Sonata Injects Emotion, Advanced Powertrains and Superior Quality into Bland Segment
The new Sonata will launch with Hyundai's new Theta II GDI 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with a Gasoline Direct-Injection (GDI) fuel delivery system, which contributes to improved fuel efficiency and lower emissions. Sonata is the first midsize sedan to adopt GDI technology as standard equipment in a naturally aspirated powertain. This shorter, more direct path of fuel delivery, allows for greater control of the fuel mixture at the optimum moment, thus improving efficiency. The fuel is injected by a camshaft-driven, high pressure pump that operates at pressures up to 2,175 psi. Direct injection also utilizes a higher than normal 11.3:1 compression ratio for increased power. The pistons are "dished" to increase combustion efficiency in the cylinder. This powerplant will deliver best-in-class fuel economy, best-in-class four-cylinder horsepower and best-in-class torque.
Sonata delivers an impressive 23 mpg city/35 mpg highway estimated fuel economy rating* with the available six-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC
First Drive: 2011 Hyundai SonataCompletely redesigned for 2011, the Sonata is freshly styled and more spacious than its predecessor. It brings a few innovations to the game, including a new direct-injected four-cylinder power-plant mated to a six-speed automatic – yet it has no V6 option. We put a couple hundred miles on the new Sonata in San Diego. The weather was nice, but how was the car? Does Hyundai's all-new family sedan have what it takes to be an outstanding sweet in the candy dish?
Base price for the standard GLS model starts at just $19,195 (add $720 destination to all pricing), the sporty SE from $22,595, and the top-of-the-line Limited begins at $25,295. All models share the same engine, transmission choices, and full complement of safety equipment. To briefly summarize: The GLS starts with a manual transmission, cloth upholstery, manual seat controls, steel wheels, remote entry and a long list of power convenience equipment. An available "Popular Equipment Package" adds a power driver seat, 16-inch alloy wheels and interior trim upgrades among other things. The SE model starts with the automatic transmission, cloth upholstery, sport suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels and differentiating trim. The Limited models are fitted with leather upholstery, dual-temp climate control, a power-operated sunroof and 17-inch alloy wheels. Navigation with a high-res touch screen is also optional on all trim levels. Hyundai predicts about 60 percent of buyers will opt for the base GLS model, 10 percent will choose the SE, and the remaining 30 percent will step up to the Limited.
We'd be remiss to not discuss fuel economy, as the Sonata's left a huge impression on us. As mentioned, the EPA rates the automatic models we were driving at 22 mpg city and 35 highway. In usual fashion, we typically take those EPA number and subtract a couple points to get "real world MPG," right? Well, it seems the 2011 Hyundai Sonata is also out to dispel that age-old calculation. In our "real world" driving up and down the hills surrounding San Diego, the on-board computer calculated 37.8 MPG during the morning trip... and we could have easily pushed 40 MPG had we attempted some hypermiling tricks.
Fuel economy will undoubtedly draw consumers to the new Sonata. Others will be "emotionally connected" and impressed by the upscale styling and the spacious, modern interior. Some will take comfort in the automaker's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and the five-year unlimited-mile roadside assistance program. Many will be drawn by a window sticker that represents value. Regardless of the motivation, Hyundai has been very successful getting people to buy its products lately. Recent sales figures show its new introductions, both car and SUV, have all been very well received by consumers. The 2011 Sonata is yet another sweet addition to that proven lineup, and it's got a pretty hard candy shell to boot.
2011 Hyundai Sonata First DriveWith eight different model lines, one might hesitate to single out Hyundai's most important car. President and CEO John Krafcik, though, does not. "Sonata is the brand for Hyundai," he says. That explains why, for the new 2011 Sonata, Hyundai is spending twice what it did to launch the Genesis -- which was the brand's first-ever luxury offering and first-ever rear-wheel-drive car. Hyundai is betting heavily on this car, and the wager is likely to pay off. The new Sonata is at or near the top of its hyper-competitive class in a broad range of categories -- some you might expect (low price, fuel economy, light weight) and some you might not (power, torque, interior space, and driving dynamics).
Of all its competitive superlatives, perhaps the most predictable is "lowest price." Unlike Camry, Accord, Altima, Fusion, or Malibu, the base Sonata is able to limbo under the $20,000 bar, and even a fully loaded Limited (with navigation, back-up camera, and premium audio) tops out at just over $28,000. Flinty-eyed family-sedan shoppers will take notice, and with old objections like quality and residual value falling away, we'd be willing to bet that the impressive new Sonata will power past at least a few competitors in the mid-size sedan horse race.
Taking on Camry and Accord
First Impression: From now on, the Hyundai Sonata is the standard of measure among midsize sedans.
The SE's suspension also gets a mild firming-up compared to the 2010 version by way of higher-rate springs, a larger rear stabilizer bar and more rebound damping. Monotube rear dampers are fitted to the rear of SE models to help recoup some ride quality, while the full electric-assist steering is calibrated with a shade more effort than that of the GLS and Limited. But the SE is no hard-edged beast, as on the road it compromises little ride quality in exchange for its sportier bent.
It's clear that Hyundai is leaving no stone unturned in its quest to dominate the segment in every category, both objective and subjective. When it comes to size, dynamics, fuel economy, power, equipment and price, Hyundai has brought a howitzer to a gunfight. Our first brief fling with the Sonata suggests that it has the measure of the segment.
First Test: 2011 Hyundai Sonata SE“Never waste a good crisis.” With those words, Hyundai Motor America’s president and CEO, John Krafcik laid out the company’s current motto. And the South Korean mega-corporation is certainly making hay of the situation.
After years of playing catch up, and then a brief period of being equal to its foes, the Sonata is now the one to beat for mainstream refinement in the family sedan class.
2011 Hyundai Sonata - Driving ImpressionsNumber Cruncher: Does Best-in-Class Equal Best-on-Road?
To start, let's get one thing clear: we really liked the previous-generation Hyundai Sonata. First introduced in the U.S. for the 2006 model year, the Sonata's blend of fuel economy, spaciousness, performance, and value struck a chord with us every time a Sonata passed through the MT garage. In fact, in our last major midsize sedan comparison test, the 2009 Sonata SE finished second out of 10 entries, ahead of both Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. That's impressive. Our biggest complaint? The Sonata's uninspired blandmobile styling.
So, on initial impressions, the 2011 Hyundai Sonata SE seems to present a strong case for itself. On paper, it racks up enough best-in-class points to whoop the competition without breaking a sweat. On the road, we found the Sonata to be a strong contender with its bold new styling and a new sporty demeanor, but with arguably a little less grace and refinement than the outgoing model. How will the Sonata stack up against the rest of the midsize segment? There's only one way to find out. Be sure to watch this space for much more.
I've grown to like this car. I'd wouldn't mind daily-driving this.Attractive and fuel-efficient, the all-new Sonata raises the bar to a high level.
* Slick styling
* Upscale interior
* A momentum of quality
* Slightly compromised rear seat entry
* Engine noisy under hard acceleration
* A bit of wind noise at high speed
A bit of homage to Mercedes CLS and VW’s CC? Whatever, it works.
Mind you, it’s one thing for the Sonata to lead the field when several competitive models are getting long in the tooth. And it’s yet another to stay up front when new Accords, Camrys, et al are launched. Toyota, Honda, Ford, Chevy, Mazda and Nissan, however, need to pay heed: Your new models had better be darn good.
You’ve been warned.
They used to say the same thing about Toyotas and Hondas.No matter how great these cars are built and designed that big, winding, ugly "H" will always be there.
Too soon, too soon.According to Hyundai rep Miles Johnson, the automaker is currently working with the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration to resolve the issue in a timely fashion.
According to Johnson, the recall potentially affects up to 5000 vehicles, although only 1300 of those cars are actually in customers’ hands. The defect itself relates to the front door locks, which are designed to unlock when the interior door lever is pulled. If someone were to hold the lock while the door lever is being pulled, the door latch will stick in the open position, preventing the door from closing properly. In some cases, fiddling with the lock and door lever will reset the mechanism.
In any case, Hyundai is responding to a few formal complaints issued by customers. The problem was identified last week, and 2011 Sonatas are currently being manufactured with a revised latch design. Dealers will inspect both inventories and customer vehicles for latches that wear a “defective” code -- if found, the assembly will be replaced free of charge.
The revised parts are reportedly at dealers nationwide now, and says owners will be notified shortly. Hyundai expects all repairs – each taking an hour or so – to be made within a relatively short period of time.
Owners of 2011 Sonatas should contact their local dealers for more information.
Inside Line has learned that Hyundai plans to offer a direct-injected version of its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine in the U.S.-spec 2011 Hyundai Sonata. The engine, we're told by sources inside Hyundai, will be rated at 195 horsepower -- a significant bump over the 175-hp rating for the 2.4-liter in the current Sonata and more than Honda offers in the four-cylinder Accord EX.
In a nod to both fuel economy and performance, sources tell us there will also be an optional turbocharged engine, most likely the D.I. 2.4-liter with power in the neighborhood of 240-250 hp. This will make the Sonata one of only four turbocharged sedans in the midsize market along with the Subaru Legacy, VW Passat and VW CC.
Ford Ecoboost is going to be 2.0 liters and expecting to put down 220-240. insert ball hugging bias.
Breakthrough Lithium Polymer Batteries Leapfrog Existing Nickel-Metal Hydride and Lithium-Ion Technology
Hyundai's Hybrid Blue Drive is a proprietary parallel hybrid drive system that runs on the already fuel-efficient 2.4-liter Theta II engine (169 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 156 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm) mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission and a 30kW (151 lb-ft) electric motor for maximum fuel economy. Hyundai's Hybrid Blue Drive has an all-electric mode and a parallel drive mode. This means the wheels are turned by power coming directly from the gasoline engine, or the electric motor, or both together, as conditions demand. This parallel hybrid drive architecture will serve as the foundation for future hybrid drive vehicles to be developed by Hyundai.
In the Hyundai Hybrid Blue Drive system, the Theta II with multi-port fuel injection (MPI) operates on an Atkinson Cycle. Atkinson Cycle is a type of internal combustion engine strategy designed to dramatically increase fuel efficiency through changes in compression and power strokes in the four stroke engine. It is typically only used in hybrid systems where the high-torque electric motor boosts low-end power, which is traded off for internal combustion engine efficiency. By combining the electric motor and the Atkinson Cycle engine, the Hybrid Blue Drive system delivers best-in-class highway hybrid efficiency.
To further improve fuel economy, all of the Theta II major driveline and cooling system components have been optimized to reduce friction, while the crankcase has been filled with low friction oil. Hybrid Power Control (HPC) management software automatically shuts off the engine when the vehicle comes to a halt, cutting emissions to zero. When pressure is reapplied to the accelerator pedal, the Hybrid Starter Generator (HSG) automatically restarts the engine. This control strategy assures that maximum efficiency is achieved during gentle acceleration and greater power is immediately available during full acceleration. During deceleration, braking regeneration comes into play. Sonata Hybrid also features "smart brake" technology in which braking input over-rides accelerator pedal input.
The high-tech, all-aluminum, 16-valve engine also features Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) on both camshafts and newly developed engine components to reduce friction. This optimized Theta II engine achieves 10 percent better fuel consumption over a conventional Theta II engine.
Hyundai Hybrid Blue Drive uses the company's proprietary 6-speed automatic transmission rather than a conventional hybrid's CVT. Hyundai's strategy involves an adaptation of the modular 6-speed transmission, replacing the torque converter with an electric motor and high-efficiency oil pump. This technique uses a traditional step-shift 6-speed transmission rather than a CVT to provide a more traditional shift feel that is preferred by customers and sometimes artificially replicated in CVT applications. This saves on cost, making the Hyundai Hybrid Blue Drive system a better value. It is a more robust and elegantly simple solution to a complicated engineering challenge.
Fuel efficiency improvements are evident throughout Sonata Hybrid. For example, the top three gear ratios in the transmission have been extended to ensure the engine runs at lower RPMs, the electric motor-assisted steering system reduces demands on the engine, and low resistance tires further optimize fuel economy.
* Hybrid Blue Drive is made up of the following major components:
* An efficient 30kW electric motor delivering 151 lb-ft of torque
* A regenerative braking system
* An integrated starter generator that enables the engine to turn off at stops and restart automatically under acceleration
* A breakthrough lithium polymer battery package, with 5.3 Ah of capacity at 270 volts
* A fuel-efficient Theta II 2.4-liter engine
* 6-speed automatic transmission with an improved efficiency electric oil pump
* Weight-efficient architecture coupled with a low drag coefficient (.25 Cd target)
* Electric air conditioning compressor
* Hybrid power control unit
Just the Facts:
* IL offers early photos of the future Hyundai Sonata coupe.
* The midsize coupe is a logical addition to the Sonata lineup.
* Mechanically, the coupe would mirror the Sonata sedan.