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2006 Hyundai Sonata LX Review

Byte Bite:...I feel the Hyundai Sonata is a great bargain.


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THE AUTO PAGE
By
JOHN HEILIG

SEE ALSO: New Car Buyer's Guide for Hyundai

SPECIFICATIONS
MODEL:  2006 Hyundai Sonata LX
ENGINE:  3.3-liter V6
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE:  235 hp @ 6,000 rpm 
TRANSMISSION:  5-speed automatic
WHEELBASE:  107.4 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT:  188.9 x 72.1 x 58.1 in.
CARGO:  16.3 cu. ft.
ECONOMY:  20 mpg city/30 mpg highway/23.8 mpg test
PRICE:  $22,895 (includes inland freight and handling)
 
Hyundai beings out one of the first of the 2006 models with the Sonata mid-size sedan. Essentially the same size as the Honda Accord, Sonata is slightly less powerful. Hyundai has stuffed a 3.3-literV6 into the engine bay of the Sonata, while Honda uses a 3.0-liter v6 in the Accord.

These minor distinctions aside, the Sonata certainly doesn't suffer from a lack of power. With 235 horses available to push a fairly light car, power is more than adequate. We had no problem out-accelerating other cars from traffic lights. Nor did we have problems maintaining speed with anyone on Interstates.

The engine drives the front wheels through a 5-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode. This is the same gating arrangements as in the Kia Sorento (Kia and Hyundai are closely affiliated), I didn't have the same problems with accidentally shifting into the manual mode. The gearbox offered smooth shifts, as one would expect from a good mid-size.

Fuel economy is listed as 20 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. We used the Sonata for mostly Interstate travel and averaged 23.8 mpg in our test. Since the car we had was essentially brand new, long-term owners might expect even better mileage, and that's becoming more and more important.

Our tester had leather seats that proved to be comfortable on long trips. These seats were heated, but we didn't have an opportunity to use that option in mid-summer. We did note that my 6-4 son-in-law didn't have any problems stretching out and being comfortable. The driver's seat was powered, while the passenger seat was manual.

Rear seat legroom is excellent, even with the front seats pushed back, although in complete honesty I didn't check the seat behind my s-i-l. Between the seats is a fold-down armrest if you're only carrying two passengers back there.

Our tester had full power accessories (I don't know if I'd be able to use manual windows any more), including an audio system that was AM/FM/CD and MP3 capable. The HVAC offered cool air during some hot driving days.

Remote releases for the trunk and fuel cap are located on the driver's door. I thought the trunk was huge (16.3 cubic feet) for a mid-size. We had room to carry everything we needed to greet a new grandson. If needed, the rear seat backs fold to increase cargo capacity. For those of use who are electronically obsessed, there is a 12-volt power outlet in the console and another in the trunk.

Under the hood the engine is accessible. The dip sticks and the battery are in front and easy to locate. All fillers are clearly marked. A gas strut held the hood up.

For 2006, Sonata's redesign adds curtain side airbags and front torso-side airbags and 4-wheel disc brakes. The styling has also been "freshened," although in my opinion the Sonata was one of the nicer-looking mid-size cars.

I should qualify all my opinions with a caveat that I only drive the cars for a week, so long-term quality is not an issue. But, based on that week, I feel the Hyundai sonata is a great bargain. Other mid-size cars with V6 engines are priced well over $30,000 with the level of accessories we had on the Sonata. It offered great power and a comfortable ride on both Interstates and twisting back-country roads. We also maneuvered through urban traffic with no problems.

2005 The Auto Page Syndicate