Sunday, May 02, 2010


Cruise Control First Drive : 2011 HYUNDAI SONATA

A recent trip to Philadelphia proved to be well worth the time when I was introduced to the new Sonata. It's a very stylish car with hints of BMW, VW and Infiniti, while still holding the overall character of the Hyundai family of products.

The new Sonata is a little wider and longer than its predecessor and looks for all the world like a more expensive car.

Inside the Hyundai engineers and stylists have pulled off
a “value coup.” The quality of materials and fit/finish level instantly reminded me of Acura and Infiniti, as did the gauges and controls. It just smacks of quality.

The proof of the pudding, to twist a phrase, is in the driving and the Sonata feels every bit like a much higher-end car. It's amazingly quiet and equally smooth. The car even managed to soften the ride over Philadelphia's old-town cobblestone streets, and that's saying something. Visibility outside was first rate and entry/exit are made very easy by wide-opening doors and
low sill levels.

All Sonata models are powered by a very responsive 4-cylinder direct injection engine that produces 198 horsepower (200 in the SE) and 184 lb/ft of torque through a wide rev range. Coupled to this engine is a 6-speed automatic transmission (yes, a manual is available) that shifts as smoothly as one can possibly imagine. Fuel economy on the highway is 35 mpg, an impressive figure. Both the engine and transmission are produced here in the US.

This car is a gem and a bargain to boot. Three trim levels are available. The base GLS price starts at $19,195 and one with popular equipment will only set you back $20,945. Next in the lineup is the SE, which offers more sporty handling, stylish wheels and other accents, all for $22,595. The top end Limited offers leather and many other fine appointments and a fully equipped version tops out at $27,395. All Sonata models come with power windows/keyless entry/ABS/electronic stability control, Bluetooth and a whole lot more.

It's definitely one to check out if you're in the market for a car in this price class. Les Jackson

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