12 MONTH CAR REVIEWS: 2011 Hyundai Sonata SE - Four Seasons Update - April 2011

May 9, 2011
2011 Hyundai Sonata SE Rear Three Quarters
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Long-Term 2011 Hyundai Sonata Update - SPRING 2011 (3 OF 3)
Miles to date: 24,555 / Months in service: 10
The drive from Michigan to New York City takes roughly six times as long as hopping on a plane, but that didn't stop associate web editor Evan McCausland from making the ten-hour trip in our Four Seasons Sonata last month. Our Sonata was the affordable way to travel, as the frugal 2.4-liter four squeezed 35 miles out of every gallon of regular over the 1378-mile journey. And sacrificing time means big rewards in comfort. "The Sonata's cabin is by no means luxurious," he reports, "but it's far more hospitable than a cramped coach seat on a Bombardier CRJ."
2011 Hyundai Sonata Side View
Days before McCausland's trip, we took a look at the mid-April sky, said a little prayer, and finally removed the winter tires. The Sonata is back on its original eighteen-inch wheels and Hankook Optimo all-season. We're exited to have the Sonata back on stiffer rubber that brings more responsive steering, better handling, and an improved ride -- exactly the stuff that earned the Sonata its All-Star award last year. And our timing proved to be just right.
Although the bitter cold has disappeared, the rattles that we first noted a couple months ago have not. "When you're driving on a rough road and have the radio off or the volume low, it can be very annoying," noted copy editor Rusty Blackwell. Several drivers have traced the noise to the sunroof area and observed that closing the shade either stops or significantly dampens the chatter.
While our Four Seasons fleet has plenty of utility vehicles, the Sonata's large trunk proved just as practical for new homeowner McCausland, who loaded the car with provisions for cleaning: "Mops, vacuums, folding chairs, card tables, et cetera. I was able to fit everything in the trunk, although I folded a portion of the rear seatback to make room for a tall vacuum." Not long thereafter, senior web editor Phil Floraday easily filled the trunk with "a big roll of plastic (to replace the rear and side windows in a race car) plus a couple pieces of luggage." His home-brewed beer would have fit, too, but it rode in the air-conditioned cabin instead.
Floraday's Ann Arbor-to-Chicago trip was flawless save for a minor hiccup in pairing an iPhone via Bluetooth but playing audio through the USB cord. "Unfortunately, the phone wanted to communicate with the Sonata's stereo through Bluetooth streaming instead of the dock connector," he grumbled. "Each time I got in the car, the iPhone would play music through the dock connector for a few seconds before defaulting to the Bluetooth audio connection."
The solution is fairly simple, but inconvenient when you want to jump in the car and drive without fussing with the phone. To send the audio through the phone, the audio source has to be changed on the iPhone after both connections are made. "I presume this is an Apple software issue since I recently upgraded my iPhone OS and I don't remember this happening with our Sonata before," he noted. "It was a bit annoying to have to manually change the audio source each time I got in the car, but the system worked very well once I did my part to make it work."
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-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
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
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

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