Hyundai Sonata Test Drive Experiences
Considering a Sonata? Have you taken one for a test drive? Tell us about it.
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Handling: My experience was that the handling was good for me. On the back twisty roads it responded well and held the road. Much better than my current midsize Malibu. Better than the Camry's I've driven but not as well (or as tight) as the Accord's I've driven. I'd call it a good mix between holding the road and giving a touring type ride.
Engine noise level: I had an experience at one dealership in which the salesman brought the car up front and parked it where I was waiting. He showed me thru the car and explained features. The whole time the V6 engine was running and stupid me didn't realize it was. It was very quiet.
Cabin noise level: Seemed rather quiet. I didn't notice any of the thumping or road noise or gas sloshing that other's have talked about.
Transmission: I like the Shiftronic... the ability to manually shift it myself if I so choose. I did notice a 'downshifting' when I was drifting down a hill. I wanted it to just roll, and the transmission I guess decided that it wanted to downshift to hold down the speed as I was going downhill. ???
Heated seats: I took one test drive during the winter. Those heated leather seats felt really good! That would probably be good for the arthritis in my back.
I4 or V6: Even though the I4 had plenty of power, I did get it to really whine at one point, and my son riding with me felt that was wierd, but I will have to say that the Sonata I4 had more get-up-n-go than the V6 in my 2000 Malibu. The V6 in the Sonata was quiet, smooth and great exceleration for me.
Interior: I didn't have a big problem with the "Buick-like" center stack and dashboard, but I will admit that I like the 'look' of the center stack on some of the competitors better. A plus on the center stack, for me, was that my right leg rested really well against the center console, much better than some of the competitors. Some competitors, even though I like the look of the console, and stack, tend to force my right leg more to the left than is comfortable for me. The Sonata gave me a better 'resting place' for my right foot and leg. I took my wife with me on one of the test drives. She just LOVED the interior space in both the front and rear seats. Overall she loved the car... said it puts my Malibu to shame. As some others have complained about the length (front-to-back) of the seats, I will have to say that Hyundai could have lengthened the seat cushion another inch or two for us long leggers to give better support of the thigh. I'm 6'1" with a long torso. The headroom in the Sonata was wonderful for me, even with the sunroof. Would have liked to have seen power seat controls for the front passenger seat like on the driver seat.
Controls on the steering wheel: This has been a topic of debate for a long time on these boards. I will have to say to Hyundai, that if you are going to put audio controls on the steering wheel, please add a button to change channels/tracks.
Exterior styling: Acceptable. Mainstream conservative. Not radical. I could live with it.
I am definitely considering the Sonata. My purchase is 6 to 12 months out, and I'm hoping that Hyundai will add XM radio later in the model year.
I have seen various comments about shimmying etc. The first test model I drove vibrated badly above 60mph. The 2nd one did not.
After almost loosing control with my first Front Wheel Drive Car, a Turbo Dodge Colt 20 years ago, you never forget it. The Sonata however is a heavy full sized Car, and spins the rear tire, go figure?.
For those of you who haven't researched this car, the LX was the top-of-the-line model for 2006. The LX model name was changed to "Limited" for 2007, although the '06 LX and '07 Limited are identical cars (give or take a couple minor options/features).
The 2007 SE model is basically a Limited with cloth interior and an average stereo. The SE is mechanically identical to the Limited; both models have the 3.3L V6 and 5-speed shiftronic automatic transmission.
The SE and Limited models also share the same 17-inch alloy wheels and low-profile tires.
During the time I had the car, I recorded everything I observed. The car I rented had about 23,800 miles on the odometer when I picked it up.
After going through a full tank of gas (17.7 gallons), I had driven a total of 375.2 miles. This equates to 21.2 MPG average fuel economy. My driving was a mix of about 75% Highway and 25% City. I mapped out all my routes to determine what my driving mix had been.
On the Highway, I averaged between 75 to 80 MPH. On average, I passed a vehicle on the freeway every 5 to 10 miles. About half of my passing manuevers were full-throttle, and the other half were moderate while staying in 5th gear during some.
While I was driving in the city, the majority of my acceleration from stoplights/stopsigns was done at 3/4 to full-throttle, up to 40 or 50 MPH each time. I'd say that my driving style could be described as fairly agressive. I am a safe and considerate driver though - yes, I'm patting myself on the back becuase it seems I have to deal with the opposite every day here in Orange County, CA.
I noticed the ride was a little rough over bumps, dips, and road imperfections. It wasn't to the point of being uncomfortable, though. This is a natural tradeoff for better handling, and the car handled GREAT.
Most of the vehicles I've owned lately have been smaller cars, weighing between 2,500 to 3,000 pounds. My research shows the Sonata V6 models as weighing about 3,450 pounds, which makes it a pretty hefty car. I was worried the Sonata might not handle well, from experiences I had with larger cars in the past, but this was not the case with my rental Sonata SE.
The steering feeling was perfect, with good road feedback and was not over-assisted like a lot of cars. When I took twisting rollercoaster type ramps and junctions, the car felt like it was glued to the road and had very little body roll. If I hadn't known any better, someone could've told me I was driving a compact car and I wouldn't have questioned it for a second.
The car also had very strong acceleration, both off the line and passing. The quickest car I had driven was a 1996 Ford Thunderbird, which had a 4.6L SOHC V8. I had read reviews that my Thunderbird did 0 to 60 MPH in 7.5 to 7.7 seconds, which was pretty quick.
The Sonata felt substantially faster than my old T-Bird, which leads me to believe the road tests claiming 0-60 in 6.6 to 6.8 seconds are accurate.
After renting the Sonata SE, I love the car just as much as I suspected I would. I currently have a 2001 Accent with over 150,000 miles, and it is still running strong. As much of an unrefined and buzzy econobox as my Accent is, I will really miss my car because it has never let me down, even after all the countless times I've hit the rev-limiter on that little 4 cylinder engine.
For anyone who doubts Hyundai vehicles, I highly recommend you test drive or rent one.
What is the average fuel economy you are seeing with your car? I accelerated with the throttle wide open quite a bit, and I'm assuming the car will achieve much better fuel economy with more conservative driving. Although, I was pretty impressed to get 21+ MPG while driving so aggressively.
I forgot to mention how great the transmission was on my rental car. It shifted very smoothly, and was very intelligent in the way it clutched and held gears during acceleration on level and uphill grades. There was a slight hesitation with some full-throttle downshifts, which was so minor that it wasn't an issue for me, and the transmission never felt like it was confused.
Another thing I forgot to mention was the brakes. Very good stopping power, no noises or vibration during braking, and the pedal had a solid and confident feel.
I average 23 MPG with a mixture of 70% interstate and 30% in town. When I'm on the interstate and in the right lane I try and maintain a steady speed of 70 MPH. However, when I'm passing and it's clear ahead, I accelerate to 80 or 85 so as to spend minimum time in the passing lane. I also don't mess around when the light is green nor do I coast to red lights or stop signs.
Four months ago, when I drove 800 miles (95% interstate) to Virginia I averaged 28 MPG.
I have downsized from a 1995 Continental with the 4.6L DOHC 260hp V8. The Conti was pretty quick for a heavy 4000lb car and had measured 0 - 60 times in the low 7 seconds.
My 2 month old 2007 Sonata Limited feels much faster and handles very well. Also fun to drive around curves. Uses regular gas vs premium in the Conti. I have surprised many folks at stop lights. Car & Driver measured time of about 6.6 secs for 0 - 60 is quite accurate.
Styling is subjective, but for me, the Sonata is attractive while the Camry is not. I just can't get past the wart on the Camry's nose.
BTW that is a real smart idea. I have logged many miles in Sonatas (pre-2009) and gained an appreciation for them that way--much better than a 15-minute test drive. I get to drive a lot of rentals for work, and it's a good way to narrow down the field.
would not hesitate to buy a sonata.