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1010 Hyundai Sonata Se October Update
four seasons long-term tests

2011 Hyundai Sonata SE - Four Seasons Update - October 2010

Miles to date: 13,385 / Months in service: 4

Matt Tierney
FALL
2011 Hyundai Sonata reviews to date

During our annual All-Stars testing, we spent a week with the turbocharged Hyundai Sonata 2.0T gaining a fresh perspective on our normally aspirated long-term car. In addition to our Ann Arbor staff, our judging panel included our most respected contributors and remote editors, giving us new insights on the entire Sonata package. The notes from France-based automotive design editor Robert Cumberford could just as easily apply to the turbocharged or naturally aspirated Sonata: "Drives with a precision, suppleness, and an earnestness previously missing from Korean cars. Crisp. Nice."

"The Sonata definitely benefits from being ahead of the product cycle of the other cars in this brutally competitive segment," observes contributor Preston Lerner. "At the moment, though, it's as good if not better than all of the competition. The faux-coupe styling is extremely handsome, and while I've got some quibbles with the interior design, I've got nothing but praise for the quality of the materials and the fit and finish."

The Sonata 2.0T isn't intended to be a sporty alternative to our 2.4-liter Four Season car. Rather, the boosted 2.0-liter engine is a V-6 alternative that delivers impressive power and even more impressive fuel economy. Even though it makes an additional 74 hp and 83 lb-ft of torque (for a total of 274 hp and 269 lb-ft), the turbo matches the city fuel economy of the normally aspirated engine at 22 mpg. Highway fuel economy in the Sonata 2.0T is rated at 33 mpg (down 2 mpg from the base Sonata), which still beats out the less powerful four-cylinder offerings from Toyota and Ford.

The turbo may not be quite as polished as a six-cylinder engine, but it is civil in power delivery, noise, and vibration. Power is actually limited in lower gears to counter torque steer and wheel spin, but Hyundai still allows enough gusto to break the tires loose. When driven with a judicious right foot, though, the Sonata 2.0T delivers strong acceleration to back the confident handling and steering. "It's as quick as a six but sips gas like a four and the chassis doesn't fall apart when pushed to its limits," admires senior editor Joe Lorio.

That said, the 2.0T didn't leaving anyone feeling like we'd been slighted with our slower Sonata. "It seems unnecessary," Lerner concludes. "I've spent a fair amount of time in normally aspirated Sonatas, and I thought they were perfectly adequate for the task this car was designed to perform-getting families from Point A to Point B efficiently, comfortably, and reliably."

"After driving the Sonata Turbo, I'd say we picked the right one," postures assistant editor David Zenlea. "Our four-cylinder provides perfectly adequate power and is well matched with the suspension. The turbo, much like most powerful front-wheel-drive midsize cars, has more torque than it can put to the ground."

It's important to note that no one wished for a V-6 in place of the turbo four-cylinder, an acknowledgment to the masterful job Hyundai has done balancing power and civility. With the fuel economy numbers to round out the package, Hyundai's progressive four-cylinder lineup (with base, turbo, and hybrid cars) should serve as inspiration to other automakers working on their next-generation mid-size sedans. Still, when the base engine is so good, we're hardly compelled to recommend the 2.0T. We're perfectly happy with our 200-hp 2.4-liter.

Having answered the question of turbo 2.0-liter or normally aspirated 2.4-liter, Lorio has a new question of Hyundai-Kia's mid-size sedans: "Does the new Kia Optima do everything as well as its corporative sibling while looking better to boot?" We're waiting to get one in the office before we pass judgment.

Navigation and sunroof package $2,600 Navigation with high-res touch screen display Power sunroof with tilt and slide feature Dimension AM/FM/XM/CD premium audio system Subwoofer
Cargo net $50
2011 Hyundai Sonata Specs
  • Overview
  • powertrain
  • chassis
  • measurements
  • equipment
  • options
Base price (with dest.)$23,315
Price as tested$25,965
Body Style 4-door sedan
Accommodation 5-passenger
Construction Steel unitbody
Engine DOHC direct-injected inline 4-cylinder
Displacement 2.4 liters
Power 200 hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque 186 lb-ft @ 4250 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Drive Four-wheel
Fuel Economy 22/35/26 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Steering Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Turns lock-to-lock3.0
Turning circle 35.8 ft
Suspension, Front Strut type; coil spring
Suspension, Rear Multi-link; coil spring
Brakes F/R Power-assisted ventilated disc/disc; ABS
Wheels 18-in aluminum-alloy
Tires Hankook Optimo H431 all-season tires
Tire Size 225/45R18
Headroom F/R 40.0 / 37.8 in
Legroom F/R 45.5 / 34.6 in
Shoulder Room F/R 57.9 / 56.7 in
Wheelbase 110.1 in
Track F/R 62.5/ 62.5 in
L x W x H 189.8 x 72.2 x 57.9 in
Caro Capacity 16.4 cu ft
Weight 3316 lb
Fuel Capacity 18.5 gal
Est. Range 480 miles
Fuel Grade 87 octane
Standard Equipment
  • 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine
  • 6-speed automatic transmission
  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Electronic stability control
  • Traction control
  • 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
  • Tire pressure monitoring system
  • Fog lights
  • Power windows/locks/mirrors
  • 60/40 split-folding rear seat
  • Tilt/telescoping steering column
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
  • Steering wheel mounted cruise, audio, and phone controls
  • Air conditioning
  • AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system
  • 6 speakers
  • iPod/USB and auxiliary jack input
  • Bluetooth connectivity
ftburke09
2011 SONATAWell what a great car i had rented one from avis rent car drove to montana from vegas speeds average 75 and average 39.5 mpg and very quite and very comfortable and this was a base model and they we bought one a se one trip to CA average 40mpg speeds 65 to 70 mph What a car
AutomobileStaff
@valdaviper Yes, we've corrected the hp figure now. Thanks.
valdaviper
Whoah?! 186 hp? Isn't that the torque number with the hp being 200?!

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