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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
drives like a small car
Kelley Blue Book
more usable power from a stop
Smothers bumps well and delivers a luscious highway ride
You won't mistake the driving experience of the 2010 Hyundai Sonata for that of a luxury car or a sport sedan, but considering its low price and emphasis on space, comfort, and features, you're bound to be pleasantly surprised with the way the Sonata performs—especially with the refined and fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine.
GLS, SE, and Limited trims are offered for the 2010 Hyundai Sonata. All come standard with a 2.4-liter, 175-horsepower four-cylinder engine that “goes from 162 horsepower to 175 (green states get a PZEV rated I-4 still good for 168),” according to Motor Trend. “That'll play just fine with Camry (158), Accord (177), and Malibu (164).”
A manual five-speed gearbox is available on four-cylinder Sonatas, while all others feature a new five-speed automatic that “comes with a manual shift mode that’s operated by moving the shift lever back and forth in a special gate,” MyRide.com reports. “We found it worked well enough, but not so much that we found ourselves relishing the experience.”
TheCarConnection.com’s impression of smoothness and zip in the new four-cylinder is confirmed by ConsumerGuide reviewers, who remark that the new four has “more usable power from a stop.” A 3.3-liter V-6 with 249 horsepower has 13 more ponies this year on SE and Limited versions, but as Motor Trend notes, it “can come to the party, but not lead it.” ConsumerGuide adds, “the V6 is still quite strong, providing snappy takeoffs and good passing response.”
At 22 mpg city, 32 highway, the four-cylinder is a very fuel-efficient choice. The V-6 with a five-speed automatic is also impressive, delivering 19/29 mpg. Edmunds calls the fuel economy “good for the family sedan segment.”
Overall, the 2010 Hyundai Sonata handles pretty well, but it's no revelation. Kelley Blue Book comments that it "drives like a small car," which "on the plus side...means more nimble and confident handling," but "on the flip side...means a ride less insulated from rough roads." ConsumerGuide reports that "the suspension struggles to balance control and comfort," noting that the Sonata "is compliant over small surface imperfections, but it reacts harshly to sharp bumps and ridges." Edmunds says it “smothers bumps well and delivers a luscious highway ride, but with significant body roll and vague steering, it won't be challenging sportier competitors like the Honda Accord or Nissan Altima to a corner-carving contest any time soon.”
The 2010 Hyundai Sonata performs well enough for most sedan buyers, but it's not especially inspiring.