2012 Hyundai Sonata Review

Pros & Cons

  • Lots of standard and optional features for the money
  • stylish and comfortable cabin
  • strong acceleration
  • top fuel economy
  • excellent safety scores
  • lengthy warranty.
  • Distinctive styling affects rear headroom
  • rough ride in SE trim.
List Price Range
$5,895 - $12,499

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Fresh off a full redesign last year, the 2012 Hyundai Sonata remains the car to beat in its class.

Vehicle overview

Whether it's the Elantra scrapping with the economy compacts or the Equus trading barbs with encrusted luxo-yachts, Hyundai seemingly has a fighter in every weight class. Among midsize sedans, the 2012 Hyundai Sonata is the Korean automaker's contender. In prior years, the Sonata was nothing more than a midpack player, but that all changed with last year's full redesign, in which the Sonata gained dramatic new styling, new engines and a revamped interior.

Under the hood is a choice of a powerful 2.4-liter four-cylinder or, in lieu of a V6, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. With 198 horsepower (200 in SE trim), the base engine will satisfy just about everybody, especially when it returns a very impressive 28 mpg combined when paired with the six-speed automatic transmission. Equally impressive is the turbo engine, which cranks out 274 hp yet still gets nearly identical fuel economy estimates.

Inside, the Sonata is big enough that the EPA deems it a "large" car. Its total passenger volume puts it ahead of every class competitor except the Honda Accord, and its 16.4 cubic feet of trunk space is equally roomy. As is the case with all Hyundais, standard feature content is generous, and it comes at a price that's significantly less than most competitors. The Sonata also stands out in terms of design, as its cabin is attractive and fitted with upscale and easy-to-use controls. This year's model is also notable for the introduction of BlueLink, Hyundai's telematics system that's similar to General Motors' OnStar.

So how much of a contender has the 2012 Hyundai Sonata become? Not only is it a clear alternative to the traditional midsize safe bets, but we recently gave it the title belt in a comparison test against a 2012 Toyota Camry, 2012 Honda Accord, 2012 Volkswagen Passat and new Chevrolet Malibu. While Hyundai's midsize sedan may not be a class leader in every area, it is well-rounded and offers few drawbacks and tremendous value. All are still worth considering, however, along with the Ford Fusion and Nissan Altima. The related 2012 Kia Optima also matches the Sonata in many respects. But one thing's for sure -- the Sonata no longer finds itself in the middle of the pack.

2012 Hyundai Sonata models

The 2012 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 mirrors, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, a 60/40-split rear seatback, a trip computer, Bluetooth and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an iPod/USB audio interface, an auxiliary audio jack and steering-wheel-mounted controls.

The sole optional equipment package for the GLS includes alloy wheels, automatic headlights and an eight-way power driver seat. The sporty SE includes all of the above and adds 18-inch alloy wheels with performance tires, foglights, a dark chrome grille, a sport-tuned suspension, keyless ignition/entry and leather/cloth upholstery. Opting for the SE with the turbocharged engine also adds dual-zone automatic climate control and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. An optional Navigation and Sunroof package bundles (you guessed it) a navigation system with touchscreen display, a rearview camera, premium Infinity speakers and a sunroof.

The plush Sonata Limited has all the SE's features, but substitutes 17-inch alloy wheels, a cushier suspension and full leather upholstery. It also gains side mirror turn signal repeaters, a panoramic sunroof, heated seats (front and rear), dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an upgraded audio system (with HD radio) and unique interior accents. The turbocharged Limited variant adds 18-inch wheels, dual exhaust tips and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The Limited's sole optional package bundles the navigation system with the touchscreen display, a back-up camera and premium Infinity speakers.

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2012 Highlights

For the 2012 Sonata, Hyundai adds a new telematics service (Blue Link), a higher-resolution touchscreen display to the optional navigation system and a panoramic sunroof to the Limited trim level. It has also recalibrated the engines for slightly better fuel economy this year, while this is the first full model year for changes to the steering system that were enacted halfway through last year.

Performance & mpg

The standard Sonata engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 198 hp and 184 pound-feet of torque. The dual-exhaust SE makes slightly 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. Sonatas sold in California-emission states can have PZEV emissions certification, though output drops slightly to 190 hp.

A powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged engine generating 274 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque is available on SE and Limited models. The six-speed automatic is standard.

In Edmunds performance testing, a 2.4-liter GLS Sonata with automatic transmission accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds -- this is a full second quicker than the class average. The 2.0-liter turbo with automatic transmission is significantly quicker still, making the same dash in a class-average 6.7 seconds.

The Sonata's EPA fuel economy estimates are equally impressive. The 2.4-liter engine is rated at 24 mpg city/35 mpg highway and 28 combined, regardless of transmission. In a long-term test with this engine, we managed to match the Sonata's EPA combined number. The 2.0-liter turbo, despite its significant boost in power, returns a very impressive 22/34/26 mpg.

Safety

All 2012 Hyundai Sonatas come equipped with antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, front seat side-impact airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, active front head restraints and BlueLink emergency telematics.

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

In Edmunds brake testing, both a Sonata GLS and SE turbo came to a stop from 60 mph in about 120 feet, which are slightly above average for the class.

Driving

The 2012 Hyundai Sonata strikes a perfectly acceptable balance between comfort and confidence. Its chassis and suspension are taut, but not enough to transmit the road's every bump and rumble. Drivers seeking a measure of sport can opt for the SE, although its sharper handling capabilities don't really justify its rougher, bumpier ride. The Sonata's steering is OK but doesn't transmit much road feel.

On the move, the 2.4-liter engine provides thoroughly respectable acceleration for a four-cylinder midsize sedan. Gearshifts from the automatic transmission are seamless and drama-free. The manual transmission is fairly unexceptional, and we recommend the automatic. Power delivery from the turbocharged engine is smooth and linear, with no detectable turbo lag. That it returns excellent fuel economy is icing on the cake.

Interior

The Sonata feels as well built inside as it does out. The dash and center stack meld together in a seamless flow, while trapezoidal vents, sharp blue backlighting and, on some models, brushed-metal style trim pieces create an environment that looks both modern and upscale. Knobs, switches and controls operate with a feel and precision befitting a more expensive car, while the Limited trim -- with its available two-tone color schemes, piano-black trim and padded door panels -- is particularly appealing.

This year's new high-resolution touchscreen adds clarity and vibrancy to an already intuitive system for operating and viewing climate control, navigation, audio and phone functions. Also new is the new BlueLink telematics service, which, similar to OnStar, offers services like emergency crash response, remote opening of door locks, turn-by-turn navigation and speed and curfew limits for younger drivers.

Classified as a large car, the Sonata offers enough room for four adults to stretch out. Five can make do on shorter trips. But in our experience, headroom both front and rear is merely adequate, and 6-foot-tall passengers in back may find their heads bumping the ceiling due to the Sonata's sloped roof line.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2012 Hyundai Sonata.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

The best value for your buck
jay105,12/08/2011
GLS 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A)
I am very careful when I buy a car because I tend to keep them for long time. I built a matrix to help me decide what car to buy. The objective parameters (I add one subjective at the end) where: 1.- First class gas mileage . 2.- Excellent Crash Ratings 3.- Better than average warranty 4.- First class in space 5.- Better than average 5 years cost to own ) 6.- Excellent Price. Two cars came on top Hyundai Sonata/Kia optima. Both leaded the pack in gas mileage, tops in crash ratings, but the Sonata was bigger than the rest in almost any measure,great price tons of added standard features (Bluetooth was important because recent laws) around $2000 cheaper than Equivalent Camry/Accord
Small Problems are the most annoying in a new car!
ambermofwv,09/29/2011
SE 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A)
I am a proud owner of a 2012 Hyundai Sonata, happy with my purchase, just not from where I purchased it. There have been SEVERAL interior problems and the car is less than 3 months old, the car dealer blames me. I take VERY good care of my car, clean it every day, inside and out, make sure it's always full of gas and drive smoothe. BOTH side air bag panels have fallen off, there was a tear in the passenger seat, the cupholder is fading to an off black, and there is white glue on my door air bags. It's just the small things that bug you, and rude salesman playing you to be a fool.
Needed Good Gas Mileage, But Not Small
joval,07/24/2011
GLS 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A)
We live in the Fla. country, almost an hour to go to a city, and take a 340 mile trip every month. We needed good gas mileage but needed a car that was roomy inside, had folding 60/40 back seats to a large trunk . We also wanted to spend the least amount of money and still have a reliable car. The Sonata won out on all counts. Roomy car inside, especially with the camel interior to brighten it up, is quiet, handles very well, and has good acceleration to pass on two-lane highways. We now have 1021 miles on it. At steady flat 60 mph we got 42.2 mpg avg, at 75 mph, 35.5 mpg avg, and at 55, 44.5 mpg avg. Measured highway and city 1st tank avg. 28.28 mpg, second tank avg. 28.69. Overall pleased.
Needs Improvement
ems1,11/13/2011
GLS 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A)
I bought the car because I thought it was a good value for the money. There are a lot of great features even in the base model. Steering problems and poor paint along with the dealers inability to fix the problems make this car unacceptable. If you are thinking of buying one, go over everything like you would if you were buying a used car. Quality control is not where it should be. Be sure do do a long test drive and look for steering problems, especially right or left pull.

Safety

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
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2012 Hyundai Sonata

Used 2012 Hyundai Sonata Overview

The Used 2012 Hyundai Sonata is offered in the following submodels: Sonata Sedan. Available styles include SE 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), GLS 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A), SE 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A), Limited 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), Limited PZEV 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A), GLS 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6M), Limited 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A), GLS PZEV 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A), Limited 4dr Sedan w/Wine Interior (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), Limited PZEV 4dr Sedan w/Wine Interior (2.4L 4cyl 6A), and Limited 4dr Sedan w/Wine Interior (2.4L 4cyl 6A).

What's a good price on a Used 2012 Hyundai Sonata?

Price comparisons for Used 2012 Hyundai Sonata trim styles:

  • The Used 2012 Hyundai Sonata GLS PZEV is priced between $6,995 and$11,998 with odometer readings between 29031 and132286 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Hyundai Sonata Limited PZEV is priced between $7,698 and$11,100 with odometer readings between 75869 and149417 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Hyundai Sonata GLS is priced between $5,895 and$7,500 with odometer readings between 141266 and217584 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Hyundai Sonata SE is priced between $6,849 and$9,000 with odometer readings between 109712 and119473 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Hyundai Sonata Limited is priced between $11,000 and$12,499 with odometer readings between 48715 and80451 miles.

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Which used 2012 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) 2012 Hyundai Sonata for sale near. There are currently 22 used and CPO 2012 Sonatas listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $5,895 and mileage as low as 29031 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 2012 Hyundai Sonata.

Can't find a used 2012 Hyundai Sonatas you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Hyundai Sonata for sale - 1 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $7,972.

Find a used Hyundai for sale - 1 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $15,481.

Find a used certified pre-owned Hyundai Sonata for sale - 8 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $17,273.

Find a used certified pre-owned Hyundai for sale - 11 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $14,803.

Should I lease or buy a 2012 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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