2011 Hyundai Sonata Review

Pros & Cons

  • Smooth ride, high fuel economy, comfortable and handsome cabin, spacious trunk, capable handling, impressive value, strong safety scores, lengthy warranty.
  • Some consumers may miss V6 option, rough ride in SE trim, can be tight on headroom.
List Price Range
$4,995 - $13,500

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The previous Sonata was a solid contender, but for 2011, the Hyundai Sonata vaults itself to the top of the class.

Vehicle overview

Big rock bands tend to have famous influences. Coldplay's early music was inspired by U2's, for instance, and Madonna's long career has no doubt provided inspiration for Lady Gaga. It's the same song and dance on the world's automotive stage. Could there be any denying that the previous Hyundai Sonata was inspired by the Camry and Accord? But the 2011 Hyundai Sonata, like a maturing great band that comes into its own, has become worthy of headliner status in the family-sedan arena.

Engine choices for the new Sonata include a 2.4-liter inline-4 or a 2.0-liter turbocharged variant. The base engine is really all most buyers will ever need, as it makes a robust 198 horsepower (200 in the SE trim) and returns a thrifty 26 mpg combined when matched to a six-speed automatic. In addition to delivering both brisk performance and high fuel mileage, this drivetrain exhibits a refined demeanor. The turbo ramps up performance with 274 hp and amazingly returns nearly identical combined fuel economy.

All of this is even more impressive when you consider that the Sonata is one of just two cars in its segment (the Accord is the other) roomy enough to be deemed a "large" sedan by the EPA. The 2011 Sonata also boasts improvements in driving dynamics to give it a tauter, more composed feel, though it's not quite up to the sport sedan bar of the Ford Fusion Sport, Nissan Altima and Mazda 6. The SE trim's sport-tuned suspension helps the Sonata inch up closer to that bar, but in the process, the ride gets a little too rough.

Of course, being a Hyundai, the Sonata brings along a strong value proposition. Despite the fact that its starting price can be a couple thousand dollars cheaper than its rivals' MSRPs, the base Sonata GLS offers a number of features as standard -- such as satellite radio, iPod connectivity and Bluetooth with phonebook download -- that are optional or not even available on its peers. The top-of-the-line Sonata Limited, meanwhile, comes standard with everything except navigation.

All things considered, the latest Sonata manages to stand out in a segment chock full of good choices. It's more refined than the ubiquitous 2011 Honda Accord and 2011 Toyota Camry, and though the 2011 Nissan Altima, 2011 Mazda 6, Chevy Malibu and Ford Fusion are also good picks, the Sonata has the price advantage. With its spirited performance, impressive fuel economy, solid build quality and strong value, we have a feeling that the 2011 Hyundai Sonata will have no problem climbing the charts.

2011 Hyundai Sonata models

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata is a midsize family sedan available in GLS, SE and Limited trim levels. Standard equipment on the GLS includes 16-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, air-conditioning, cruise control, full power accessories, heated sideview mirrors, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, a trip computer, a 60/40-split rear seatback, a six-speaker stereo (with CD/MP3 player, satellite radio, iPod/auxiliary audio jacks and steering-wheel-mounted controls) and Bluetooth with phonebook download.

Two optional equipment packages are available. One adds alloy wheels, automatic headlights and an eight-way power driver seat. The other includes all these plus a navigation system and upgraded speakers for the audio system. The sporty SE features all the above (except the navigation system and premium speakers) and adds 18-inch alloy wheels with performance tires, foglights, a dark chrome grille, a sport-tuned suspension, keyless ignition/entry, leather/cloth upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Opting for the turbocharged engine will also add dual-zone automatic climate control. An optional package bundles a navigation system with premium speakers and a sunroof.

The plush Limited has all the SE's features (minus the 18-inch wheels, sport suspension and cloth/leather upholstery) and adds side mirror turn signal repeaters, a sunroof, leather upholstery, heated seats (front and rear), dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an upgraded audio system (with HD radio and CD changer) and unique interior accents (either wood grain or gloss black). Seventeen-inch alloy wheels are also standard. The turbocharged SE variant adds 18-inch wheels, dual exhaust tips and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The Limited's sole optional package bundles a navigation system with a back-up camera and Infinity premium speakers.

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2011 Highlights

For 2011, the Hyundai Sonata is completely redesigned.

Performance & mpg

The standard engine on all Hyundai Sonata trim levels is a 2.4-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine good for 198 hp and 184 pound-feet of torque. The SE, with its dual exhaust, has a bit more power at 200 hp and 186 lb-ft. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the GLS, while a six-speed automatic is optional on that trim and standard on the SE and Limited. A powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is available on SE and Limited trim levels. This engine produces 274 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque.

In performance testing, a 2.4-liter GLS Sonata with the automatic transmission accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds. As expected, the 2.0-liter turbo is significantly quicker, requiring only 6.7 seconds.

The Sonata's EPA fuel economy estimates are impressive for a car of this size. The 2.4-liter engine with the manual transmission is rated at 24 mpg city/35 mpg highway and 28 combined, and 22/35/26 mpg with the automatic. The 2.0-liter turbo, despite its significant boost in power, returns a very impressive 22/33/26 mpg.


All Sonatas come well stocked with antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, front seat side-impact airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints.

In the government's new, more strenuous crash testing for 2011, the Sonata earned a top five-star rating for overall crash protection, with four out of five stars given for front-impact protection and five stars for side impact protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the 2011 Hyundai Sonata earned a top rating of "Good" for frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength protection.

In Edmunds brake testing, a 2011 Sonata GLS came to a stop from 60 mph in 128 feet. A 2.0-liter turbo model with wider tires stopped slightly shorter at 120 feet. Both stopping distances are slightly better than average for cars in this class.


With its well-balanced chassis, the 2011 Hyundai Sonata provides both a supple ride and sure-footed handling. The steering lightens up considerably at low speeds to ease parking maneuvers, though at times the Sonata's steering can feel a bit artificial in quick transitions. The Sonata SE's suspension tuning is indeed sportier, but in testing we've found it leads to a rather rough and uncomfortable ride quality on rougher roads.

The 2.4-liter four's strong performance should be enough for most drivers; it pulls willingly and smoothly right up to the tach's redline. Gearshifts from the automatic are seamless, and it steps down when needed for quick passing or merging. Power delivery from the turbocharged engine is smooth and linear, with no detectable turbo lag. That it returns similar fuel economy is just icing on the cake.

Read our Hyundai Sonata Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test


Fit and finish of the cabin is very good. The controls operate with a feel and precision befitting a more expensive car. We're big fans of the standard iPod interface, which is easy to use and quite speedy in operation. The Limited trim level is particularly upscale, with its available two-tone color schemes, piano black trim and padded door panels.

Now classified as a large car, the Sonata boasts enough room to allow four adults to stretch out and enjoy the ride. As with most cars, five will fit, though the rear middle passenger won't be as comfortable as the others. Headroom is just barely adequate front and rear, however, as 6-footers will likely find their heads uncomfortably in the ceiling. The trunk has a slightly smaller opening than the norm, but its 16.4-cubic-foot capacity is at the top of the class.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

It saved our lives( I'm not kidding)
GLS PZEV 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A)
I bought my Sonata in October and it's been a great car. I recently was reminded on how good it really was. I was driving with my family a couple of weeks ago, when we we struck by another vehicle. We were t-boned at an intersection on the driver's side. Both front and rear airbags deployed and the car was considered a total loss. Fortunately, my family was fine, with a few bumps and bruises. I am grateful that the car protected us in such a violent crash. Needless to say, I'm shopping for another Sonata. Thanks Hyundai!
Look for starter problems.
SE 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A)
We just replaced the starter in our 75K mile 2011 Hyundai Sonata. We were told that the starter is a very common problem for this car, and sure enough, what presented as a possible battery problem that was difficult/impossible to jump turned out to be a starter. This is the first and only mechanical problem we have had with the car. Other than that, it is loud on the road and seats are uncomfy for me at 5'4", but it has been a great car. Just be prepared to shell out $500-700 for the starter.
2011 Hyundai Sonata Noise Problem
Limited PZEV 4dr Sedan w/Wine Interior (2.4L 4cyl 6A)
We purchased the 2011 Hyundai Sonata in Feb 2011. We love the way it drives, the interior features, comfort and looks. However, we are extremely unhappy with a groaning noise that occurs with decceleration or braking to a stop. We have had the car in to the dealer 4 times, had numerous emails back and forth with Hyundai Customer Service and have only been told the noise is coming from the A/C compressor and "it is operating as designed" so there is no repair for it. They have said it is in all of the 2011 Sonatas but I doubt that since I have seen no other posts or articles about it. Needless to say, I cannot recommend that anyone purchase this vehicle until Hyundai addresses this problem.
Well then
Limited 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A)
Warning to all those thinking about purchasing a Hyundai Sonata 2011, there have been a large number of recalls because once you hit 85,000 miles+ the engine will fail. I just had it happen to mine. They never sent me a recall report on anything except the break lights. They informed me they are not sure of how long it will take to repair it since they're not making the engines fast enough. Thankfully, since it was a recall, the Hyundai dealer is paying for the repairs which can cost up to $6,000. They are amazing cars, but the engine failure was a huge disappointment.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover5 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover9.7%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2011 Hyundai Sonata
More About This Model

Upon checking out the all-new 2011 Hyundai Sonata at the Los Angeles auto show, a colleague declared, "Hyundai just might take over the world with this thing." A rather bold statement, yes, but based on our seat time in a Sonata GLS (the entry-level trim, mind you), Hyundai is, at the very least, going to shake up the very competitive world of midsize family sedans.

Much like the Boston Celtics of 2006-'08, this Korean car company has elevated itself from the bottom ranks to become a force to be reckoned with. And these days it's like Hyundai just keeps hitting 3-pointers -- consider the Genesis and the new Tucson. The latest "three" to swish through the net is the all-new Sonata.

Much like an NBA all-star, the latest Sonata has a fair measure of swagger. Whereas before the car wore anonymous, demure sheet metal, the new one sports sculpted body sides and daring, semi-fastback styling. The overall look is more midrange luxury car than family sedan and is indicative of the new confidence Hyundai is rightfully feeling. But the company didn't forget this car's mission: giving savvy consumers plenty of room, solid performance and a lot of features for a modest price tag.

Though the new 2011 Hyundai Sonata doesn't offer the option of a V6, it gets by just fine without one (more on that later). Besides, most cars sold in this segment are equipped with four-cylinder engines, even when V6s are optional. In this game, however, there are a number of good players. And now that the Sonata has a bit of a sporty streak, we'd put its most direct rivals as the Ford Fusion, Mazda 6, Nissan Altima and Suzuki Kizashi.

Pitted against them, the Sonata makes a strong showing with its perky power plant, upscale styling, roomy, well-equipped cabin and strong value proposition. Still, out-and-out domination isn't within reach just yet, as a few of those rivals best the Sonata in driving enjoyment and chassis refinement. But there's no denying that the 2011 Hyundai Sonata offers an enticing package in the form of a talented, well-rounded player that doesn't demand the bigger bucks of the game's more established names.

Used 2011 Hyundai Sonata Overview

The Used 2011 Hyundai Sonata is offered in the following submodels: Sonata Sedan. Available styles include GLS PZEV 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A), GLS 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A), SE 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A), SE 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), Limited PZEV 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A), Limited 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A), GLS 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6M), Limited 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), Limited 4dr Sedan w/Wine Interior (2.4L 4cyl 6A), Limited 4dr Sedan w/Wine Interior (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), and Limited PZEV 4dr Sedan w/Wine Interior (2.4L 4cyl 6A).

What's a good price on a Used 2011 Hyundai Sonata?

Price comparisons for Used 2011 Hyundai Sonata trim styles:

  • The Used 2011 Hyundai Sonata SE is priced between $5,000 and$9,499 with odometer readings between 86615 and144752 miles.
  • The Used 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS is priced between $4,995 and$10,995 with odometer readings between 57907 and173832 miles.
  • The Used 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS PZEV is priced between $5,996 and$13,500 with odometer readings between 104445 and137160 miles.
  • The Used 2011 Hyundai Sonata Limited is priced between $6,995 and$10,780 with odometer readings between 56234 and117000 miles.
  • The Used 2011 Hyundai Sonata Limited PZEV is priced between $7,998 and$9,252 with odometer readings between 82889 and89990 miles.

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Which used 2011 Hyundai Sonatas are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2011 Hyundai Sonata for sale near. There are currently 28 used and CPO 2011 Sonatas listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $4,995 and mileage as low as 56234 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

Can't find a used 2011 Hyundai Sonatas you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Hyundai Sonata for sale - 10 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $10,204.

Find a used Hyundai for sale - 2 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $8,416.

Find a used certified pre-owned Hyundai Sonata for sale - 10 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $21,518.

Find a used certified pre-owned Hyundai for sale - 3 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $19,264.

Should I lease or buy a 2011 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.

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Check out Hyundai Sonata lease specials