2011 Hyundai Sonata Review – Big rock bands tend to have famous influences. Coldplay’s early music was inspired by U2′s, for instance, and Madonna’s long career has no doubt provided inspiration for Lady Gaga. It’s the same song and dance on the world’s automotive stage. Could there be any denying that the previous Hyundai Sonata was inspired by the Camry and Accord? But the 2011 Hyundai Sonata, like a maturing great band that comes into its own, has become worthy of headliner status in the family-sedan arena.
Engine choices for the new Sonata include a 2.4-liter inline-4 or a 2.0-liter turbocharged variant. The base engine is really all most buyers will ever need, as it makes a robust 198 horsepower (200 in the SE trim) and returns a thrifty 26 mpg combined when matched to a six-speed automatic. In addition to delivering both brisk performance and high fuel mileage, this drivetrain exhibits a refined demeanor. The turbo ramps up performance with 274 hp and amazingly returns nearly identical combined fuel economy.
All of this is even more impressive when you consider that the Sonata is one of just two cars in its segment (the Accord is the other) roomy enough to be deemed a “large” sedan by the EPA. The 2011 Sonata also boasts improvements in driving dynamics to give it a tauter, more composed feel, though it’s not quite up to the sport sedan bar of the Ford Fusion Sport, Nissan Altima and Mazda 6. The SE trim’s sport-tuned suspension helps the Sonata inch up closer to that bar, but in the process, the ride gets a little too rough.
Of course, being a Hyundai, the Sonata brings along a strong value proposition. Despite the fact that its starting price can be a couple thousand dollars cheaper than its rivals’ MSRPs, the base Sonata GLS offers a number of features as standard — such as satellite radio, iPod connectivity and Bluetooth with phonebook download — that are optional or not even available on its peers. The top-of-the-line Sonata Limited, meanwhile, comes standard with everything except navigation.
All things considered, the latest Sonata manages to stand out in a segment chock full of good choices. It’s more refined than the ubiquitous Accord and Camry, and though the Altima, Mazda 6, Chevy Malibu and Ford Fusion are also good picks, the Sonata has the price advantage. With its spirited performance, impressive fuel economy, solid build quality and strong value, we have a feeling that the 2011 Hyundai Sonata will have no problem climbing the charts.