2011 Hyundai Sonata Long-Term Road Test

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: So Close and Yet So Far

June 07, 2011

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We aim to drive 20,000 miles in our long-term test cars within their year of residence. Some cars get plenty of road time and have no problem making this mark. They are chosen for road trips and vacations.

Our Hyundai Sonata will be about 400 miles short of our goal when it leaves us in a day or two.

It's always sad to see a car leave the fleet. I wonder why we couldn't quite make the 20,000-mile mark on this car. It was a nice car. It's comfortable. It has an automatic transmission. It gets good gas mileage. Sometimes, it just doesn't happen. Any ideas?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 19,600 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: No Shade

May 31, 2011

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One year in the hands of our thirty something editors doesn't give any car much shade from the hard light of reality. While it might not uncover failures that can only happen after seven to ten years, 20,000 miles in our hands is nothing to scoff at. This weekend, I reached the conclusion that the 2011 Hyundai Sonata is nothing to scoff at either.

It's a solid car, and a solid choice.

We dropped nearly 900 miles on its head over the past three days - on only two tanks of gas mind you - and I was surprised at this car's all around competency. The strength of the Sonata on this trip was the smoothness and isolation of the drivetrain. It made me forget, not only my elevated speed, but that the Sonata is powered by a four cylinder engine. This is the same engine got us from Mill Valley (north of San Francisco) back to the South Bay (south of Los Angeles) without stopping for fuel. It never lacked for power or composure.

Here's the fuel economy for the trip. Note that each tank had one leg of the highway trip plus a few miles driving around town. We made no attempt to hyper-mile nor did we shy away from mashing the accelerator to floor to merge, or pass, traffic.

Tank one - 422.8 miles on 14.777 gallons for 28.61 mpg

Tank two - 452.0 miles on 14.801 gallons for 30.54 mpg

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 19,021 miles

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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 Trip Fuel Economy

May 19, 2011

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On Monday I drove our long-term 2011 Hyundai Sonata from Los Angeles to San Francisco. On Wednesday I drove it back. It was an 820.6 mile road trip that includes a fair amount of grades, including the dreaded Grapevine (Google it.), during which the Sonata drank 25.8 gallons of regular.

That's an average of 31.8 mpg.

So, are you impressed, disappointed or just not interested?

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 17,854 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Not quite 35 mpg

May 09, 2011

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I took our 2011 Hyundai Sonata on a quick weekend get away, and I was both impressed and disappointing at the same time. Like Chris Walton, I was impressed with the range of the Sonata. I was able to drive 464.8 miles on a single tank, not a record for our Sonata but not bad either.

The disappointment came when I calculated the mpg for that tank of gas. It came out to be 29.6 mpg, which is a little short of the estimated 35 mpg highway the Sonata claims to get. I know that driving style and conditions can play a big part in fuel consumption but this trip happened to be about as perfect driving condition as one is going to get in the real world. The trip was virtually 100% highway driving, little to no wind, mostly straight, and the cruise control on at 70 mph the entire time.

Don't get me wrong 29.6 mpg is still quite good, it's just a little disappointing when the estimate is 35 mpg.

Seth Compton, Field Producer @ 16,716 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Range o' Plenty

April 18, 2011

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I filled up the Hyundai Sonata GLS this morning, thinking that I was being brave by waiting until the trip meter read, "416.8 mi." So I flipped through the fuel log to see how many other fills were done with 400 or more miles on the clock. It turns out, at least a third of us have driven this far on a tank and one of us went 522.1 miles on a tank. That's some serious range, like L.A. to San Francisco without stopping sort of range. Wow. I'm not so brave, nor so efficient after all.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 15,937 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: DTE 435 Miles

February 07, 2011

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Why is this a big deal? Because nobody likes to go to the gas station.

It has been seven days since the Sonata has last been to the gas station. And when we filled up, the Distance to Empty tripmeter told us that it might be as many as 435 miles before we'd visit one again.

We couldn't be happier. After all, it's not like the 1950s, when gas stations would be giving away S&H Green Stamps so you could trade them in for some home furnishings, maybe a nice lamp or something.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 13,669 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: The Ah-ha Moment

January 26, 2011

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Finally I've had my Ah-ha Moment with the Hyundai Sonata. It's that miraculous instant when things inexplicably come together and the universe suddenly makes sense.

Naturally it happens in a gas station, which is possibly the only place where car people engage their higher order thinking skills.

I've just finished filling up the Sonata, and it didn't take that much, maybe a bit more than a half tank after the usual weekend of pointless stop-and-go traffic around Los Angeles. So I'm scrolling through the tripmeter information on the instrument display so I can properly complete the blanks in the fuel log, as always fearful that should I make an error, Managing Editor Donna DeRosa (She Who Must Be Obeyed) will be after me with her schoolteacher's yardstick of discipline.

So I scroll through the info and enter the trip mileage info (it's not that far, really), and then set the trip computer to Distance to Empty (DTE). And that's when the universe makes sense.

The DTE info reads, "410 miles."

Want to know why Hyundai equips the Sonata only with a four-cylinder engine even as assorted know-it-alls rattle on about the superiority of a V6's power and refinement?

410 miles.

Want to know which parameter of performance really matters to you when you undertake the refueling of an automobile? It's not speed, trip mileage or exterior temperature.

410 miles.

DTE has a magical allure to many of us, something that Hyundai apparently understands. When you fill up at a gas station after a half tank of the usual inefficient, gas-swilling, urban stop-and-go traffic at an average speed of 35 mph and the tripmeter tells you that you still achieved sufficient mpg to expect the kind of driving range you get only in fuel-sipping freeway cruising, well, the Ah-ha Moment comes to you.

You say to yourself, "Ah, now I get it."

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: 10 Things I Like About You

January 25, 2011

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Not in any particular order:

1. smooth four-cylinder engine
2. strong brakes
3. Venetian red paint
4. Unfussy center console
5. Quiet cabin
6. Plenty of interior storage
7. Scrolling audio information display
8. Spacious trunk
9. Simple gauge cluster
10. Long range on one tank

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Long Distance Compendium

January 14, 2011

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We've covered the Sonata's long-distance ability in a variety of posts but thought I'd sum up some thoughts.

Ed noted that it's got serious range (perhaps more than 500 miles to a tank) and is reasonably comfortable in terms of seating. Donna and I commented previously that it's pretty quiet (here and here), which is nice since it's got an impressive sound system. There's lots of interior storage to store your stuff. The ride quality is indeed smooth, though Mike noted it's not Camry smooth, and I'd agree; if the road is rough, the Sonata's responses seem just a bit too harsh. And I also agree with Ed about the lifeless steering. Although, personally, I think it makes a difference as it just makes the car less enjoyable to drive, even on the freeway.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Really Liking It

January 11, 2011

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The more I drive our long-term Sonata the more I like it. This would be in contrast to two of our most recent big-name family sedans, the 2008 Honda Accord and 2009 Mazda 6. Neither never really grew on me. The Accord was just a bit too big and, well, not Accord-y enough. The Mazda, perhaps through its styling, just seemed like it was trying too hard.

The Sonata? I like the look and quality of the interior. I like that it has cloth, not leather, yet still has a navigation system. I like the power and fuel economy from the 2.4-liter engine. In general, I'm happy to just hop in and doing the things family sedans are supposed to be used for, like run errands, commute and take the kids to school.

I do prefer the related Kia Optima for its styling. But either way I'd buy one.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 12,357 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Throwing Up Big Numbers

October 01, 2010

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While updating the Sonata's fuel log today, I had an eyebrow-raising moment. We all know that Hyundai has promoted the hell out of the Sonata's "35 Highway MPG" EPA fuel economy estimate. Even the notebooks they gave us at the Sonata's press event touted this best in class number.

But the more telling "Combined" estimate is the number I put the most stock in when comparing fuel economy estimates. I also tend to be very skeptical of our staff being able to hit that number -- or any of the other numbers for that matter -- given:

a) The ominpresent crush of the "worst in the nation" traffic.
b) Our staff's collective leadfoot tendencies.

Turns out Hyundai has very good reason to boast:
Against the EPA numbers of 35 highway and 26 combined, we've gotten a best tank (all highway) of 33.9 and are averaging an impressive 26.2.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 7,214 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: This Sucker Has Serious Range

August 10, 2010

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That's the trip meter on our Sonata after a run from Vail, Colorado to St. George, Utah. Not bad, especially considering that I was averaging around 75-80mph most of the time with the A/C on.

That, and I still had a gallon or two left as the miles-to-empty meter said I had another 60-70 miles to go before running dry.

It took 15.3 gallons of regular gas to go that far. That works out to 34.1mpg, a solid number for a midsize sedan going that fast. I'm guessing that with an average speed in the 65mph range the Sonata would easily pull high-30s and go over 600 miles on a tank.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com @ 4,749 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Road Trip Mileage

August 05, 2010

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This is the only gas station I've visited since leaving Santa Monica for Vail, Colorado. It was in Cedar City, Utah, which is about 450 miles from home. Made it there no problem, gas warning never even came on.

The driving was mixed. When I started out in L.A. there was plenty of afternoon traffic that made it stop and go for the first 60 miles or so. From there on out, the speed limits were 70-75mph, so I just set the cruise control and kicked back.

When I filled up, the logbook numbers said I managed 31.1mpg for the tank. That might not sound very impressive, but keep in mind that when the speed limit was 75mph I usually set it at 80mph. That made the "ECO" light go out, so I figured it wasn't getting its best numbers.

I'll add up the mileage from the second leg shortly and provide some additional commentary on the car itself. First things that come to mind? It's very quiet, the nav system works when you're moving and the XM channels are hard to sift through.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com @ 4,082 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Quiet on the inside; noisy under the hood

July 30, 2010

One of the reasons our 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS makes 198-hp and is currently earning over 25 mpg with just a 2.4-liter 4-cylider engine is because it uses high-pressure gasoline direct-injection (GDi in Hyundai parlance). While it is just teeny bit louder at idle on the inside than either the comparable Honda Accord or Mazda6 4-cylinder models (here's the comparison), it makes quite a racket on the outside. Have a listen for yourself.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 2992 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: First Milestone

June 28, 2010

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Our 2011 Hyundai Sonata passed the 1,000-mile mark this weekend. As it reached the dregs of a tank of gas, you can see we were averaging 24.1 mpg, according to the Sonata's trip computer. EPA estimates for this car are 22 city/35 highway/26 combined.

We'll have overall fuel numbers for you in our first of the month update.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 1,001 miles

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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*
* Explanation
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