- Value, value, value
- Exterior styling
- Overall presentation
- Strong warranty protection
- Interior could be better finished
- Could be quieter
If you can live without top-level refinement and the absolutely latest technology, 2008 Hyundai Sonata is a fine little mid-size sedan, and considering its price, a genuine value.
The 2008 Hyundai Sonata is the latest version of the Sonata, completely revamped for the 2006 model year. It's a generically handsome vehicle with some strong character lines, although editors from TheCarConnection.com don't quite know from where Hyundai took its inspiration. As a company, Hyundai doesn't have a long or good design history to draw from.
Regardless, the 2008 Sonata is good-looking, outside and in. Its proportions are well balanced, and its detailing is pleasant, if not remarkable. The two-tone interior of high-line Sonata models is easy to like, and the placement of controls is fairly straightforward. The base Sonata GLS has nice cloth inside, and the seats are comfortable. However, there are some minor issues having to do with materials quality and more road noise than most editors like to hear.
The 2008 Sonata comes in three models; GLS, SE, and Limited. Every model can be had with an efficient 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 162 horsepower. Hyundai's 234-hp, 3.3-liter V-6 is a reasonably priced option. The Sonata used to be a V-6-only car, but with fuel prices as they are, Hyundai saw an opportunity. The high-mileage combination of the 2.4-liter/five-speed manual transmission generates 21 mpg city/31 mpg highway. The V-6 with a five-speed automatic is impressively efficient, delivering 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway.
On the road, the 2008 Hyundai Sonata rides well and is agile enough. The car compares well to the base Honda Accord and Toyota Camry models, but falls a bit short on beating out their higher-line editions in terms of refinement and quietness.
All 2008 Sonata models include stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, and side curtain airbags. Performance in government crash tests was good, and the IIHS crash results earned this sedan an "acceptable" rating.
Every 2008 Hyundai Sonata includes these standard features: AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio, air conditioning, cruise control, and a tilt steering wheel. Moving up to the SE adds 17-inch alloy wheels with 55-series tires, a spoiler, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a power driver seat, along with a five-speed automatic transmission on the V-6 models. Also included on SE models are steering-wheel audio controls, chrome trim, a telescoping steering wheel, and a trip computer. The 2008 Sonata Limited picks up a multidisc CD changer, a subwoofer/amplifier, a power driver seat, and heated front seats. The sole option is a sunroof. Obviously, Hyundai isn't making a name for itself by outdoing the competition in luxury or gadgets. Hyundai (like Kia) is focusing on offering a solid vehicle at a terrific price.
Hyundai also backs it the 2008 Sonata with a 5-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, plus a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty on the powertrain. This excellent coverage goes a long way toward addressing quality concerns over this Korean mid-size sedan and shifting the opinions people have.
As in several other classes of vehicle (for example, the subcompact car and compact SUV), the Toyota and Honda entries are the benchmarks. The Toyotas tend to be more comfort oriented, while the Honda models drive with a sportier élan. This generalization holds true in the mid-size sedan class. About the only ding to either car is that the styling of their current generations hasn't won wide acclaim. Toyota gets a green star because it offers a hybrid-powered Camry, and the Hyundai does not.
While the Toyota and Honda entries top the mid-size sales charts, there are other consideration-worthy mid-size sedans from Nissan and Ford. Both the Altima and Fusion possess a sporty driving personality similar to the Honda. The Ford's quality ranks with Toyota's. The Nissan Altima offers some unique powertrain solutions, including the availability of a continuously variable transmission and a hybrid powertrain. Like the Accord, there is also an Altima Coupe.