rear spoiler, a sport-tuned suspension, a tilt-telescoping steering wheel with steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, metallic interior accents, leather/cloth upholstery and an eight-way power driver seat. Optional SE features include an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth, a sunroof and a 240-watt Infinity sound system with a six-CD changer.
The Sonata Limited has the SE's standard creature comforts plus 17-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires, chrome exterior trim, a sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, full leather upholstery, heated front seats, wood-grain interior accents, dual-zone automatic climate control and the Infinity sound system. A navigation system (which replaces the six-CD changer with a single-CD player) and Bluetooth are optional on the Limited.
Powertrains and Performance
The standard engine on all Hyundai Sonata trim levels is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder good for 175 horsepower and 168 pound-feet of torque. There is also a version of this engine that meets Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) standards; it's rated at 168 hp and 163 lb-ft. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the GLS, while a five-speed automatic is standard on the SE and Limited and optional on the GLS. Available on Sonata SE and Limited models is a 3.3-liter V6 producing 249 hp and 229 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic is the only transmission available with this engine.
The Sonata's fuel economy is slightly above average for a family sedan, with the four-cylinder returning 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined (21 mpg city with the manual), while the V6 yields 19 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined.
All Sonatas come with antilock brakes, stability control, front-seat side-impact airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. The 2010 Hyundai Sonata scored a perfect five stars in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's front- and side-impact tests. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Sonata earned a "Good" rating (the highest) for frontal offset crash protection and an "Acceptable" rating (second-highest) for side-impact protection. In braking testing, the Sonata Limited came to a stop from 60 mph in a class-average 126 feet – performance was the same regardless of engine.
Interior Design and Special Features
Hyundai interiors have improved greatly over the past few years, and the Sonata's new-for-2009 dashboard design is no exception. The top of the dash is covered with high-quality soft-touch material, though the lower dash is hard, as is typical for this segment. The look of the center stack is striking, evoking luxury sedans rather than workaday family haulers. The optional Infinity audio system also deserves mention, as it produces remarkably crisp and clear sound for this price point. The Sonata boasts an adequately roomy backseat and a large 16.3-cubic-foot trunk.
In GLS and Limited trims, the 2010 Hyundai Sonata clearly prioritizes ride comfort over handling precision. The standard suspension gives the car a soft and compliant ride quality, though it's still somewhat jittery over broken pavement, an indication that this aging platform is not quite up to Hyundai's current high standards. In corners, significant body roll and completely numb steering will keep all but the most daring drivers from pushing the Sonata's limits. The sport-tuned SE model's body motions are noticeably more controlled and don't exact a penalty on ride comfort, but the car still has the same numb steering as other Sonatas. In the engine room, the Sonata's base four is class-competitive, but the relatively small 3.3-liter V6 is slightly less powerful than rival sixes and feels the part.