Best Bet
  • (4.4) 134 reviews
  • MSRP: $6,355–$14,015
  • Body Style: Sedan
  • Combined MPG: 27-29
  • Engine: 198-hp, 2.4-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
2012 Hyundai Sonata

Our Take on the Latest Model 2012 Hyundai Sonata

What We Don't Like

  • Some interior trim looks cheap
  • Roofline makes backseat cozy

Notable Features

  • High-efficiency four-cylinder engine
  • High-power turbo four-cylinder
  • Six-speed manual or automatic
  • Hybrid version offered

2012 Hyundai Sonata Reviews

Cars.com Expert Reviews

Editor's note: This review was written in October 2010 about the 2011 Hyundai Sonata. Little of substance has changed with this year's model. To see what's new for 2012, click here, or check out a side-by-side comparison of the two model years.

Hyundai's redesigned Sonata sedan has exploded onto the market to become one of the most popular cars available, period. It's the best example of how a good-looking product at a competitive price can lure customers — even with just one available powertrain: a four-cylinder engine wrapped in a package built for comfort and fuel efficiency.

While that version is setting the sales world on fire, the company is rolling out a higher-performance trim level — a turbocharged four-cylinder, not a V-6, like nearly all the competition. That includes the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima … basically every midsize sedan.

By using a turbo engine, Hyundai has made the Sonata as much fun to drive as the competition, but it gets better mileage — and it's cheaper.

Sounds like a winning formula to me.

Read the review for the standard four-cylinder-equipped 2011 Hyundai Sonata

Performance
There's a lot to like about the turbo drivetrain, with its 274 horsepower and six-speed automatic transmission, but before I talk about power I should say that the Sonata 2.0T really shines because of its impressive handling. If there's one drawback to the base Sonata, it's that car's light steering, excessive body lean in corners and floaty ride. While that makes for a comfortable car, it also means the Sonata doesn't offer a sporty experience behind the wheel. There is an SE model with the base four-cylinder that's supposed to be more of a driver's car, but it pales in comparison to the 2.0T.

Turning the steering wheel of the 2.0T for the first time, I knew it was a different car. It was heavier, more like a Honda than a Hyundai, and at speed it delivered accurate inputs. The 2.0T carved through twisty mountain roads as well as any of the V-6 competition I've driven over the years, without much of a hit to ride quality. In fact, the firmer ride of the Sonata 2.0T was immensely comfortable on most road surfaces, and certainly better than the Accord's and Mazda6's V-6 trims, by a wide margin.

Not many manufacturers outside the luxury realm offer turbocharged engines, but because of fuel economy regulations requiring higher mpg ratings, turbos are finding their way into economy cars and, in Hyundai's case, midsize sedans.

Hyundai is using the turbocharger to emulate the experience of a V-6, so the power comes on at a steadier rate. There is some turbo boost that kicks in, though, especially when accelerating hard and using the manual function and shift paddles to change gears.

One of my few nitpicks with this new Sonata is the paddle shifters themselves. They deliver accurate shifts, but the plastic feels cheap and hollow. They don't return a solid click when depressed, either. It's an oversight that should be addressed in the future.

Will driving enthusiasts opt for the turbo because of its higher horsepower figures? Probably not. But its handling will sway the folks who dismissed the base Sonata for being too sedate. I still prefer the excellent V-6 engines offered by Honda, Mazda and even the Subaru Legacy over the Sonata, but it's by a slim margin.

Shoppers may be swayed more by the impressive fuel economy numbers tacked on to the solid driving experience. At 22/33 mpg city/highway, it bests its V-6 competition by 3 to 7 highway mpg, and Hyundai's numbers came on regular unleaded gas unlike some other turbo power plants.

Exterior & Interior Styling
Save for the standard 18-inch alloy wheels and dual exhaust, there's not much inside or out that differentiates the 2.0T from the non-turbo Sonata. I found the driver's seat comfortable, and materials throughout the cabin are high-quality. Read my review of the standard four-cylinder 2011 Sonata for more impressions on the styling and interior.

Prices & Features
There are only two trim levels for the 2.0T: SE and Limited. Pricing starts at $24,145 and $27,045, respectively. For the SE, that's a $1,550 price difference over the base's 200-hp four-cylinder engine; the turbo Limited costs $1,750 more than the regular Limited.

Competitors like the Accord and Camry offer four-cylinder and V-6 options rather than turbocharged four-cylinders, and the V-6s aren't cheap. The 2011 Toyota Camry LE V6 starts at $24,890, which is $3,715 more than the four-cylinder LE, at $21,175.

The SE comes standard with fog lights, 18-inch wheels, automatic dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, USB, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, audio controls and cruise control.

Limited trims add a sunroof, heated front and rear leather seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an upgraded sound system.

A navigation package is an additional $2,100 on the Limited. A navigation and sunroof package is an additional $2,600 on the SE.

Safety
The Hyundai Sonata is one of only two cars on the market to have received both a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and a five-star overall safety rating from the federal government using its latest crash-test procedures. Read more about the government's new tests here.

Sonata 2.0T in the Market
Base, four-cylinder midsize sedans make up the bulk of sedan sales for all automakers today, as buyers are shopping on value more than performance in this segment. Hyundai has already found success in bringing a lot of value to that slice of the pie, and now the company is somehow also delivering similar value to those who want a scoop of performance with their slice.

Send David an email  


Consumer Reviews

(4.4)

Average based on 134 reviews

Write a Review

Most reliable and safe car I've own

by Rebgreens from Stuart, FL on November 7, 2017

I love this car. I had a 2011 Hyundai Sonata that was totaled i n an accident. The paramedics and firefighter mentioned to me how the safety features of this car saved my life

Read All Consumer Reviews

5 Trims Available

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Wondering which configuration is right for you?
Our 2012 Hyundai Sonata trim comparison will help you decide.
 

Hyundai Sonata Articles

2012 Hyundai Sonata Safety Ratings

Crash-Test Reports

IIHS Ratings

Based on Hyundai Sonata GLS

Head Restraints and Seats
G
Moderate overlap front
G
Roof Strength
G
Side
G

IIHS Ratings

Based on Hyundai Sonata GLS

G Good
A Acceptable
M Marginal
P Poor

Head Restraints and Seats

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

Moderate overlap front

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

Other

Roof Strength
G

Side

Driver Head Protection
G
Driver Head and Neck
G
Driver Pelvis/Leg
G
Driver Torso
G
Overall Side
G
Rear Passenger Head Protection
G
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
G
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
G
Rear Passenger Torso
G
Structure/safety cage
A
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers. IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal or poor based on performance in high-speed front and side crash tests. IIHS also evaluates seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts.

NHTSA Ratings

Based on Hyundai Sonata GLS

Overall
Overall Front
Overall Side
Overall Rollover Rating

NHTSA Ratings

Based on Hyundai Sonata GLS

Overall
Overall Front
Overall Side
Overall Rollover Rating
Driver's
Passenger's
Front Seat
Rear Seat
Side Barrier
Side Pole
Side Pole Barrier combined (Front)
Side Pole Barrier combined (Rear)
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. NHTSA provides vehicle safety information such as front- and side-crash ratings and rollover ratings. Vehicles are rated using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Recalls

There are currently 7 recalls for this car.


Safety defects and recalls are relatively common. Stay informed and know what to do ahead of time.

Safety defects and recalls explained

Service & Repair

Estimated Service & Repair cost: $3,000 per year.

Save on maintenance costs and do your own repairs.

Warranty Coverage

Bumper-to-Bumper

60mo/60,000mi

Powertrain

120mo/100,000mi

Roadside Assistance Coverage

60mo/unlimited

What you should get in your warranty can be confusing. Make sure you are informed.

Learn More About Warranties

Warranties Explained

Bumper-to-Bumper

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.

Powertrain

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.

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).

Free Scheduled Maintenance

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.

Other Years