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1101 2011 Hyundai Sonata January Update
four seasons long-term tests

2011 Hyundai Sonata SE - Four Seasons Update - January 2011

WINTER 2011 Hyundai Sonata
2011 Hyundai Sonata reviews to date

While winter hasn't served up any hard hits to Michigan, it has delivered snow with the regularity of a Detroit newspaper (which is not so much daily, as it is three times a week). Accordingly, the roads surrounding our Ann Arbor office seem to constantly be covered in a thin layer of snow, but that has hardly fazed our Hyundai Sonata shod with winter tires.

"In fresh snow, snow-flattened-to-ice, and just regular ice, the Bridgestone Blizzaks were virtually unflappable," praised senior web editor Phil Floraday. "Only once during a turn that was a touch too fast for the road conditions did they allow the car to slide, but a little countersteer and some ESP intervention corrected the car's course before I had a chance to be surprised. There's no way the correction could have happened on all-season rubber under those conditions."

As pleased as we are with the Blizzaks' performance in snow, they can only do their job if they're filled with air, and over the holidays managing editor of digital platforms Jen Misaros left a friend's house to find the right rear tire almost completely deflated. The car sat overnight and Misaros called for Hyundai roadside assistance, which is included for five years and unlimited miles, the next morning. The phone operator took down the details and offered to notify Misaros by email, text message, or phone call when the local service company was en route. The text message arrived before she had even hung up the phone.

"Before we could even get to our friend's house, which is just 10 minutes away, the technician called," Misaros recalled. "He was in the driveway and was going to get started on removing the tire. Like the call-center employee, he too was pleasant, helpful, and quick. The spare was on within moments once we arrived, and he even took the time to look closely at the flat tire to see if he could find the reason for the flat."

The flat, we'd later find out, was caused by a loose tire-pressure monitoring sensor that was leaking air. It was an installation error that had slowly worked its way into a problem since the winter tires were mounted in November-by a tire shop, not the dealer. So despite the inconvenience of a flat tire, the incident left Misaros with a new positive impression about Hyundai. "If this is any indication of the level of service that all Hyundai owners receive, I'm thoroughly impressed."

Indeed, after creative director Kelly Murphy's recent experience with roadside assistance in our Four Seasons 5-series, it seems BMW could learn a lesson from the Koreans.

With less than 18,000 miles on the odometer, our Sonata began emitting a handful of rattles and creaks. Floraday pinpointed the driver's visor and behind the dashboard, while another driver suspected the passenger-side door as a culprit. "I could see extremely cold temperatures letting a few squeaks come through," noted Floraday. "But it was 36 degrees and the interior had warmed up to the point where I had turned down the heater and the squeaks persisted. Not a good sign in such a new car." We'll know for sure in the next five months if the rattles are in fact a product of the cold weather or a telltale sign of the build quality.

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

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