2008 Hyundai Sonata Performance
This performance review was written when the 2008 Hyundai Sonata was new.
The 2008 Hyundai Sonata is praised for having adequate power, decent fuel economy, an impressive braking system, and a smooth ride. Still, stubborn shifting and poor steering road-feel detract from an overall solid performance. Edmunds assesses, "The Sonata's well-tuned suspension smothers the bumps and keeps its composure in turns without drama." It continues, "Overall, the ride feels surprisingly refined, and even at very high speeds, the Sonata's cabin remains quiet. Braking performance is impressive for this segment, with stopping distances from 60 mph taking less than 130 feet." The 2008 Hyundai Sonata is available in both a four-cylinder and V6 engine. Our own U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman asserts that altogether the Sonata's handling is both "firm and comfortable."
Acceleration and Power
The Sonata is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 162-horsepower and 164 pound-feet of torque. When equipped with a manual transmission, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates the Sonata's city/highway fuel economy to be 21/31 miles per gallon with the four-cylinder engine and a manual transmission. Fuel efficiency for the automatic is roughly the same -- the calls it "decent." Nevertheless, Consumer Guide reports that the four-cylinder is "weak from a stop" and "lacks reserve power for confident passing."
The Sonata has an optional 3.3-liter V6 engine that pumps out 234 horsepower and 226 pound-feet of torque. The EPA sets their city/highway fuel economy at 19/28 mpg. Altogether, Edmunds refers to the V6 as "refined" -- adding, it's "obviously the more responsive of the two." Kelley Blue Book agrees, claiming that the V6 equipped powertrain is "the best partnership under the hood" and that "it isn't hard to coax the V6 Sonata into having a little fun." To complete the powertrain, the GLS and SE come standard with a five-speed manual transmission, but a four-speed automatic is optional for the base trim. The Limited receives the four-speed automatic standard, and both the SE and Limited have the option for a five-speed automatic transmission.
While Edmunds reports that "automatic transmissions are fussy in manual-shift mode," Kelley Blue Book claims that the "five-speed automatic transmission shifted smoothly and responded quickly to manual commands." The truth more than likely lies with Consumer Guide's assertion that "both transmissions shift smoothly, but hesitate briefly before downshifting." MSN also notes, "The automatic's shifter is notchy during normal operation, as when moving it from Park to Drive."
Handling and Braking
Every 2008 Sonata features power rack-and-pinion steering -- which the Edmunds agrees, reporting "poor road feel through the steering wheel." Noting that "the Sonata is a family car, not a sports sedan," MSN boasts, "but its speed-sensitive steering is quick enough and handling is surprisingly good." Nevertheless, auto writers generally agree that the Sonata's poor road-feel still detracts from the overall driving experience.describes as being "too light" and "disconnected from the road."
Run on a front-wheel drive configuration and featuring a four-wheel independent suspension, the 2008 Sonata receives accolades for what Edmunds calls its "smooth ride." "The improved chassis architecture allowed for a much more solid, secure feel than expected as we consumed the twisty mountain roads outside of San Francisco," says Motor Trend. "The four-cylinder will better suit more level geography although it certainly is powerful enough to handle anything you want it to do," asserts BusinessWeek. Nevertheless, the V6 is still "the best all-around choice." Kelley Blue Book explains, "The Hyundai Sonata drives like a small car. On the plus side, that means more nimble and confident handling. On the flip side, that means a ride less insulated from rough roads." For what it is, however, reviewers appear to be, on balance, impressed.
All Sonatas come equipped with standard four-wheel disc brakes, as well as a four-channel, four-sensor Anti-lock Brake System (ABS). Moreover, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and a Traction Control System are standard. MSN reports that although the brake pedals may initially feel "too sensitive," it doesn't take too long to get accustomed to them. The adds, "Braking from the four-wheel anti-locks is solid, too."