Don't be put off by age or styling but pay attention to the way the car has been cared for and maintained. I bought this car in 2013 and it's a 1999. I paid $2500 for it here in Korea where I'm living now. It was in mint condition and needed nothing. In the 2 1/2 years in which I have driven this wonderful car daily it has performed like a champ. It's only a 4-banger and I left a Ford Taurus V-6 24-valve OHC in LA before moving to Korea and I like this car better. It is so comfortable and gets great mileage. The 4-cylinder 16-Valve OHC engine really does perform. I can cruise at 160 Km/Hr all day long if need be. I have only had one problem in all the miles that I have put on this car: it needed a new head gasket (a relatively cheap job in Korea). After that all has been fine. The car had 90,000 Kilometers on it when I bought it and, despite the high mileage, I have never had a more comfortable or reliable car. I love this car and, after all these years, it still looks mint. One thing I particularly like is the cloth seats and cozy, comfortable interior. The air conditioner is powerful and cold and the heater will burn your ears off in the winter. I drive hard and fast and this car cooperates wonderfully with me. But one must maintain any car religiously with oil and filter changes and inspections. One of the virtues of this car is that it is long, wide and low with a low center of gravity and excellent road-holding qualities in curves and driving through the mountainous terrain of Korea. It hugs the road like nothing else I've ever driven. It is, far and away, the best handling car I have ever owned --and at 65 years old--this is my 29th car! No kidding. I've owned English, German, Swedish, American, and Japanese cars but this one does take the cake as the best overall, but I have always had a soft spot for well-performing 4-door sedans. I highly recommend this car to anyone and bear in mind I'm still driving this 17-year-old car daily!
Acquired in 2000 with <13000 miles. Fuel & crankshaft sensors shot in 6 mos. Then, out of the blue, it wouldn't start! A loaner was never available. Stalled at a city intersection - $400 to fix. Was told a new timing belt would be necessary soon with only 38000 mi on it! $1000 later, I had paid off the loan but couldn't afford a newer car payment. The decision was made for me 3 wks ago, when I was in a car accident. Front driver's side crushed like a soda can when impacted by a vehicle at only 30 mi/hr. I now know why the car needs side airbags! Got a check, since repairing cost more than resale value. For a car driven approx 5000 mi/yr, there is no excuse! I'll never buy another Hyundai!
I got this with 39K and I now think it was traded in initially for poor quality. Had a $500-$700 engine repair every 6 months or so. My trusteed mechanic said that parts were very expensive compared to more common makes. This was a very poor quality car and I will never go near Hyundai or KIA again. It was a little cheaper than Hondas and Toyotas but nowhere near the quality. Lesson learned. I simply couldn't stand owning this thing any longer.
I purchased this vehicle in 2002 with 15,000 miles from the original owner's estate. It presently has about 50,000 miles, including 4 cross-country trips from SFO to ORD and back. Hyundai reported no warranty claims prior to my ownership, and I've had none. Owner 1 did only basic maintenence, according to Hyundai records, and I've done the same: oil and filter, coolant, trans and filter, battery, tires. It's a solid, comfortable, reliable, economical and completely practical car, and it's served me well for nearly 10 years. It's not as much fun to drive as my Miata, but I can't carry lumber on a roof rack of a Miata. I'll gladly purchase another Sonata, with even better value.