The Sonata looks innocuous inside and out and feels solidly put together, which is about all one can ask from an inexpensive mid-size sedan.
The engine upgrade has done its job, producing adequate power even given our test car's four-cylinder. I found the manual shift on the transmission lever a bit odd, since Sonata buyers don't strike me as the enthusiast type, but it seems that's the way most automatics are going these days; I would presume that most drivers will leave the car in D without giving the shift-it-yourself gate another thought.
The car's ergonomics have been improved by an interior redesign that puts all functions within easy reach. I did have difficulty seeing the green lights that illuminate on the climate control buttons when they were bathed in direct sunlight. The exterior looks nice now that it's been cleaned up for 2009, although the car still blends in with the sea of mid-size sedans.
Given its price, subdued appearance, and comfortable interior, I would have no problem recommending the Sonata to someone who needs a no-nonsense sedan.
David Gluckman, Web Producer