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2006 - 2008 Hyundai Sonata Information


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The new 2006 Hyundai Sonata is an all-new vehicle featuring refined, sophisticated styling and an interior package so roomy its U.S. government size classification is "large car"; a full class above Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Nissan Altima. Sonata sets a new standard for safety with six standard airbags (front, seat-mounted side-impact and side air curtain), standard active front headrests, standard ABS, and for the first time in the mid-size sedan segment, standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC). The 2006 Hyundai Sonata was designed to achieve five-star ratings in all National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) frontal and side-impact test conditions.

"The new Hyundai Sonata is a milestone vehicle for Hyundai in the United States," said Robert F. (Bob) Cosmai, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. "It offers contemporary style, class-above roominess, segment-leading safety features, and outstanding value; it's been developed specifically with American consumers in mind, and it's the first Hyundai built in the U.S. at our new plant in Montgomery, Alabama. The new Sonata also features two all-new, powerful, fuel-efficient engines -- the 2.4-liter Theta inline four-cylinder and the exciting 3.3-liter Lambda V6."

HYUNDAI SONATA AND TUCSON ACHIEVE HIGHEST GOVERNMENT CRASH TEST RATING Five-star Safety Crash Performance Joins Segment-Leading Standard Safety Technology Fountain Valley, Calif. (Sept. 29, 2005) – Hyundai Motor America today announced that the 2006 Hyundai Sonata and Tucson have received the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) top five-star crash test rating for front and side impacts. These results reflect Hyundai’s commitment to lead in the standard application of the industry’s most effective safety technologies. “At Hyundai, our first priority is to ensure our customers can avoid an accident, which is why every Sonata and Tucson comes with a sophisticated Electronic Stability Control system,” said Bob Cosmai, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. “These five-star NHTSA crash test results demonstrate that when an accident is unavoidable, our Hyundai Sonata and Tucson deliver outstanding occupant protection.” The 2006 Tucson SUV and all-new Sonata mid-size sedan, are setting standards for safety in their segments. Tucson was the first vehicle under $20,000 with standard Electronic Stability Control and six airbags while Sonata is the only mid-size sedan with standard Electronic Stability Control and six airbags. Both have received numerous accolades, including Tucson’s “Best Value Car Award Winner” from SmartMoney magazine, and Sonata’s “Automotive Excellence in Safety Award” from Popular Mechanics. The Sonata features six airbags—including dual front, front seat-mounted side-impact, and front and rear side curtain airbags—along with active front-seat head restraints. Other passive safety features include shingle-style rear seat head restraints for improved visibility, three-point seatbelts for all seating positions, front-seat seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters, and a rear-seat LATCH system for child seats. Hyundai devoted 300 new Sonatas to internal crash testing to make sure the Sonata attained NHTSA’s five star rating in both front and side collisions. The Tucson is engineered to provide its passengers with multiple defensive layers. The steel unibody has designed-in crumple zones and a high-tensile front sub-frame that are designed to work together to reduce the forces that reach the passenger compartment. To help resist intrusion, four structural rings encircle the body. All four doors also have internal guard beams to protect passengers in a side-impact collision. The Tucson’s passenger restraint systems help minimize injury. Three-point belts are provided at all five seating positions, and the front seatbelts have pretensioners and load limiters. There are two outboard rear LATCH child-seat anchors. A total of six airbags are positioned in the Tucson’s interior. Dual advanced frontal airbags are complemented by front seat-mounted side-impact airbags and roof-mounted side-curtain airbags that cover both the front and rear rows of seating. Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif. is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company of Korea. Hyundai cars and sport utility vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced by more than 670 Hyundai dealerships nationwide.

The following are some reviews and specs from around the internet.

2006 Hyundai Sonata

What's Special About It?

This all-new Sonata is Hyundai's best shot yet at becoming a first-tier import alongside Honda and Toyota. Not only does it share (some would say steal) some noticeable styling cues from its competitors, the Sonata also incorporates a few traits from more upscale luxury sedans. It's noticeably larger than its predecessor in nearly every dimension and features both four- and six-cylinder engines. The base four-cylinder displaces 2.4 liters and delivers 158 horsepower while an optional 3.3-liter V6 serves up a substantial 230 hp. The smaller engine offers a choice of a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic while the V6 uses a five-speed automatic exclusively.

The Sonata's standard feature list includes side seat and side curtain airbags; four-wheel antilock brakes; a tilt and telescoping steering wheel; power windows, locks and mirrors; and multiple power outlets. Notable options include electronic stability control, park distance control, automatic climate control, 17-inch wheels and an MP3-capable premium audio system. The Sonata is set to go into production in Hyundai's new manufacturing plant at Montgomery, Ala., in March.

What's Edmunds' Take?

This could be the vehicle that finally vaults Hyundai onto the shopping lists of the average American consumer. With attractive styling, a practical size and plenty of power under the hood, this Sonata needs no excuses when compared side by side with the Accord and Camry. Factor in Hyundai's extensive warranty and a made-in-America pedigree and there's not much holding this sedan back from becoming one of the top-selling sedans in the United States. — Ed Hellwig

Source: http://www.edmunds.com/

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2006 Hyundai Sonata

Hyundai's ambitious goal for its fifth-generation Sonata is to tackle segment leaders Honda Accord and Toyota Camry head on. Thus, the sheet metal is all-new, the cabin has been overhauled, and even the chassis and driveline have been thoroughly upgraded.

The Sonata gets an all-new 2.4-liter, dual-overhead-cam four-cylinder that eventually will be shared in North America and other markets with partners Chrysler and Mitsubishi. A range-topping 3.3-liter V-6, up from 2.7 liters in the current top-level Sonata, mates to a five-speed-automatic transmission. The new engines put Sonata in line with offerings in the Accord and Camry.

In terms of size, the new car is larger than its predecessor. It is 2 inches longer, 2 inches taller and about a half-inch wider. There is more room inside, too, and more power.

Standard safety features for the U.S. market will be comprehensive. They are expected to include side-impact and side curtain-type airbags, electronic traction control and antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution.

Though it will be built first in its home market, the Sonata is due in the United States as a 2006 model. The American edition will be the first model assembled at Hyundai's new $1 billion U.S. plant near Montgomery, Ala., starting in spring 2005.

Source: http://www.cars.com/

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2006 Hyundai Sonata Buyer's Guide

What's New for the 2006 Hyundai Sonata

Hyundai has significantly reworked and improved its midsize Sonata family sedan this year. Designed specifically for the American market, the new Sonata features taut exterior styling, a roomier interior, powerful new engines, and additional luxury and safety feature content. The new car is larger than it was before, and much of the extra size has been used to provide more space for passengers and luggage. Interior dimensions, such as legroom and trunk space, are now equal to or better than some of the best family sedans available. Three trim levels are offered: GL, GLS and LX. The GL and GLS come with a 162-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Its power is applied to the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission (available on the GL only) or a five-speed automatic. For more power, there's a 237-hp, 3.3-liter V6. It's optional for the GLS and standard on LX cars and can only be had with the five-speed auto. Standard features on all three trim levels are extensive. Base-level GL buyers won't be disappointed as it comes with items like heated outside mirrors, power windows, air conditioning, cruise control, keyless entry, and MP3-capable audio. The GLS is similar but allows access to some optional features like a sunroof and a power driver's seat. The luxury-oriented LX adds leather seating, heated front seats, automatic climate control and an optional premium audio system. All three trims come packed with safety equipment, which includes four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS, traction control, stability control, front side airbags and head-protecting side curtain airbags. As one might expect, pricing has risen slightly. The Sonata is still a couple thousand dollars less than most competing family sedans, though.

AutoSite's Advice:
In years past, the Hyundai Sonata has sat in the shadows of more well known - and better - family sedans. That changes for 2006. This new Sonata doesn't do anything dramatic, nor does it introduce any revolutionary features. But it's a big step forward and matches up very well with the two heavyweights, the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. It's still a little shy on refinement but its lower price should compensate. We certainly recommend taking a look at the new Sonata. Our only pause for thought might be the chance for initial quality problems associated with the first year's production run; this is the first car to come out of Hyundai's new Montgomery, Alabama auto plant.

Source: http://autos.yahoo.com/

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Test drive: 2006 Hyundai Sonata

Nickels and Dimes

It might surprise you to know that Hyundai is the fourth best-selling import in North America behind Honda, Toyota and Nissan. It got there by steadily improving its products and delivering great value. The all-new Sonata sedan continues Hyundai’s mission with three trim levels priced from $17,895 to $22,895. You’d be hard pressed to find a sedan in this segment that offers more standard features and includes a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and 5-yr/60,000-mi basic coverage.

First Glance
I took my first and last cruise about 10 years ago. It was just a short one, from Los Angeles to Ensenada, Mexico. It started out perfect, with “sailaway” drinks, great entertainment, and no iceberg on the horizon. But at the end of the three-day cruise, I had racked up over $300 in ancillary charges. If you drink enough piña coladas, those $5 hits add up quickly. I feel the same way about cars that look good at first glance, but by the time you tack on all the features you want to make it the car you desire, you’ve spent an extra $2,000 to $5,000! At that price, the car is no longer the deal you first thought it was. Which leads me to the new Hyundai Sonata. Leave you’re coin purse at home. The features you want, plus the features you need, will be on this vehicle, at no extra charge. How refreshing not to be nickeled and dimed to death on the showroom floor!

The Sonata’s exterior is subdued and on the edge of elegant and should age well over the years. I like the concave hood that’s become a trademark for the Hyundai vehicle line. The Sonata is a little longer and a little taller than the previous model, which should please previous Sonata owners as well as buyers looking for an alternative to cookie-cutter sedans.

In the Driver's Seat
The benefit of being the new player in an established market is that you can benchmark the popular vehicles. Instead of benchmarking to Accord and Camry, Hyundai looked to loftier vehicles like Audi for craftsmanship and Lexus for noise, vibration and harshness standards. This is one of the quietest sedans under $20,000 that I’ve driven in a while, and the fit and finish could fool a Mercedes buyer. More good news: With over 120 cubic feet of interior volume, the Sonata actually is classified as a large car in the eyes of the EPA. Which means it offers more room for less money than the top sellers in the class. I mentioned value because with this vehicle, the nickels and dimes go in your change jar, not in the dealer’s pockets.

Standard features on every Sonata include great things like four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock and Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), air conditioning, cabin air filtration, CD player with MP3 capability, dual vanity mirrors, cruise control, power doors/locks/mirrors (heated), six airbags, leather-wrapped steering wheel, Electronic Stability Program, and many other items. When you add in the warranty plus the free roadside assistance, you can see why the Sonata is such a great bargain.

On the Road
There’s a reason why Honda and Camry sell well; they offer a nice ride and are usually trouble-free. Good resale value is a bonus. Will the Sonata be able to match up? We’ll know soon enough when the residual values are posted, but Hyundai believes it should be near the top of the list; remember, the Sonata was the leader in the entry mid-size segment of the 2004 J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study.

I drove the new 3.3-liter V-6 powerplant in LX and GLS trim (235 hp) and found it smooth and responsive. The cabin was Lexus-quiet and the standard 16" wheels and tires provided a smoother ride than the sportier, lower-profile tires on the optional 17" wheels. I pushed the Sonata through some tight turns and found predictable understeer (running wide), easy to correct by lifting off the gas and steering back into the turn. Get in over your head and the standard stability program will be there to save your butt (and as you're butt's being saved, remember, the system didn't cost one extra dime!). The level of power steering boost varies with engine speed, and while it’s a little too loose for my sports-car-oriented taste, I doubt most drivers will mind. They will, however, notice how easy it is to maneuver at lower speeds.

Journey's End
It’s hard to imagine, but Hyundai says that while it has one of the highest customer loyalty ratings in the industry, getting new buyers into the showroom has been a challenge. Hence the Sonata's new tagline: “A Hyundai you’ve never seen before.”

The Sonata is the result of a 3 year joint effort between design and engineering teams from Korea, Detroit, and California. As part of their commitment to the US market, Hyundai will build Sonatas in a new plant in Alabama. Kudos to Hyundai for creating a community and providing a secure future for thousands of Americans.

The Sonata goes on sale in early May, and will sell the majority of North American units in the U.S; about 10 percent of production heads to Canada. Along with the GLS V6, which Hyundai expects to be the best-selling model, the Sonata will be offered in a four-cylinder (2.4 liter 162-hp) version with all the great features mentioned earlier.

Although it may be hard to pass by the Honda and Toyota dealer--the Accord and Camry combined account for almost two thirds of the mid-size sedan segment--keep moving down the block; you’ll be glad you did. Especially when you drive out of the Hyundai dealership in a new Sonata with all that change jingling in your pocket.

Source: http://cars.about.com/

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2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6

Byte-Bite:If I was working for one of Hyundai's competitors, I'd be worried. Hyundai has arrived.

If your concept of Hyundai is ``cheap Korean car,'' with the emphasis on ``cheap'' as synonym for ``shoddy'' more than ``inexpensive,'' it's time to move out of the 1980s. The Korean-based manufacturer's latest offering, the newest version of its core-model Sonata, is designed and built to go head-to-head with the most popular cars in that most popular class, middle-class sedans.

You will note that I did not say ``mid-size sedan.'' Only the Sonata name is unchanged between the 2005 and 2006 model years. The `06 version is longer, wider, and taller than its predecessor, and has grown enough in interior space to now be classified in the EPA ``large car'' category. All models feature premium levels of safety and comfort equipment as standard fare. As before, and typically for the class, four-cylinder and V6 engines are offered, with three different trim levels. But the engines are new, state-of-the-art designs with more power and improved fuel economy. The 2.4-liter inline four found in GL and GLS four-cylinder models makes 162 horsepower; the 3.3-liter V6 in GLS V6 and LX models produces 237 horsepower.

There is a yet more significant difference between last year's Sonata and the new model - it's built not in Korea, but in an all-new plant near Montgomery, Alabama. It was designed and developed with the American customer foremost in mind, which makes sense as the Sonata is Hyundai's best-selling model in the U.S., its largest market. So the new Sonata trumps its competitors on size, and price, and is competitive on power, refinement, and build quality. I've been driving a GLS V6 for the past week, and if I was working for one of Hyundai's competitors, I'd be worried. Hyundai has arrived.

APPEARANCE: Without looking at the stylized ``H'' logo in the center of the grille, it may be difficult to recognize the 2006 Sonata as a Hyundai. More substantial-looking and angular, it makes a clean break with the past. Although individual styling cues look to be derived from the latest crop of Japanese luxury sedans, the net effect is distinctive. At the front, the old, slightly pinched-looking Hyundai face, with its horseshoe waterfall grille, has been given a total makeover, replaced by a trapezoidal grille accented with a chromed top bar and crossbar that incorporates the Hyundai logo underneath a sculpted hood with raised edges and a concave center section. Combined with wide multi-element projector-beam headlights, the result is a more youthful, less formal look. From the side, a strong shoulder line and semi-formal roofline convey the contemporary look of luxury, which is reinforced by the small ducktail at the trailing edge of the trunk and wide taillights.
COMFORT: At a quick glance, the `06 Sonata's interior styling looks to be right out of one of the $30,000-plus Japanese entry-luxury cars. In GLS and LX trim, it has the same two-tone motif, with the darker, anti-glare upper split from the lighter lower section by a strip of wood- or metal-like material, depending on color. A close look shows that the ``wood'' or ``metal'' are imitation (as they are in some of the luxury cars...) and, in the GLS, the upholstery is cloth, with manually-adjustable seats, but the fit and finish are top-notch, and the price is far below $30,000. Leather is standard in the LX, as is a power-adjustable driver's seat. All models have power windows, mirrors, and door locks. The front seats in my GLS test car were comfortable, and the leather-covered tilt-adjustable steering wheel had auxiliary audio and cruise control buttons. Reasonably-sized door pockets, a locking glove box, a toll-holder compartment to the left of the steering wheel, and a dual-layer console box provide good interior storage space. The Sonata's ``large car'' size is most apparent in the rear seat, which provides excellent space and comfort for the two outboard passengers, and reasonable accommodation in the center. It's split 60/40, with locking, for those times when more space is needed than is available in the trunk, but the trunk is large enough that those should be rare occasions.
SAFETY: Dual front airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, side curtain airbags, and anti-whiplash active front seat headrests are standard equipment on all 2006 Hyundai Sonatas, even the four-cylinder GL, as are four-wheel antilock disc brakes with electronic brake force distribution, traction control, and an electronic stability control system. The unibody structure has front and rear crumple zones and a strong centr al safety cage.
RIDE AND HANDLING: The 2006 Sonata's fully-independent suspension, with double wishbones in front and a multilink setup in the rear, is tuned in the manner of a contemporary sporty entry-luxury sedan. The springs are soft enough for supple comfort, even on poor road surfaces, while the shock damping is correctly matched for good driving characteristics. A rigid unibody structure and careful engineering of drivetrain and suspension mountings have resulted in low levels of noise, vibration, and harshness. The Sonata is pleasantly quiet and comfortable on the highway, and enjoyable to drive on more interesting roads. The engine speed-sensitive steering is light at city traffic and parking speeds, and heavier at highway speed for better control.
PERFORMANCE: Both new Hyundai engines are modern dual overhead cam designs with aluminum blocks and heads and continuously-variable valve timing. The four-cylinder engine has the same 2.4-liter displacement as before, but its 162 horsepower is considerably better than the old engine's 149. It can be matched to either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic with ``Shiftronic''(tm) manual-mode shifting. The 3.3-liter V6 in my GLS V6 test car addressed the two weakest points of the earlier Hyundai V6 engines - power and fuel economy. Horsepower is up to 237 (at 6000 rpm) from 181, and torque has increased from 177 lb-ft to 228 (at 3500 rpm). Despite these significant, and very noticeable differences, fuel economy has improved from EPA 20/27 to 20/30, in large part because of the new five-speed Shiftronic automatic that comes with the V6. It works well in automatic mode for all everyday driving, and can be easily shifted manually for optimum performance on secondary roads.
CONCLUSIONS: With a new look, new power, and a new, larger size, the 2006 Hyundai Sonata is an interesting new entry in the middle-class sedan category.

Source: http://www.theautochannel.com/

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Hyundai homes in on Honda

Introduction
Let's be honest now: a half-blind Cyclops could glance at this new Sonata and yell out the car that served as its source material by the count of one. Sure, there are plenty of generic cars out there with four doors, rectangular peepers, slab-o-taillights, but there's just something about it that screams "Meet the new Hyundai Accord!"

What could this imitation imply? The designers might just be out of ideas. It could even be admittance of the Accord's superiority. But maybe, just maybe, it's a direct threat stated through the shape of sheetmetal - Hyundai's nonverbal way of saying "we just beat you at making your own car." Ya think?

Don't scoff. These guys have been on a roll lately, leapfrogging up quality surveys, sales numbers walking on air, conquering Kia, and currently relaunching new editions of every car in its lineup over the course of two years. As the second car out of seven in that progression, this fourth-generation Sonata carries the promise of more speed, more space, better engineering, and a driving experience that's less "deliberate" and more "agile" (their words).

In other words, they might have a case.

Road Test
The first clue of Hyundai's seriousness can be found in the suspension. Most mid-size sedans hold up their wheels with basic struts, and until recently some even used an even-more-basic torsion beam axle in the rear. None of that here. Like all cars with the highest dynamic ambitions, the 2006 Sonata carries a pair of double-wishbones in front (like the Accord) and multiple links in back for such benefits as more sophisticated wheel control and flexibility. That stuff costs money.

On the road, the Sonata could pass for an Accord. There's the same feel to the ride, where most bumps pass through but get their sharp edges shaved off first. (Maybe the Sonata's a bit bouncier.) The body leans moderately in turns, and the whole adventure takes place on the Accord's exact same Michelin Energy MXV4 tires, which still squeal too early to entertain and still serve as the main source of noise in a fairly quiet interior. (Hyundai claims "significantly less wind noise," which didn't seem true.) Like the Accord, the Sonata raises the question of why a car biased towards softness and equipped with tame tires needs an expensive suspension, though that's hardly a complaint.

Like every family sedan whose name doesn't begin and end with "6," the Sonata's steering is on the numb side, despite the claims of agility. For sure, it's bland. That probably won't matter much to the target audience as much as being accurate and easy, which it is.

Even easier this year is the act of acceleration. Two new engines bring the Sonata up to snuff: a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder (nicknamed "Theta") and a 3.3-liter V6 ("Lambda"), both ULEV-rated aluminum twin cam engines with continuously variable valve timing that happily accept regular fuel. The long-stroke 4 has more torque than horsepower while the big-bore V6 has the opposite bias, but both produce good numbers: 162 horses / 164 pounds-feet and 235 horses / 226 pounds-feet. Better still, none of these advancements are weighed down by Obese Korean Car Syndrome, as the V6 Sonata tips the scales at a quite normal 3,458 pounds. No wonder it can do 0-60 in 7 seconds flat.

The V6 sounds as refined as it needs to and its exclusive 5-speed automatic transmission has refined shift quality. Up- and down-shifts can both linger once in a while, but it never feels lost. Both this and the 4-speed auto on the 4-cylinder Sonata have a "Shiftronic" mode for manual shifting; Hyundai programmed it to upshift automatically when revved to redline (boo) but not to downshift at full throttle (cheer). The only flaw in this powertrain is a less than expected turnout for fuel economy: 22 MPG even with heavy highway time. Our Tucson turned out similar results. And this test car had one strange, worrisome underhood noise that appeared randomly; it was some blend of rattle and hum.

Standard-across-the-board antilock 4-wheel disc brakes with brake force distribution means every Sonata will stop as surely as our test car. Accord and Camry don't give you the full load of those until you step up to their high end of the range. Nor do they give the Sonata's standard traction control and stability control, or its full set of six airbags and active front head restraints. It must be nice knowing that no matter which Sonata you buy, Hyundai's got your back.

Inside and Out
If designers wanted to copy the best of the Accord, they should have used the tracing paper on the interior. Drab styling and upholstery patterns, oddly conflicting dashboard cut-outs, soggy door locks, and cheap-feeling door assist grips dampen the joy of sitting in a Sonata. There's enough gray/black/silver to make anyone monochrome-phobic (it helps to select beige, the sole other interior choice), and Hyundai has succeeded in making an even more obnoxious chime than Honda's. At least the steering wheel is wrapped in nice leather on all models, and I'd say most tangible items feel of high quality. Half of them, anyway.

The Sonata is harder to fault functionally, with a clear gauge cluster (laid out Accord-style, speedo in center), nice consoles and compartments all around, radio and climate controls mounted where they belong, dash-mounted ignition, and just good standard Eastern ergonomics aside from slightly deviant A/C controls. The only two goofs: a missing preset station changer on the steering wheel controls (really now, what do radio listeners fiddle with most?) and a two-slot cupholder with too little shape to keep a hold of any cup. Stereo performance was an unexpected surprise, with a pleasingly full sound stage, MP3 capability, and pretty much perfect ergonomics. Accord and Camry don't give you any of those, either. And trip computers are always cool.

How's driver treatment? Mostly positive, with a few footnotes. This is the second Hyundai in which I sat with the seat slammed to the back of its track. And while the height adjuster is nice, a separate adjuster for cushion angle and an overall longer cushion would be nicer. Lastly, the telescoping steering wheel on Sonata LXs should be extended downward in the range. (Unlike in the Accord, long-legged drivers can at least compensate by making the Sonata's backrest more vertical.) But the majority of normally-proportioned humans who are free of these issues should find a good fit in the captain's chairs.

And there's no flying coach in the Sonata. If you want to know where this car leaves every competitor for dead, look behind: there's more space back there than in any rival. Room is fine in all directions, for all body parts, for up to three people (if you must), the windows go all the way down, and it's shaped fine. If the padding is a bit mushy, Hyundai at least resisted the temptation to drop the seat too low - inflating numbers at the expense of support - like so many others do. But the center position has no head restraint (finally, a flaw!).

Don't think the engineers simply stole that space from the trunk, either, because 16.3 cubic feet means the Sonata has the biggest back seat and trunk (and it's a nice trunk with full carpeting, a power outlet, a fuel-filler release, and a child escape handle). How the hell Hyundai managed to stuff 121.7 cubic feet of space into a 188.9-inch long, 72.1-inch wide, 58-inch tall body is a mystery that may baffle scientists for years, but the EPA had a more decisive opinion, punting the Sonata into the Large Car class along with such giants as the Ford Crown Vic, Chevy Impala, and Toyota Avalon.

There's more than one way to get more bang for your buck.

Other Thoughts
The Sonata line opens with the 4-cylinder only GL (the only place to get a manual transmission) at $18,495. The 4-speed automatic costs $900; floor mats are the only other menu item. This "base" model is hardly basic judging by either features or hardware.

The mid-line $19,995 Sonata GLS 4-cylinder seems like a good deal, with the $600 premium buying alloy wheels, fog lights, floor mats and better carpeting, better cloth, steering wheel audio controls, metal or wood interior accents (metal with gray interior, wood with beige), driver lumbar support, and trip computer. $1,500 extra steps up to the GLS V6 (adding 5-speed automatic, dual exhaust, and slightly bigger brakes and front stabilizer bar). Options come down to an $850 moonroof; the GLS 4's $1,350 Package #4 (moonroof, power seat, auto-dimming mirror with HomeLink garage door opener), and the GLS V6's $1,500 Package #5 (all that plus 17-inch alloy wheels).

Last, the final extra $2,000 for the V6-only Sonata LX ($23,495) pays for chrome door handles, 17-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels, automatic air conditioning, sliding center console, leather seats, power driver's seat, telescoping steering wheel, auto-dimming mirror, and HomeLink. Its $1,400 Package #3 adds moonroof and 6-disc CD changer.

Let's pit the mid-line 4-cylinder Sonata GLS against an Accord LX 4-cylinder automatic. At $21,375, the Accord's got the better engine and an extra gear in the tranny. At $19,995, the Sonata's the one with the alloy wheels, disc brakes with EBD, stability control, better stereo, and audio controls. One question is what monetary value should be awarded to all the Sonata's extra space.

But the most pressing question - aside from "how did they fit an Accord into a Xerox machine?" - concerns resale value and reliability. On one hand, used Sonatas are some of the most worthless cars on the secondhand lots; on the other, history has proven that one vastly improved redesign (for which the new Sonata definitely qualifies) can fix that overnight. Have you seen the going rates for those late-model Mazdas?

Reliability is the other mystery. In the early 90s, the Sonata was Consumer Reports's most troublesome vehicle (that's vehicle, not car). In 2005, the Sonata scored as the Most Reliable Vehicle among all 2004 models, handling trouncing 18 seemingly undefeatable Acuras, Infinitis, and Lexuses in a row. Months-old results would normally beat decade-old data, but all new Sonatas are built in a new, unproven plant in Alabama, so all bets are off. Remember, the Mitsubishi Galant was once as bulletproof as the Accord. Then production moved to Illinois. Look what happened.

Still, let's not forget Hyundai's best-in-class warranty: 10 years on the powertrain, 5 years on everything else, including roadside assistance. That plus Hyundai's recent track record hint at a good chance for the Sonata's life expectancy. But don't quote me on that.

Last Word
With a driving experience close to the Accord's, comfort and interior quality close to the Accord's, and a cheaper-by-thousands price than the Accord's, whether the slanted H has beat the straight H hinges on a couple of big, unknown promises. But it's hard not to notice that Hyundai has been more consistent in delivering them lately.

Source: http://www.automotive.com/

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2006 Hyundai Sonata First Impression

SAN FRANCISCO, 4/20/05 – South Korea is getting the hang of this car-building thing. The latest example: the refined, more powerful and much-improved 2006 Hyundai Sonata. Due to arrive on dealer lots in the next few weeks, the redesigned Sonata’s styling, power, price and content make it a big step forward for Hyundai, and – based on a first impression – a great choice for consumers.

The 2006 Hyundai Sonata will be offered in three trims: GL, GLS, and LX. Sonata GL models are available with a 2.4-liter, dual overhead cam four-cylinder engine good for 162-horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 164 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,250 rpm. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, while a Shiftronic four-speed automatic is optional. The Sonata GL will start at $17,895 plus a $600 destination charge.

GLS models are offered with either the four-cylinder engine mated to the four-speed automatic, or a 235-horsepower, 3.3-liter V6 with 226 lb.-ft. of torque joined to a Shiftronic five-speed automatic transmission. Four-cylinder GLS models start at $19,395 (plus destination) and GLS V6 models start at $20,895 (plus destination).

Sonata LX models come with the 3.3-liter V6 and five-speed automatic, with prices starting at $22,895 (plus destination). All 2006 Hyundai Sonatas come with front side-impact and two-row side-curtain airbags, ABS, electronic stability control, traction control, and active headrests.

The first thing people will notice after a few miles in a Hyundai Sonata is how quiet the ride is. According to Hyundai representatives, engineers used Lexus models as the Sonata’s benchmark for noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH).

Whatever they did – or whoever they benchmarked – it paid dividends. After driving the 2006 Hyundai Sonata LX model and the GLS V6 model, we discovered that this EPA-classified large sedan is virtually quiet inside, with the exception of a bit of wind noise at high speeds and some noise from the Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 225/50R17 tires on the Sonata LX. Only after opening a window at a tollbooth did we realize just how quiet it is. You can add some noise of your own with the standard six-speaker audio system, but don’t expect concert quality sound – it’s a fine system, but not the best on the market.

Most of the interior materials are what you’d expect from a budget-oriented sedan. The leather in our Sonata LX felt like it was of decent quality, but the cloth in the GLS felt cheap and not very durable. On top of the dash is a padded plastic panel, with the same material used on the upper door panels. All armrests are padded and large enough for an elbow. The lower dash, center console, lower door panels, and pillars are covered in a hard plastic that resists flex, but its abundance gives the interior a down-market feel. Still, all of the plastic grains match, gaps are all consistent and minimal, and all of our vehicles were virtually rattle free.

Front seats are firm enough to be supportive, but are not stiff. The rear bench bottom is too soft, with bolsters that easily give way, but the seatback is firm and comfortable. Small retractable headrests add to the 2006 Hyundai Sonata’s already impressive visibility. All of the controls are within easy reach – the radio sits atop the dash and features knobs and simple buttons, as well as steering wheel controls. The climate system sits below the radio and, again, features basic knobs and buttons. All power controls are on the driver’s door.

The 2006 Hyundai Sonata’s 3.3-liter V6 offers plenty of punch for all driving situations, and Hyundai suggests that the engine will return as much as 30 mpg on the highway. Planting the throttle results in an impressively quick take off, with very little noticeable engine noise, even at redline. This is a refined and capable powerplant. There’s also plenty of power for multi-car passing on two-lane roads, and high-speed passes on the highway. The transmission does a good job of managing the power, but stays clear of the rev limiter by shifting a little too early at times. And once, during a merge onto a highway from about 40 mph, a full plant of the throttle resulted in a delay of a second or two before the transmission downshifted and the Sonata delivered the necessary power.

A short spin in the four-cylinder Sonata GLS revealed that 162 horses is more than enough to provide for peppy acceleration around hilly San Francisco. The high-revving four-banger never felt underpowered, though it did get a little thrashy at redline. Adding a full load of passengers and cargo will likely make the reasonably priced V6 model look like a more attractive buy.

The four-wheel-disc brake setup worked like a charm, providing excellent pedal feel and modulation, and we didn’t notice any fade or deterioration in braking performance after several long, downhill runs. With the 17-inch tires on the LX, this Sonata takes the corners without hesitation. There is little body roll, and if there was any tire squeal, the NVH engineers made sure we didn’t hear it. The Sonata LX is a surprisingly good handler, and can be fun to drive. The Sonata GLS we drove had the smaller, less aggressive Michelin Energy MXV4 215/60R16 tires, and provided a soft, yet controlled ride. In comparison, the 17-inchers seem to give the Sonata a sportier, Accord-like demeanor, whereas the 16s give the Sonata a pillowy, Camry-like attitude.

Time will tell if the 2006 Hyundai Sonata takes a significant piece of Honda Accord or Toyota Camry sales, but it’s styling, power, price, and content may edge out periphery sedans like the Mazda 6, Mitsubishi Galant, and possibly the four-cylinder Nissan Altima.

Source: http://www.autoweb.com/

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2006 Hyundai Sonata: Filling the Camry's Rearview Mirror

DETROIT'S auto executives have plenty to fret about, including serious threats to their domestic companies from seemingly unstoppable Japanese rivals. But what keeps the leaders of Toyota, Honda and Nissan up at night?

Reading the Tea Leaves on Quality (November 6, 2005) High on the list must be Hyundai, a competitive juggernaut from South Korea that keeps gaining, in sales and perceptions, with each new or redesigned model that it rolls onto American roads. Its latest car, the redesigned 2006 Sonata, could serve as a diorama for the company's remarkable progress over the last decade - and a warning shot to Japan's auto industry that the Koreans have learned to play hardball.

While the previous Sonata was a clear imitation of the big-selling class leaders, the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, the new one is truly competitive with those cars in almost every way. It also raises the bar among mainstream midsize cars in the safety features it includes on all versions.

The car was redesigned with American tastes in mind, with contributions from Hyundai's design centers in California and Michigan. V-6 models are built at a new plant in Montgomery, Ala., though four-cylinder cars are assembled in South Korea.

Not only has this Korean company followed the playbook that the Japanese used to steal market share from Detroit - making steady improvements in quality and value, and branching out from inexpensive entry-level cars to more pricey, more profitable models - it is also following the Japanese lead by integrating its operations into the fabric of the United States. Hyundai is nibbling at the Japanese just as Toyota et al. have long been gnawing at General Motors and Ford.

While the previous-generation Sonata fell short of the class leaders in many respects, the new car - roomier, more powerful and more refined - is in the thick of the chase. The styling is fresh and modern, with more than a passing resemblance to the new and more expensive Lexus IS sport sedan. It is more fun to drive than the Camry, nearly as nice inside as the Accord and loaded with features at a highly competitive price.

Of course, the Accord and Camry have established solid records for reliability, though the last-generation Sonata, too, made impressive gains in this regard.

Hyundai has made safety equipment a strong selling point. Even the least expensive four-cylinder GL has an electronic stability control to help prevent skids; six air bags, including side curtain bags to protect heads in side impacts; antilock brakes; traction control; and "active" front head restraints that move up and forward in a rear impact to guard against whiplash.

Studies have shown that stability control reduces fatal single-vehicle crashes by at least 35 percent. For a few months Hyundai had bragging rights as the only midsize car to include stability control as a standard feature. While Honda has since made such a system standard on 2006 Accords with V-6 engines, it is not even an option on four-cylinder versions.

Stability control is not standard on the Camry, and indeed is not even offered on the base model. It is an option on other versions. Nor is the feature available on the new Ford Fusion or any Pontiac G6 except the performance-oriented GTP.

Like the Sonata, the Accord comes with standard curtain air bags. They are optional on the Camry.

The Sonata received the highest ratings (five stars) in the government's front and side crash tests.

In other respects, too, the base GL model is no stripper. It comes with power heated outside mirrors, air-conditioning, a stereo with CD and MP3 players, rear window defogger, power windows and locks, cruise control, a tilting leather-wrapped steering wheel, four-wheel disc brakes, keyless locking, theft alarm and a split folding rear seat.

The Sonata's two all-aluminum engines are both new: a 2.4-liter four cylinder producing 162 horsepower or a 3.3-liter V-6 rated at 235 horsepower. The smaller engine comes with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic; the V-6 is paired only with a five-speed automatic. Both automatics are what Hyundai calls Shiftronic, with a manual gate that lets the driver do the shifting, without a clutch. Few cars in this class have that feature.

Base prices range from $18,495 for the GL to $23,495 for the LX V-6 with the five-speed automatic. Hyundai says its volume seller will be the GLS V-6 at $21,495.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/

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Hyundai beings out one of the first of the 2006 models with the Sonata mid-size sedan. Essentially the same size as the Honda Accord, Sonata is slightly less powerful. Hyundai has stuffed a 3.3-literV6 into the engine bay of the Sonata, while Honda uses a 3.0-liter v6 in the Accord. These minor distinctions aside, the Sonata certainly doesn't suffer from a lack of power. With 235 horses available to push a fairly light car, power is more than adequate. We had no problem out-accelerating other cars from traffic lights. Nor did we have problems maintaining speed with anyone on Interstates.

The engine drives the front wheels through a 5-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode. This is the same gating arrangements as in the Kia Sorento (Kia and Hyundai are closely affiliated), I didn't have the same problems with accidentally shifting into the manual mode. The gearbox offered smooth shifts, as one would expect from a good mid-size.

Fuel economy is listed as 20 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. We used the Sonata for mostly Interstate travel and averaged 23.8 mpg in our test. Since the car we had was essentially brand new, long-term owners might expect even better mileage, and that's becoming more and more important.

Our tester had leather seats that proved to be comfortable on long trips. These seats were heated, but we didn't have an opportunity to use that option in mid-summer. We did note that my 6-4 son-in-law didn't have any problems stretching out and being comfortable. The driver's seat was powered, while the passenger seat was manual.

Rear seat legroom is excellent, even with the front seats pushed back, although in complete honesty I didn't check the seat behind my s-i-l. Between the seats is a fold-down armrest if you're only carrying two passengers back there.

Our tester had full power accessories (I don't know if I'd be able to use manual windows any more), including an audio system that was AM/FM/CD and MP3 capable. The HVAC offered cool air during some hot driving days.

Remote releases for the trunk and fuel cap are located on the driver's door. I thought the trunk was huge (16.3 cubic feet) for a mid-size. We had room to carry everything we needed to greet a new grandson. If needed, the rear seat backs fold to increase cargo capacity. For those of use who are electronically obsessed, there is a 12-volt power outlet in the console and another in the trunk.

Under the hood the engine is accessible. The dip sticks and the battery are in front and easy to locate. All fillers are clearly marked. A gas strut held the hood up.

For 2006, Sonata's redesign adds curtain side airbags and front torso-side airbags and 4-wheel disc brakes. The styling has also been "freshened," although in my opinion the Sonata was one of the nicer-looking mid-size cars.

I should qualify all my opinions with a caveat that I only drive the cars for a week, so long-term quality is not an issue. But, based on that week, I feel the Hyundai sonata is a great bargain. Other mid-size cars with V6 engines are priced well over $30,000 with the level of accessories we had on the Sonata. It offered great power and a comfortable ride on both Interstates and twisting back-country roads. We also maneuvered through urban traffic with no problems.

Source: http://www.theautochannel.com/

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First Drive: 2006 Hyundai Sonata
High Note: The Korean automaker reaches for new territory

Bob Cosmai, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America, calls the all-new 2006 Sonata "a brand-altering product and the most important introduction in company history." Okay, maybe that's over the top--but this is an important car for a brand that's enjoyed good sales as of late, thanks to a strong value proposition, big warranty coverage, and increasing customer-satisfaction survey scores. The scrappy Korean automaker hopes this Sonata will strike the right note, putting its high-volume nameplate on the shopping list of potential buyers who've never before considered this model, or any Hyundai.

The 2006 Sonata is offered in three trim levels: GL, GLS, and topline LX. It's targeted at such segment sales champions as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Nissan Altima as well as the Chevy Malibu. Tough territory, so the Sonata hopes to compensate with pricing that runs about $2000 to $4000 below comparably equipped midsize competitors.

Two all-new powerplants are offered. The all-aluminum 2.4-liter Theta DOHC four-cylinder engine puts out 162 horsepower and 164 pound-feet of torque. This engine features a balance shaft for increased smoothness, Continuously Variable Value Timing, and hydraulic motor mounts. It's standard on the Sonata GL and GLS four-cylinder models.

Sonata GLS V-6 and LX versions get a 3.3-liter V-6 making 235 horses and 226 pound-feet. This Lambda DOHC V-6 also employs CVVT, plus a variable intake system. Four-cylinder GLs come with a five-speed manual transmission; a four-speed Shiftronic automatic transmission also is available. All V-6 Sonatas get a new five-speed Shiftronic automatic.

The Sonata employs a control-arm suspension in front, with coil springs, gas shocks, and an anti-roll bar. Out back, the five-link rear underpinnings feature a trailing link, two lateral links, an upper arm, and coil springs. Standard wheels are 16-inchers wearing 215/60R Michelins, with a 225/50R17 combination optional on the GLS and standard on the LX.

Safety sells, so the new Sonata comes standard with six airbags and stability control, a segment first. Also included are traction control and ABS with electronic brake-force distribution, making the Sonata the class leader in active and passive safety.

The 2006 Sonata is two inches longer and taller than the 2005 model, with a one-inch increase in wheelbase. The new car boasts an interior package with 121.7 cubic feet of total interior volume, roomy enough to place it in the government's "large car" category. In case you were wondering, the Camry, Accord, Altima, and Malibu all rank as midsizers.

This Sonata sheds its previous faux-Jaguar styling cues for a cleaner look. Overall, it's remarkably tasteful--a nice change for a brand that's often struggled in this area. Inside the cabin, Hyundai is following what seems an industry sedan trend of utilizing a higher H-point seating position. Quality of materials is good, as is seat comfort--significant improvements over the previous-generation Sonata's. Standard equipment on the base GL includes keyless entry, power windows and locks, heated power mirrors, AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system, tilt wheel, A/C, and cruise control. Move up to the GLS and LX, and you get lots more standard stuff. One of the most dramatic improvements over previous Sonatas is the reduction of cabin noise. Hyundai claims the Sonata is now quieter at idle, 60 mph, and full throttle than the Accord or Camry.

The improved chassis architecture allowed for a much more solid, secure feel than expected as we consumed the twisty mountain roads outside of San Francisco. The LX proved the performer of the pack. Its suspension offers a good ride/handling compromise, and steering feel is adequate, if not exactly BMW-like. The 3.3-liter V-6 delivers adequate thrust off the line, but loses gusto in the upper-rpm range.

Pricing for the Sonata ranges from $18,495 for the GL four-cylinder models with a five-speed to $23,495 for the top LX 3.3-liter V-6 five-speed automatic.

Compared with the perennial best-sellers in the category, the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, the 2006 Sonata is now more competitive in design, interior trappings, and driving dynamics. Hyundai hopes its exceptional value and warranty messages will help it snare a few more buyers away from the Japanese class leaders.

Source: http://motortrend.com/

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2006 Hyundai Sonata

By simply holding this magazine in your hand, you’re a certifiable car guy, so this question should be easy. Which company, for the last three years, is the fourth best-selling foreign nameplate in the United States?

The first two are easy. If this were a bar bet, we’d give them to you: Toyota, 1.67 million and Honda, nearly 1.2 million. No. 3, Nissan at 855,002, is a bit harder, but not when you consider the flood of good products the company has unveiled since 2002.

That fourth company, Hyundai, is surprising. That’s right, Hyundai. If you knew the Korean automaker sold more cars in the States—418,615—than Lexus (287,927), Kia (270,055), Mazda (263,882), BMW (260,079), Volkswagen (256,111) and Mercedes (221,366), well, you are an especially steely eyed car guy—or you work for Hyundai.

Sales of Hyundai cars and SUVs have been bolstered by a steady increase in quality, with vehicles earning top scores in several studies, including the J.D. Power survey that named the midsize 2005 Sonata No. 1 in initial quality. In addition, with the launch of a $1.1 billion U.S. assembly plant and many new products—seven vehicles over the next two years—Hyundai’s influence on the U.S. market is quickly gaining momentum.

The first product to come out of the Montgomery, Alabama, assembly plant is the V6-powered 2006 Sonata, arriving at dealers as you read this. Sonata has been Hyundai’s best-selling nameplate for nearly a decade, and the redesigned model, with two new engine choices, three new transmission choices, an improved interior and significantly better road manners, will bolster sales.

The new Sonata is the best-looking, best-driving Hyundai we’ve ever been in. Right out of the box, we’d argue this car could forever change people’s minds about how they feel about Hyundai. Customers, after test-driving the Sonata, rather than thinking Hyundai makes cheap cars, might think Hyundai makes pretty good-looking, nice-driving, relatively inexpensive cars.

In other words, a good value.

There are three trim levels for the Sonata. The base model, built not in Alabama but in Korea, comes with a new 2.4-liter four-cylinder making 162 hp at 5800 rpm and 164 lb-ft at 4250 rpm. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, plus there’s an available four-speed automatic with Shiftronic, Hyundai’s version of an automanual.

The 3.3-liter V6 Sonatas rolling out of Hyundai’s first U.S. assembly plant develop 235 hp at 6000 rpm and 226 lb-ft at 3500 rpm. The only transmission is a five-speed automatic with Shiftronic. This six-cylinder version is expected to account for 60 percent of Sonata sales.

Keeping with Hyundai tradition, Sonatas get a 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and the now-famous 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Proof Hyundai is building better cars is that it is retaining owners. Bob Cosmai, Hyundai’s U.S. president and CEO, said 57.6 percent of Hyundai customers buy another Hyundai, up from 18 percent just four years ago. According to Cosmai, the industry average is 48.4 percent for repeat custom­ers, so Hyundai is ahead of the curve.

“We want to be more a mainstream brand,” Cosmai said. “Brand awareness of Hyundai has been behind that of our competitors, but the people who buy our cars love the cars. But we do have a challenge in building our brand awareness.”

The Sonata can bring the kind of awareness Hyundai is looking for in the States. First, the car doesn’t look like anything else from Hyundai, and that’s a good thing. Look at the Sonata from the rear three-quarters, squint a bit, and you’d swear you’re looking at a Honda Accord, a major rival of Sonata in this ultra-competitive, midsize market that accounted for 2.1, million cars in 2004.

“This is a Hyundai like you’ve never seen before,” said John Krafcik, vice president of product development and strategic planning. “This car was designed specifically for the United States. It’s a globally sold product, but built for Americans.”

Being built for Americans means being roomy on the inside, and the Sonata doesn’t disappoint. With 121.7 cubic feet of interior space, it fits into the government’s “large car” category, with significant increases from the previous model in leg-, shoulder- and headroom. Sonata’s interior is larger than those of the Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and Chevrolet Malibu.

The seating position has been raised an inch from the old model, allowing easier access in and out of the car, as well as giving you a better view down the road.

The trunk is also larger, by 16 percent, with 16.3 cubic feet. Trunk space has been maximized by using a rather complicated hinge and dual support struts. The setup does not impede into the storage area, so nothing in the trunk can be damaged by the hinge.

Our first drive of the 2006 Sonata came in the top-of-the-line V6-equipped LX. The LX comes standard with 17-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels shod with Michelin Pilot 225/50R tires. The package includes eight-way power driver’s seat, leather interior and leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The V6 is potent enough for the car, and the transmission shifts smoothly. The company says 0 to 60 mph will take 7.5 seconds, and we believe it. On twisty two-lane roads, we moved the gearshift lever to the auto­manual mode and enjoyed shifting for ourselves. The Sonata is no sports car, but it is powerful enough to keep your attention, while the suspension—front double wishbones with coil springs, rear multilink with coils—is firm enough and the steering responsive enough to keep you engaged.

The cabin is roomy and comfortable, with supportive seats. Materials used throughout look and feel good, with all components nicely integrated. Gaps are consistent and everything fits. The back seat offers enough legroom for six-footers to ride without their knees in their chin.

“We benchmarked the Audi A6 for its interior craftsmanship and the Lexus ES 330 for NVH,” Krafcik said.

While we wouldn’t place the Sonata in the A6 class for interior refinement, it is good for the midsize segment, especially considering the base GL sells for $18,495.

As for NVH, Lexus doesn’t have to worry—just yet. The new Sonata is significantly more refined than the previous model, and while we didn’t drive an Accord or Camry back to back with the Hyundai, the car is quiet. On our first drive we had to listen hard to pick up any wind or road noise, even at freeway speeds.

In our second test car, a V6 GLS model equipped with 16-inch alloys with Michelin MXV P215/60R rubber, we found the ride a bit softer than the car with 17-inch tires, the steering a bit less responsive, and the interior not as quiet as the LX. The GLS had a squeaky seat and a rattle in the headliner, gremlins that can drive owners crazy. Our test cars, pre-production units built in Alabama as the plant was ramping up, were driven from Alabama to San Francisco to break them in before the press introduction.

Krafcik notes there are just 10 different combinations of Sonata available, so a high degree of customization won’t be offered at dealers. Despite that, Hyundai is loading the car with a long list of standard features including six airbags, antilock brakes, electronic stability control, traction control and active headrests. All cars get a six-speaker stereo system with CD and MP3 capability and, in the fourth quarter, Sonatas will come equipped with an XM satellite radio receiver.

“Our prices are about $2,000 less than a comparably equipped Accord and $2,700 less than Camry; $3,000 less than a Pontiac G6,” Krafcik said. The top-model LX costs $23,495.

Hyundai plans to build 150,000 Sonatas annually at the Montgomery plant, which has the capacity to build twice that many. Other models down the road could possibly be built there.

Toyota, Honda and Nissan aren’t wasting time looking over their shoulders now, but with cars like the Sonata, Hyundai’s footsteps are getting louder.

2006-Hyundai-Sonata

For a great deal on a new or used 2006 Hyundai Sonata go to Gary Rome Hyundai.

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