1998 Hyundai Sonata Review
Pros & Cons
- Cheap, functional transportation with a huge rear seat.
- Lots of engine and wind noise. Bouncy suspension.
Edmunds' Expert Review
Sonata is Hyundai's midsize entry, and faces some very stiff competition in this category. Ford's Contour/Mystique populates this class of automobiles, as does the Breeze/Cirrus/Stratus trio from Chrysler. Perennial favorites such as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Mazda 626 also go head-to-head with this Hyundai.
Hyundai's forte to date has been budget prices and standard (or low-priced) luxuries that couldn't be matched by competitors. It seems those days are over. The 1996 Sonata GLS we sampled ran nearly $21,500. True, it was well loaded with automatic, sunroof, leather and power everything, but a similarly equipped Contour SE or Chrysler Cirrus was priced less than the Sonata. Considering Hyundai's quality record, we don't find the GLS to be a viable option in this class, particularly since the Contour/Mystique twins are a real kick in the pants to drive.
That's not to say that the Sonata isn't a satisfying car. The doors thunk shut nicely, it is quiet and comfortable inside and the leather makes it feel like a much more expensive sedan. Everything looks and functions as though quality has been built-in, but the radio and climate controls are a tad overdone. The back seat could benefit from better thigh and back support, but it isn't any more uncomfortable than the rear quarters of a Dodge Stratus. Overall, we are impressed with this roomy effort from Hyundai.
Unfortunately, the Sonata competes with many cars that feel as good and often cost less. Factor in the depreciation that the Hyundai is sure to endure, as well as the questionable quality levels of past Sonatas, and this new one's shine begins to dull. Drop the price a couple grand and the leather-lined Sonata GLS would begin to look like a bargain.