CHANGES FOR 2008:
– Automatic headlamp control standard on GLS and Limited
– Chrome door handles standard on GLS, GLS V6 and Limited
– Air Quality System discontinued
– Black seat cloth added
– Rear centre head restraint added to all except GL five-speed
– Power driver’s seat and trip computer now standard on all except GL five-speed
– Six-disc CD with subwoofer and external amplifier standard on GLS and Limited
– GL V6 Sunroof Package discontinued
– GL with ABS Package renamed GL with Premium Package
– GLS V6 Premium renamed Limited
– Natural Khaki exterior colour added, Golden Beige discontinued
For 2008, the Hyundai Sonata remains unchanged mechanically, but undergoes some feature upgrades, with new package names. Model choices are now the GL, GLS and Limited.
The Sonata comes with a choice of 2.4-litre inline four-cylinder or 3.3-litre V6. The 2.4-litre comes with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission, while the V6 comes strictly with a five-speed automatic. Both automatic transmissions have Shiftronic manual mode.
The GL uses the 2.4-litre with five-speed manual, and includes 16-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, side and curtain airbags, active head restraints, front wiper de-icer, leather-wrapped wheel, power windows, power locks with keyless entry, heated mirrors, cruise control, and CD/MP3 stereo with six speakers.
The GL with automatic transmission adds telescopic steering wheel, rear centre headrest, power driver’s seat, trip computer and XM Satellite Radio.
The GL V6 is equipped similarly, but adds 16-inch alloy wheels, anti-lock brakes, fog lamps and wheel-mounted audio controls.
The GL with Premium Package uses the 2.4-litre and adds 16-inch alloy wheels, anti-lock brakes, fog lamps, and sunroof.
The GLS uses the 2.4-litre and adds 17-inch alloy wheels, wheel-mounted audio controls, heated leather seats, woodgrain or metal interior trim, sliding centre armrest, chrome grille, automatic climate control, six-CD/XM/MP3 stereo with seven speakers and external amplifier, and automatic headlamps.
The GLS V6 is similarly-equipped, but uses the single-CD/XM/MP3 stereo and does not have automatic headlamps.
The Limited comes only with the V6 engine, and includes all of the GLS features, plus electronic stability control, traction control, six-CD/XM/MP3 stereo with seven speakers, automatic headlamps, Homelink garage door opener and auto-dimming mirror with compass.
The Sonata remains a good value for the price: it’s tight and responsive, and even in four-cylinder configuration it offers brisk acceleration and quiet performance. Unlike many four-cylinder variations, it can also be ordered with numerous upscale features, although it would be nice to see ABS across the board, and stability control offered on more models.
The uncluttered styling borrows heavily from other manufacturers, and while it’s not outstanding, it’s a clean and attractive design. The Sonata is huge inside, so much so that Hyundai says the U.S. government classifies it as a “large sedan”; its interior volume is only 62 litres (2.2 cubic feet) less than a full-size Chrysler 300. Although the Azera tops Hyundai’s passenger cars at a relatively reasonable price, consider the Sonata first; its performance, features and price may well make it the better deal.