2012 Hyundai Sonata Review

The Car Connection Expert Rating Breakdown?

8.6
on a scale of 1 to 10
Styling
8.0
Expert Rating
Performance
8.0
Expert Rating
Comfort & Quality
8.0
Expert Rating
Safety
10
Expert Rating
Features
9.0
Expert Rating
Fuel Economy
9.0
Expert Rating
Consumer Reviews
9 Reviews
2017
The Car Connection
2017
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
January 19, 2012

After more than a decade on the market, the latest Hyundai Sonata's an overnight success--thanks to great gas mileage, grabby styling, and exceptional value for the dollar.

It used to be a wallflower, but then the Hyundai Sonata bloomed. New in 2011 with daring styling and bristling with confidence, the Sonata has mounted a three-pronged attack on the mainstream four-door sedan market--and it's working. The Sonata's now one of the top sellers in the segment, fresh off an award-winning year and a nod as TheCarConnection's Best Car To Buy 2011.

The Sonata's intriguing blend of crests and curves sets it far apart from the blandness that colors the Toyota Camry and, maybe less so, the Accord, Passat, and Malibu. It may not stand the test of time as well as some designs, but for now, the Sonata's a calling card for the entire Hyundai brand. It's a clean break from the me-too past of Hyundai styling and it works well in many places--at the rear of the roofline and across the tail, it's clearly an homage to the Audi A6. Some other passages are a little knotty: the point at the side mirrors where five different panels join up is a noticeable wart, and not everyone here at HGM is a fan of the chrome spears that glint off the hoodline and front fenders. Inside, the styling's just as adventurous, with dramatic sculpturing across the dash and even on the steering wheel. A big LCD screen sits atop the dash and fits in well with the futuristic look. We prefer the metallic trim to the woodgrain on beige-interior cars, which looks out of place in the swoopy Sonata.

All Sonatas are four-cylinders, and the mass-market versions are 2.4-liter fours with up to 200 horsepower, direct injection, and a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. We haven't ever seen a manual-transmission base model; luckily, the automatic is perfectly appropriate for the class, and is a responsive, seamless gearchanger. It's rare to feel this version strain for power, since the front-drive Sonata weighs only a little more than 3,300 pounds, or a quarter-ton less than a Chevy Malibu. Highway mileage of 35 mpg gives the standard Sonata a standout selling point in the mid-size class.

Review continues below

Two alternatives exist to the base four. There's a turbocharged 2.0T model, with displacement dropped to 2.0 liters and horsepower boosted to 274 hp in all. The power surge is clear, and there's not much turbo lag--and as a bonus, the automatic transmission adds shift paddles, and in this instance, the manual shifter works with above-average smoothness. On paper it's quite a bit stronger than, say, a Buick Regal turbo, and Hyundai's estimates of 0-60 mph times of about seven seconds are strong for a model not really sold as a sporty alternative, but more as a V-6 alternative. With the added power, highway gas mileage is still rated at 33 mpg.

There's also a Hybrid edition, which pairs the 2.4-liter four with electric motors and a lithium-polymer battery pack, and a high threshold that allows the Sonata Hybrid to run on battery power alone at highway speeds. The Hybrid's unusual in that it uses a conventional automatic transmission instead of a CVT or an eCVT to change gears; in our experience, the shift quality between gas-electric and electric-only mode is lumpy, and needs more refinement to rival vehicles like the Camry Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid. Hyundai says this version will hit 60 mph in 9.2 seconds, well within the acceptable range for a family sedan, while delivering gas mileage of 34/39 mpg.

The Sonata's ride and handling are fine for the mainstream, but the steering responses could use more feedback and less wandering on the highway. We like the ride damping, which is set a little on the firm side even before the SE's monotube shocks and 19-inch wheels are added into the mix.

The firm ride is amplified a bit by the Sonata's firm seats. A roomy car, almost "large" by EPA standards, the Sonata provides soaring headroom and leg room in front, and an unusually long front-seat track so driver and passenger can have as much space as they need. The back seat sits at a good angle of recline, and only the tallest passengers will touch heads against the fabric headliner and the hard-plastic front seatbacks.

A Top Safety Pick according to the IIHS, the 2012 Hyundai Sonata has the usual standard safety equipment with a rearview camera available on top trim levels. Other standard equipment includes Bluetooth; a USB port; power windows, locks and mirrors; a tilt/telescoping steering wheel; and cruise control. SE and Limited editions add parking sensors and pushbutton start; the Sonata Limited also gets standard heated front and rear seats; a sunroof; a backup camera; automatic climate control; and an automatic dimming rearview mirror. New this year is Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system; like GM's OnStar setup, it uses live operators to provide information and directions, while also connecting the car via streaming data to the Web, which allows it to find destinations newer than the ones provided on its hard-drive-based GPS maps. Blue Link is offered in a few different packages, with tiered pricing; access to a Web site is bundled in, and allows drivers to set limits on the car's stereo volume, speed, and geographic distance from a certain point.

Continue Reading

The Car Connection Consumer Review

9 Reviews
5 star
67%
4 star
33%
3 star
2 star
1 star
Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
August 21, 2016
For 2012 Hyundai Sonata

My Sonata has provided me with reliable and safe transportation. Has a very large interior and trunk.

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
A very reliable car that is comfortable, good looking and relaxing to drive. Hugh trunk and good gas mileage.
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
August 8, 2016
2012 Hyundai Sonata 4-Door Sedan 2.0T Automatic SE

Sonata Love!

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
I love my 2012 Hyundai Sonata Turbo. The car has great performance. The interior is very spacious and the trunk has a lot of storage space. With the wide tires the Sonata gives a smooth ride.
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
January 8, 2016
2012 Hyundai Sonata 4-Door Sedan 2.4L Automatic Limited

I love my car and hope i enjoy a newer model just as much..

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
Totally satisfied with this car: its' performance, it's comfort, its many bells and whistles and also its' design. Love the car.
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
October 20, 2015
2012 Hyundai Sonata 4-Door Sedan 2.4L Automatic Limited PZEV w/Wine Int

You just can't beat all the features, luxury for the price.

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
Love everything about this car. Even though it replaced a Lexus it has nearly all the features and gadgets. Only passenger auto seat is missing but it adds rear heated seats few luxury cars even have. The only... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
June 13, 2015
2012 Hyundai Sonata 4-Door Sedan 2.0T Automatic Limited

Kudos on design, safety and reliability.

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
Excellent vehicle for highway driving it is responsive and get superb mileage 35+ mpg. Great technology for 2012 phone streaming and navigation plus blue link. I wish 2015 kept 2012 exterior design. LRR tires... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
April 30, 2015
2012 Hyundai Sonata 4-Door Sedan 2.4L Manual GLS

this is a great car

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
I love my 2012 hundai sonata. It's very big in the inside and I can fix the seat the way I want to but other than that Its a good car I would suggest any to to purchase a hundai sonata
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
April 28, 2015
2012 Hyundai Sonata 4-Door Sedan 2.4L Automatic Hybrid

Economic, fun to drive hybrid.

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
Unlike most hybrids, the sonata does not have a variable auto transmission, instead comes with a 6 speed auto which I prefer. when I hit the pedal, the trans down shifts and especially in the 30-60 range the... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
April 28, 2015
2012 Hyundai Sonata 4-Door Sedan 2.0T Automatic Limited

Good looks and great performance with turbo

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
Purchased new in 2011, have had no issues, great performance, good gas mileage and a lot of features. Plenty of room and fun to drive. Had windshield molding replaced due to crackling under warranty... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
April 13, 2015
For 2012 Hyundai Sonata

comfort and good gas milage.

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
Our Sonata is comfortable and reliable. A good car for the money.
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Compare the 2012 Hyundai Sonata against the competition
Compare All Cars
Looking for a different year of the Hyundai Sonata?
Read reviews & get prices
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area
See More Used