2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Limited with Navigation. Click image to enlarge
I really like the steering feel, which has decent weight to it. With a curb weight of just 1,517 kg, the car is very agile, and the electric power-assisted steering feels more organic rather than battery-powered. The sport suspension is stiffer than that of its non-turbo sibling. It feels tight and athletic on smooth asphalt, but turns harsh when it hits rougher sections of pavement. The brakes bite nicely and it’s a decent performer overall.
The fluid, redesigned body makes the 2010 Sonata look 20 years old by comparison. For the longest time, Hyundai models were primarily designed by cutting and pasting elements of other vehicles together. That’s no longer the case, and this bold styling is Hyundai’s alone. That said, it’s a shame that the 2.0T and 2.4-litre look the same while the Hybrid gets the aggressive, look-at-me open-mesh grille. That’s got much to do with cooling and aerodynamics, but still, the 2.0T’s powerful engine really deserves more of a fancy calling card to announce its arrival.
The inside looks as good as the outside. The Limited trim line swaps leather chairs for the stock version of cloth with leather bolsters, and all four outboard positions are heated. The heavily sculpted dash pivots down to a flowing centre stack that, on mine, included a navigation screen. The Limited’s dual-zone automatic climate control can be put on set-it-and-forget-it, or the vent modes can be tweaked via a little stick figure that’s pretty much swiped wholesale from Volvo. Unlike the Swedish company’s version, in which you press the corresponding body portion to vent air in that direction, Hyundai’s little guy is just a toggle switch, and you keep pressing him until you reach the draft you desire. Other controls are simple and easy to use, and the voice command system for the navigation listened attentively, deciphered correctly, and sent me to my destination.
The seats are comfortable and supportive, and there’s good legroom in the back. The rear seats lean forward for extra cargo space but don’t fall flat.
Features on the base model include heated seats, an eight-way power driver’s chair, Bluetooth, pushbutton start, sunroof, fog lamps, iPod port and a windshield de-icer. The Limited includes an auto-dimming rearview mirror, garage door opener, automatic headlamps, premium stereo, and the aforementioned auto climate and four heated seats. My tester’s navigation system swaps out the Limited’s six-CD stereo for a single-disc version and includes a back-up camera. The warranty is Hyundai’s standard 5 years/100,000 km on just about everything.
I hate to admit it, but I’ve been driving for quite a few years now. I started when the domestic “Big Four” (yes, Jeeps were still rolling off AMC’s assembly line) ruled the roadways. I watched them fall and the Japanese rise to take their place. And now I believe I’m driving into a future where Korean cars, once considered cheap throwaways, are not that far from first place. Powerful, efficient, intelligently priced and good looking, Hyundai’s Sonata 2.0T is certainly making an impression.
Pricing: 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T
Crash test results