2011 Hyundai Sonata Long-Term Road Test

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Like the Drivetrain. A Lot.

March 17, 2011

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Last night, our long-term 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS and I came to an understanding during a 50-mile freeway drive: I still don't care for the way it rides or steers, but I completely respect it in the powertrain department.

I really dig this direct-injected, 2.4-liter inline-4, because unlike the engines in the previous two generations of the Sonata -- and I'm including the optional V6s -- this four-cylinder has enough torque for any normal driving situations. Peak torque is rated at 184 pound-feet at 4,250 rpm, but that doesn't tell you much about the nice flat torque curve.

Getting on the freeway, passing a truck, shooting into a gap to get your exit, the grunt is there and it's delivered so easily and smoothly in the Sonata, you barely notice it.

The six-speed automatic does a nice job, too, shifting smoothly under heavy throttle and generally not making a big, dramatic show of how many forward gears it has. I'd make an exception to my three-pedal policy here and choose the automatic over the six-speed manual. The manual gearbox is just kind of there in the 2011 Sonata, offered to get the price down in dealer advertising and to appease that mythical fringe buyer (who also doesn't want A/C, a backseat or glass windows).

The automatic is the transmission you're supposed to get, and in our long-term Sonata, it suits me just fine.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 14,795 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Bite and Bind

March 03, 2011

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Another moisture front passed through Los Angeles last night, dropping not enough to decrease our current rainfall deficit (-3 inches), but just enough to inspire standard Angeleno highway idiocy. If it's not a terrified 45-MPH moving obstacle, it's ripper Rodney in his beatsauce '98 Civic, exploiting conditions and advancing a few car lengths by carving up the buffer zones. This probably happens in many metro areas. I think it's more pronounced in La Ciudad, given how rarely we have to cope with wet roads.

Donna noted the Sonata's braking ability several months ago and I'll +1 her sentiments, especially for its performance in the rain. The Sonata's snappy binders came through big for me a couple of times, and gave me confidence and a wide margin the rest of the way.

In our testing, we've stopped the Sonata from 60 mph in 127 feet. On paper, that's not all that impressive. It's better than our GTI, same as our new TSX wagon, and much better (nearly 10 feet better) than an Accord SE we tested.

But its falls behind our Kizashi, and even the heavier Kia Optima turbo and Sonata 2.0 turbo models that we've tested. Regardless, the pedal feels firm and the single-piston calipers grab the 11-inch steel discs with authority. Don't know if the Kumho Solus 205/65's deserve much credit - nothing special about these all-seasons - but good to think (imagine?) that DNA from the company's very-capable road racing tires gets infused into the passenger variety.

The Sonata is obviously doing a few things right. I spotted three current models on the drive in this morning. It looks good in black. Hyundai has sold nearly 30,000 of them so far this year, constituting just shy of 40 percent of the product portfolio. That's still shy of 38,000 Accords that Honda has moved so far in 2011, or the 45,000 Camrys that Toyota has sold.

Still, people are clearly -- as Hyundai's marketers have asked -- thinking about it.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: No Need for the Turbo?

February 28, 2011

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In general, I operate on the idea that too much power is just enough. Our Sonata might have me rethinking this, though.

Over the weekend, I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of L.A. traffic and had plenty of opportunities to open up the Sonata on the highways. Climbing the onramps proved easy, blasting past slower drivers without having to floor it. Highway passing was just as easy, too.

And that got me thinking, "is it really worth it to get the turbo version?"

On paper, the $1,500 premium you pay for the turbo will get you to 60 mp in 6.7 seconds while the normally aspirated engine takes 8.2 seconds. That's a significant difference, I know, but I felt that the turbo's lack of low-end power didn't present a big enough enticement. If anything, I thought the turbo Sonata just pulled harder higher in the revs.

Personally, I'd pass on the turbo. The regular Sonata is just fine for the vast majority of drivers.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Avoiding the Straight and Narrow

February 09, 2011

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Our Sonata has never been much for steering feel. It's tuned for typical drivers, you know, the ones who would prefer that it was easy to park above all else.

Now, however, the steering had developed a slight pull that would upset any driver. And I mean pull, not subtle drift. Let go of the wheel in the fast lane and you'll be in the wall like Jimmie Johnson on a bad day. Maybe someone hit a curb, or the tires need to be rotated, we'll see soon enough.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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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: Poor Steering Feel and I Don't Mind

December 08, 2010

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I've spent plenty of time in our long-term Sonata and there is little to complain about -- provided you drive it with the right mind set.

Expecting a sliver of sportiness? Forget it, this car is the opposite. It is not fast nor particularly nimble, and the steering is utterly lifeless. But do I hate driving the Sonata? No, here's why.

Some enthusiasts crave performance in anything they drive, Jacquot for instance. Anything that doesn't measure up to guys like that is relentlessly annoying. For me, a commuter car like the Sonata or the Mazda 2 is completely different. Call it low expectations, but I think of it more like reasonable expectations.

Case in point, the steering in the Sonata. It offers very little worthwhile feedback. Low speeds, high speeds, it's all pretty much the same overboosted crap. A travesty in anything sporty, but in this car it's perfectly appropriate.

The average driver will find it quite pleasant, relaxing even. Wheeling the car into a parking space is about as low effort as it gets and when you're on the highway it doesn't twitch and roll with every bump in the pavement. Would more direct steering be appreciated? Sure, but it's not necessary, or at least not in this $23,000 family sedan.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: The Everyman Car

October 25, 2010

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This weekend I was glad that I had our 2011 Hyundai Sonata as my companion as I had to go ALL over L.A. -- Koreatown for the opening of an Oaxacan restaurant, Malibu for a schmancy food festival, Venice for yet another food festival and Hollywood to catch the latest horror flick. It had to lug everything from passengers to huge hampers of dirty laundry, negotiate congested city streets and tight parking situations and rainy canyon roads. It adapted pretty well to most all of my needs, even dancing around slow, distracted drivers -- the scourge of L.A. streets.

Suffice it to say, the Sonata is utilitarian around the city but still does all right when driving leisurely on curvy roads. Not to say this is the car for enthusiasts but definitely for those who enjoy mountain roads for the view, not the curves. It's got a little more spice than that vanilla Camry.

What my passengers this weekend had to say about the car, after the jump...

My brother (34-year-old film editor), who's actually in the market for a new car: "This is a Hyundai? That backseat is huuuge. How much is this? $40K?"

John (40-something broker), who says he's an enthusiast but drives an F-350: "I wouldn't take this on Latigo Canyon [uber-curvy canyon road in Malibu] but it seems to drive pretty well and sound good for a four-cylinder."

Lindsay (30-something food writer/photographer), my friend who parked too far away from the Malibu event and was lugging bags while wearing uncomfortable shoes: "Thanks so much for picking me up! Ooh, it's nice back here."

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 8,506 miles

PS: Yes, that's llama dung next to the front driver wheel. What happens when you park at Saddlerock Ranch in Malibu.

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Tastier Than Ever

October 21, 2010

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We recently published a review of the new Hyundai Sonata equipped with the 2.0T engine. It's the Sonata that Hyundai Motor America's President, John Krafcik, said would be "delicious to drive."

It's 2.0-liter four cylinder engine with direct-injection and a twin-scroll turbocharger makes 274 hp @ 6,000 rpm and 269 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750 rpm. In our testing, it managed zero to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. That's more than a full second quicker than our long-term naturally aspirated 2.4-liter Sonata.

You can read the full test of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata SE 2.0T here.

Tell us what you think.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Hyundai Sonata: Even the Base 4-Cylinder Isn't Bad

October 13, 2010

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You may have seen our track tested piece on the Hyundai Sonata 2.0T with the company's turbocharged four-cylinder engine, It's numbers were quite impressive, certainly enough to make anyone wonder why to bother with a V6.

There's a reason many four-cylinder engines have gotten a bad rap though. More often than not, they are weak, noisy and generate plenty of vibrations. Clearly, a turbocharger helps to take care of the power problem, but what about the smoothness and refinement issue?

Well, Hyundai addressed that problem like many other automakers by adding a balance shaft to the Theta II engine. The engineers also added a fair amount of acoustic insulation in the engine bay. There's foam on the underside of the hood along with some fairly thick rubber gaskets around the perimeter.

So does it work? Sounds like it to me. I wind that little 2.4-liter out left and right and it rarely sounds harsh or even overworked. In fact, it's not only surprisingly refined, it's plenty powerful too. The six-speed automatic transmission helps keep it from getting bogged down, and when it's in the heat of its power band it pulls the Sonata along just fine. That 2.0T model looks great on paper, but the base GLS feels just fine on the road.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com @ 7,958 miles

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Stop It

September 10, 2010

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And stop it does. Our Hyundai Sonata GLS has good braking power for a car in its class.

When you have a genius driving in front of you who decides to cut his freeway speed in half so he can finish his text, you really appreciate the confident feel of the Sonata's brakes. Good thing the cars behind me were paying attention, too. I'm sure it was a life-saving emergency text.

In our instrumented testing the Sonata's ventilated disc brakes brought the car from 60 to zero mph in 128 feet, without much fade after repeated stops.

Now if it only had laser cannons on the front a text message deactivation button.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: Track Tested

August 02, 2010

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Break-in complete, it was time to take our 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS to the test track for its introductory numbers.

We ran our new Sonata through all of our tests. How did the 198-horsepower I-4 motivate the 3,251 sedan and how did the P205/65R16 Kuhmo tires grip the pavement?

Follow the jump to find out.

Vehicle: 2011 Hyundai Sonata
Odometer: 1,113
Date: 6/29/10
Driver: Josh Jacquot
Base Price (with destination and tax): $20,915
Options: Venetian Red, Option Group 03 Popular Equipment Package Plus Navigation ($2,450 -- includes 16-inch alloy wheels; power driver seat; driver's lumbar support; automatic headlight control; chrome interior door handles; leatherette interior panel door inserts; navigation system with high-resolution touchscreen display; dimension AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system with seven speakers and external amplifier (360 watts); 90-day complimentary subscription to XM NavTraffic, XM NavWeather; XM sports and XM stock), Carpeted Floor Mats ($100).
Price as tested: $23,465

Specifications:
Drive Type: Front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed automatic
Engine Type: Inline-4
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 2,359cc (144 cu-in)
Redline (rpm): 6,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 198 @ 6300
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 184 @ 4250
Brake Type (front): 11.8-inch one-piece ventilated steel discs with single-piston sliding calipers.
Brake Type (rear): 11.2-inch one-piece ventilated steel discs with single-piston sliding calipers.
Steering System: Hydraulic-assist variable-ratio rack-and-pinion steering.
Suspension Type (front): Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar.
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar.

Tire Size (front): P205/65R16 94H
Tire Size (rear): P205/65R16 94H
Tire Brand: Kumho
Tire Model: Solus KH25
Tire Type: All Season
Wheel Size: 16-by-6.5 inches front and rear
Wheel Material (front/rear): Cast aluminum
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,251

Test Results:
0 - 30 (sec): 3.2
0 - 45 (sec): 5.4
0 - 60 (sec): 8.2
0 - 75 (sec): 12.0
1/4 Mile (sec @ mph): 16.1 @ 88.3
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 7.9

30 - 0 (ft): 31
60 - 0 (ft): 128

Slalom (mph): 64.5 stability off. 62.7 ESC on
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.76 stability off, 0.76 trac on

Db @ Idle: 41.5
Db @ Full Throttle: 79.2
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 69.5
RPM @ 70 mph: 2,000

Acceleration Comments: Don't bother with manual shifting. best run in "D." Manual response is too slow and only results in mis-shifts.

Braking Comments: Solid, consistent high-effort pedal. No significant fade.

Handling Comments: Slalom: Significant yaw delay makes quick transitions a challenge. Small, smooth steering inputs are the key. A real ride with ESC off! Skidpad: Just stomp and steer with ESC on. System does a fine job of tracking throttle against steering inputs. Difficult to match this performance with ESC off.

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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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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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