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FEATURES | 9 out of 10
By the time you mix and match the trim levels, transmission and option packages, there are eight different models altogether. Base price for the standard GLS model starts at just $19,195 (add $720 destination to all pricing), the sporty SE from $22,595, and the top-of-the-line Limited begins at $25,295.
Speaking of navigation systems, Hyundai's is quite slick, with simple controls, an easy-to-reach touch-screen and crisp graphics. The upgraded sound system was also quite good.
Controls are fairly simple. Without the optional navigation system, our car has the easier-to-use radio; the touch-screen navigation system lacks a radio tune knob or preset hard keys.
The Sonata's infotainment controls are a little more complicated than previous Hyundai offerings, but they are still easy to use despite the increase in high-tech features like navigation, iPod control and Bluetooth.
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.
Entertainment options rival those in the Fusion, but most are bundled into expensive packages.