in 2009 Affordable Midsize Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $8,575 - $11,548
Original MSRP: $18,700 - $26,550
MPG: 21 City / 32 Hwy
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2009 Hyundai Sonata Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Test drivers find a lot to like about the 2009 Hyundai Sonata's updated powertrain and chassis, as the engines have more oomph but better gas mileage. The Sonata's suspension is also 10 to 15 percent stiffer, but reviewers say it still provides a comfortable ride. However, the new Sonata is not the best purchase if you're interested in a sporty performer.

  • "Both the four-and six-cylinder engines have received an influx of power, while raising fuel economy at the same time. That's worthy a thumbs-up any day." -- Edmunds
  • "Wind-noise suppression is good across the board. Neither the 4-cylinder nor V6 engine sounds especially refined, but both settle down nicely at idle and while cruising." -- Consumer Guide
  • "If anything … it felt a little boatlike. That's not necessarily a bad thing, because a smooth, soft ride is what many shoppers want. But if sportiness is important to you, the Sonata SE is no match for rivals such as the V6-powered Malibu." -- BusinessWeek

Acceleration and Power

The 2009 Hyundai Sonata delivers pleasing power, and reviewers like that both four cylinder and V6 models are more powerful for 2009. However, auto writers also report the Sonata's five-speed automatic transmission could use more fine-tuning.

  • "The 4 groans a bit when pushed hard, but it doesn't sound as if gasping for breath." -- Chicago Tribune
  • "The V6 brings a grin to the face, benefiting from a 15-hp increase over last year." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "In the V6-powered Sonata, acceleration from a dead stop is good, and there's plenty of oomph at highway speed. Punch the gas at, say, 55 miles per hour, and the car jumps." -- BusinessWeek
  • "The five-speed automatic transmission proved to be a weak link in this power train. It doesn't react particularly fast, even in manual mode, and it takes a while to find the right gear when stressed with hill climbs or passing." -- CNET
  • "Revised programming makes the transmission more responsive than in previous Sonatas, but it still lags behind its rivals for overall smoothness." -- Consumer Guide

Fuel Economy

The new Sonata might have increased engine power, but it also has lower fuel consumption. Most reviews state how fuel-efficient the four-cylinder and V6 are when compared with other midsize family sedans.

According to the EPA, the 2009 Sonata should achieve 21/32 mpg city/highway with the four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual. Opt for the five-speed automatic and the Sonata gets 22/32 mpg. At the top of the line, the V6-powered Sonata achieves 19/29 mpg.

  • "The Sonata now leads its main competitors in fuel economy." -- BusinessWeek
  • "No complaints about mileage. Hyundai had the third best fleet mileage rating last year (22.7 m.p.g.) behind only Honda (22.9) and Toyota (22.8)." -- Chicago Tribune

Ride Quality

Although Hyundai stiffened the suspension system in the new Sonata, the automotive press still found the soft ride quality they've come to associate with the automaker. While some reviewers appreciate this quality, others wish for more sport.

  • "Ride is about 10% stiffer than the past model but certainly won't put off any customers who like that soft feel." -- The Auto Channel
  • "The suspension is too soft." -- CNET
  • "The underpinnings are retuned for better ride and improved handling, the latter especially in the SE model." -- Motor Trend
  • "In terms of ride quality, the 17-inch wheel/tire combination makes its presence known on rough pavement, where the shorter sidewalls transmit more of the road's imperfections into the cabin." -- New Car Test Drive

Steering and Braking

For the most part, test drivers wish for better feel from the 2009 Sonata's steering, but they are pleased with the responsiveness of the car's standard anti-lock brakes.

  • "Steering is light and direct, with good on-center feel, directional stability." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "It smothers bumps well and delivers a luscious highway ride, but with significant body roll and vague steering, it won't be challenging sportier competitors like the Honda Accord or Nissan Altima to a corner-carving contest any time soon." -- Edmunds

Next Steps: 2009 Hyundai Sonata

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