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One more step toward world domination

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Published on Thu, Nov 24, 2011

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

2011 Hyundai Sonata
Hyundai Sonata 2.0T

By Roy Nakano It’s been widely reported that Volkswagen has its sights set on surpassing Ford, GM and Toyota to become the top dog of global automotive sales. There’s one big obstacle with this picture: It’s called Hyundai. If its recent offerings are any indication, expect to see Hyundai dominating the car market the way that Samsung dominates the flat screen monitor market. The first inkling of Hyundai’s ascension came a couple years ago when it introduced the Genesis—a Mercedes-Benz E-Class car for about 20,000 fewer dollars. Then came the similarly bargain-priced Equus, the 40-miles per gallon Elantra, and the object of this car review—the Hyundai Sonata. This new Sonata has been gathering lots of accolades from the automotive press. The exterior design borrows heavily from Audi and Mercedes-Benz, and the interior from Lexus. Pricewise, however, the Hyundai Sonata slots just below the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Only a four-cylinder engine is offered, which allows the entire car to be designed without the costs, structural compromises and weight that must go into cars built to carry both fours and sixes. But the Sonata has a particularly good four-cylinder engine—a 2.5-liter design that delivers an outstanding EPA highway rating of 35 miles per gallon.

2011 Hyundai Sonata

With the 2.0T, Hyundai sticks with four cylinders, but goes with a intercooled turbocharger to provide more power while keeping the good gas mileage inherent in fewer cylinders. It’s a formula used with great success by Audi and Volkswagen. With the Hyundai Sonata, however, power goes from 198 in the standard motor to a whopping 274 in the 2.0T. Torque in the 2.0T is an impressive 269 pound-feet at 1800-4500 rpm. Notwithstanding the power boost, the Sonata 2.0T maintains an outstanding EPA highway rating of 34 miles per gallon. To understand how well Hyundai has nailed the family sedan design, one need only look at the interior door panels. Like most cars designed to stay at an affordable price point, the Sonata uses a fair amount of hard plastic. However, it’s mostly in areas far below eye level and not where doors are usually touched. Those areas, on the contrary, are covered in soft touch materials. It all blends together quite nicely, and in indicative of how much thought went into the design of this car to keep costs low but perceived quality high. With the 2.0T, Hyundai turns the Sonata into a much more entertaining car. While the regular Sonata is no slouch, the 2.0T provides remarkable passing power. We also found it to be commendably smooth and quiet—not rough and noisy the way some turbo-fours can be. If anything, the Sonata 2.0T is a bit too well-behaved for the sporting crowd. The effortless steering keeps the car’s demeanor calm and relaxed, but it does feel a bit too detached from the road. Enthusiasts call this “road feel”, which Hyundai seems to have taken great steps to remove.

2011 Hyundai Sonata

On the other hand, family sedan buyers may favor the calm and relaxed demeanor offered by the Sonata 2.0T. They certainly favor the abundant room the car provides for five passengers. The Sonata is a very comfortable car—an important asset for day-to-day driving, and particularly appreciated on long trips. The trunk space is also commendable. All-in-all, the Hyundai Sonata is a great package. It has it all: Good looks, good comfort, good gas mileage—and with the 2.0T, good get-up-and-go. With this latest iteration of the family sedan, Hyundai has managed to out-Accord the Accord and out-Camry the Camry. We can hardly wait to see what comes next from Hyundai as it marches step-by-step toward world domination. For more information about Hyundai products, go to SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2012 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T EPA Fuel Economy Estimates (City/Highway): (Six-speed automatic): 22/33 miles per gallon Engine type: DOHC CVVT 2.0-liter Theta II turbocharged gasoline direct injection

Hyundai Sonata Turbo

Horsepower: 274 @ 6,000 rpm Torque: 269 @ 1,750 – 4,500 rpm Transmission type: Six-speed electronic automatic, OD lock-up torque converter; SHIFTRONIC manual shift mode, paddle shifters Steering: Rack-and-pinion, power-assisted Suspension: Front: MacPherson strut, hydraulic twin-tube shock absorbers, stabilizer bar Rear: Independent multi-link, hydraulic twin tube shock absorbers, stabilizer bar (Stiffer coil springs and hydraulic monotube shocks on SE model) Brakes: Front: Power-assisted 11.8-inch ventilated disc Rear: Power-assisted 11.2-inch ventilated disc Wheels: 2.0: 18-inch wheels Dimensions Overall length: 189.8 inches Overall width: 72.2 inches Overall height: 57.9 inches Curb Weight: 3,338–3,452 lbs

2011 Hyundai Sonata

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