Its Four Seasons test may be drawing to a close, but the Hyundai Sonata is still earning praise for how well it masters the basics. "The Sonata impresses me with just how comfortable its cockpit is," associate web editor Donny Nordlicht wrote recently. "It takes no time to find the perfect driving position and the steering wheel is perfectly sized. At first I wasn't a fan of the space-age styled wheel, thinking it was too swoopy and over-designed, but I have come around and find it just about perfect for the car."
The actual feel and weight of the Sonata's steering has been a topic of discussion among the staff since the Sonata's arrival last June. Nordlicht is a fan: "I forgot how delightfully weighted the steering is. It is a joy to have nice, heavy steering, especially after spending time with the light and over-boosted system in the Honda Odyssey." He acknowledges, though, that there's room for improvement in the steering hardware. "Although firm, it's still vague, leaving the driver guessing a little bit on what the front wheels are doing, especially on the highway," he added.
In the middle of the month, our Sonata went to the dealer for its 22,500-mile service. Since we had just remounted the Hankook all-season tires one month ago, we asked the technician to skip the tire rotation and saved $22.95, bringing the total to $30.29 for just an oil change and inspection. The dealership also acted on two outstanding technical service bulletins while our Sonata was in the shop. One campaign addressed a sticking fuel-filler door. We've never experienced that issue with our car, and the technician determined there was no need to make adjustments to our Sonata's fuel door.
The second bulletin, however, was very much apropos. To eliminate a rattle in the overhead console, the shop replaced the assembly that contains the sunglasses storage bin, the sunroof switch, and the map lights. We hoped it would cure the irritating chatter that we reported on last month. Unfortunately, it didn't.
"I notice that the overhead rattle has gotten worse," wrote Nordlicht just a week later. "Clearly, the source isn't in the overhead console. It still seems to be coming from the rear of the sunroof, and closing the shade helps but does not eliminate the noise." And it's not just rattles that have the car showing its age; the Sonata has lost the taut, robust demeanor it once had. "The Sonata doesn't feel as rock-solid as it once did," observed copy editor Rusty Blackwell. "The sunroof rattle is still there, but I'm also noticing suspension noises and mild clunks over bumps." The loss of subjective solidity is noted, but with a month to go in our long-term test, the Sonata can still claim a flawless reliability record.