With success, it has been argued, comes responsibility. With the 2011 Sonata, Hyundai has recently tasted both. In August, and again in September, the Sonata took third place behind the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord in midsize sedan sales in the United States. Then, just last week, Hyundai announced a recall to fix the steering equipment on nearly all of the 140,000 Sonatas produced in Alabama since December 2009.
In the meantime, our editors continued to rack up the miles last month, bringing the total odometer reading to an impressive 11,455. The Sonata has spent a lot of time on the open road, serving duty to Chicago twice in August alone. Associate editor Eric Tingwall gets the medal for long-distance hauling, completing a weekend round-trip run to Madison, Wisconsin, to attend a triathlon. Tingwall, who initially requested a utility vehicle for the journey, came away impressed with the Sonata's people- and cargo-carrying capabilities after stuffing the sedan to the brim.
"Duffel bags, sleeping bags, helmets, a bike pump, and a small cooler fit easily in the trunk, food and drinks rode inside, and rear-seat passengers were packed in with pillows," Tingwall writes. "There are better (read: bigger) vehicles for a road trip, but the Sonata absolutely surprised me with how comfortable and roomy it is. The weight of five adults and aerodynamic drag of two bikes on the trunk was merely another opportunity for the hearty 2.4-liter to showboat. I am constantly impressed with how strong and smooth the power delivery is with this engine."
Senior web editor Phil Floraday, who undertook one of the two Windy City expeditions, concurred. "As Eric discovered, a mid-size sedan with a large trunk dispels the myth that you need an SUV if you intend to drive anywhere with passengers," he writes. "Not to mention that the Sonata will probably double most SUVs' fuel economy in the real world."
Creative director Kelly Murphy praised the Sonata's "juicy" color and sharp lines, but with the effects of luxurypresscaritis kicking in, bemoaned the absence of an auto-dimming rearview mirror, which is standard on top-level Limited trim. "That aside," he said, "it's quite surprising what you get for the money with this car."
With autumn taking hold, we'll be watching to see if the Sonata can continue its meteoric sales success in the United States and keep pace with its top competition in the segment.