What it Is
2009 Hyundai Sonata – 2008 Chicago Auto Show: Like the little brother who’s actually bigger and maybe even better than his older sibling, the Hyundai Sonata is all about getting attention showing that it’s a serious player among the Accords, Camrys and Malibus. With this 2009 refresh, Hyundai has taken that small half-step toward building a sedan that competes against all competitors. Indeed, with added power and efficiency, an improved interior and a new grille, the Sonata has the right stuff to get noticed. On sale in February of 2008 and at a base price of $18,795, the Sonata is sure to get quite a bit of attention.Why it Matters
It’s all about choice when it comes to the mid-size sedan game, and the Sonata is a serious player in the game, thanks to larger interior proportions and a nice powertrain combination. Whether looking for four-cylinder efficiency or V-6 power, the Sonata delivers.
What’s Under the Hood
Refined engines seem to be all the rage for the 2009 model year, and the Sonata is no exception. The base 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine gets a modest power boost of up to 175 horsepower and 168 lb.-ft. of torque, while slightly improving its efficiency. The four-cylinder is also a PZEV-rated engine in California and the other “green” states, meaning that it’s one of the cleanest-running engines on the road today. The 3.3-liter V-6 is also improved, to 249 horsepower and 229 lb.-ft. of torque. Transmission changes include a five-speed automatic available on both engines. Additionally, the Sonata gets mild suspension upgrades intended to improve the ride and handling of the sedan. The Sonata SE now comes standard with 17-inch wheels and tires.
What it Looks Like
Hard as it may be to believe, the Sonata actually looks more mainstream than before. That’s not a negative, mind you: the Sonata is bigger, and its sheetmetal design is therefore more planted, with a conservative-yet stylish side profile and a grille that says, hey – this ain’t no Honda, bub.
A new instrument panel will wow! you as long as you like the execution of the Veracruz, with its blue hue lighting and soft-touch materials. That’s nice, but what looks to be the neatest thing of all is the fact that Hyundai’s iPod integration unit will be standard across all trims. Just plug in and play through your car’s audio system for true mp3 integration. With Bluetooth and steering-wheel mounted controls, Hyundai is one step closer to Sync Town. Also new is the inclusion of navigation across the Sonata lineup.
What Hyundai Says
Hyundai would like you to believe that the Sonata is bigger than the 2008 Honda Accord where it counts – the interior – and that it’s more powerful and efficient, all while improving its appeal with a matured sheetmetal design and an upgraded interior.
What We Think
We kept waiting for the Sonata to be a really hit it, but somehow it missed the mark with car buyers. By all appearances, this time they’ve hit the bull’s eye. Look for it at dealerships starting in February.
By Brian Chee
Photo credit: Hyundai Motors of America