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SONATA IN A MAJOR

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Wed, Mar 17, 2010

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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By Reed Berry 35. Yes, 35. I’m attending a press reception in La Jolla, California, for a new automobile and all I see wherever I look is the number 35. On the coffee mugs…on drink coasters…on note pads – the number 35. And at what time is the reception scheduled to start? 6:35 pm. There is a good reason for this, however. The new 2011 Hyundai Sonata, despite having a bold sport sedan appearance, boasts Best In Class fuel economy of 35 miles per gallon. Hyundai appears excited about this new addition to their line of fuel-efficient vehicles and they are certainly serious about getting the word out. They have spared no expense (around $160 million) on an extensive advertising campaign with commercials airing during some of the most watched events on television, including the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards. A major ad campaign calls for the talent of a major star. Voicing the Hyundai spots is 2010 ‘Best Actor’ Oscar winner Jeff Bridges.

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The car does have eye appeal, and while you hear some automakers refer to their cars as stylish or sporty, Hyundai refers to the design of this car as ‘fluidic sculpture’. A concept of Hyundai’s Design Center in Irvine, California, this design element is meant to convey a sense of dynamic strength. Like many of the newer vehicles introduced in the recent past, the new Sonata appears to have been designed to combine sportiness with luxury. It does have a crisp, contemporary appearance that I find appealing. The sculpted design is apparent on the inside, as well. The interior of the car is quite attractive as well as being driver friendly. The test vehicle I’m driving has soft, comfortable leather seating plus a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The sleek dashboard and console wrap around me, making all controls easily accessible. After plugging my iPod into the appropriate audio jack and starting the engine with the push of the ‘Start’ button, I’m on my way. My road test takes me from the upscale coastal community of La Jolla to the city of Julian, a historic gold mining town and mountain retreat about an hour east of San Diego. I may have to stop for a slice of Julian’s world-famous apple pie – just to keep my energy up for the rest of my drive, of course. From Julian, I’m off to Temecula. The Temecula Valley is famous for its picturesque rolling hills and wineries. The planned route will give me an opportunity to experience the new Sonata under a variety of different driving conditions and road surfaces.

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Wow, can we say acceleration? With nearly 200 horsepower, the new Sonata beats its nearest competitor by more than 20 and you can certainly feel the difference. Paired with a new lighter, more efficient 6-speed automatic, this is a serious driving machine. Despite the impressive power, Sonata leads competitors in its class with highway fuel economy rating of 35 mpg. According to Hyundai, this is due, in part, to a combination of technologies including a low friction drive line and low rolling resistance tires. As I negotiate some of the rural roads between Julian and Temecula, the ride is solid and the car handles quite well. Sonata has four-wheel independent suspension with MacPherson struts on the front. The car corners confidently with a minimum of effort on my part. The Electronic Stability Control system incorporates efficient braking and a traction control system for added safety. The interior of the new Sonata is exceptionally quiet. And, while Hyundai has worked hard to accomplish this, I do have mixed feelings about a vehicle that is a little too peaceful. After all, it is a car and not my living room. There are some things I would like to hear while driving, such as the horns of other cars warning of danger or the sirens of emergency vehicles that may need to pass. If you are looking for a nice quiet environment in which to enjoy Lady Gaga or Adam Lambert, however, this car is for you.

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The 2011 Sonata is offered in three trim levels. GLS is the base model and, with a surprisingly long list of standard features and an MSRP of just under $20,000, seems like an exceptional value. SE is the sport model with big 18-inch alloy wheels, a dark chrome front grille, and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. Limited is the luxury edition with such features as a power tilt & slide sunroof, dual automatic temperature control, and leather seating surfaces. Considering the fact that many people still cannot pronounce Hyundai (it rhymes with Sunday), the automaker has made great advances in style, fuel economy and safety since the first Hyundai Excel arrived in the U.S. in the late 1980’s. The 2011 Hyundai Sonata is named as a ‘Top Safety Pick’ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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For information on Hyundai automobiles: hyundaiusa.com

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SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Price: MSRP: $19,195 - $27,395 (based on model and equipment package) EPA Fuel Economy Estimates (City/Highway): Manual: 24 / 35 Automatic: 22 / 35 Engine type: 2.4-liter GDI 4-cylinder 16-valve DOHC Horsepower: 198 @ 6,300 rpm (SE: 200 @ 6,300) Torque: 184 @ 4,250 rpm (SE: 186 @ 4,250) Transmission type: 6-speed automatic with Shiftronic and paddle shifters standard on SE and Limited; available on GLS; 6-speed manual standard on GLS Steering: Rack-and-pinion power steering Suspension: Four-wheel independent suspension (Sport suspension on SE model) Front: Independent MacPherson strut Rear: Independent multi-link Brakes: Four-wheel disc with brake assist, ABS, cornering brake control Wheels: GLS: 16-inch steel wheels SE: 18-inch Hyper Silver alloy wheels Limited: 17-inch alloy wheels Curb Weight: 3,199 lbs. Overall length: 189.8 inches Overall width: 72.2 inches Overall height: 57.9 inches

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