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2011 Hyundai Sonata Limited Review

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2011 Hyundai Sonata

See Also: Hyundai Buyers Guide
See Also: E-Carmony: Is The 2011 Hyundai Sonata Your Perfect Match?
See Also: Compare Hyundai Sonata Vs. Mercedes-Benz C-Class


SPECIFICATIONS: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Limited

Model: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Limited
Engine: 2.4-liter I4
Horsepower/Torque: 198 hp @ 6,300 rpm/184 lb.-ft. @ 4,250 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with manual
Wheelbase: 110.0 in.
Length/Width/Height: 189.8 x 72.2 x 57.9 in.
Tires: P215/55R17
Cargo volume: 16.4 cu. ft.
Fuel economy: 22 mpg city/35 mpg highway/28.9 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gal.
Curb weight: 3,316 lbs.
Sticker: $28,415 (includes $720 inland freight and handling; $2,400 in options, including $2,100 for navigation package)

The Bottom Line: As hard as it may seem to believe, the Hyundai Sonata is a worthy Mercedes-Benz pretender. No, it's not the S-Class, but it is definitely in the C-Class's class. The design is similar and the ride quality is in the same ballpark.

I said it before and I'll say it again, the Hyundai Sonata is a very good Mercedes-Benz pretender. The dramatic new styling of the 2011 version is not that all unlike that of the C-Class. And while the performance may not be up to that of even the smallest C-Class, there's enough physical similarity to force people on the side of the road to take a second look.

We had a discussion with a neighbor about the styling. he felt the character strip along the side was a nice touch, but the chrome strip along the front fender that ends at the headlight cluster should taper more. However, if that's the only complaint, it ain't bad.

Ride characteristics are almost on a par with the C-Class as well. We discovered that on decent roads there's almost no sound entering the passenger compartment from outside, except for some tire noise when the road becomes less-than-perfect.

Under the hood is a 2.4-liter inline four with decent power at 198 horsepower. Sure, I won't complain when Hyundai comes out with the V6 version later this year, but the four did everything we asked. What was most impressive was the fact that the engine did not exhibit any of the traditional four-cylinder buzz; it was quiet during most operation. Like all engines, it did complain a bit when we hit the loud pedal, but that's to be expected.

We had decent power on Interstates and suburban roads. We never felt the need for more power, but I'm not one to complain (about more power).

Handling is very good as well, but it leans more toward the "sedan" side of the equation rather than the "sports car" side. In addition, there's very good visibility all around.

I was fascinated by the unique and semi-informative instrument panel. The major instruments are the tachometer and speedometer in large pods. However, inside the tach is an integrated water temperature gauge. Inside the speedo is an integrated fuel gauge with a gear indicator inside that. This tells you which gear you're in when you're in automatic or in manual. Between the two big gauges is a digital trip computer.

I had a slight problem with the fuel gauge. It indicated about 1 quarter tank when it was really empty. Fortunately, we were near home and could easily work around the issue, but it was scary for a moment.

For entertainment, we had an excellent audio system, especially when we were in XM or iPod mode. In both cases, the entire song and performer were listed on the navigation screen.

The front seats are comfortable (OK, they aren't as comfortable as a Mercedes) with decent side support. In addition, they're heated. In the rear is very good leg room and decent side support as well.

Further back, there's a large 16.4 cubic foot trunk. Rear seat back releases are in the trunk. The rear seats fold flat, but the "hole" between the trunk and rear is more like a large pass-through.

For storage, there are cubbys all over the place, including a covered deep one at the base of the center stack behind a cover. When the door cover is lifter, it becomes a shelf with the AUX/USB input revealed below. There's also a phone cubby in front.

In addition, there are two cup holders in the center console and water bottle holders in the doors.

Like its predecessor, the Hyundai Sonata is a very nice package. It has rememberable style, decent power and comfort, and very good ride characteristics. At $28, 415 loaded, it's not a bad price.

2010 The Auto Page Syndicate