Overview & Reviews
The Hyundai Sonata is a comfortable and likable midsize sedan that proves Hyundai can build cars that are not just easy on the pocketbook, but easy to live with as well. Like most vehicles in the midsize sedan class, the Sonata offers front-wheel drive, numerous safety features and a choice of trim levels that include sporty and plush variants. Setting the Sonata apart, however, is Hyundai's lower pricing and outstanding warranty coverage.
For the most part, the Sonata has kept getting better. The current model, in particular, is the most competitive to date. In addition to the strong value proposition, this Hyundai adds a few things previously not seen in this conservative nameplate -- namely, daring styling and sporty driving dynamics. Newer pre-owned Sonatas are also a solid choice, but models prior to 2006 remain a risky used-car proposition.
Current Hyundai Sonata
Although it's classified as a full-size family sedan by the EPA, the Hyundai Sonata still competes in the midsize segment. It's available in GLS, SE and Limited trim levels. Even the base car comes well equipped, while the SE features sporty suspension tuning and the Limited pampers its passengers with more luxurious features.
The standard engine on every Sonata trim level is a 2.4-liter direct-injected inline four-cylinder rated at 190 horsepower and 179 pound-feet of torque, while the dual-exhaust SE with the same engine makes 192 hp and 181 lb-ft. A 2.0-liter turbocharged engine generating 274 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque is available on SE and Limited models. All Sonatas come with a six-speed automatic as standard.
Whether serving family car or commuter car duty, the Hyundai Sonata is a nice place to be thanks to its spacious cabin, comfortable seating, solid build quality and quiet highway ride. In reviews we've found that the Sonata provides spirited acceleration as well as responsive handling, with a slightly firm but still comfortable ride. Fuel mileage is also impressive, with 30 mpg being a realistic number for conservative drivers in mixed conditions. Our only notable gripes concern the relative lack of rear seat headroom for adults and a somewhat rough ride for the SE model. Overall the Sonata is rather impressive and deserves serious consideration from those shopping for a family sedan.
Used Hyundai Sonata Models
The current Hyundai Sonata represents the fifth generation in the car's lineage, and was introduced in the 2011 model year. That following year, the Sonata picked up the Blue Link telematics service and a higher-resolution navigation system display. A manual transmission was available for the Sonata GLS for these first two years, but was discontinued after that.
These Sonatas produced prior to 2014 differ in a number of minor ways. Styling was ever so slightly different, while they lack standard driver-selectable steering effort and the availability of certain features like xenon headlights and a blind-spot monitoring system. Also, the 2.4-liter engine made 198 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque (200 hp and 186 lb-ft for the SE) versus the current car's somewhat lower ratings.
The previous, fourth-generation Hyundai Sonata was produced from 2006-'10 and is really the only other version worth considering as a used Sonata. Initially, three trim levels were offered: GL, GLS and LX. The sophomore year saw a shuffling of the trim levels to the current format. Most notably, the sporty SE version debuted, wearing 17-inch alloy wheels and foglights.
Originally, the 2.4-liter four-cylinder produced 162 hp and was standard on the GL and GLS trims. A five-speed manual was standard (GL only for 2006) and a four-speed automatic was optional with this engine. Optional on the GLS and standard on the LX, SE and Limited was a 235-hp version of the 3.3-liter V6, matched to a five-speed automatic transmission. For 2008, the four-cylinder became standard on all trim levels and the V6 became optional. That year also saw a few more standard features added to the SE and Limited trims.
The biggest changes occurred in 2009 when engine outputs were increased (175 hp for the inline-4 and 249 hp for the V6) and the interior was spiffed up with a new dash and higher-quality materials. There were also two notable additions to the features lists -- a standard auxiliary audio jack and an optional touchscreen navigation system.
Prior to that, the cabin had respectable build and materials quality along with a precise feel to the controls. But it wasn't nearly as top-notch and had odd placement of the audio and climate controls -- the former was placed too high and the latter too low. Beyond that, the spacious cabin remained unchanged, and although the exterior had a few nips here and tucks there, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between Sonatas of this generation.
At the time, we found that the fourth-generation Hyundai Sonata prioritized ride comfort over precise handling. It smothered bumps well and delivered a luscious highway ride, but with its significant body roll and vague steering, it wasn't particularly fun to drive.
Power from the efficient four-cylinder engine was competitive, and although the V6 wasn't quite as potent as those in rival sedans, it still got the job done while returning good fuel economy. Inside, soft, high-quality plastics were plentiful, and the overall design was eye-pleasing.
Pre-2006 Sonatas remain a risky used-car proposition even though depreciation means they can be found at a bargain-basement price. Only in recent years have we seen the kind of build quality and structural integrity that might portend long-term durability.
Nevertheless, the previous (third) generation Hyundai Sonata was originally introduced for 1999 with a vastly improved appearance, far better engines and significant improvements made in noise and ride quality versus its lamentable predecessors. The base car featured a 138-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder and the GLS had a 159-hp 2.5-liter V6. These numbers may be different from what you'll find elsewhere, since Hyundai misstated its horsepower ratings prior to 2002, giving the Sonata 11 more horses than it actually had. As such, you'd be best to stick with Sonatas from 2002 or later, which were characterized by even nicer styling, a better interior and a legitimately more potent V6.
The second-generation Sonata was introduced for 1995 and offered improved fit and finish compared to its predecessor, but that's not saying much. It now had dual airbags, but no more power under the hood. For instance, the V6 only produced 5 more horses than the four-cylinder. For 1997, the Sonata was restyled dramatically, but not necessarily for the better. All in all, we'd avoid this car.
The same goes for the original Hyundai Sonata, first launched in 1989 to give Hyundai a player in the midsize family sedan game. Aggressively priced but sloppily built and saddled with weak, unrefined powertrains, the boxy first-generation Sonata did little to change the public's perception of Hyundai cars as cheap in more ways than price.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 3,413.00
Very Dissapointed! Wanted a Reliable Beautiful car - 2006 Hyundai Sonata
By Linda Goodwin - December 31 - 12:32 am
Fell in love with my 2006 Sonata. Beautiful metal-flake Cherry Coke color with beige interior and wood trim on dash. Looks very elegant. To date both front doors are peeling like crazy for NO reason....and any black paint ie: windshield wipers, posts between windows has faded dreadfully... looks terrible! Have had several issues with the check engine light coming on. Have replaced modules, timing chain, tensioners, you name it. This car has been driven less than any vehicle I have owned and has been the worse for wear. When new you couldn't hear the car idle at all and now it just knocks all the time. Dealer is of little help..even told me all the re-call work had been done when I knew it had not. Will not purchase another Hyundai....
Best Car I ever owned (Ten Year Original Owner) - 2006 Hyundai Sonata
By mikeinmemphis - December 28 - 8:38 pm
Bought the car off the show room floor in North Los Angeles and drove it home 130 miles south to San Diego. I t was a great trip. New Car, New Car smell and acceleration galore. Car is fast. I moved to the mid south a year later and have been there ever since. Car is great in snow and ice. Car has 175K miles and is still on original spark plugs. Still on original transmission fluid and original radiator fluid. I get an oil change religiously every 3000 miles (I think thats the secret to long life). Car has had no major trouble. I tow with it all the time. (5x8 utility trailer 1000 lbs not a problem). Minor problems include: Sun Visor, brake pedal switch, rear 3rd brake lamp, replace headlamps 3 times, drivers window when wet and rear brake lamps bulbs. I have driven the car at 130 miles an hour in the Southern California desert just to see if cruise control works at over 100 mph (it does). Best Feature: Reliability. I would buy another but they don't offer that V-6 in a sonata, It is available in the Santa Fe and it now produces almost 300 hp. I like this brand and will stick with it. They need to hurry up and make the Santa Cruz cause I need a new vehicle...10 years time for a change. And yes I will keep the old sonota as a second car until she dies.
My 2004 sonataa - 2004 Hyundai Sonata
By Leanna norris - December 24 - 4:26 pm
I bought my 2004 sonata used for only 4500! It now has 212,000 miles on it and runs awesome and has never left me stranded. The only thing ive had to do to it is a tune up, oil changes, changing of head lights and tail lights. I had to buy new tires after 2 years and a starter for it but thats it. It may sound like a lot but it was just regular maintenance that it needed. Never had any other problem with it. It just started making a creaking noise and i think its my cv axles that need replaced but i wouldnt trade this car for a new one because the space in the car is amazing i think and the new cars have to much technology in them and are compact cars that look big and bulky. Ill keep my 2004 hyundai sonata till it wont drive anymore! Hope this helps.
2008 Hyundai Sonata SE V6 - 3.3L - 2008 Hyundai Sonata
By Bob Rubel - December 4 - 12:48 pm
I bought this car brand new in 2008 from the dealer. I have a 10 year - 100k Warranty. I see people saying seat belts, door handles etc. are falling off. Have never had any of this happen. I'm 6'2" and have no discomfort. The car is quick as hell, she'll jump up to 100-120 easily. The car is about 8 years old now and I have only done basic maintenance and put tires and new headlights in due to the wax formation. Everything works. Sound system sounds great, and I love that the unit holds 6 cd's. If I could buy this car again when I need a new car I would. Drove to north Carolina, Flordia (separate trip), tenesee (separate trip) and would NOT be afraid to drive to California from rhode island. The car has 161,000 miles on it so I expect problems soon due to use and age. I do not see poor quality in material. I love the car and think that door handles falling off in one guys review is total B.S.
Reliable Car and Great Value! - 2007 Hyundai Sonata
By Benjamin - November 27 - 7:27 pm
I have had this 2007 Sonata SE V6 since June 2011 (4 years) and it has been a wonderful car to own. I used to live in Texas so the paint has some minor wear thanks the the flaming sun but other than that most people don't seem to notice. I have received many compliments on this car to the point that many people thought is was a brand new car! This car used to be a rental car and I'm impressed how well it has held up since I took ownership! I got this car around 97k miles and it is currently at the 152k mark and it is a trooper. I drove it from the West Texas area to Austin,TX (8 hours of driving) and I had a quarter of a tank of gas left! It gets really good gas mileage on the highway as long as you are in the 60-70 mph range. It gets terrible gas mileage in the city but that's a given for most cars anyway. During my undergraduate degree I drove six hours (one trip, 12 for round trip) from my hometown to my college and I haven't had any major mechanical problems with my Sonata. I'm currently attending Graduate school in Ohio and I have made 2 round trips of 2,224 miles from Texas to Northwest Ohio and I still haven't had any mechanical problems. It still runs and sounds great! It has good acceleration, braking, a quiet cabin and is smooth on the highway. I'm not a big fan of the body roll and the steering but I have dealt with worse. I have had regular maintenance and some major maintenance due to the age of the car. I had to fix the rear axle for the major maintenance but I haven't had any problems with my engine and transmission. My passenger window motor went out probably due to my car transitioning from Texas to Ohio weather and from people opening it all time -_- I have had some problems with the brake lights but the manufacturer recall quickly resolved that issue. If you baby this car and drive non-aggressively it will return the favor. I'm really happy with this car and I hope it continues to thrive!
First car I got to drive: loved it! - 2006 Hyundai Sonata
By Jessica - November 24 - 7:01 am
This car is dependable. Our sonata is 10 years old and has seen its days, but still runs with a bit of noise and other issues. Nothing too major but there's so many issues that we are now buying a new vehicle. I will say this is hard to park because I took my driving test in it and always came close to the cones. If you know the car though parking is fine! I got to know my dads car. lol
10 years on.... - 2006 Hyundai Sonata
By chris - October 27 - 9:05 am
I bought my black Sonata brand new on March 13, 2006. It had just came off the truck and had all the plastic on the outside and inside. They hadn't even checked the car in yet. I drove the V6, but decided on the 4cyl and I have NEVER regretted that still after 10 years. I have had no problems and this is my 3rd Hyundai. 2 previous were Elantras(99, & 04), which were trouble free as well. I still love driving my car and nothing has ceased to work and it still like new even at 10 years old. I only have 62,000 miles on it. My family has a variety of makes of cars (Subaru, Honda, Toyota, Nissan) and I still love getting back into my car as the quality is just as good as the others and mine is older than any of theirs. It shows how Hyundai just got it right with the 06 Sonata at the time. I feel the newer ones may be better in areas where mine was "lacking", but there is something about the newer ones that I just don't like. Im not sure if there are way more plastics than softer material on the inside or what. Gas mileage is fantastic as well. It never changes and I get pretty much the same each trip. The best I got was a 10 hr round trip to OC, MD and back at 600 miles to a tank of gas. Yes, the gas light was on, but I still had 30 miles to empty reading on the computer. How can you beat that.....I have never had really any issues with any of the Hyundai's that I have had, yet people still think these cars are not that great...If you maintain them and service them they will last just as long as any other...Interesting that people are starting to realize that Hyundais are competitive and really great cars...Something I new about the company for 16 years now since I've had my 99 Elantra.
Horrible - 2002 Hyundai Sonata
By Ashley Martinez - October 20 - 7:40 pm
This car was honestly the worst thing I could have purchased. I spent a lot of money just to buy it and then ended up having to spend thousands of dollars to fix it the next week after purchase. Although gas mileage was great I would rather have something that would burn through gas then this. It was not reliable and had a mind of its own.
10 years on the road, still like new. - 2006 Hyundai Sonata
By Amkor - October 12 - 6:58 pm
Bought this car new 10 years ago, when Hyundai still had a shady reputation... But I fell in love with the design, and took a chance.... This model of the Sonata was the FIRST really quality car coming from Hyundai, and it turned things around... Though I have only 55k on the odometer, the car rides like new, smooth, quiet, adequately powerful, stable, relaible, no problem. We have owned Accords as well, and I must admit there isn't much difference in built quality (but huge difference in price).... This is a good car.
LOVE THIS CAR!!! - 2006 Hyundai Sonata
By Blaine - October 9 - 10:02 am
I bought this car 3 years ago with 60,000 miles on it. I now have 148,000 and still runs great. Front seats can be uncomfortable at times. Powerful V6 and fun to drive. Replaced the fuel pump at 127,000 miles, other than that, just brakes, rotors, tune up, oil change ect....got a aftermarket radio so I could have us plug in and aux cord plug in. Get about 22mpg city and 26mpg highway.