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SEE ALSO:Hyundai Buyer's Guide

Less than ten years ago, after a very successful debut in Canada, the Hyundai Excel made its appearance in the U.S. This sub-compact four-door Korean car became an overnight success. The high mileage and low price offered by the Excel made it a sought after car. In its first sales year the Excel broke the record set years earlier by Ford's Mustang. To meet the demand for its cars Hyundai opened a brand new assembly plant near Quebec, Canada.

As has happened to others before, Hyundai got caught in an overexpansion crunch. With a perhaps overly fast increase in the production of Excels problems occurred. New owners noticed that even though the price was right, the Excels quality and performance left something to be desired. The subcompact segment was also getting oversaturated, so Hyundai focused on producing a larger and more powerful car. In 1989 the midsized Sonata, a four-door family sedan, was added to the lineup, and it provided the verve Hyundai needed. In the early '90's it constructed new state-of-the-art production and assembly facilities in Korea which included a V-6 engine plant. This new engine was added to the Sonata in 1992 to make it a true top-of-the-line product. For 1995 new body styling, plus many engineering, safety and convenience improvements give the latest Sonata GL a new outlook.

APPEARANCE: For 1995 a softer and rounder looking body design has been developed for the four- door Sonata GL sedan. Its low horizontal grille separates wide wraparound headlights, while an air intake is positioned below the plastic coated integrated bumper. The newly rounded rear decklid covers a large flat low liftover trunk. A prominent side rubstrip continues around the bumper line. Its monochrome finish is highlighted by slim pillars, large side mirrors, and bright trim around the side windows. Aluminum appearing plastic wheel covers accent the Michelin all-season tires.

COMFORT: While the GL trim is slightly less luxurious than the top-of-the-line GLS version, it contains a majority of the convenience items that many buyers expect today. Its doors open wide for easy access. The front bucket seats are four-way manually adjustable and comfortable with built-in lumbar support. The quiet heater/air conditioner keeps the large cabin at a comfortable temperature in 90 degree plus weather. The base four-speaker AM/FM/cassette system pulls in distant stations with clarity, but the dial is hard to see in bright light. Otherwise, all dials and gauges are quite visible and controls easy to reach. Windows, side mirrors and locks are powered, and remote hood, fuel door and trunk releases as well as cruise control are part of the GL package.

SAFETY: The 1995 Sonata incorporates many safety features, some of which are not required by Federal law until 1997. Its side impact protection includes side door beams, reinforced B pillars and cross floor beams. The dual airbags include an incident recorder for analyzing data after a collision. Three-point seat belts are installed on all outboard positions. It also has an energy-absorbing steering column, plus reinforced pillars and roof for rollover protection. Anti-lock brakes are optional.

ROADABILITY: For 1995 the Sonata's body shell, chassis and suspension have been redesigned to provide a greater rigidity, an independent suspension system with stabilizer bars, a longer wheelbase and wider track, and a lower center of gravity. These improvements result in better stability, traction, ride and road feel, plus a shorter turning radius. Other refinements include a reduction in noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) due to s new stiffer chassis, improved insulation and weatherstripping The mid-size Sonata sedan offers a quiet, pleasant, compliant and safe ride in most road and weather conditions.

PERFORMANCE: A 142 horsepower single overhead cam, multiport fuel injected V6 engine that us built in Hyundai's modern engine factory powers the Sonata. Matched to the V6 is a new four-speed automatic transmission with a dual mode, power or normal , selection. switch. This switch adjusts the shift points in the transmission. An "adaptive control" 32-bit microprocessor "learns" the drivers habits and adjusts shift points to specific road conditions and individual driving styles. The normal shift is quite satisfactory for city driving, while power is good for merging and passing.

CONCLUSION: While Hyundai sells it automotive products in over 80 countries throughout the world it is committed to retaining North America as its major marketing area. To do so it is continually updating its production facilities to produce safe, top quality automobiles.


	   Base Price              $ 15,699
	   Price As Tested         $ 16,220
	   Engine Type             V-6, sohc - 24v, smpfi
	   Engine Size             3.0 liter/181 cid   
	   Horsepower              142 @ 5000
	   Torque (ft/lbs)         168 @ 2500
	   Wheelbase/Length        106"/185"
	   Transmission            4-speed auto w/od
	   Curb Weight             3040
	   Pounds per Horsepower   21
	   Fuel Capacity           17
	   Fuel Requirement        Unleaded regular (87 octane)
	   Tire                    Michelin P195/70R14 M+S
	   Brake                   anti-lock optional   vented disc/disc standard
	   Drive Train             front engine, front drive
	   EPA Economy - miles per gallon,        
	     city/highway/observed      18/24/21.9     
	   0 to 60 mph                  9.4 sec
	   1/4 mi (E.T.)                17.0 sec  
	   Coefficient of drag (cd)     .32