: 2011 Hyundai Sonata review



ryannel2003
08-04-11, 01:02 AM
2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS
By Ryan Nelson

Hyundai was once the automotive punchline of the world. It sold cares solely based off affordable pricing, great warranties and that was pretty much it. There was nothing competitive about the cars other than those two factors and most people who you spoke to would say something like “Oh Hyundai... the one with the crooked H? They look like knock-off Honda’s”. It was pretty obvious something needed to change and starting in the mid 2000’s Hyundai started building pretty nice, if bland cars. However all of that changed with the introduction of the Genesis Sedan and Coupe, two cars Hyundai were banking on to compete with higher end cars from Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, and BMW. But what about the bread and butter Sonata? This car competed with the Toyota Camry’s and Honda Accord’s of the world in the midsize segment. It is one of, if not the most competitive segment in the automotive world today as those cars are marketed to people who want affordable, reliable, comfortable transportation and nothing more. Toyota and Honda have dominated this segment for years and along the way have received fierce competition from the likes of the Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu, Nissan Altima, and the Kia Optima. Hyundai’s first real stab at this market was the 2006 Sonata, a car that looked like a Honda Accord from almost every angle and like the Accord had no real style of its own. It was a nice car that drove well, offered decent performance, comfortable ride and a great warranty of course. However it still lacked that special feel you get from an Accord and the plush ride offered on the Camry. So Hyundai went back to the drawing board and they came up with the 2011 Sonata.

I don’t know what happened the guys at Hyundai. Maybe they were tired of hearing the knock-off Honda jokes. Maybe they were handed some shrooms and were told to design a car based off what they illusioned. Whatever happened at Hyundai really seemed to come together quite well. The styling is unlike anything I’ve ever seen... until you get to that C-pillar. You see, Hyundai is quite good at ripping off other automakers so when you get to that after mentioned C-pillar it’s quite obvious you see some Mercedes CLS and Volkswagen CC there which of course isn’t a bad thing as those cars are gorgeous in there own right. But Hyundai was clever here, as the Sonata carries itself quite well from the oversized grille and all the way back to the elegant rear end with wrap around taillights and a nicely placed chrome strip that nearly runs the length of the car. From the side it looks like Hyundai was going for a fastback, coupe-like appearance that would make it seem like the Sonata seem alot more expensive than it really is. You remember the Honda Accord I was talking about earlier? In comparison to the Sonata, it looks dowdy and bloated; don’t even get me started on the Camry. Hyundai has finally made a car that looks like it’s own design, even if it’s polarizing at first glance.

Another interesting feature is the lack of a V6 engine, a first for the midsize class. Hyundai is instead offering two 4 cylinder engines; the first a 2.4 liter direct-injected “Theta” inline-4 producing 197 horsepower (200hp in SE form) at 6300 rpm and 184lb ft of torque at 4250 rpm. The second is a turbocharged 2.0 liter “Theta” inline-4 making 274 horsepower and 269 lb feet of torque and can get to 60MPH in under 6.5 seconds; both are mated to a smooth shifting 6-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic mode and paddle shifters on the higher end model. The focus of this review will be on the standard 2.4 liter engine however, which is no slouch in it’s own right. To be quite honest I was surprised with this engine as I was expecting some noisy, slow thing that droned for days with excellent gas mileage being it’s only attribute; I was very wrong. The engine pulls at any speed with quite an authority and the transmission never seems to be hunting for the right gear like so many cars in this class do. The power comes on strong from any RPM and the throttle tip-in is perfect, which is something new cars just don’t satisfy with. The advent of electronic throttle usually kills a smooth driving experience and makes it to jerky if you give it too much throttle and too slow if you don’t give it enough; this Sonata did a excellent job of quelling both of those notions and I didn’t once wish for the old cable throttle back. The engine itself was also quiet, and only a few times did I hear the typical drone that is typical on any 4 cylinder powered car. This car had around 7500 miles on it so by now the engine was plenty broken in and I was very shocked to see with cruise control set at 60MPH I was seeing gas mileage estimates of over 40MPG according to the build in trip computer. The EPA rates the 2011 Sonata at 24 city and 35 highway so regardless of your driving habits you should be seeing excellent gas mileage. However the 40MPG shocked me as even some smaller cars have trouble matching that figure. Just to be reminded this was driven on relatively flat land on a highway so I’m sure once you start traveling in an area with more hills or start city driving that figure will dip but it shouldn’t be hard to see around 28-30MPG in mixed city/highway driving.

With the 2011 Sonata, Hyundai stuck to the tried and true formula of MacPherson strut, Multilink rear suspension which is typical for the class. The handling remained composed throughout the hour I spent driving the car and the ride was smooth, though it sometimes lost its composure over small potholes and rougher surfaces. This is one area where Honda has a clear advantage as the Accord, while a rougher riding car, seems to handle the same potholes and rough surfaces with more ease and grace. If there was one big knock on this car for me it would be the electric steering system. Not only did it feel like a video game controller, it required constant attention while driving. You could be looking down for a quick second to change the radio station and when you look back up the car would nearly be off the road. It seems Hyundai figured that people wouldn’t care about the steering in the car and just designed it as so. I don’t even mind there is little feedback transmitted through the steering wheel as this is a family sedan, but I can't understand why it's so light. While it is artificially boosted at higher speeds it still feels numb and lifeless, something the Accord yet again doesn’t suffer from.

Moving inside it’s obvious Hyundai is serious about positioning this car as a higher caliber car than would be suggested. Sure there are a few cheap bits here and there but for the most part this interior is extremely well designed and everything is within easy reach. This particular model was a GLS outfitted with the Popular Equipment and Navigation Package (as part of a mid-year update, the Navigation package is no longer offered with the GLS model). All of the controls were within easy reach and the navigation system was a breeze to use. The climate controls take from the Volvo school of design and offer up simple to use controls thay a 5 year could operate, though the air-flow button could be a little daunting at first glance. The gauge cluster is quite elegant and features blue backlighting and a nice information center between the two gauges that offers up distance to empty, average fuel economy, instant fuel economy among other things. The gauges themselves are rimmed in a classy looking chrome, which seems to be the theme in this cabin. Elsewhere there is nice looking trim on the door panels and dashboard though after a few years use it might start showing some nicks and scratches as it doesn’t look particularly sturdy. The cabin design itself is pleasing to the eye and while it doesn’t stand out in any particular way it does everything a midsize car should do. Some of the materials around the bottom of the dash are particular low rent looking and feeling, but you have to look really hard to find them. The seats are comfortable with plenty of support and 8 way power adjustments along with lumbar support. Rear seat room is plentiful, though some taller folks might take issue with headroom. Another thing to note is the great amount of storage this car has. It seems everywhere you look there is a storage cubby, which is a great thing considering the lack of them in cars today. The features on this caliber of car is quite good. Navigation system, power everything, Bluetooth handsfree for phone, Bluetooth audio streaming, steering wheel audio controls, keyless entry, USB/Aux port for your iPod, and plenty of power ports for you phone or other accessories.

Pricing for the 2012 Hyundai Sonata (the 2011 is no longer being produced, and 2012’s are now hitting dealer lots) starts at $19,695 for the base GLS with 6 speed manual transmission; the automatic adds another $1000 to that figure. Optioned with the Popular Equipment Package the total comes to just under $23k for a nicely optioned midsizer. If you want the Turbo you’ll have to step up to the SE, which starts at around $23k and can go up to nearly $30k if you option the turbo and Limited trims together. Added new this year is BlueLink, a communications system similar to GM’s OnStar. It has yet to prove itself but so far it seems like another arena that Hyundai could do well in.

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata is a winner. The car offers up sophisticated styling, good 4 cylinder power, comfortable interior appointments, and a price that undercuts the Honda’s and Toyota’s of the world by thousands. Plus it still offers that great 10 year/100,000 mile warranty, and Hyundai no longer needs to sell a car on that alone.

Highs: Stand out styling, powerful engine options, great interior design, comfortable seating, loads of options.

Lows: Lifeless, numb steering, jittery chassis, few cheap interior bits.

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n46/ryannel2003/2011_hyundai_sonata_press_images_main.jpg
http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n46/ryannel2003/2011-Hyundai-Sonata-5.jpg
http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n46/ryannel2003/2011-Hyundai-Sonata-interior-drive.jpg
http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n46/ryannel2003/2011-Hyundai-Sonata-Engine-590x443.jpg

orconn
08-04-11, 01:13 AM
Very nice review, Ryan! Hope you will find time for more of them this year.

Stingroo
08-04-11, 09:20 AM
Wow that interior looks like...

every other new car interior. Sigh.

brandondeleo
08-04-11, 10:24 AM
That air conditioning unit in the center looks fun.

Jesda
08-04-11, 10:35 AM
Strangely, the engine cover doesn't say Hyundai anywhere.

brandondeleo
08-04-11, 10:38 AM
It's too busy being generic.

Aron9000
08-05-11, 04:17 AM
Actually it looks like the engine cover designers were trying to convey the engine sits north to south, ala RWD. Notice how they completely cover the cam cover. Just my personal opinion, looks like they're trying a little visual trickery. Personally I hate engine covers, with a little bit of forethought, OEM manufacturers can make their engines really look cool.

http://image.superstreetonline.com/f/9609778+w750+st0/0512_130_05z+honda_civic_si+b16_engine.jpg

brandondeleo
08-05-11, 05:28 AM
I love the N* engine covers. Elegant and modern looking, even in '93. I painted mine black, over the lettering, but masked the wreath and crest. I get compliments from whoever sees it.

Stingroo
08-05-11, 11:01 AM
Actually it looks like the engine cover designers were trying to convey the engine sits north to south, ala RWD. Notice how they completely cover the cam cover. Just my personal opinion, looks like they're trying a little visual trickery. Personally I hate engine covers, with a little bit of forethought, OEM manufacturers can make their engines really look cool.

You know, that's a damn good point! I just realized, it DOES look RWD-ish.

Too bad that header/manifold totally gives it away to anyone with a semi-trained eye.

drewsdeville
08-05-11, 05:12 PM
Or, maybe it's simply because it's facing you when you open the hood? Why would they want the engine cover to look good from the side?

Come on guys, they were trying to fool a family sedan buyer into thinking it's a different drive configuration? What's the motive?

vincentm
08-05-11, 05:15 PM
I love the N* engine covers. Elegant and modern looking, even in '93. I painted mine black, over the lettering, but masked the wreath and crest. I get compliments from whoever sees it.

Pics!

Destroyer
08-06-11, 10:08 AM
The wife and I went new car shopping last weekend and test drove a few cars. One of them was a Sonata Turbo limited. Last year we drove an N/A Sonata but left unimpressed with the power. This car had dual sunroofs, leather and pretty much every option available less navigation. Still, I didn't like it. It did not feel like it had the advertised horsepower. Don't get me wrong, it was quick but the paddle shifter, tiptronic shifting and all that was out of place. I just don't get why anyone would need those in a Hyundai. The keyless ignition is another wtf? What is the point? It's like Hyundai got a whole slew of cars from other manufactures together and simply copied individual components and threw them all in one car. Hyundai would have been all the better if they simply concentrated on making a better quality interior with nicer materials than all the other gizmos they stuck in the car. The car felt half baked to me and it really didn't ride nice either.

We test drove a Honda Cross Tour and a new VW Passat TDI. We are seriously considering the Cross Tour. Interestingly, the VW had the same lame push button start keyless system the Hyundai did. It's like all the new cars are basically the same regardless of manufacturer. The dashboards on all new cars seem very alike. All three of the cars I drove had touch screen radios and A/C controls. I don't like that.........too complicated. They all even share that horrible new car smell (remember when a new car smell was good?).

orconn
08-06-11, 03:22 PM
^^^ I am glad someone else think those "push button" start thingies are lame!

ryannel2003
08-06-11, 05:21 PM
I personally don't like push button start either and apparently there have been a few problems with the Hyundai models. The model I drove was the standard GLS model with the standard key and keyless entry. I also didn't find any problems with the interior trim other than what is on the bottom on the dash and sides of the seats. As for the CrossTour I find the styling to be way polarizing even for me, though I find the standard Accord a good looking, if boring car. The new Passat was is impressive, though I haven't driven one yet.

Destroyer
08-06-11, 09:11 PM
I personally don't like push button start either and apparently there have been a few problems with the Hyundai models. The model I drove was the standard GLS model with the standard key and keyless entry. I also didn't find any problems with the interior trim other than what is on the bottom on the dash and sides of the seats. As for the CrossTour I find the styling to be way polarizing even for me, though I find the standard Accord a good looking, if boring car. The new Passat was is impressive, though I haven't driven one yet.The "polarizing" effect with the Cross Tour is what I think I like best about it. The Cross Tour was also felt like it had the most "balls" out of the bunch. The Passat was impressive in that it felt quicker on it's feet than the Hyundai Turbo did, at least in the lower rpm's and it's only got like 140hp vs 270 on the Sonata. The diesel Passat does have 260+ lbs of torque at a real low rpm though. I found the Passat to be a better car and it gets 30mpg city, 40mpg highway! Between the 3 I found the Accord to be the best driver though. T

I'm looking to lease a car this time around for my wife and in that regard the Honda is the best choice out of these 3 makes. The Crosstour stickers at around $35k, the Hyundai Turbo Limited is $27k yet they are within a few dollars of each other on a lease.

ted tcb
08-06-11, 09:30 PM
Destroyer, you're not alone in your appreciation for the Crosstour.
I don't think I'd buy one, as I prefer Lexus' NVH levels, so I'd likely get a lightly used RX350.
But, I actually like the unique shape of the Crosstour when I come across one on the road.

Would a 6cyl Venza be a cross shop for the Crosstour, or are the lease rates not competitive?
I'm guessing the CX-7 is too slow and buzzy for your consideration?

Stingroo
08-06-11, 09:31 PM
Crosstour. Ack.

I~LUV~Caddys8792
08-06-11, 09:45 PM
Drove my first Optima Turbo today as well. Not impressed with the power, it didn't feel like what it was rated at. Considering it has more horsepower and as much torque as my Regal GS, and it's a lighter car with a six speed paddle shift gearbox, it should have felt a lot quicker than the GS, but it didn't. I did a WOT run from 60 and it felt about the same as my GS.

ben.gators
08-06-11, 10:10 PM
Regal GS is an underrated car....

cadillac kevin
08-06-11, 11:03 PM
the crosstour makes me want to barf. I think honda just wanted to make a modern-day interpretation of the amc eagle. it cant decide if it wants to be a car, a crossover, or a hatchback, and when those three things are combined you end up with a jacked up hatchback that looks like something dr. memphesto from south park would have created.

Destroyer
08-06-11, 11:43 PM
We may just buy a slightly used Benz, BMW or Jag. Whatever "she" wants. :)

Stingroo
08-06-11, 11:46 PM
TWO Jags in one house?

Are you mad?

:lol:

Destroyer
08-06-11, 11:49 PM
the crosstour makes me want to barf. I think honda just wanted to make a modern-day interpretation of the amc eagle. it cant decide if it wants to be a car, a crossover, or a hatchback, and when those three things are combined you end up with a jacked up hatchback that looks like something dr. memphesto from south park would have created.Honestly, most new cars make me want to barf. Dealership after dealership with all the cars looking exactly the same. This isn't what I thought new car shopping would be. I think she should keep the Jag. It's nicer in/out than anything we've been looking at. The Hyundai Sonata is definitely out of consideration. I determined that it is a piece of crap. :)

ben.gators
08-07-11, 12:00 AM
We may just buy a slightly used Benz, BMW or Jag. Whatever "she" wants. :)

What if she wants a nice N* powered Cadillac? :D

Stingroo
08-07-11, 12:04 AM
http://images.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/what-you-did-there-i-see-it.jpg

I~LUV~Caddys8792
08-07-11, 02:08 AM
the crosstour makes me want to barf. I think honda just wanted to make a modern-day interpretation of the amc eagle. it cant decide if it wants to be a car, a crossover, or a hatchback, and when those three things are combined you end up with a jacked up hatchback that looks like something dr. memphesto from south park would have created.

I agree 110%

Stingroo
08-07-11, 05:56 AM
lol @ modern AMC Eagle. I totally see it.

Fail.

brandondeleo
08-07-11, 08:17 AM
Haha awesome! I totally see the Eagle resemblance too! There is an Eagle in town that is lifted... Lol.

Destroyer
08-07-11, 12:03 PM
What if she wants a nice N* powered Cadillac? :D Neither of us really like the styling of the newer Cadillacs (with a few exceptions) so I'm safe there. :bouncy:

orconn
08-07-11, 03:36 PM
TWO Jags in one house?

Are you mad?

:lol:

We used to have a saying "You always need two Jags. One to drive while the other one is in the shop!"

Night Wolf
08-08-11, 10:31 PM
I never even heard of the Honda Crosstour until this thread.

It doesn't look bad at all, I don't see what the fuss is. I actually like the styling. It's a slightly longer hatchback with a bit more ground clearance. Basically it has all the capability that all those Surburbians use their super-sized "off-road" SUVs for. The AMC Eagle comment was neat - my mom had one growing up. Station wagon on a slightly lifted suspension with a Jeep engine/drivetrain and 4x4. It was the Outback before Subaru made it famous. I still have a soft spot for them.

This car looks a lot better than others though.

http://images.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/crosstour.jpg

http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2010/05/30/480560.1-lg.jpg

As for the AMC Eagle, sweet! I've had similar ideas if I could find a nice one (not rusted out) and I wanted another project...

EcXC5IUOdFk

Destroyer
08-08-11, 11:11 PM
As far as the new cars I've been looking at go, I like the quirkiness of the Crosstour. Take a look at that back/side profile. Kinda resembles a lifted Porsche 928 no? We all know how much I like those. Besides, I kinda liked the AMC Eagles. Weird.

Night Wolf
08-08-11, 11:24 PM
I think it's a really elegant/sporty/well-proportioned vehicle... and one of the most surprising aspects, it has a front end design that is not only bearable, but actually quite nice - especially for a Honda.

Interior is a huge thing for me. If it really has blue backlit gauges, than that is a huge bonus! Too bad the tachometer isn't on the right side. I'm not too fond of the "squinty" center stack and I do NOT like built in navigation units - a $200 Garmin does the same thing and they don't age well at all - check out a 10yo car with factory nav. I see it as a drawback more than good - but I understand the "me me me, now now now" society we live in...

http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2009/10/2010-honda-crosstour-interior-630.jpg

Overall, that car looks great. I haven't been keeping up to date with Honda lately - are their engines still the reliable little things of the 80s and 90s? If so, that car seems to be an overall winner to me. I'd like to check one out in person sometime.

Destroyer
08-08-11, 11:43 PM
I think it's a really elegant/sporty/well-proportioned vehicle... and one of the most surprising aspects, it has a front end design that is not only bearable, but actually quite nice - especially for a Honda.

Interior is a huge thing for me. If it really has blue backlit gauges, than that is a huge bonus! Too bad the tachometer isn't on the right side. I'm not too fond of the "squinty" center stack and I do NOT like built in navigation units - a $200 Garmin does the same thing and they don't age well at all - check out a 10yo car with factory nav. I see it as a drawback more than good - but I understand the "me me me, now now now" society we live in...

http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2009/10/2010-honda-crosstour-interior-630.jpg

Overall, that car looks great. I haven't been keeping up to date with Honda lately - are their engines still the reliable little things of the 80s and 90s? If so, that car seems to be an overall winner to me. I'd like to check one out in person sometime.I'm with you on the navigational units. I don't want one in a new car. I have a Garmin but hell, I have one on my cell phone now. Not necessary to get it in a new car. The Cross tour is different and I think that is why I like it more than most new cars. I know it isn't an off road vehicle but it is higher than a regular car, this is something we could have used a few times this year when at the beach and the Jag got stuck on it's frame going up a small hill. I wish the new Mustang GT was a bit roomier as that is the car I really want to get but with 2 kids its not practical. I'd hate to get rid of my Cutlass to get one but I just might. :stirpot::thumbsup:

Night Wolf
08-12-11, 04:53 PM
I'm with you on the navigational units. I don't want one in a new car. I have a Garmin but hell, I have one on my cell phone now. Not necessary to get it in a new car. The Cross tour is different and I think that is why I like it more than most new cars. I know it isn't an off road vehicle but it is higher than a regular car, this is something we could have used a few times this year when at the beach and the Jag got stuck on it's frame going up a small hill. I wish the new Mustang GT was a bit roomier as that is the car I really want to get but with 2 kids its not practical. I'd hate to get rid of my Cutlass to get one but I just might. :stirpot::thumbsup:

Drove the jag on the sand and got it stuck?

Air down the tires to ~12psi before you go on the sand next time and be very easy on the throttle when accelerating, may be surprised :cool2:.

Destroyer
08-12-11, 08:56 PM
The Jag got stuck on it's frame going up hill on a rock. Hard to explain but it did no damage. Sucked cause it was in the middle of the road and I had to find the owner of a parked car to move his so I could get around said obstacle. Well today I bought the Crosstour. There is a shortage of these so I have to wait 48-72hrs till it comes in but it's a done deal. I'll start a new thread when it comes in so everyone can tell me how bad it sucks, lol. :) Got a Jag for sale if anyone needs one:

http://i190.photobucket.com/albums/z251/AstrocreepVIII/DSC00065.jpg

Jesda
08-12-11, 11:01 PM
Pretty jag is pretty

Jesda
08-12-11, 11:04 PM
Wait, you bought a Crosstour?


Go to hell.

Jesda
08-12-11, 11:05 PM
As far as the new cars I've been looking at go, I like the quirkiness of the Crosstour. Take a look at that back/side profile. Kinda resembles a lifted Porsche 928 no?

No...

Jesda
08-12-11, 11:05 PM
Four posts!

ted tcb
08-12-11, 11:06 PM
Congrats on the Crosstour.
Looks like Rick and I are the only fans, but I like it.
It definitely has created its own market niche.

Looking forward to an in depth review.

Destroyer
08-12-11, 11:10 PM
LOL Jesda. We did need more room than the Jag provides and the lease rate was fantastic (less than a loaded Sonata). The Jaguar in the 13 months of ownership has been just about flawless and we are glad to have had the experience but it's time to move on. The thought of not having to worry about forthcoming repairs and even maintenance is very appealing. :)

Destroyer
08-12-11, 11:11 PM
Pretty jag is prettyIt's for sale Jesda. I'll give a great deal on it. :)

Destroyer
08-12-11, 11:17 PM
Congrats on the Crosstour.
Looks like Rick and I are the only fans, but I like it.
It definitely has created its own market niche.

Looking forward to an in depth review.Thanks Ted. I didn't even know of the Crosstour till my wife told me she noticed one at a restaurant and said she liked it. It is much bigger than it looks in pictures. We went to several dealerships of all makes and decided this was the best vehicle for us at this time. I like the looks and interior plus it drove better than anything else in it's price range with it's 271hp V6. My wife can't wait for delivery but she hates to see the Jag go. The Jag is a great car and it's amazing how many thumbs up it gets and how much people like it. Why it depreciated like it has is beyond me.

Jesda
08-12-11, 11:32 PM
LOL Jesda. We did need more room than the Jag provides and the lease rate was fantastic (less than a loaded Sonata). The Jaguar in the 13 months of ownership has been just about flawless and we are glad to have had the experience but it's time to move on. The thought of not having to worry about forthcoming repairs and even maintenance is very appealing. :)

I'm sure the Honda will serve you well, and now you have room to carry things when you go antiquing or whatever it is Crosstourers do.

Stingroo
08-12-11, 11:34 PM
Jesda, buy the Jaaaaaaaaaaaag.

Destroyer
08-12-11, 11:34 PM
I'm sure the Honda will serve you well, and now you have room to carry things when you go antiquing or whatever it is Crosstourers do.Antiquing???? :)

Jesda
08-13-11, 12:55 AM
Jesda, buy the Jaaaaaaaaaaaag.

Always wanted one. Was never daring enough to dive in.

Destroyer
08-13-11, 01:27 AM
Always wanted one. Was never daring enough to dive in.Dive in Jesda. This car has been rock solid reliable for the last year + I've had it and isn't letting up any time soon. :) You like the N* Caddy? You will love this.

brandondeleo
08-13-11, 01:52 AM
I have always wanted a late '90s early '00s XJ8. I love them. The repair costs scare me, though. As bad as Northstar?