Question: I’m trying to decide if I should buy a Honda Accord or Hyundai Sonata. I want leather seats, but fuel efficiency and safety are also important to me. I’m also concerned about the long term cost to maintain the car. Can you help me decide?
Yesterday we saw how both the Honda Accord EX-L and Hyundai Sonata Limited have almost identical features. Each has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, leather seats, premium sound, and tons of other luxury amenities.
Safety features are almost identical, too. From electronic stability control to side curtain air bags, each car is at the top end of the safety scale. The Accord gets a slightly better NHTSA crash test rating than the Sonata. The Accord receives a perfect five-star crash test rating in each category. The Sonata received one four out of five crash test rating; the rest—similar to the Accord—were perfect.
Even the fuel economy ratings for each model were similar. The Honda Accord came in at 23 mpg/city and 34 mpg/hwy. The Hyundai Sonata was rated at 22 mpg/city and 35 mpg/hwy.
What are the major differences between the Accord and Sonata? Warranties are one; price is the other.
When Hyundai attempted to change its reputation from that of a mediocre car maker to one that built a product that could stand the test of time, one of the first changes it made was to ramp up its quality control. The second was to seriously extend its warranty program. As a result, the Hyundai warranty is longer than almost any other car maker on the planet. And it’s one of the major differences between the Accord and the Sonata.
The Accord has the standard Honda warranty: the limited warranty (known as the bumper-to-bumper warranty) is three years/36,000 miles. Hyundai’s limited warranty is five years/60,000 miles. Honda’s powertrain warranty on the engine and transmission is five years/60,000 miles. Hyundai’s is 10 years/100,000 miles.
The difference in warranties is significant and has a direct impact on long term maintenance costs. For example, it’s not unheard of to receive a $3,000 to $4,000 bill if serious transmission problems arise as a vehicle ages. There is a big difference in a car owner’s cash flow if that bill is covered by the original manufacturer’s warranty versus being put on a credit card.
The other significant difference between the Honda Accord and Hyundai Sonata is the Manufacturer’s Suggest Retail Price (MSRP). The Accord’s MSRP is $27,355. The Sonata’s sticker price is $25,295. That’s a difference of $2060, and a major advantage for the Sonata.
Car buyers will have to answer this question themselves: are there enough differences between the two cars to justify a two thousand dollar difference in price. The answer will probably come down to two distinct concerns: 1) the overall impression of each car: the stylish Sonata or the more conservative Accord, and 2) the test drive.
The bottom line is that these are two great cars: safe, affordable, and with lots of features. You can’t go wrong no matter which one you choose. The Honda name will sway some; the Hyundai price and warranty will sway others. Good luck in your choice.