Hyundai Sonata | Car Rate

Saturday, 15 June 2013

  • Hyundai Sonata

    It may have entered as a dark horse in the mid-size sedan segment two years ago, but now the Hyundai Sonata has earned a reputation for its swoopy, attractive styling. Its current mission is to become one the best family sedans on the market today, and while it hasn't quite hit the mark on handling or refinement, it's a solid choice if you're looking for features and fuel economy, even in its base model.
    The Sonata had been a wallflower, but the rakish design makeover it received for 2011 still turns heads. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the 2013 Sonata has a lot going for it, as we see elements of its trend-setting 'fluidic design' emerging in rival models. The dramatic shapes continue into the cabin, almost to finer effect--the Sonata's functionality doesn't get tripped up by the swoopy lines formed into its center stack or door panels.

    Interior / Exterior:-
    In the not-so-distant past, the idea of a flamboyantly styled, charismatically designed Hyundai was a nonstarter, and the Sonata was a stodgy also-ran from a design standpoint. But with the introduction of an all-new Sonata and its 'fluidic design' theme for the 2011 model year, that all abruptly changed. And even two model years later, the 2013 Hyundai Sonata remains radically different than most other mid-size sedans, with an intriguing blend of crests and curves that set it far apart from the rather bland look of the Passat and Camry.
    While fluidic sculpture is used throughout Hyundai's model line, it's at its best in Hyundai's sedans, where there's lots of movement implied in the side view and the upkick of the prominent side crease. In the grille we can see some of the “wave” look of the latest Infinitis, while at the rear of the roofline and across the tail, it's clearly an homage to the Audi A6. The point at the side mirrors where five different panels join up is a noticeable wart—Hyundai did better here in applying its design ethic to the smaller Elantra—and to some people there will be a few too many pieces of glimmering chrome brightwork.
    Inside, the design is either cutting-edge or a little out there, depending on how you see it. There's dramatic sculpturing across the dash and even on the steering wheel, and just as in pretty much every other new Hyundai there are angled vents that flank a big LCD screen atop the dash. But it's functional; you'll find an iconographic representation of a person for the climate controls and door trim that flows in well-coordinated fashion into the dash—all aspects we appreciate. We prefer the metallic trim to the woodgrain on beige-interior cars, which looks out of place in the swoopy Sonata.

    The 2013 Hyundai Sonata offers a full roster of direct-injection four-cylinder powertrains that altogether are powerful yet fuel-efficient. There's no V-6 option, but odds are you won't miss it.
    On base-model Sonatas—and on most of the model line, really—is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, making up to 200 horsepower. That's mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The manual-gearbox version has been dropped for 2013; luckily, the automatic is perfectly appropriate for the class, and is a responsive, seamless gearchanger. The front-wheel-drive Sonata feels very perky with this engine, and stronger than most other mid-size sedans in base guise. It's a few hundred pounds lighter than several of its rival models, which adds to that impression, and its 35-mpg EPA highway rating stands to sweeten the impression.
    Step up to the 2.0T model and you get a somewhat smaller 2.0-liter engine with a twin-scroll turbocharger, providing 274 horsepower. Its 269 lb-ft arrives low in the power band, which thankfully helps this engine work very well with the automatic transmission (the only way to get it) and largely skips the turbo lag completely; although it doesn't feel as instantly responsive as a V-6, it beats some V-6 models in flat-out acceleration. This model comes with shift paddles, too, and is intended as the more economical parallel to upscale V-6 models.
    The third powertrain option comes in the 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. With it you get a 2.4-liter four with electric motors and a lithium-polymer battery pack, plus a high threshold that lets the Sonata Hybrid run on battery power alone at highway speeds. Hyundai says this version will hit 60 mph in 9.2 seconds, well within the acceptable range for a family sedan, while delivering gas mileage of 36/40 mpg. Unlike most full hybrids, like the Ford Fusion Hybrid or Toyota Camry Hybrid, the Sonata Hybrid uses a conventional automatic transmission to change gears. Over a few driving experiences now we've found the pre-2013 Sonata Hybrid's powertrain to lack the smooth transitions of these rivals, though, with some lumpy transitions between gas-electric and electric-only modes. We'll update this review once we've been able to obtain a 2013 Sonata Hybrid and to evaluate its updated drivetrain.
    Overall, ride and handling in the 2013 Sonata are unremarkable—and adequate for most family needs. Driving enthusiasts are bound to be a little let down by the steering response, which could use some more feedback and tends to wander and need frequent adjustments on some highway surfaces. Most of the model line is damped rather firmly but sprung softly—for crisp response in the parking lot, but not at the ragged edge, on a mountain road. Also, beware that the Sonata SE gets monotube shocks and 19-inch wheels that don't enhance handling all that much but can contribute to ride harshness.

    4-Door Sedan 2.0T Automatic Limited Turbocharged Gas I4, 2.0L
    $ 25,790 $27,595
    4-Door Sedan 2.0T Automatic Limited w/Wine Int Turbocharged Gas I4, 2.0L
    $ 25,790 $27,595
    4-Door Sedan 2.0T Automatic SE Turbocharged Gas I4, 2.0L
    $ 23,727 $25,095
    4-Door Sedan 2.4L Automatic GLS Gas I4, 2.4L
    $ 20,010 $20,895
    4-Door Sedan 2.4L Automatic GLS PZEV Gas I4, 2.4L
    $ 20,010 $20,895
    4-Door Sedan 2.4L Automatic Limited Gas I4, 2.4L
    $ 24,170 $ 5,845
    4-Door Sedan 2.4L Automatic Limited PZEV Gas I4, 2.4L
    $ 24,170 $25,845
    4-Door Sedan 2.4L Automatic Limited PZEV w/Wine Int Gas I4, 2.4L
    $ 24,170 $25,845
    4-Door Sedan 2.4L Automatic Limited w/Wine Int Gas I4, 2.4L
    $ 24,170 $25,845
    4-Door Sedan 2.4L Automatic SE Gas I4, 2.4L
    $ 22,277 $23,545


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