2012 Hyundai Sonata GLS Sedan (2.4L 4-cyl. with 6-speed Automatic)
Driven On 3/13/2012
The Sonata's distinctive styling, competent performance, stylish and comfortable cabin, easy demeanor, and obvious value stand out in a sea of economic midsize sedans. Others, however, are making strides to challenge the one-time family benchmark.
PerformanceThe Sonata's overall performance is well balanced with a peppy engine, competent handling, good brakes, and effortless drivability.
Among its peers, the Sonata offers competitive acceleration with its base-level engine at about 8 seconds to 60 mph. The available turbo engine cuts it down to less than 7 seconds.
In our 60-0 mph testing, the Sonata's brakes were slightly better than average and impressed us with a firm pedal and good fade resistance.
Electric-assist steering calibration offers good response but less road feel than some competitors do.
Our testing shows the Sonata handles better than the softly tuned suspension might otherwise indicate. Stability control is set at a conservative limit.
Combining all this competent performance results in the kind of car that offers an almost effortless drivability. "Get in and go" without a second thought.
ComfortWith good ride comfort and interior accommodations that are generously sized (technically a "Large Car"), the Sonata is near the top of its class for overall comfort.
Supportive and well-contoured front seats are not too squishy. Rear-seat accommodations are sizable, and competitive with its peers. Rea headroom might be tight for 6-footers.
The highway ride is well isolated but not boaty either. Those who opt for the sporty SE trim will like its sharper handling capabilities but not its bumpier ride.
Exceptionally good road-noise isolation, however, we sourced some wind noise from the exposed wipers at the base of the windshield.
InteriorAn attractively designed interior blends sound ergonomics, plenty of room, and generous cargo capacity. Optional upgrades like navigation and a panorama sunroof are available.
Crisp clear gauges, well-labeled center stack with large, intuitive buttons and an easy-to-navigate trip computer offer good ergonomics. Optional nav system is equally proficient.
Front doors open wide for easy access, but the sloping rear roofline is a little problematic.
If there's one thing the Sonata has it's plenty of room to stretch out. It's technically a "Large Car" on the inside though it looks like a midsizer.
Again with the sloping rear roofline, there's a visibility penalty to be had. A rearview camera is available.
At over 16 cu-ft, the Sonata's trunk is large. Goose-neck hinges limit cargo options, but standard 60/40-split fold backseats open things up again. Plenty of storage inside, too.
ValueHyundai raised this bar years ago and forced its competitors to catch up. Others are making strides in the right direction, but the Sonata's a complete package with all the value a well-informed and frugal buyer is looking for.
Build Quality (vs. $)
All seams, door/hood/trunk cut lines and interior materials are slightly better than average. Very good build quality, especially considering the price.
Even the base model includes all the hot items like push-button ignition, Bluetooth, satellite radio, an iPod/USB audio interface, aux jack, and steering-wheel-mounted controls.
With the entire model range priced between $21K-$26K, the Sonata's price is very fair and highly competitive.
Rated by the EPA at 28 mpg combined, the Sonata GLS offers competitive, but not class-leading fuel economy.
Although many manufacturers now offer similarly lengthy warranties, Hyundai's overall package is still a leader and benchmark.
With ongoing R&D in Korea as well as Stateside, an ever-expanding dealership base, and the obvious jump in quality, the comfort level of owning a Hyundai has risen immensely.
Fun To DriveHyundai makes cars that are fun to drive; just not this one. The sportier SE model with the turbo motor and quicker reflexes might raise your pulse, however.
Driving a Sonata is undemanding and it responds with an intuition and confidence the way a family sedan should.
Choosing a Sonata over one of the ubiquitous best-sellers in the competitive class would likely indicate you've done a little more homework.
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