The Sonata nearly matches the Ford Fusion’s array of entertainment features. Standard equipment on all models includes Bluetooth connectivity and steering-wheel audio controls; an MP3-CD player with iPod and USB connectivity; daytime running lights; a tilt/telescoping steering wheel; cruise control; and power windows, locks and mirrors.
The Sonata SE adds paddle shifters, a sport-tuned suspension, and some slight trim differences. Both the Sonata SE and Sonata Limited have parking sensors and push-button start. The Limited also gets standard heated front and rear seats; a sunroof; a backup camera; automatic climate control; and an automatic dimming rearview mirror.
Options are kept simple, bundled in packages. The base GLS can be upgraded to include a power driver seat and alloy wheels; the SE’s options include a nicely executed navigation system packaged with a sunroof. There’s also a new “Dimension” speaker package for some audio systems. The Sonata Limited adds on a CD changer and HD Radio, and can be equipped with an Infinity 400-watt audio system, bundled with the touchscreen-driven navigation system and the rearview camera.
The nav system includes XM NavTraffic and Bluetooth streaming audio, as well as 8GB of flash memory for music storage. We’ve spent a lot of time in the Sonata, and this system stands out as particularly easy to use. One feature we’d like to see updated, though: when you unplug your music player, the Sonata remembers your last song—but forgets if you’ve chosen a playlist or a feature like shuffle. Most other systems keep that info on hand, and it’d be appreciated here.
Pricing for the Alabama-built 2011 Hyundai Sonata will start at just $19,195 for the base GLS model equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission. Adding an automatic, the price rises to $20,915. Moving up to the SE model will run up a bill of $22,595, while the range-topping Limited model is available from $25,295. The 2.0T turbo version arrives later this fall with an estimated price range from $25,000 to $30,000; the Hybrid shows up before the end of the year with a price starting around $26,000 and nudging $30,000 in Limited trim, an extraordinary value that’s even better when federal and state incentives are included. A base Hybrid, with tax deductions like those that were applied to the Ford Fusion Hybrid when it was launched, would cut the Sonata Hybrid’s base price to about $22,000 for the first fortunate, smart shoppers.