2006 Hyundai Sonata Review
2006 Hyundai Sonata Review
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Used Sonata for sale
Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- More upscale-looking than its predecessor, powerful and refined V6, smooth highway ride, roomy interior.
- Still doesn't match the segment leaders when it comes to overall refinement, front seats can be uncomfortable.
The Hyundai Sonata is completely redesigned for 2006. It's also the first Hyundai car to be built in the U.S.
The 2006 Sonata is the best Hyundai car yet, with plentiful features and an excellent highway ride that make it a serious contender in the midsize sedan segment.
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Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6 4dr Sedan (3.3L 6cyl 5A) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.36 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
Sonata GLS V6
Avg. Midsize Car
Hyundai has had a tough road in America. Despite the fact that its more recent cars are competent and competitively priced, many people still remember the Hyundai Excel which earned a reputation for being both underpowered and unreliable. Almost two decades later, J.D. Power gave the 2004 Hyundai Sonata top honors for initial quality, rating it the "Most Appealing Midsize Car" two years in a row.
Hoping to capitalize on the previous-generation car's relative success, Hyundai has completely redesigned the Sonata for 2006. Unlike Sonatas before it, this one is built in America at Hyundai's new factory in Alabama. The new car is bigger than the old one and offers a more spacious interior that's filled with higher-quality materials than we've seen in any previous Hyundai car. The roomy rear seat even has an inch more legroom than the family-friendly Camry. Officially, the Sonata is classified by the government as a "large car" due to overall interior volume. Still, from behind the wheel, the 2006 Hyundai Sonata doesn't feel appreciably larger than other midsize sedans like the Accord or Altima.
The exterior look is a big departure from the old Sonata's conservative sheet metal. We especially like the '06 version's dual exhaust outlets and the 17-inch wheels on the LX model. All in all, though, the Hyundai Sonata looks a lot like the current-generation Accord, especially from the rear. We're not sure this is an altogether bad thing, but Hyundai would probably be better off giving the Sonata a more distinct look. Like previous Sonatas, the '06 model is available with two engines, a four-cylinder and a V6. Both are all-new engines and both will be built at the Alabama factory, though early versions of the smaller engine will be built in Korea. The V6 comes standard with a new five-speed automatic transmission.
With competitive prices, long warranties and stylish new products, Hyundai is looking more and more like a young Toyota than the company that intentionally sold the Excel. The 2006 Hyundai Sonata represents an excellent value for family car shoppers. Even without its price advantage, the car still holds its own by offering an inviting interior, lots of standard features and capable engine choices, all wrapped in an attractive body. With the 2006 Hyundai Sonata's many improvements, midsize sedan shoppers will now have to stop at one more dealership before making their final choice.
Performance & mpg
The GL and GLS come standard with a 162-hp, 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the GL, while the GLS has a four-speed automatic. A 3.3-liter V6 is optional on the GLS and standard on the LX. The V6 makes 235 hp and 226 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard with the V6. Both automatics offer manual-shift capability.
For 2006 even the base GL comes with a host of safety features. ABS, traction control, electronic stability control, front side-impact airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active head restraints are all standard equipment on every Sonata. In NHTSA crash tests, the Hyundai Sonata was impressive, scoring five stars in both frontal- and side-impact tests. In the IIHS frontal-offset crash test, the Sonata received a score of "Good," the highest possible rating. Side-impact testing resulted in an "Acceptable" rating, the IIHS' second highest.
The power and refinement of both engines is notable, though the V6 is the more fun and responsive of the two. Still, the smaller engine doesn't sound or feel harsh and those who prefer the fuel economy and lower price of a four-cylinder car won't get shortchanged by choosing the GL or GLS. The ride is pleasing and especially refined on the LX. The Hyundai Sonata remains quiet on the highway even at very high speeds.
GL and GLS models come with cloth seats, while leather is standard on the LX. The leather looks nice, but in our experience, the cloth seats are more comfortable. The interior of this midsize sedan is filled with lots of soft-touch surfaces and comes off as being much higher in quality than any Hyundai car to date.
2006 Hyundai Sonata models
The Hyundai Sonata is offered in three trim levels: base GL, midlevel GLS and loaded LX. The GL comes with features like six airbags, cruise, ABS, stability and traction control, remote keyless entry and an MP3/CD player. The GLS has extras like 16-inch alloy wheels, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and automatic headlights. The LX adds features like a V6 engine, leather upholstery, a power driver seat, seat heaters, a sunroof and 17-inch wheels.
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
Excellent in Crash
2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6 4dr Sedan (3.3L 6cyl 5A)
We bought our Sonata used almost 2 years ago. This past weekend, we were hit from behind, with the other person going around 70 mph. My Sonata flipped end over end, landing on the top. My daughter I both got out alive, and I believe my Sonata is the reason for this. It was a very sturdy car, and I don't think we would have fared as well in another car its size.
3.88 out of 5 stars
230,000 mile road dog
2006 Hyundai Sonata LX 4dr Sedan (3.3L 6cyl 5A)
I bought my Sonata in 07 with 22,000 miles (previous rental). Overall I have LOVED my car, very dependable! There have been some little issues with sensors going off along the way, but just annoyances. My car has a ton of highway time, it has been a commuter for the last five years and never let me down. The only major mechanical fix $400 alternator repair at 217,000 miles. Otherwise … just brakes battery, oil, tire maintenance. I give the interior a little lower rating as the quality seems a bit too plastic and I have broken visors, cup holder, center console etc-but my car takes a beating. Interior just hasn't held up as well as I had hoped.Seats are a bit uncomfortable for long drive
4 out of 5 stars
Hyundai Changed My Whole Opinion On Their Cars
2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6 4dr Sedan (3.3L 6cyl 5A)
Very surprised with this vehicle. I was sketchy before I got this car because of Hyundai's previous reputation, but after driving it and owning it for a few months, I am very impressed. I want to start off with my absolute favorite thing about this car - it rides so incredibly smooth, and the road noise is minimal inside of the cabin. Seriously, the smoothness of the ride is right up … there with GM's more luxurious brands (Buick, Cadillac). The acceleration is impressive (I have the 3.3L V6), and the breaking is great. Another thing I'd like to note is how great the overall visibility this vehicle provides. As for the interior, the layout of the radio, AC controls, and the car controls (turn signals, wipers, etc.) is pretty simple and easy to learn relatively quick. However, while I do enjoy the simplicity of the layout, I have to say I don't care for how basic this car is. I know it isn't the LX, but still, this car seriously lacks some features that other cars in its class (Accord and Camry) have. The backseat provides decent leg room and is somewhat roomy for the passengers. This car is 10 years old now, and I'm still impressed with the driving characteristics of this vehicle, and my opinion of Hyundai has absolutely changed.
5 out of 5 stars
Great car and great warranty!!!
2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
I have owned my Hyundai Sonata for 4 years. It has been a great car ever since. The only issue I had was the visor broke, but they replaced it under warranty no questions asked. I love the way it drives and it's reliability. I would definately recommend it. I currently have 98,000 miles on it and trust it will go many more miles.
Features & Specs
- Base MSRP
- MPG & Fuel
- 21 City / 31 Hwy / 25 Combined
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 17.7 gal. capacity
- 5 seats
- Type: front wheel drive
- Transmission: 5-speed manual
- Inline 4 cylinder
- Horsepower: 162 hp @ 5800 rpm
- Torque: 164 lb-ft @ 4250 rpm
- Basic Warranty
- 5 yr./ 60000 mi.
- Length: 188.9 in. / Height: 58.0 in.
- Overall Width without Mirrors: 72.1 in.
- Curb Weight: 3253 lbs.
- Cargo Capacity, All Seats In Place: 16.3 cu.ft.
NHTSA Overall Rating
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverallNot RatedDriver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverallNot Rated
- Side Barrier RatingOverallNot RatedDriver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront SeatNot RatedBack SeatNot Rated
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of RolloverNot Rated
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Side Impact TestAcceptable
- Roof Strength TestNot Tested
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood
- IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front TestGood
More about the 2006 Hyundai Sonata
More About This Model
"The introduction of the 2006 Hyundai Sonata is the most important vehicle debut in the history of Hyundai." This bold statement was made by Hyundai Motor America's CEO Bob Cosmai. Granted, many press introductions are filled with this kind of hyperbole as well as hokey sales meeting clichés like "hit the numbers" but Hyundai officials may not be overstating the importance of their newest car.
The Hyundai Sonata is the company's best-selling model and accounts for roughly 26 percent of total Hyundai sales.
The 2006 Hyundai Sonata is built on a new platform at an all-new U.S. factory in Montgomery, Alabama — the first Hyundai to be built in America. The sedan is bigger and offers two new engines plus a new five-speed automatic transmission. Think Hyundai is serious about making the Sonata a contender? We do.
The new car is 2 inches longer and taller with a 1-inch-longer wheelbase than the previous Sonata. It's wider than the 2005 versions of the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry.
Once inside the car, it doesn't appear notably larger than its Japanese rivals but the rear seat does offer about a half-inch more legroom than the Camry. The trunk is spacious as well and offers more room than the Accord and Altima. Only the Camry tops the Sonata in this area with 16.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity versus the Hyundai's 16.3.
But numbers don't tell the whole story. The 2006 Sonata's interior is not only larger than before, it looks and feels better, too. The dash and door panels are covered with soft-touch materials that, in some places, mimic the feel of an Audi. That's not to say the entire interior is up to Audi standards, but our initial impression is that this Hyundai's cabin is definitely on par with its direct competitors.
The seats are reasonably comfortable but the seat bottoms are too short and even the power-adjustable driver seat in the upscale LX model was difficult to position exactly right. We also feel the leather-covered seats are a little less comfortable than the cloth seats. Thankfully, that cloth is as good as or better than that found on cars like the benchmark Honda Accord. Even the cloth inserts on the doors feel soft and durable.
Lots of Features
The Sonata is offered in three trim levels: base GL ($17,895), midlevel GLS ($18,795) and "loaded" LX ($20,895). The base car comes with features like six airbags, cruise control, ABS, stability and traction control, remote keyless entry and an MP3/CD player. The midlevel GLS has extras like 16-inch alloy wheels, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and automatic lights. The LX adds features like heated leather seats, sunroof, 17-inch wheels, V6, five-speed automatic and a power driver seat.
The GL and GLS come standard with a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine. A 3.3-liter V6 is optional on the GLS and standard on the LX. The four-cylinder makes 162 hp and uses variable valve timing. The V6 makes 235 hp and delivers its 226 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm.
The power and refinement of both engines are notable with the V6 being more fun and responsive. Still, the smaller engine doesn't sound or feel harsh and those who prefer the fuel economy and lower price of a four-cylinder car won't get shortchanged by choosing the Sonata GL or GLS.
The LX with its standard V6, 17-inch wheels and Michelin Pilot tires feels sportier and comes close to the Honda Accord's taut feel. The '06 Sonata is no road racing champ but it does have a combination of firm brakes, a powerful engine and predictable handling that makes it an entertaining drive should the mood strike you.
On the open highway, the Sonata LX is remarkably quiet. Even at speeds of 80 mph and above, wind and road noise are never intrusive. In city driving, the five-speed automatic transmission worked well. It never hunted or chose the wrong gear. If anything, the transmission is reluctant to downshift but this is likely due to the Sonata's V6 delivering most of its torque at a fairly low engine speed. Still, when downshifts came they were smooth and sure.
On the whole, the new Sonata is a huge improvement over its predecessor. It's attractive inside and out and is filled with standard features like six standard airbags and stability control. We don't like the leather seats and would wish for a more premium stereo on the LX model, but Hyundai has done so much right that it boils down to nitpicking.
The 2006 Sonata may be the first Hyundai we can recommend without qualifiers like "for the price." Sub-$20,000 pricing (GL only) and 100,000-mile warranties will only get you so far. With the Sonata's excellent attention to detail and generous standard features, the price is just icing on the cake. It may sound like blasphemy but Camry and Accord shoppers now have one more stop to make at the local auto mall before deciding on a midsize sedan.
Used 2006 Hyundai Sonata Overview
The Used 2006 Hyundai Sonata is offered in the following submodels: Sonata Sedan. Available styles include GLS V6 4dr Sedan (3.3L 6cyl 5A), LX 4dr Sedan (3.3L 6cyl 5A), GLS 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 4A), GL 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 4A), and GL 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 5M). Pre-owned Hyundai Sonata models are available with a 3.3 L-liter gas engine or a 2.4 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 235 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2006 Hyundai Sonata comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed shiftable automatic, 4-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2006 Hyundai Sonata comes with a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. basic warranty, a 5 yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 10 yr./ 100000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a Used 2006 Hyundai Sonata?
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Should I lease or buy a 2006 Hyundai Sonata?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.