2006 Hyundai Sonata

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$1,700–$7,920 Inventory Prices
Key Specs
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Road Test
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Key Specs

of the 2006 Hyundai Sonata. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    25-29 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    162-hp, 2.4-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    5-speed manual w/OD
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Epic standard-features list
  • V-6 acceleration
  • Handling
  • Interior quality
  • Warranty
  • Overall value

The Bad

  • Steering wheel doesn't telescope
  • Seat-heater option has one setting
  • High backseat floor hump
  • Base-model price increase
  • Awful new-car smell (cars.com evaluation vehicle)

Notable Features of the 2006 Hyundai Sonata

  • Standard stability system
  • Six airbags standard
  • Active head restraints standard
  • Standard antilock disc brakes
  • Five-speed automatic option
  • 3.3-liter V-6 option

2006 Hyundai Sonata Road Test

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Joe Wiesenfelder

If you're still not convinced that Hyundai vehicles deserve your consideration, check out this model. For years Hyundai has had a knife lodged in the rib cage of domestic automakers, and the 2006 Hyundai Sonata represents the most vigorous twist yet.


Hyundai rolled out this sedan's good looks, best-yet quality and epic list of standard features at the Detroit auto show in February. Ford's Taurus replacement, the Fusion, had been introduced the day before, but it promptly slipped off my proverbial radar screen. My evaluations of a Sonata LX V6 and GLS V6 have only increased my enthusiasm. This new sedan, now technically full size, is a shot across the bow of the midsize class leaders from Japan as well.

Several attributes have driven Hyundai's sales increases — now nearly 400 percent higher than in the punch-line days of 1998 — and made it the fourth-best-selling foreign brand in the U.S. after Toyota, Honda and Nissan. A generous warranty, more standard features than the competition and a lower list price got buyers' attention; quality and reliability have made them loyal. J.D. Power and Associates' 2004 Customer Retention Study ranked Hyundai fourth in the industry at 57.6 percent, compared to an average of 48.4 percent. Reliability for the previous Sonata model has been average to above average.

The first Hyundai built in the U.S. — at a new assembly plant in Montgomery, Ala. — the 2006 Sonata has an interior volume ...

If you're still not convinced that Hyundai vehicles deserve your consideration, check out this model. For years Hyundai has had a knife lodged in the rib cage of domestic automakers, and the 2006 Hyundai Sonata represents the most vigorous twist yet.


Hyundai rolled out this sedan's good looks, best-yet quality and epic list of standard features at the Detroit auto show in February. Ford's Taurus replacement, the Fusion, had been introduced the day before, but it promptly slipped off my proverbial radar screen. My evaluations of a Sonata LX V6 and GLS V6 have only increased my enthusiasm. This new sedan, now technically full size, is a shot across the bow of the midsize class leaders from Japan as well.

Several attributes have driven Hyundai's sales increases — now nearly 400 percent higher than in the punch-line days of 1998 — and made it the fourth-best-selling foreign brand in the U.S. after Toyota, Honda and Nissan. A generous warranty, more standard features than the competition and a lower list price got buyers' attention; quality and reliability have made them loyal. J.D. Power and Associates' 2004 Customer Retention Study ranked Hyundai fourth in the industry at 57.6 percent, compared to an average of 48.4 percent. Reliability for the previous Sonata model has been average to above average.

The first Hyundai built in the U.S. — at a new assembly plant in Montgomery, Ala. — the 2006 Sonata has an interior volume of 105.4 cubic feet, up from 100.0 cubic feet in the outgoing generation. This, combined with the trunk's growth from 14.1 to 16.3 cubic feet, moves the Sonata into the Environmental Protection Agency's full-size car class. Its exterior size is still manageable, though: 2 inches longer, 0.4 inch wider and 2 inches higher, with 1.1 inches more wheelbase.

This is a story of value, but before I get into the features tally, let's not forget the basics — acceleration, braking, etc. The 
Hyundai Sonata gets them right. Its ride quality is firmer than in the previous generation's but not objectionably so. (To the contrary, some find the Honda Accord's ride too harsh.) The handling also has improved, with less body roll and impressive cornering.


Both of my test cars had the 235-horsepower, 3.3-liter V-6 engine, a considerable increase from the previous generation's optional 170-hp, 2.7-liter V-6. Power ratings alone don't tell the whole story, but this is a 28 percent increase, and the Sonata's curb weight has increased a maximum of only 6 percent in the heaviest new trim level. Quicker acceleration should result.

It does. The larger engine and five- rather than four-speed-automatic transmission show in spirited acceleration and good passing power at all speeds. More important, the shifts are smooth and kickdown is reasonably quick. The image of a crude transmission cobbled together in a Third World country just doesn't apply. Also standard is a clutchless-manual mode Hyundai calls Shiftronic.

Hyundai still offers a standard four-cylinder in the base — GL — trim level and the GLS, which I haven't yet driven. (Four-cylinder Sonatas will continue to be manufactured in Korea until the Alabama plant ramps up.) For what it's worth, Hyundai says 60 percent of Sonatas sold historically have been V6 models, a distribution that's expected to continue in the new generation. In comparison, roughly 20 percent of Accord and Toyota Camry buyers opt for the six-cylinder. Hyundai cites the Sonata's lower price as the reason.

The four-cylinder's output also is up over the previous generation's by 15 percent. In this case the optional automatic transmission is a four-speed; a five-speed manual is standard. Despite the performance boosts, all the Sonata configurations are more efficient, as shown.

 

EPA-Estimated Fuel Economy (city/highway, mpg)
  4-cylinder with
manual transmission
4-cylinder with
automatic transmission
V-6 with
automatic transmission
2005 Sonata 23/30 22/30 19/27
2006 Sonata 24/34 24/33 20/30

 

The Hyundai Sonata LX's interior is the best yet, and definitely competitive. The color pallet is sensible, the layout ergonomic, and the materials high-quality in both appearance and touch. The only problem with this one was a toxic-smelling new-car odor. (Perhaps it was an anomaly or simply exaggerated by the Midwestern heat wave.) The GLS' standard cloth upholstery is decent but not exceptional.


While the Sonata has an uncommon standard airbag complement — frontal, front-seat side-impact, and side curtain-type for front and backseat — I'd like to see a telescoping steering wheel, which helps drivers of different statures get comfortable and distance themselves properly from the airbag. The current standard wheel only tilts; the LX's also telescopes. A power driver's seat is optional in the GLS and standard in the LX, but the standard manual seat also has cushion tilt and height adjustments.

Most of the interior seating dimensions in the new model are greater, up to about an inch. The backseat is quite accommodating and comfortable, without the leaning-back feel of the Accord. One drawback is a center floor hump that's very high for a front-wheel-drive car. The 60/40-split backseat folds to extend the trunk inward. The trunk itself measures 16.3 cubic feet, up from 14.1 cubic feet in the previous generation. The towing capacity has doubled to 2,000 pounds.

All the standard and optional features are detailed elsewhere in this section, but it bears emphasizing how many standard features you get even in the base 
Hyundai Sonata GL:

  • Electronic stability system
  • Active head restraints
  • Six airbags
  • Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS
  • Heated power side mirrors
  • Power door locks with remote keyless entry
  • Power trunk and fuel-filler releases
  • Power windows
  • Air conditioning
  • Cruise control
  • Body-colored bumpers and side moldings
  • Auxiliary sun visors
  • Illuminated locking glove box
  • Leather steering wheel

Some of the above are rare as standard equipment, and some are downright unheard of. It's not merely the number of features that stands out. Much of this content is high-cost. I always emphasize results over formulae, but from a strict cost perspective, equipment like double-wishbone front and multilink rear suspensions also are expensive.

You can click on Side-by-Side Comparison above to compare two models or trim levels of your choosing. The following table shows the significant differences between the most affordable V-6-equipped Sonata and Accord.

 

Cars.comparison: Most Affordable V-6-Equipped Sonata and Accord
All specs and feature availability are solely for the trim levels and prices shown
Model 2006 Hyundai
Sonata GLS V6
2005 Honda*
Accord 3.0 LX
Base List Price $20,895 $23,950
Electronic Stability System standard not available
Active Head Restraints standard not available
Clutchless-Manual Transmission Mode standard not available
EPA Fuel Economy
(city/highway, mpg)
20/30 21/30
Standard Wheels 16-inch aluminum alloy 15-inch steel
Passenger Volume (cu. ft.) 105.4 102.7
Trunk Volume (cu. ft.) 16.3 14.0
Folding Backseat standard not available
Standard Driver's Seat manual with height adjustment; power optional powered with height adjustment
Steering Wheel tilts tilts & telescopes
Max. Towing Capacity (lbs.) 2,000 1,000
Heated Side Mirrors standard not available
Chrome Tailpipe(s) standard optional
Remote Window Controls not available standard
MP3-Capable Stereo standard optional
Trip Computer standard not available
Drivetrain Warranty (years/miles) 10/100,000 3/36,000
Basic Warranty (years/miles) 5/60,000 3/36,000
Roadside Assistance (years/miles) 5/unlimited not available
Accessories Warranty (years/miles) 1/unlimited 3/unlimited
*Comparison performed before release of 2006 Accord
Manufacturer data

 

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2006 Sonata Video

Watch MotorWeek on PBS. Check your local listings for time and channel.

Latest 2006 Sonata Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.5)
Performance
(4.5)
Interior Design
(4.3)
Comfort
(4.4)
Reliability
(4.5)
Value For The Money
(4.7)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

Great car

by Maria from Chino California on June 22, 2018

2006 Hyundai Sonata 4 cylinder Good car runs good AC good new battery I love it because is gas saver clean title registration on time Read full review

(5.0)

Very reliable and good on gas

by Enen from NY on May 11, 2018

The vehicle is very good on gas and runs well. Also very powerful v6. Fun for any driver or new driver. The sun roof is an extra plus on why this car is good Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2006 Hyundai Sonata currently has 11 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2006 Hyundai Sonata GL

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
acceptable
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
poor
Driver Torso
acceptable
Overall Side
acceptable
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
marginal
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Sonata received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker