The Sonata is the most important car in Hyundai's lineup, so the company has a lot riding on the model, which was completely redesigned last year. Like all the Korean carmaker's recently launched models, the Sonata is truly a world-class effort that helps wipe away any memories of the heinous Hyundais of a couple decades ago. The mid-size Sonata is at or near the top of its class in a broad range of categories -- some you might expect (low price, fuel economy) and some you might not (power, torque, interior space, driving dynamics). The volume engine is a 198-hp, 2.4-liter direct-injected four-cylinder (200 hp in the SE model, which has dual exhausts). Instead of an optional six-cylinder, the Sonata's more potent engine (and impressively potent it is) is a 274-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Filling out the lineup is a 206-hp Hybrid model, which costs about $6400 more and sports a strangely aquatic face. It boasts fuel-economy ratings of 35 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway and bangs heads with the Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Toyota Camry Hybrid. The styling of the Sonata is a big step up from that of its predecessor, with nice proportions and an elegant arc that sweeps from front to rear, although the distorted-looking grille can take some getting used to. Add in a low price, and the Sonata is now a much stronger contender in its hypercompetitive class.
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