Hyundai's mainstream family sedan, the Sonata, has been redesigned for the 2009 model year. Changes include revised exterior styling, a new interior and available four-cylinder and V-6 engines that both gain more power and are also more fuel-efficient. Competitors include popular models like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
Though the exterior styling changes may not be immediately noticeable, the new Sonata receives a number of updates. The front end of the car is new and features a new grille design, new headlights and a new bumper. The rear of the car carries on the general styling theme of its predecessor, but there are subtle changes here, too, like a new bumper and taillights.
These changes aside, the biggest difference between the new car and its predecessor is that the new model looks taller even though it's still 58 inches, just like the previous Sonata. Standard steel wheels measure 16 inches in diameter, but 17-inch alloy wheels are available.
The Sonata's interior receives a much-needed overhaul that vaults the sedan into the company of rivals like the Accord in terms of material quality. Whereas its predecessor featured a blocky dash with some awkwardly placed controls, the new Sonata features a contemporary design that wouldn't be out of place in a more expensive car.
The Sonata has room for up to five people, and both the front and rear seats are roomy. Cloth seats are standard and leather seats are optional. Additional standard features include air conditioning, a CD audio system with an auxiliary input jack and a USB port to plug in MP3 players, plus cruise control and keyless entry. Automatic air conditioning, a six-CD stereo and a navigation system are optional.
The standard 60/40-split folding backseat can provide an extended cargo area for carrying long objects inside the car.
Under the Hood
Buyers get a choice of a 175-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder (168 hp when SULEV compliant) or a 3.3-liter V-6 that produces 249 hp. Both engines make more power than the ones offered in the prior Sonata and also get better gas mileage; the four-cylinder gets an estimated 22/32 mpg city/highway while the V-6 gets 19/29 mpg.
The four-cylinder works with a five-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission, while the V-6 is available solely with a five-speed automatic. Regardless of which engine you select, the automatic transmission incorporates Shiftronic for driver-controlled gear changes.
Standard features include all-disc antilock brakes, side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags, an electronic stability system and active head restraints for the front seats.
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