2011 Hyundai Sonata
2011 Hyundai Sonata Limited
2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
2011 Hyundai Sonata, 2011 Hyundai Sonata Limited, 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

Review by Justin Pritchard

Vehicle Type: Mid-size sedan

History/Description:  There’s an all-new Sonata arriving at Hyundai dealers for model year 2015, meaning the 2010 to 2014 generation of this breakout family sedan is now officially transitioning into used-car territory.

Hitting dealers in 2010, this generation of Sonata saw new styling, a more-upscale-than-ever cabin and a lineup of more fuel efficient powertrains appeal strongly to shoppers after the latest and greatest in the affordable family sedan market. Key competitors were the Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu, Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion and Mazda6.

Equipment included a premium, partially digital instrument cluster, advanced navigation system, proximity key with push-button start, full multimedia connectivity, heated leather seating, paddle shifters, a sunroof, automatic climate control and more. A 400-watt Infinity stereo system was available on high-end models, and a standard array of advanced safety features, as well as a crashworthy body structure, helped the model earn top marks in crash-testing exercises.

Further, some models got an Active Eco system which helped drivers to save fuel when engaged by reducing throttle response and altering transmission characteristics to promote more fuel-efficient driving.

Engines / Trim: There was a Sonata for almost any shopper, taste or lifestyle. Hyundai’s Theta II four-cylinder engine with Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) technology offered up 198 standard horsepower from the 2.4L four-cylinder engine option, running on regular-grade fuel. A six-speed automatic transmission and Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (D-CVVT) helped the powerplant to promise leading fuel mileage and output higher than virtually any four-cylinder competitor.

Adrenaline-seeking shoppers can opt for the Sonata 2.0T, which packs a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine instead of a traditional V6 to deliver 274 horsepower. Despite packing more power and torque than nearly any V6-powered competitor, the GDI turbo engine claimed mileage figures better than many of its competition’s four-cylinder non-turbo offerings.

Shoppers of the atmospherically responsible variety can check out the Sonata Bluedrive Hybrid. With an advanced battery pack and electric motor system aiding the non-turbo four-cylinder engine, shoppers could expect mileage as low as 4.9 L/100 km. From 2013, various upgrades to battery technology, hardware and programming made the Sonata hybrid even more powerful and fuel efficient.

What Owners Like: Relative bang for the buck, overall value, a sense of on-board space and a gutsy four-cylinder base engine were all rated highly by owners. The upscale-looking cabin, abundant at-hand storage and quiet, smooth and comfortable ride helped round out the package. Apparently, the Sonata Turbo is a real riot to drive, too.

What Owners Dislike: Some owners wish for more steering feel, a faster reacting manual-shift mode, and a more pleasing sound from the engines, which tend to sound dull and uninspired when pushed. Other complaints include a fussy navigation system and busy exterior styling that isn’t for everyone.

Here’s a look at what some owners are saying on autoTRADER.ca.

2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

The Test Drive: Though finish durability is largely a function of maintenance, care, climate and the environment in which the unit is driven, some owners have reported peeling or fading paint far earlier than expected, so start a test-drive will a full and thorough walk-around. Scrutinize the condition of the paint at the front edge of the hood and bumper, and call excessive wear into pricing negotiations. Further, check around the inner and lower edges of the doors, hood and trunk for signs of sneaky rust.

If equipped with push-button start, ensure the system works with all available key fobs.

Numerous owners have complained of a difficulty in keeping this generation of Sonata centred in their lane at highway speeds. Here’s some reading. The problem looks, mostly, like the calibration of the model’s steering system – which is light, lazy, and has no on-centre feel. Add in the soft suspension and a little road crown or side-wind, and you may have to frequently adjust the position of the Sonata within its lane. Some owners have had the dealership reprogram the steering system to be stiffer as a fix. Note that a bad alignment, typically evidenced by uneven wear across the treads of the tires, could also result in vague steering feel.

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