The 2005 Hyundai Sonata will shortly be replaced by an all-new and completely redesigned 2006 model. That means the 2005 version comes in with very few changes, the most noticeable being the addition of the VE trim line. This becomes the top line on the four-cylinder model, and the mid-range line on the V6.

For 2005, Hyundai has also quietly dropped the 7-year/120,000 km powertrain it loudly introduced in 2004, returning the Sonata to 5-year/100,000 km coverage. Oddly, American buyers still get 10 years’ worth of powertrain warranty.

There is a choice of two engines, a 2.4-litre inline four-cylinder and a 2.7-litre V6. Those engines also power the two lower lines on the Santa Fe SUV; while the body panels are different, the Sonata shares its engines and underpinnings with the Kia Magentis.

In GL form, the four- and six-cylinder models share air conditioning, four-wheel disc brakes, CD/MP3 stereo with six speakers, cruise control, power heated mirrors, windows and locks with keyless entry, and speed-sensitive variable intermittent wipers. The four-cylinder gets 15-inch steel wheels, the V6 16-inch alloy wheels.

In VE form, the four-cylinder adds ABS and 16-inch alloy wheels; the V6 includes ABS and a power sunroof.

The top-of-the-line GLX V6 includes leather interior, eight-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, deluxe centre console and woodgrain interior trim.

As a quasi-luxury midsize sedan, the well-equipped Sonata is fair value for the dollar; although Hyundai’s top-line XG350 has a bigger engine, its ride and performance don’t necessarily justify the price difference. The Sonata doesn’t handle as well as its comparable but higher-priced Japanese rivals, but its 2006 version – the first Hyundai to be built in North America – might just change all that.

The 2005 Sonata is built in Asan, South Korea.

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