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2011 Hyundai Sonata Review

MPG-o-Matic 2011 Hyundai Sonata Review Summary:
2011 Hyundai Sonata wraps a remarkably fuel-efficient gasoline direct injected (GDI) 2.4-liter inline four with a host of technology in a head-turning California-bred design. The competition has been put at notice. Hyundai’s stylish sedan has leapt to the front of the pack.



The front-wheel-drive 2011 Hyundai Sonata Limited is equipped with a Gasoline Direct-Injected 2.4-liter four cylinder engine producing 198 horsepower (HP) and 184 foot pounds of torque. The DOHC CVVT (Continuously Variable Valve Timing) inline four can be mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The Sonata is also available in turbocharged and hybrid form.


The official fuel economy estimates for the 2.4-liter Sonata Limited are 22 city / 35 highway with the automatic and 24 / 35 with the manual.

We covered roughly 500 miles in our automatic-equipped Venetian Red review unit and easily dispensed the official mileage estimates, scoring an eye-opening average of 39.5 MPG on the Interstate highway and 29.9 MPG combined in mild spring weather, with temperatures ranging from the mid-fifties through the high-seventies.

Interstate highway testing temperatures were in the high-sixties. The test vehicle was equipped with 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels and P215/55R17 tires, and delivered with just under 9500 miles on the odometer.

Interstate Mileage Testing:

  • Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off/heat on, windows up: 40.6 MPG
  • Cruise control off, target speed 60-72 MPH, A/C off/heat on, windows up: 38.4 MPG

The naturally-aspirated GDI engine does an admirable job off the line, although more performance-oriented drivers will likely opt for the turbo model. The Sonata’s curb weight falls in the neighborhood of 3200 – 3300 pounds. (3,161 lbs. for the manual and between 3,199 and 3,316 lbs. for the automatic.)

The 18.5 gallon fuel tank allows for an excellent highway driving range when driven conservatively. The Sonata is designed to run on regular unleaded gasoline.

The Sonata’s four-wheel ABS disc brake system uses 11.8-inch vented front and 11.2-inch solid rear discs, along with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution.

The monochrome trip computer provides two trip meters, distance to empty, average fuel consumption, and real-time fuel economy displays, along with an Eco indicator. As always, we recommend driving with the real-time display active, in order to develop a light-footed fuel-sipping driving style.

The six-speed automatic includes a slap-stick SHIFTRONIC manual mode. An overdrive sixth gear proves to be extremely fuel-efficient out on the open road. Steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters are standard in the SE model, but are not available in the Limited.

Ride and handling are smooth and stable, although certainly not sporty. While the Accord and Camry were clearly targets, The Sonata Limited feels a bit like a modern Buick. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The Sonata Limited features leather seating surfaces and an eight-way power driver’s seat with two-way power lumbar support. Front seats have two-level heating. The unique leather-wrapped steering-wheel is fitted with a full gamut of controls.

Our test unit was equipped with the Limited Navigation Option Package, which includes:

  • Touchscreen LCD
  • 10-speaker 400-watt Infinity audio system with Subwoofer and XM Satellite Radio, XM NavTraffic, XM Sports and XM NavWeather (free 90-day subscription)
  • Rear backup camera

Bluetooth is standard and the system supports mobile phone book downloads.

There are two twelve-volt outlets at the base of the dash at either side of the USB input and auxiliary input jack.

iPod support is excellent, with access to playlists through the touchscreen.

The second row seats provide 37.8 inches of headroom and 34.6 inches of leg room. Taller passengers will find things to be tight. Second row seat heaters (single-level) are standard in the Limited model and welcome surprise at this price level. (Second row heated seats are not available in the GLS or SE models.)

The Sonata’s trunk provides 16.4 cubic feet of storage. The 60/40 rear seats fold down to accommodate longer items. The fold-down latches are trunk-mounted.

All-in-all, the California-designed and Alabama-built 2011 Sonata represents a huge step up for Hyundai as a formidable challenger in the mid-size to large sedan market. The Honda Accord and Toyota Camry have been put at notice. The Sonata’s slick design, excellent fuel economy, generous warranties and host of features have ensured a well-deserved surge in popularity.

Parts Content Information
US/Canadian Parts Content: 41%
Major Sources of Foreign Parts Content: Korea – 58%
Final Assembly Point: Montgomery, Alabama
Country of Origin:
Engine – USA
Transmission – Korea

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1 comment so far ↓

#1 L4fan on 04.03.12 at 9:33 pm

This 2.4 GDi engine has more power than luxury cars from 5-8 years ago, that people would call ‘cutting edge’ back then. Think about it with nearly 200 hp and 180 some odd pound feet of torque thats more than old Mercedes from the mid 2000s. Those cars barely broke 20-24 mpg tops if you really went gentle on them. But then again, why buy a luxury car and not be able to use some of that power now and then. With these modern engines you get way better mileage and more power. Nice work to all manufacturers working on the engines of the future!

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