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1012 2011 Hyundai Sonata December 2010
four seasons long-term tests

2011 Hyundai Sonata SE - Four Seasons Update - December 2010

Matt Tierney
WINTER 2011 Hyundai Sonata SE
2011 Hyundai Sonata reviews to date

After installing Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 winter tires on our Hyundai Sonata last month, December’s logbook comments almost exclusively pertain to the new rubber. Senior web editor Phil Floraday was the first to chime in: “I drove the Sonata a few days ago and had the annual reminder that snow tires do nothing to improve steering feel or turn-in. Of course, I’d rather have winter tires with a little less feedback than all-seasons that strand me.”

There’s no doubt that the winter tires hamper the Sonata’s cornering grip and turn-in, but that’s exactly what we expect from seasonal tires. After all, if winter tires didn’t have a single compromise, we’d be driving on them year round. The narrower yet taller size of our new sixteen-inch tires also contributes to diminishing the Sonata’s handling crispness. Compared with the eighteen-inch all-season tires that came on our Sonata SE, the winter tires are 0.8-inch narrower with a sidewall that is 0.9-inch taller. Regardless, we all agree that the Sonata’s Blizzaks perform far better than the winter tires that we mounted on our departed Subaru Outback and Mazda 3, which had both cars riding clumsily and wandering on the highway.

Ten days after his initial comments, Floraday was one of the first drivers to test the Blizzaks in their element, as Michigan delivered the season’s first snowfall. “These general-purpose winter tires we have are perfectly adequate in deep snow,” he stated. “You can get some wheel spin if you mash the gas, but the car is very predictable and confidence-inspiring. I don’t know that I’d be saying that about all-season tires in these conditions.”

The cold weather has also led Floraday to praise Hyundai’s user-friendly touch-screen navigation system. “I was really impressed that I could use the touch-screen stereo with gloves on my hands,” he hailed. “I wore the leather gloves to fight the cold morning, and none of my dozen or so inputs were misinterpreted by the system. Frankly, I didn’t expect anywhere near this level of performance.”

In less wintry news, we took the Sonata in for its 15,000-mile service with 15,703 miles on the odometer at the end of November. The maintenance was straightforward and brief, requiring just an oil change and replacement of the cabin and engine air filters. Since we had just installed our winter tires, we asked the technician to ignore the usual tire rotation. The dealer also performed the regular vehicle inspection, finding no issues except for a low windshield-washer reservoir. Parts were $58.34, labor was $38.10, and waste disposal and taxes added $7.54. Total cost: $103.98.

We don’t expect to need service any more complicated or expensive in the Sonata’s remaining six months. As long as our Hyundai remains problem-free, the maintenance schedule calls for an oil and engine-filter change at 7500-mile intervals (and a new cabin filter every 15,000 miles). It’s not until 60,000 miles that Hyundai recommends more involved service with the car’s first coolant flush.

2011 Hyundai Sonata SE

Base price (with dest.): $23,315
Price as tested: $25,965

Overview
Body Style: 4-door sedan
Accommodation: 5-passenger
Construction: Steel unitbody

Powertrain
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: Front-wheel
Fuel economy: 22/35/26 mpg (city/hwy/combined)

Chassis
Steering: Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Turns lock-to-lock: 3.0
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

Measurements
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: 110.0 in
Track F/R: 62.5 / 62.5 in
L x W x H: 189.8 x 72.2 x 57.9 in
Cargo 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

Options on this vehicle:
Navigation and sunroof package -- $2600
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

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