The 2011 Hyundai Sonata is something of a departure for the Asian manufacturer. The word most often used to describe the previous models is “ordinary.” The new model has new styling, showing a sleeker, more sporty design philosophy.
Hyundai call it “fluidic sculpture,” we call it curvy, and we like it. It’s reminiscent of the newer Infiniti’s, with the curvature at the front and back and strakes running the length of the car. It certainly makes last year’s Sonata look a little ordinary.
Add to that, the liberal use of chrome, alloy wheels,, dual exhausts and good looking headlights and you have what is an attractive car. No longer will your eyes pass it over in the street, now it draws you in and makes you follow those curves from end to end.
Internally the trend continues. The fluidic sculpture continues with flowing shapes on the dashboard, decent materials and good quality finish. The driving position is good, with very few blind spots. The instruments are clear, and both analog and digital. All the controls are within easy reach and large enough to reach while not looking.
The center console has the climate controls and the information screen. Touchscreen navigation is an option, and well worth the extra cash, although it does lack a 3D view. All the buttons and switches feel solid under your hands, with smooth but definite movement from one position to the other. It also has Bluetooth, USB, and an optional iPod connector.
The audio is pretty good, with a standard AM/FM radio with a single CD with MP3 capability. There is an optional 7-speaker system available that is worth the money if you can afford it. The Limited version of the Sonata includes a six-disc CD changer, 8-speaker system made by Infiniti.
There is plenty of room in the front, with leg and headroom aplenty. The rear is a bit narrow for three adults, and the sculpted roof shows the compromise between design and practicality. Headroom is limited in the back for adults, but would be fine for the children. As far as new cars go, this shows Hyundai are learning what the US market wants.
There are three versions of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata. The GLS at $19,915, with a six-speed manual gearbox, six airbags, ABS, electronic stability control, keyless entry, power windows and locks, heated and powered mirrors, and Bluetooth connectivity.
The SE is $23,315. Increased to $26,000 with the optional Navigation and Sunroof package. The Limited model is $26,015 which comes with dual-zone climate control, auto-dimming mirrors and vents for rear-seat passengers. A $2,100 Navigation package adds touch-screen navigation, a rearview camera, and an Infinity audio system, bringing the fully loaded Sonata to just over $28,000.
Engine-wise, it’s the same motor across the range for now. That’s a direct-injection 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 198 bhp and 184 lb-ft of torque. The twin-exhaust on the SE adds a further 2 bhp and 2 lb-ft of torque. There is adirect-injection, 2.0-liter turbo-four on the cards for later, for those who want a bit more bang for their buck. There is also a Sonata Hybrid, which is a gas-electric, but that needs a review all on its own.
Behind the wheel is actually a nice place to be. We pulled up alongside a Honda Accord and were surprised at how good we felt. The motor pulls well and will get you to 60 in 7.9 seconds.Fuel economy for all Sonatas is EPA rated at 22 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway with the automatic gearbox. Manuals, are close at 24mpg city and 35 mpg highway.
Driving is smooth, although the noise builds up alongside the revs. Swooping along the highway is an effortless exercise and one we quite enjoyed. The SE test model had “sports” suspension, which held the curves well. Although no track day car, the 2011 Sonata is a decent car at a decent price. For families who want a new car to get them around, this is ideal. There are deals on new 2011 Sonatas but you’ll have to look hard for them. As they are already keenly priced, dealers are loathe to offer discounts. They are there though if you look for them.
Base Price: $19,915
Engine Type: direct-injection four-cylinder
Power (SAE net): 198 bhp @ 6300 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 184 lb-ft @ 4250 rpm
Fuel Economy (MFR’S EST): 22/35 mpg (city/hwy)