- Smooth four-cylinder engine
- Upscale look and feel of interior
- Reasonably handsome exterior
- Doesn't steer as well as rivals
- Flat-feeling seats
- Fussy Bluetooth integration
The refined and roomy 2010 Hyundai Sonata lands solidly in the middle of a crowded field of mid-size family sedans, with just a little more value for the money than most of the rest.
Although the 2010 Hyundai Sonata still hangs in the second echelon of mid-size sedans, after well-known nameplates like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, there's no reason why it shouldn't be compared directly with those mainstays. The Sonata is an excellent package with well-coordinated styling, a spacious interior, and the usual choice of four-cylinder or V-6 engines. After a comprehensive mid-cycle refresh last year that included a new four-cylinder engine, a substantially redesigned interior, and an update of available tech features, the Sonata carries into 2010 with no significant changes.
Last year the Sonata got a light touch-up at the front and rear, with most of the sedan's sheetmetal carried over; that's fine as the Sonata is nicely proportioned, if a bit conservative. The Sonata gained a new interior last year, most notably refinished in soft-touch plastics and padded surfaces, with a matte-metallic finish that's comparable to what's used in Lexus vehicles and Hyundai's upscale Genesis. Overall, the feel is surprisingly sophisticated, though there are still a few hard finishes in places.
The 2010 Hyundai Sonata lineup is somewhat abbreviated compared with previous model years; the V-6 is no longer offered with the base GLS. Sporty SE and upscale Limited trims are still available with the four or the V-6. The 2.4-liter, 175-horsepower four-cylinder engine comes with with a five-speed manual or a five-speed automatic, but you'll be hard-pressed to find a stick. That's fine, as the four works just fine with the automatic; it's smooth in everyday driving with just enough torque for comfortable passing. The available 249-hp, 3.3-liter V-6 isn't that much quicker, with the Sonata feeling significantly heavier with this engine. Fuel economy ranges from 21/31 mpg for the four to 19/28 mpg with the six. Handling isn't quite as responsive and nicely weighted as you might find in the Mazda6 and Ford Fusion, but for ride and handling it does compare with the base Honda Accord and Toyota Camry models. Sporty SE models still manage an absorbent ride.
Ever since this generation of Sonata made its debut in 2006, interior space has been significantly better relative to other mid-size sedans. The front seats in any of the versions are quite comfortable but a bit flat, while in terms of backseat space the 2010 Sonata qualifies as a large car, like the Honda Accord, with the backseat contoured just right. Interior appointments in general feel high quality, with plenty of padded surfaces, and doors open and close with a solid sound. The high-mounted radio and climate controls are easy to use, and cup holders and storage abound.
The Hyundai Sonata earns five stars for front and side-impact safety from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) calls it "acceptable” for side impacts.
Electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, and side curtain airbags are included across the model line.
You don't need to step up beyond the base 2010 Hyundai Sonata GLS to get a well-equipped car. The GLS offers an AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio with USB and auxiliary jacks, air conditioning, cruise control, and a tilt steering wheel. A spoiler, 17-inch wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a power driver seat, and steering-wheel audio controls are all part of the sporty SE. The Limited gets a multidisc CD changer, a subwoofer/amplifier, and heated front seats. A sunroof and a navigation system are available, and the Sonata now offers an Infinity premium audio system. One area that disappoints is the low-rent Bluetooth interface on the GLS, which is mounted like a speakerphone on the headliner. No matter which model you choose, the warranty coverage is very strong: five years or 50,000 miles basic, and ten years or 100,000 miles on the powertrain.