2011 Hyundai Sonata Long-Term Road Test

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Last Commute (Video)

June 09, 2011

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The Venetian Red 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS has left our offices, and on its last night in our fleet, I mounted a camera in the car, hit "record" and set out on Interstate 10. What follows after the jump is sure to be among the most riveting 9 minutes and 59 seconds of your life. At the 6:17 mark, I gently pass a Tacoma PreRunner.

Or not. Actually, if you get carsick easily, don't watch it. I mounted the Kodak ZX3 camera on the rear passenger-side window, bracing it against the B-pillar to minimize shake. And indeed shake is minimized, but instead of a head-on view out the windshield, you're kind of looking at the driver askance as if you were in the passenger seat... while enjoying a view of the LA skyline at dusk.

You'll get a taste of the engine noise during merging and passing from the first 60 seconds of the video. It's hard to get a feel for road noise from a lo-fi video, but my ears tell me it's moderate in the Sonata, and I think that's more or less appparent in the video -- you can follow the play-by-play for Tuesday's Angels/Rays game on the radio.

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Cat-Calls from Construction Workers

May 30, 2011

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The other morning I was walking to where the Hyundai Sonata was parked on a side street. There was a small army of construction workers nearby, completing some residential road work.

As I approached the Sonata, I heard one of the guys whistle. Secretly, I was pleased.

Until he yelled, "Nice car!"

I'll miss the Sonata when it leaves our fleet. But maybe not the competition.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: A Loss for Words

May 23, 2011

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Our long-term Sonata is approaching its one-year anniversary with us. Inevitably, that means I'm running out of things to say about it. Overall, I like it and wouldn't hesitate recommending it to car shoppers. But I've said that all before. It seems like everything about this car has been flushed out in the last 10 months, so rather than meekly posting some inane comment on the exhaust bearings or checking the horn fluid levels, I'm going to turn it over to you, our readers. What do you want to know about the Sonata? I'll be checking in regularly to answer your comments and I encourage my colleagues to chime in whenever they see fit, too. The floor is yours.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Visiting James Dean

May 20, 2011

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I wish I had some revelation for you. Some insight you haven't heard before. But I don't.

I drove our long-term 2011 Hyundai Sonata 820.6 miles in two days and all I have for you is more praise. It was the perfect car for the trip; quiet, extremely comfortable and very fuel efficient. It had plenty of power when I needed it and it covered 517.6 miles on the first of its two tanks of regular. Unlike the Volt, which I also drove to San Fran and back last month, the Sonata didn't need a gas stop until Salinas on the way back.

And its navigation system is fantastic. One of the easiest to use I've ever used. Sure the screen is a little small, but it's accurate and extremely simple to program. I never had to RTFM. And not once did I get frustrated with its interface.

I drove Interstate 5 on the northbound leg, so I changed routes on the way home, taking 101 South to 46 East to 5 South.

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Road Trippin' to San Francisco

May 16, 2011

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Last week we asked you which long-term car I should take on a road trip to San Fran and back. You overwhelmingly voted for the Infiniti M56, which is a great choice. But I've decided to take our Hyundai Sonata instead. Whoa, don't hate. I have two very good reasons for taking the Sonata.

One: Its 12 Month Test is over in about three weeks and I haven't taken it on a road trip yet.

Two: Its 12 Month Test is over in about three weeks and the Sonata is in danger of not making 20,000 miles. That's right, we've got some driving to do. This puppy needs some miles.

I hit the road north this morning. I'll return Wed. Hopefully I'll have something interesting to report when it's all over.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 17,079 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Low Maintenance and Repair Costs

May 13, 2011

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Our data team recently put together a list of the cars with the lowest maintenance and repair costs (more on that to come on Straightline), and the Sonata finished in second place. Our wonks estimate maintenance and repair expenses for the Sonata to total $2,495 over the car's first five years of ownership.

Under maintenance costs, the data team considered both scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. Under repair costs, they considered repairs not covered by the vehicles' manufacturer warranties, assuming 15,000 miles are driven each year.

Are you surprised at the Sonata's strong showing?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: New Sheriff In Town?

May 03, 2011

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So the Sonata had another good month in April, with sales up 17 percent year-over-year. Still, that wasn't enough to make it Hyundai's biggest hit last month -- that honor went to the Elantra, which sold 22,100 units to the Sonata's 21,738. According to Hyundai, the Elantra "is outselling all other 40-mpg compacts by a margin of six to one."

April's sales performance represents a first for Hyundai: It stands as the first time the manufacturer has sold more than 20,000 units in the same month of two different models. Nice going.

Do you think the Sonata is destined for life as, uh, number two or is the Elantra's current dominance merely the result of short-lived panic regarding high fuel prices?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 16,251 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Making Moms Happy

April 29, 2011

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"Why don't you call us more often?" my mom would always ask me. Argh. The fact is I'm not much of a phone person anyway so she really shouldn't take it personally. I rather use text messaging and emails for casual communication. That way I don't interrupt the recipient of said messages in the middle of their day and they can get back to me whenever. Plus, I'm not big on chitchat. In any case, I realized that thanks to cars like our 2011 Hyundai Sonata with its Bluetooth hands-free ability, I do call my mom a lot more now.

I know this isn't something that's special only to the Sonata but I came to the above realization when I was driving the Hyundai the other day. It was an especially heinous rush hour and with nothing to do but stop and go, I decided to call her up again, even though I had just spoken with her the day before when I was in the Kia Optima. Needless to say, she was delighted.

Now regarding pairing my iPhone with the Sonata, editor Carroll Lachnit blogged how she had no trouble at all connecting her phone to the car, while I actually did. No biggie, but I just didn't find it as instantaneous as she did. First the car has to be in Park, not just in Drive with your foot on the brake. Yes, that means, you can't even save time by having your passenger do it for you.

In any case, my iPhone had trouble locating the Sonata signal. It wasn't til I gave up after four tries that I just decided to make the phone call using my phone (still parked). But when I initiated the call, that's when the Bluetooth picked it up and suddenly I was now connected and talking through the car. That may have just been a fluke, however, since Carroll had not problems like that.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: The Value Of The Dollar

April 19, 2011

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You could get a brain aneurysm trying to pick a car in the midsize-sedan segment. There's just so much talent there. The Fusion really engages on the road but I like the Kizashi's refinement. And you can't ignore the lively Mazda 6.

I was thinking about this as I was driving the Sonata home last night. The sedan delivers in most of the areas that people in this segment care about -- decent ride quality, nice-looking (and durable) interior, great fuel economy. But it's swimming with some pretty ruthless piranha.

Then I remembered: Oh yeah, there's its price. And all the standard features that come with that price. The Sonata (along with the Optima, another strong candidate) is thousands cheaper than a comparably equipped Kizashi, the car that's my fave in this segment. Would that sway me? It might.

How much of a factor is price when you're making car-buying decisions? And how much of a price advantage would it take to steer you toward a particular car? Couple hundred bucks? Couple thousand?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 15,956 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Late Apex Banked Sweeper

April 18, 2011

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I'd like to know who is responsible for inputing racetrack data in the Hyundai Sonata's navigation system and buy him/her an adult beverage of his/her choice.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Beats Walking

April 11, 2011

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I just spent a few days in New York City, where no one but the taxi commission owns a car. I used to live there ages ago and thought nothing of walking and taking public transportation everywhere. But now that I'm a Californian I've gotten soft.

I remember when I first moved here, I used to walk about six blocks to a bus stop and then take the bus to the office. I was saving up for a car purchase but thought nothing of the commute. Everyone who I worked with thought I was nuts. Walk? Are you crazy? We don't even have sidewalks everywhere in L.A. This is true. On part of my walk I had to cross the street to be able to walk on a sidewalk and then back to the other side to continue on.

So, here I was in NYC, no car and plenty of places to go. Instead of buying a Metro card, I walked everywhere. My ankles still ache. But it was nice to get a feel for the city again. When I got back, the Hyundai Sonata was waiting for me at home. It felt strange to be behind the wheel of a car. But the Sonata is such an easy car to drive. It's comfortable, has an automatic transmission, and not too many gadgets that I have to RTM. No heated seats but it does get the Broadway channel.

The Sonata was a nice friend to come home to.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Still No Honda When It Comes To Resale Value

April 07, 2011

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Today Edmunds announced the winners of its 2011 Best Retained Value Awards. These awards recognize the brands and models that have the highest projected residual value after five years, expressed as a percentage of their True Market Value (TMV).

As you'd probably expect, Honda was all over this like spandex on a Tour de France cyclist. The manufacturer is the big winner for non-luxury makes, with an average projected retained value of 50.4 percent. Our awards are based on the average five-year retained value of the carmaker's 2011 models that hit the market prior to the end of 2010.

The cars with the best projected resale value in the "Sedan Under $20,000" segment are the Honda Civic, the Mazda 3 and the Honda Fit, while the top picks in the "Sedan Under $30,000" are the Honda Accord, the Toyota Camry and the Subaru Impreza. Hyundai models like the Sonata may be winning praise from journalists and consumers but the manufacturer still isn't setting the world on fire when it comes to resale value -- not yet, anyway.

In the minivan segment, the Honda Odyssey takes the top prize, with the Sienna earning an honorable mention.

Interestingly, our data team also points out that certain options can have a positive impact on resale value. Amenities such as a power sunroof, leather seats, and DVD entertainment systems can improve long-term value; safety features, however, typically have no impact.

Is projected resale value a deciding factor for you in new-car purchases?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Great Expectations

April 05, 2011

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For the $23,465 sticker that accompanies our long-term Sonata, you sure do get a lot of stuff. It seems like it's only been five or so years ago when many of the features in the Sonata were either in a higher price range, and option or not available at all. And that got me thinking, "What do you expect for your money nowadays?"

So I put together a quick list of popular features and how I think they fall into today's price structure. Red signifies not available, Yellow denotes an option and green means standard. Note: this is just my take on this, feel free to comment on what you think should or should not be changed.

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Flawed Gem

April 04, 2011

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There I was, reveling in the Sonata's pristine beauty in the morning sun. (As Donna DeRosa has noted, the Venetian red is really eye catching.) Alas, I had my bubble burst at the car wash minutes later when the check-in guy told me that there is a tiny ping/ding/pebble-created divot in the windshield. And he's right. (For the record, it didn't happen on my watch. I didn't hear it happen, anyway.) You can see it after the jump.

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: 15,000 Miles Strong

March 23, 2011

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Our 2011 Hyundai Sonata crossed the 15,000-mile threshold a couple of days ago on my way to the airport. It was only sitting idle at Wally Park a couple of days--it wasn't out of the rotation for very long.

I'm home now. Check the IL headlines to see where I was and what I was doing.

Anywho, this means the Sonata is due for service. Nothing drastic, just and oil change and tire rotation. Mike will pass along the cost breakdown when it's all over.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 15,104 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Tire Cost

March 14, 2011

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No, our 2011 Hyundai Sonata doesn't need a new tire, but after helping a friend shop for four new ones this weekend, I wondered what it would cost to replace our Sonata's all-season Kumhos through TireRack.

Kumho Solus KH25: Grand Touring All-Season: Blackwall: 205/65R16 94H = $98.00 each

Not including shipping/handling, mounting/balancing.

I'm driving the Sonata again tonight. Hope I didn't just jinx myself.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 14,679 miles

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2010 Hyundai Sonata: Fluid Design

February 15, 2011

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When I walked out to the Sonata this morning, I was struck by its many complex curves and the way the reflections danced on the surfaces. I started tracing the lines and realized why I'm so drawn to it over the competing midsize sedans. There's a cohesive flow to these curves.

Some curves, like the prominent character line that runs through the doors (shown below as a red line), connects to the trunk lid, continues over the roof, cascades down the hood, frames the bottom of the grille and circles back around the other side. Then there's the greenhouse (shown in green), which starts from the base of the A-pillar, arches back to form the windows, carries back forward as a chrome accent strip all the way to encircle the headlight.

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2010 Hyundai Sonata: Thanks For Not Listening

February 15, 2011

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The focus group; the bane of good taste and style everywhere.

Car companies use/abuse them with every little step. Rather than entrusting their designers, professionals who were hired because of their background, education and proven ability to put the correct style into play no matter what the situation, car companies second guess their own employees by bringing in, and averaging the opinions of the unwashed masses.

Do a lot of cars look the same to you? What about headlights - when they're off, can you tell them apart from 50 yards? What about tail lights? There's a reason for that. Car companies are listening to the wrong people.

The Hyundai Sonata does not look like an Accord, or a Camry or a Malibu. You will never lose it in a parking lot. And when so many other manufacturers are styling out style to make for happier focus groups, Hyundai went grabbed a second helping of it and piled it on the Sonata.

You might hate it. You might like it, but I bet you're not indifferent to it. And that was the point. Strong, considered style provokes an opinion. The Sonata looks like nothing else in its class - and not much else on the road for that matter. And for that, I say thank you to Hyundai. Thank you for not listening to focus groups.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 13,950 miles.

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Gas Station Focus Group

February 08, 2011

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"Well, they're mostly like Honda people."

There I am at the Shell station in town, and my friend Mitch is playing the usual game of gas station focus group with me. That's where you make generalizations about what's happening in the world of cars from the people you meet and the things you see at the gas station.

Only Mitch is way smarter than most who play the game, partly because he owns and runs Plaza Automotive -- which is a very smart, very good automotive repair business that caters to a very large cross-section of people in my town -- and partly because Mitch is a very smart and very thoughtful guy about the car business in general.

We're talking about Hyundai owners, because Mitch has noticed (just like all of us) that there are a lot more of them than there used to be.

"When the Sante Fe first became popular," he says, "Hyundai people reminded me of Toyota owners. They just wanted a car that wouldn't break and that was about the end of it. Dependability and reliability, and they wouldn't have to think about it ever again. The 100,000-mile warranty.

"But now they're more like Honda owners. Smart people who want to be smart consumers. They're more in tune with the total on the gas pump after they fill up. They're maybe not drivers like you and me, but they're engaged with everything an automobile can do for them. They want good service, and they know when they're getting it.

"If you want to know what's happening with Hyundai, it's the way the owners are getting smarter."

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Suspension Walkaround

February 03, 2011

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Truth be told, I've been sitting on the suspension photos of our 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS for some time. You know, things get busy around the office, a Leaf shows up, there's a hot story or three, and if you're not careful six months go flying by.

No more. I'm blowing the cobwebs off these ancient stills and trotting them out for all to see.

Why am I telling you this? I dunno. I guess I wanted to let you know why the Sonata's suspension bits and pieces look so sparkly and clean in the following pictures.

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Thinking About It

February 03, 2011

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The 2011 Hyundai Sonata has only three real faults: 1) Light and languid steering. 2) An abrupt throttle delivery just beyond tip-in, and 3) The automatic transmission's lack of throttle blippage in manual mode to smooth downshifts.

Despite those glitches, the Sonata stands as a competent, flashily-styled, value-riddled midsize sedan with a lengthy warranty, the last letting you drift off to sleep easily each night.

Now if Hyundai could improve upon these areas, the Sonata just might provide some driving enjoyment, as opposed to being merely an appliance for getting from Here to There, and back again.

It's something to think about.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 13,479 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: All the Time Left

January 27, 2011

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Our Hyundai Sonata is pulling left. Hard.

Time for an alignment.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 13,365 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Seeing A Few More On the Road

January 17, 2011

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Now that the latest Sonata has been on sale for a while, I've started to see more of them on the road. Thanks to the distinctive styling (whether you like it or not), they're pretty easy to spot. And I was a party over the weekend and met a guy who had a silver 2011 Sonata -- although it turned out his was a rental. I'd be curious to know how much Hyundai is pushing the new Sonata for sales to rental fleets since the domestic automakers have traditionally embraced fleet sales and Toyota and Honda have typically shied away from it.

Anyway, Hyundai sold 196,623 Sonatas in 2010. Here are a few other hand-picked family sedans for comparion.

Camry: 327,804
Accord: 311,381
Altima: 229,263
Fusion: 219,219
Malibu: 198,770
Legacy: 38,725
Mazda 6: 35,662

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @12,502 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Show Me The Pressure

January 12, 2011

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So the Sonata's low tire pressure warning light has gone off. You never quite know what the story is going to be -- do I actually have a puncture, or has pressure dropped just enough past the programmed threshold to trigger the warning? Since the first time the light fired off was on a cold morning, I guessed the latter. But I still had to check each tire with a gauge since the Sonata's TPMS just tells you the pressure is low and not which tire is low or by how much.

Yeah, this is a petty complaint. But I know the information is somewhere in the Sonata's computer; so why not just tell me? A lot of General Motors vehicles have individual tire pressure readouts, and it's greatly appreciated.

Edit: Our Director of Vehicle Testing, Dan Edmunds, helped clarify TPMS operation to me. There are generally two TPMS systems used, a "low-line" system and a "high-line" system. Both meet the federal safety mandate. And both are equally accurate in measuring tire pressure at each wheel. However, when the low-line system gets a low pressure reading, it doesn't actually know which tire it is coming from. A high-line system gains additional hardware that allows it to determine which tire the low reading is coming from. Condering the Sonata, it's probably a low-line. As to why an automaker choses to go low or high, Dan says "cost and having the necessary dashboard real estate" to display pressure info are the obstacles.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Sad Trombone

January 10, 2011

January 10, 2011

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So the 2011 Hyundai Sonata was beat by the Chevrolet Volt for 2011 North American Car of the Year. The Volt won with 233 points, the Hyundai Sonata had 163 and the Nissan Leaf electric 94. Surprised?

Apparently the Volt won because it "seamlessly bridges the gulf between today's liquid fueling infrastructure and the plugged-in electric future," according to juror Lindsay Brooke of Automotive Engineering International.

Last month, when I asked you guys to place your bets on who would win COTY there wasn't one clear-cut favorite but a lot of argument over the niche cars versus vanilla family sedans. But commenters greenpony and dg0472 called it by saying the Volt would win this. Everyone buy them a round of drinks.

"Considering how hard it is to make any headway in such a crowded segment, the Sonata is a clear cut favorite to win the award." -- tjpark01

"Personally, I think the Leaf should win. It's been overshadowed by the Volt so much that a lot less people know about it." -- adavis2493

"Considering how plebian the previous winners are, the Sonata has a great shot." -- emajor

"This award does not seem to be given to the best car, but simply to the car that has the most buzz." -- ed124c

"What's so special about the Sonata that it deserves such an honor? The award has to go to the Volt or the Leaf; the Sonata deserves no consideration." -- greenpony

"My vote would probably be the leaf.... partially because my best friend has an '11 Sonata and would shove it in my face." -- isend2c

"who cares about double priced electric cars with uncertain life expectancies." -- billt9

"I'd vote for the Volt and think it will win, too." -- dg0472

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Hyundai Sundai Fundai

January 04, 2011

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So there's the latest addition to my driveway. Over the New Year's break, my girlfriend bought a Genesis Coupe to replace her Mini Cooper S. We trekked up to Glendale, CA in the driving rain to pick up this 2.0-liter turbo base model. I was half hoping that pulling up in our Sonata would help grease the wheels of commerce. Not so much.

There was an available $1,000 cash incentive for current Hyundai owners, but since the Sonata belongs to Edmunds and I wasn't listed as a co-buyer, we were stuck with my limited bargaining skills. In the end, we got the car for $24,600 out the door, which is about $600 under Edmunds TMV. Not bad, I think.

Funny side note: the sales manager was "Bobby Bluetooth" from Top Gear USA episode 7. Not so funny note: we were there for about three hours.

There are a lot of similarities between the Sonata and Genesis Coupe. Both are comfortable, with well-placed controls and surprisingly good fit, finish and materials. The Genesis, though, is quite a bit louder than the Sonata. Not in terms of road or wind noise, but rather, engine noise. Which is fine, since this is supposed to be sportier than the Sonata. When it comes to styling, I think both are fairly attractive cars that share just enough Hyundai design DNA to know that they're related, but not so similar that you can't tell them apart (I'm looking at you, Audi).

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 11,990 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Sixteens?!

December 23, 2010

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Sixteens. That's the wheel diameter we have on our long-term 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS. And that's perfectly fine for the Sonata you will pick up at LAX on your next visit to Hollywood to check out celebrity cement hand prints. Sixteen-inch wheels were probably also on your ex-girlfriend's Toyota Echo -- Roxy Edition.

But I went to "I-Like-Big-Wheels Prep Academy" in Jersey City, so I prefer the Eighteens available on the Sonata SE and 2.0T Limited. Even tiny cars like our long-term VW GTI have 18s.

The Sonata with 18s looks good, and my first thought isn't "Hertz Number One Club."

Merry Christmas!

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 11,700 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Rainy Night Blindness

December 22, 2010

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Want an adventure? Drive our 2011 Hyundai Sonata during a torrential rainstorm at night. Something that never really was an issue prior to driving in the rain is its poor headlights which, it turns out, don't cast much more than a dim blob of light. Combine that with the windshield wipers which seem to smear and streak on the windshield and it's a dicey proposition. Of course that streaking goes away after a few blips of the cleanser but it all still makes me reluctant to go out at night in our Sonata.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Next North American Car of the Year?

December 17, 2010

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Photo by Scott Jacobs

That's right, the 2011 Hyundai Sonata just may be the 2011 North American Car of the Year. It's going up against the Leaf and the Volt. Do you think it has a chance? Place your bets. The winner will be announced at the Detroit auto show on January 10.

FYI, the five past winners of the award are: Ford Fusion Hybrid (2010), Hyundai Genesis (2009), Chevrolet Malibu (2008), Saturn Aura (2007), Honda Civic (2006).

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: The Styling

December 16, 2010

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Since everyone seemed to get so fired up on Monday about the Sonata's styling versus other entries in the segment, I figure adding fuel to the fire is a good thing. Here are some detail shots illustrating the Sonata's more dramatic elements.

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Family Truckster?

December 13, 2010

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Why, yes, that is an eight-foot-tall Grand Fir on top our long-term Hyundai Sonata. I'm glad you asked. The Sonanta did the requisite Christmas tree shopping with my family yesterday. Turns out it's a fine machine for hauling a large tree away from The Home Depot.

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Our Favorite Caption

December 10, 2010

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Thanks to technetium99 for this week's favorite caption.

Here are the others that made us sing:

Good grief! Good car! (ergsum)
The Seouler Express (ergsum)
Sonata Claus (ergsum)
No comments from the Peanuts gallery. (lowmilelude)
Hey Schroeder, is that Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata? (blackngold1000)
O Hyundai Night! (thegraduate)
Christmas Seoul (jacton)
All I want for Christmas is my two liter turbo. (robert4380)
Ralphie finally gets his Red Rider. (ergsum)
The "Peanuts" gang visits Spike in California. (teampenske3)

What was your favorite?

To the winner:
You can select one of these three prizes:

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: You Write the Caption

December 10, 2010

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This house in my neighborhood decorates for Christmas with the Peanuts characters. I can't think of a better way to spread Christmas cheer.

One of my favorite lines from the Charlie Brown Christmas Special is from Lucy: "It's too early. I never eat December snowflakes. I always wait until January."

Here's a closer shot (click to enlarge):

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Still Need the Turbo?

December 06, 2010

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Several weeks ago, around about the time the Sonata 2.0T was passing through our offices, I quipped to Chief Road Test Editor Chris Walton that the Sonata Turbo pretty much made the naturally aspirated version pointless. Walton differed, of the opinion that the new 198-hp four-cylinder in the Sonata GLS was a great engine on its own and didn't need a turbo.

Well, after spending a few days driving Edmunds.com's long-term GLS, I have to agree with Walton (as much as I hate to admit it): the Sonata GLS is a pretty decent everyday car. Sure, I miss the turbo on occasion, for instance when trying to accelerate quickly up a steep hill. But in general the naturally aspirated Sonata should have adequate power for most drivers.

It appears you won't save much in the way of fuel costs over the Turbo, though: our Sonata GLS averaged 25.3 mpg for the month of November, while the Sonata 2.0T test car averaged 26.7 mpg in the, admittedly, much shorter period of time it was with us. For the record, the Sonata GLS's EPA numbers are 22 city/35 highway/26 combined, versus the 2.0T's 22 city/33 highway/26 combined.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 10,902 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Genius Engineering

December 03, 2010

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There's no question the 2011 Hyundai Sonata is a big improvement over the car it replaces, as well as a refreshing option within the midsize sedan segment. It's chock full of standard features and offers styling that helps it stand out from the crowd.

It also has a piece of fantastic engineering...

You see, many of the cars we drive these days at Edmunds.com have keyless ignition with pushbutton starting. That's great, but since there usually isn't a slot for the key fob, it means I have to find a place to store the fob in the car since I don't like things in my pockets while I'm driving (BMW's new 5 Series is a rare exception with its key fob-holder). So what usually happens is the key fob ends up rolling around somewhere in the car; you can imagine how annoying this is at the track during slalom testing. I also sometimes temporarily forget where I put the fob: was it in one of the cupholders, the center console bin or the side pocket?

Well, Hyundai has solved the key fob-holder issue with its new Sonata GLS; check out the below photo:

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Up on the Housetop

December 01, 2010

Christmas is coming. And to celebrate, Hyundai Motor has teamed with youtube sensation(?) Pomplamoose to transform covers of three holiday favorites into Hyundai ads. "Deck the Halls" features the Genesis, "Up on the Housetop" with the new 2011 Sonata (just like our long-termer!), and "Jingle Bells" for three other Hyundai vehicles.

You never heard of Pomplamoose? Me neither; Drake and TI are more like it.
But check out the clip anyway. Because Christmas is coming.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 10,600 miles
[Bonus track: Hit the jump for Deck the Halls with the Genesis]

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Purchase Consideration

November 30, 2010

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"Purchase consideration" is what guys say when they're trying to be smart about why some cars sell and some cars don't. What they're trying to say is that you've got to be on the list in order to get chosen.

All of us experience this when some non-car person asks you about some car they want to buy. It's like having your own personal focus group. People just walk up to you and tell you about cars they're thinking about. You learn a lot just from the list they have.

Just last weekend, I had someone at a Thanksgiving dinner ask me about the Hyundai Sonata. Totally a non-car person, as far from an early adopter as can be. This is totally not news except for the fact that I can remember when anything with the name Hyundai was not on the list - not a good list, anyway.

There's lots of talk by smart people about sales trends in the automotive industry and the Korean automakers always get a friendly mention about their improving results. I'd argue that the big breakthrough has come and that the Koreans are now front-rank players. It doesn't matter what kind of car you mention, there's a Hyundai or a Kia on the list.

I'm not sure you can say this about any other car brand in America, even formerly gold-plated ones like Honda and Toyota. In my own private focus group, the big news is that everyone -- and that means totally everyone -- is willing to talk about buying a car from Korea. And this makes Hyundai and Kia the most important car companies in America.

Now every other car-maker in America has to start figuring out what is it about Korean cars that puts them on the list.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 10,532 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Preconceived Notions

November 29, 2010

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Overall, I think our Sonata scores well in all of the important categories, but definitely not in brand perception. Over the extended holiday weekend , that became very clear as I made the rounds.

Considering what I get to do for a living, friends and acquaintances tend to know me as "the car guy." My first stop for the holiday preparations was the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. The owner saw me in the masses of shoppers and shouted out, "whatcha drivin?" My response, "Hyundai Sonata."

His shoulders slumped, facial expression went from interest to pity. "What'd you do, draw the short straw?"

"No," I replied, "it's actually pretty good." He didn't buy it.

Then when I pulled into the Thanksgiving dinner, I got the same question. Last year, I was lucky enough to secure a Panamera Turbo, and perhaps they were hoping for me to top that. When one of the dinner guests rolled up in a black 599 GTO, there was no chance of impressing the crowd. Granted, the Sonata isn't the type of car that impresses people.

I wonder what kind of response I would've received had I said I was driving a Honda Accord, Toyota Camry or Ford Fusion, though. I think the same. But I have a feeling that Hyundai, for all the good it's done in the last few years, is still fighting an uphill battle. For some people, it will always represent a cheap car from the 1980's. Too bad, they don't know what they're missing.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 10,471 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Not For My Commute

November 22, 2010

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(Sorry, sorry. Another LT Intro shot. My camera still has not repaired itself. Soon, though. You still want to read what I write though.)

There's a dealership by my old house, on the East Coast-- it's a series of dealerships, actually, but that's not the point-- that is surrounded by the smoothest, most perfect asphalt (yes, asphalt...eat it, California and your sub-par concrete) you've ever seen. It's like a black lake where every car rides like a luxury liner and there's not a decibel of tire noise. It's amazing and I've never known if it's intentional. If the dealership funded the repairs to sell cars. If not, well, lucky them. If so, well, good idea.

And so far none of this has anything to do with our Long Term Hyundai Sonata GLS. Except that it does.

You see, on a smooth road, or one with some serious curves, the Sonata's a great car: Smooth, composed, good handling / ride comfort balance. Trouble is, as soon as the road gets rough, the Hyundai gets thumping. It's not bad by any means, but it is louder than I prefer. The tires and the suspension are audible as the pavement gets cracked and lumpy. It never goes so light you cant steer over the big drainage whoops and it never crashes down, but you can hear the thunk, pong and psst of the suspension crushing down, the tire hitting and the shocks compress. It's a common ride quality in the newer Hyundais as they strive to hit some balance of luxury and driveability. Kudos for even trying and not going the Toyota uber-couch route.

But as much as I like the car on the open highway and back roads, I'm on them 1/100th the time that I'm on my daily potholed commute. The weighting isn't even close. (Takahashi-- who commutes in an Elise00 will call me a wuss here.)

Driving a car on your real commute isn't something a lot of car shoppers look to do, but if you're having trouble deciding between A and B, it could be the deciding factor.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: A Best Seller

November 11, 2010

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Edmunds' monthly Top 10 list of best sellers is up and the 2011 Hyundai Sonata made the cut for October, coming in at #7 with 17,505 units sold. It's still behind best-seller regulars like the Camry, Accord and Altima but that's pretty darn respectable. I wonder if the Sonata will move up any higher. I definitely prefer it out of the practical sedans.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: SEMA Special

November 03, 2010

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At SEMA (going on now) Hyundai Motor America has partnered with RIDES Magazine to pimp out a Sonata 2.0T, which is further affirmation of HMA's fixation on the Benz CLS (inspired by the CLS, they claim.) The press release mentions no mechanical mods, so what you see is what you get.

Anyway, I like this way better than our long-term 2011 Sonata GLS, which is B-O-R-I-N-G. But if you rolled in this SEMA special, ordinary traffic tickets would become felony stops ("lower your windows and get face down on the ground") and I suppose that could get a bit wearisome.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ ~8,700 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Feels Good, Too, But in a Different Way

October 14, 2010

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Yesterday, I talked about the suspension feel in the Honda Accord Crosstour. Last night, I drove the Hyundai Sonata so I could experience them back to back.

Compared to the Accord, the Sonata is a little softer, but not nearly as much as, say, a Toyota Camry. It is definitely stiffer than the previous Sonata.

The new Sonata falls somewhere between the Accord and the Camry.

The Accord Crosstour feels more stable around corners and driving in a straight line. It does a good job of handling bumps and road imperfections. The Sonata handles bumps, too, but does feel a little bouncier driving in a straight line. But then it surprises you as you go around a curve with the way it stays up. The Sonata cabin is also fairly quiet, which helps give you a more confident impression.

Have you driven a Hyundai Sonata. What do you think?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Value Proposition

September 20, 2010

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The Sonata has been a fixture on the best-seller list for the past few months -- last month, it finished in sixth place, hot on the heels of the Camry and the Accord. When times are tight, there's nothing sexier that a great bargain, and the Sonata's success is proof.

Its base price is lower than that of many rivals, yet this Hyundai offers competitive quality and standard features (such as Bluetooth and satellite radio) that most do not. If I were shopping in this segment right now, that generous standard features list would definitely catch my eye.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2010 Hyundai Sonata GLS: The DQR Thing

September 15, 2010

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This is not the front of the 2010 Hyundai Sonata.

Instead it's the front of the 2011 Honda Accord. It doesn't look too snappy compared to the Sonata, so maybe it's no wonder that Honda is a little sensitive about Hyundai's success of late. But what the Accord does have is DQR - the acronym that Honda uses to define durability, quality and reliability.

Hyundai has gone a long way toward building its own image of quality with its 100,000-mile warranty and a bright, glossy sense of style. And yet the prosaic Accord reminds us that the definition of quality also encompasses a feeling of substance, something that is beyond a simple count of things gone wrong or a guarantee of manufacturer backing in case a car goes bad.

Say what you will about the way that the 2011 Honda Accord looks (and I have a lot to say on that subject), yet it never gives you the feeling that it's been put together by Disney imagineers. This is a car that will stick with you for the long haul.

As polished as the Hyundai Sonata is in virtually every respect, it still needs some of that DQR thing to make believers of us all.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Key Stuck in the Ignition

September 13, 2010

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We have a problem with our 2011 Hyundai Sonata. Turn on the car, shift into drive and roll around town. No problems there. Shift back into park and try removing the key. There is the problem. It's stuck in the ignition.

When we shift into park the doors unlock as programmed. So it seems like the key should just pull out. But that isn't the case. Multiple shifts in and out of park eventually trigger the mercy switch and the car releases the key. Next stop, dealership row.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 5,741 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Who Still Uses Keys?

August 27, 2010

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OK, sure, there's a trunk release button on our 2011 Hyundai Sonata's key fob but why not also put a trunk release button on the trunk lid itself? All we got here is...that key hole.

I complain because I had to pick up an editor from the airport. When I just pulled up to the curb and scanned around the dash and steering wheel for the trunk release button in the car, the editor impatiently tried to find it on the trunk lid itself. No go. So I just pressed the key fob button. Pfft!

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 5,736 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Yup, It's Got That Too

August 20, 2010

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And it's done right. Need I say more?

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Why Our Car Isn't PZEV Rated

August 12, 2010

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When Hyundai introduced its new 2011 Sonata, it mentioned the car would be offered with Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV) certification in states with California emission requirements. Considering this as well as our Southern California office location, I had just assumed our long-term test car was a PZEV car. But when randomly checking our car's window sticker, I noticed that it had no more than a regular, 50-state emission certification. Hmm. Some investigation was in order.

The PZEV rating is the highest rating a regular gasoline-fueled car can earn for tailpipe emissions in California. It's not a federal rating and has nothing to do with greenhouse gas emissions, just those related to smog and pollution. Why PZEV exists and what it actually means is rather confusing, so if you're really interested I'll point you to a Green Car Advisor post that we did a few years ago. But in simple terms, a Sonata with a PZEV rating earns a federal emissions score of 9 (out of a possible 10) for having squeaky clean tailpipe emissions. Sonatas sold in non-California emission states have a score of 5.

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Road Trip Time

August 04, 2010

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This is the view I'll have for the next day and a half or so. I'm driving our Sonata from Santa Monica to Vail, Colorado for a family vacation.

Google says it's 950 miles or so. I've done it in a day easy, but I figured it's a good time to take it slow and enjoy the ride. Should you have any questions that might be better answered by an editor who has been sitting in the driver's seat for hours on end, add them to the comments and I'll try to answer them.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com @ 3,100 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Windshield + Rock = Cha Ching!

July 31, 2010

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Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Weekend Trip and Odd TPMS

July 26, 2010

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On Saturday I decided to check out the 2010 Gilroy Garlic Festival. Ever eaten garlic ice cream? Me neither. It's pretty good, actually (if you like garlic). The ride of choice was our 2011 Hyundai Sonata, which proved to be a pleasant companion. It was roomy, quiet and got about 30 mpg in combined fuel economy.

The one weird issue, however, was the Sonata's tire pressure monitoring system. On my way to Gilroy the TPMS warning light illuminated. "Oh great," I thought to myself. I wasn't too happy with the thought of driving with a space-saver spare tire on for the rest of the trip.

I stopped at a Chevron next to Casa de Fruta, which is a fruit-and-nut store (and popular rest stop) near Hollister, Calif. (pictured above). The Sonata won't tell you what the tire pressures are, so I had to check them manually. I only had one of those cheap-o pencil tire pressure gauges with me, but even with that I could tell that all of the tires were pretty close to the recommended pressures. The left-front was perhaps a couple psi lower than the rest of the tires, but it shouldn't have been enough to trip the warning light.

When I started the Sonata back up, the TPMS light was still on. At that point I figured I'd keep driving to Gilroy and check the pressures again. But about five minutes after leaving Casa de Fruta the TPMS light went out. It hasn't come back on since, and subsequent checks of the tires have revealed no leak or puncture. Like I said, weird.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 2,532 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: The Workhorse of America

July 19, 2010

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I really like driving our new 2011 Sonata. Part of this is because the car itself is quite good, and part it is because I appreciate the all-around usefulness and value of a four-cylinder family sedan. Obviously crossover SUVs are very popular, but in my mind cars like the Sonata are still the workhorses for the American family.

Look what you get from our Sonata: A stylish design inside and out; plenty of power for any normal driving situation; 35 mpg highway fuel economy; a roomy interior; a comfortable ride; lots of interior storage; a factory navigation system; a big trunk; and Hyundai's long warranty coverage. All of this for our test car's $23,456. That's not much money these days for a car that will do just about everything for you and your family.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 2,178 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: New World Order

July 14, 2010

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Ten years ago, there were two top family sedans: the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Sure, there were other choices, but the Accord and Camry were the two cars that collected the most attention and praise. Flash forward to today and things are very different. I'd say there are now six top family sedans: the Accord, the Camry, the Ford Fusion, the Mazda 6, the Nissan Altima and the 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

With so much more to choose from, and with Hyundai not fielding a truly competitive family sedan previously, you might think the 2011 Sonata would be lost in the shuffle a bit. But consumers are definitely aware the Sonata's a player. According to our internal tracking, people are reading the Edmunds Sonata review more than those for any of the other cars I listed. And it's not just by a little, either. We're talking by a factor of anywhere from two to seven times as much traffic in favor of the Hyundai.

Having a Sonata to test for a whole year will be very interesting.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: ShakyCam Walkaround

June 24, 2010

Some things I like about the Sonata's appearance:

Venetian Red Paint Color
Sleek lines
Seat Fabric (texture and color)
Well-Balanced Center Console

What do you like?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2011 Hyundai Sonata in VA is:

$126 per month*
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