The votes are in and, while it was close, the editors of TheCarConnection choose the Hyundai Sonata family sedan as the 2011Best Car to Buy 2011. Here at FamilyCarGuide, we know the competition was tough – all the finalists are incredible in their own right.
But the Hyundai Sonata just merits the accolade because of its high overall scores and the fact that its three models are available for sale right now. The closest competitor, actually its platform-mate, the Kia Optima family sedan, in hybrid form won’t be available until later.
There’s so much for families to like about the all-new 2011 Hyundai Sonata mid-size sedan, but a few stand out more than others.
Design – Gotta go with design as the first thing that strikes families about the Sonata. It’s an absolute stunner all the way around. Any doubt will be quickly dispelled by just comparing it side by side with the 2010 model. Fluid is an apt word to describe the design, all flowing curves and arcs. Is it too much for a family sedan? Not on your life. Just because it hauls the family doesn’t mean a sedan can’t be stellar in the design department.
By the way, that design element extends to the Sonata’s interior which some say may even be a bit too daring for family-sedan shoppers. Again, here at FCG, we think it’s perfectly appropriate. The fact that consumers can choose several trim levels to get what they want in terms of more high-tech (and more expensive) features is a reasonable compromise. As it is, the base Hyundai Sonata is pretty affordable and functional just as it is. The starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the base GLS is $19,195. Of course, it gets pricier for other trims: $22,595 (SE), $24,145 (SE 2.0T), $25,295 (Limited), $27,075 (Limited 2.0T). Sonata Hybrid is expected to start somewhere around $30,000.
Features – Speaking of features, let’s go with them next. Sonata for 2011 is jam-packed with them, so much so, that the sedan comes close to matching the Ford Fusion’s wide array of electronic goodies. What’s included as standard? There’s Bluetooth for wireless connectivity; tilt and telescoping steering wheel; steering wheel audio controls; CD-MP3 player with iPod and USB connectivity; power windows/locks/mirrors; cruise control, and daytime running lamps.
SE trim gets a few slight trim differences, plus paddle shifters and sport-tuned suspension. SEL and Limited have standard push-button start and parking sensors. Limited adds heated seats (front and rear), auto-dimming rearview mirror, backup camera and sunroof.
The touch-screen navigation system is particularly slick. It includes XM NavTraffic and Bluetooth streaming audio and 8GB flash memory to accommodate music storage.
Performance – Hyundai tweaked four-cylinder engines (instead of offering V-6 power) and came up with two outstanding performers. There’s the 200-horsepower 2.4-liter gasoline direct-injection four and the 274-horsepower 2.0T twin-scroll turbo. A six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission is available in GLS, with EPA-estimated fuel economy of 24 mpg city/35 mpg highway (manual) and 22/35 in automatic. The SE, Limited and 2.0T models are only available with six-speed automatic. EPA-estimated fuel economy in SE and Limited is the same as GLS (24/25). In 2.0T, EPA fuel economy is estimated at 22 mpg city/33 mpg highway.