2009 Los Angeles: Hyundai's 2011 Sonata Powertrain Plans

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Hyundai's new 2011 Sonata looks to be an impressive Camry-fighter, but we're interested in a few different powertrain options waiting in the wings.

Against its targeted competition -- midsize sedans with four-cylinder engines -- the Sonata's specs are promising. Its base engine, a direct-injection 2.4-liter I-4, returns 35 mpg highway. Its interior is larger in every dimension from last year, andthe EPA now classifies it as a large car. And, even with a slew of standard features like Bluetooth, stability control, and a six-speaker stereo with MP3 support, the Sonata will start under $20,000.

Powertrain options consist of four-cylinder engines only. "The V-6, in the midsize sedan, will go the way of the dinosaur," said John Krafcik, president of Hyundai America. In its place is a turbocharged 2.0-liter direct-injection I-4 that will offer more power than the outgoing 3.3-liter V-6. That engine, under the hood of the current Sonata, produces 249 hp and 229 lb-ft of torque. "We're well beyond that," Krafcick said.

His comment perked our ears -- could a similar engine replace the sleepy 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 offered in the Genesis Coupe? Krafcik wouldn't confirm, saying only that we'll "love the upcoming powertrain strategy for the coupe."

The Sonata will also gain a hybrid model to be unveiled at the 2010 New York auto show in April. The car will use a similar system to what's been shown in the Elantra LPi hybrid overseas, and will sport lithium polymer batteries.

Hyundai is proud of the Sonata's "Fluidic Sculpture" design language. The shape was born in Hyundai's studio in Irvine, California, and was largely orchestrated by designer Andre Hudson. Key traits include a prominent chrome grille, a sharp crease along the body, and a chrome strip that runs from the headlights to the rear windows. In person, the combination is quite striking.

The new Sonata is entering production in Montgomery, Alabama, this month, and will be introduced in February.

-Carlos Lago

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