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Driven: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Page 2

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While some in the High Gear Media editorial staff think the Sonata looks handsome and exciting, this editor is a little less enthusiastic about the exterior, which follows “fluidic sculpture” design language and, in my opinion, looks like it might age quickly. The interior is very nice, though, with a flowing theme that doesn't sacrifice usefulness. The Sonata's almost pillowy ride and quiet, isolated cabin are unexpected delights in such an affordable car.

Seats were just fine for this taller driver, and the backseat was also roomy enough, with plenty of legroom and just enough headroom. And we liked the base mesh-like cloth upholstery. There were plenty of storage places, as well as cupholders, though both of the front cupholders are a little deep for the normal (small) size coffee cups.

Achilles' Heel...er, elbow

The Sonata is pretty close to perfect. Until you consider the steering. Hyundai just hasn't figured out electric power steering yet; it's as if the gear is alright, but the software controlling how it responds with boost is still in beta. While steering straight ahead, on the highway, we had to make way too many minor adjustments and it felt somewhat light. Then, on a twisty stretch of canyon road, we found it not at all enjoyable. As we steered away from center the steering gains a sort of artificial digital feeling; when you need to turn the wheel quickly in the opposite direction—for tight switchbacks, for example—there's a moment when it feels feather light then reinstates that artificial heft in the opposite direction. It can be disconcerting, but for most people who don't take on the twisties every day, it's probably not a deal-breaker.

And otherwise, the Sonata is quite a deal. Our test car was a GLS model, adding the “Popular Equipment Package 3 Plus Navigation,” which includes HD Radio,  XM NavTraffic/Sports/Stocks, a touch-screen nav system, a speaker upgrade and subwoofer, in addition to upgraded door trim and alloy wheels. The total: a surprisingly low $23,365.

 
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