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Four-cylinder only--with a hybrid option kicker--the new Sonata sets a new benchmark for Hyundai, and earns High Gear Media's Best Car To Buy 2011 award for all its family-friendly features.
We're giving the 2011 Sonata a rating of 8 here for its exceptional safety ratings, its class-leading fuel economy, its well-conceived packaging and the flourish of free (okay, standard) stuff that comes with each one.
If you're used to shopping family sedans from Toyota or Honda, or even Chevy and Ford, the 2011 Hyundai Sonata will come as a surprise and as common sense. With a base price of just about $20,000, it's a huge value inside its show-stopping skin, starting with its roomy cabin. The Sonata's a mid-sizer by definition, but it comes this close to qualifying as a large car by EPA standards--something only the 2011 Honda Accord and the new 2012 Volkswagen Passat now manage. The Sonata's swoopy roofline wouldn't seem to use all of that space as wisely as it could, but somehow it does. Around somewhat firm, flat seats up front, the Sonata makes head and knee room a priority, and even short-legged, tall-torsoed drivers and passengers will find a sweet spot, thanks mostly to a telescoping steering wheel and long seat rails that let front passengers find an optimal position.
The back seat's no slouch either. There's still enough room, when those front seats are back at the end of their travel, for big adults to find their own cozy nook, with elbow room across even. Head room is where the Sonata can feel a bit pinched, but only for the XL-sized among us; three kids across are no problem for this American-built sedan, and the wide-cut rear doors give good access for mounting car seats. The trunk is among the larger ones in the class (the Taurus' vast trunk is several cubic feet larger, though) and the Sonata is positively littered with interior storage, molded into the door panels and the center console, which has a good-sized bin ahead of the shifter with a retractable lid, perfect for hiding cell phones out of sight.