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

2011 Hyundai Sonata SE - Four Seasons Update - November 2010

Miles to date: 15,788 / Months in service: 5

Matt Tierney
2011 Hyundai Sonata reviews to date

Although our Hyundai Sonata SE arrived with all-season Hankook Optima tires, we've outfitted it with season-appropriate rubber as we head into winter. To accommodate the new tires, we've downsized the Sonata's rolling stock from the factory 18-inch aluminum wheels to 16-inch steel wheels complete with the Hyundai hubcaps that come on the GLS base trim. The tires are Bridgestone Blizzak WS70s, size 205/65TR-16, and sell for $98 a piece at TireRack.com. The price for our winter wheels is far less reasonable, with each steel wheel costing $236.38 and the cover priced at $85.45. Our total for the parts and installation came to $1,854.19. Buy your steel wheels somewhere other than the local Hyundai dealer.

The cold weather has also elicited complaints from our pampered staff about our Sonata's lack of heated seats. This isn't, however, simply a case of a missed option. Heated seats, both front and rear, are standard in the Limited trim, which starts at $26,015, but aren't available even as an option on the lower GLS and SE trims.

The Sonata's logbook already shows several entries praising the smooth shifts of the six-speed automatic, but both copy editor Rusty Blackwell and contributor Ezra Dyer have recently experienced unseemly behavior under hard acceleration. Blackwell writes: "Try a wide-open-throttle start, particularly with these traction-compromised tires, and the transmission strangely holds first gear briefly before shifting into second."

Dyer's observations were made from behind the wheel of a Sonata Turbo we tested at our annual All-Stars drive, but the takeaway was similar. "If you get wheel spin, the transmission can get confused," he says. "Even when you're not in manual mode, it'll bang the engine against the rev limiter for a couple seconds before upshifting. If it took me five minutes to discover this idiosyncrasy, why didn't Hyundai already weed that out?"

Calmer cruising, though, continues to leave drivers impressed. With the Sonata's excellent highway fuel economy rating of 35 mpg and a generous 18.5 gallon fuel tank, it's not uncommon to hit 500 miles with a single fill-up in the Sonata. On a recent trip to west Michigan, managing editor Amy Skogstrom was pleased to add 275 miles to the odometer while using half a tank of gas. The range is one of the many attributes that makes the Sonata such a good long-distance driver. With that in mind, we'll be keeping a close watch on the new winter tires as we move into December to see if they upset the Sonata's comfort or handling.

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
"Blackwell writes: "Try a wide-open-throttle start, particularly with these traction-compromised tires, and the transmission strangely holds first gear briefly before shifting into second."WHAT? Only the Gear Head lead foot testers of a loaner car with a tank of free gas would consider this an issue. They seem to think that it's part of their job to try and beat a new vehicle into a pile of junk! If they can't then they make up S#!T to fill up the page.How about mentioning info like instead..: 'this engine has a jewelry-like, chrome-steel timing chain that never needs replacing.' BTW I went to the above link to find a post on gthe details of the "Blown Engine" and all I found were happy Hyundai owners raving about the new powertrain. Might be a blown engine report in there somewhere but I can't find it.If you want some real Blown Engine repors, try the Toyota Sludge Forums...if you love to read about Bad Automatics transmissions, try "Honda Automatic transmission Problems" forum..that's the Hell I live in these days.
A lot of users at Turbo Sonata Forums have complained about various issues affecting the 2011 Sonata. Including one person with a blown engine and another user that had a bad turbocharger. Hopefuly Hyundai will step up to fix these issue.wwww.turbosonata.com

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