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2006 Hyundai Sonata

2006 Hyundai Sonata Review

by Bob Plunkett

Hyundai, the largest car company in South Korea, invests in North America with a new $1.1 billion Alabama assembly plant, a vast technology and engineering center located in Michigan, $30 million worth of studios for research and design in California, plus a $50 million test track pitched in the Mojave Desert.

2006 Hyundai Sonata

As a result, many of the vehicles in Hyundai's extensive line slant directly toward the American market - such as a new generation of designs for Sonata, a four-door and five-passenger sedan which is the first Hyundai to come out of that Alabama factory.

Consider the Sonata for 2006 completely new in size, style and mechanical components. It fits in the mid-size sedan class, although generous space in the five passen-ger compartment seems more like the cabin of a large-size car.

Two new engines were developed for Sonata through three different trim grades - all stocking extensive equipment for safety. Hyundai applies aggressive price points for all trims. MSRP leader is the entry issue Sonata GL, listing for $17,895 with a four-cylinder engine and standard five-speed manual shifter. Middle model Sonata GLS with the four-cylinder engine and a four-speed automatic tallies to $19,395, or $20,895 with the V6 upgrade and a five-speed automatic. Top tier Sonata LX, packing the V6 plus lots of luxury goods including leather, starts at $22,895.

Then Hyundai supports each new Sonata with a warranty which goes beyond the protection for other vehicles -- the powertrain insured for 100,000 miles and a 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper shield against defects plus unlimited mileage for a roadside assistance program.

With body styling drawn now in the mainstream of designs, a high content in comfort features, extensive safety equipment, the generous warranty program and prices whittled to keen low points, Sonata for 2006 makes a persuasive case for inclusion on any sedan shopper's list.

The new structure for Sonata is considerably larger and far more sophisticated than the predecessor. It measures several inches longer and taller and half an inch wider, with the wheelbase stretched out 1.1 inches longer and the wheel track 1.4 inches wider in front and 1.2 inches in back.

Styling of the body is clean and simple with a smooth front fascia setting off bold contours on a concave-dimpled hood dome follow-ed by a windshield raking high to an arching brow of the roof. Four-point projector headlights mount in slit-eye clusters on corners of the prow, separated by a streak of chrome capping the grille.

Sonata's side view reveals a beltline that's nearly level above rolled shoulders and curvy door panels with large round wheelwells added to house big wheels and tires. Windows rise high to meet the arching roofline with support frames and middle pillar in black to blend with a dark tint of the glass and kindle the image of a sporty coupe.

A brief decklid on the rump-side trunk conceals the compartment's generous interior dimensions - there's more than 16 cubic feet of cargo space in there. The passenger compartment also seems big - but it is, as Sonata's riders will find far more room inside than on the previous edition. Headroom increases by more than half an inch, legroom in the back seat improves by 1.2 inches and there's as least an inch more room at the shoulder level of rear riders.

Layout of the cabin shows a pair of bucket seats up front flanking a floor-mounted console and a broad bench in back with two articulated seat positions but room for three. The rear seatback splits 60/40 in sections and both fold forward to expand cargo room in the trunk.

Driver's seat faces a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an instrument cluster containing analog gauges with a large speedometer in the center spot ringed by chrome.

2006 Hyundai Sonata

Stow spots are scattered around the cabin - map pockets mounted on the front doors, the center console with integrated cupholders and cubbyholes, a hook in the footwell of the right front seat that flips out to hold a handbag, a fold-down armrest in the rear seatback which houses more cupholders in a pop-open section.

Sonata powertrains line up as a 2.4-liter aluminum four-pack with CVVT (continuously cariable valve timing) or Hyundai's new Lambda V6, a 3.3-liter plant also with CVVT.

The in-line-four Theta engine produces 162 hp at 5800 rpm plus torque of 164 lb-ft at 4250 rpm. The Lambda V6 romps with 235 hp at 6000 rpm and 226 lb-ft of torque at 3500 rpm. On the 2.4 plant a five-speed manual is standard for Sonata GL with a four-speed Shiftronic automatic optional. The V6 that's optional on GLS and stock for LX ties strictly to a new five-speed Shiftronic automatic.

For responsive handling as well as a comfortable ride quality, Sonata employs a four-wheel independent suspension system with double wishbone design up front and a multi-link arrangement in back. The rack and pinion steering mechanism brings a direct touch with power boost keyed to engine-speed sensors.

Brakes include a disc at every wheel with computer-controlled equipment for all trims - an anti-lock brake system (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD), electronic stability control (ESC) and a traction control system (TCS).

All versions also stock six air bags in the cabin including curtain-style air bags in the ceiling.

Equipment standard on Sonata GL ranges from air conditioning and power controls for windows and door locks and mirrors to heated side mirrors, a six-speaker audio system with AM/FM/CD/MP3 and 16-inch Michelin MXV tires.

Sonata GLS adds foglamps and alloy wheels, plus a trip computer, lumbar support for the driver's seat, deluxe door sill plates and audio controls on the steering wheel.

Sonata LX goes further with the leather-trimmed cabin, heated front seats, power controls for the driver's seat, automatic climate system and 17-inch alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot tires.

A power sunroof and six-disc CD changer are also available.

For more information visit the Hyundai website here.

2006 Hyundai Sonata
Mid-size four-door sedan
Model options:

Sonata GL
Sonata GLS
Sonata LX

Overall Length:

188.9 inches

107.4 inches

DOHC 2.4-L I4
DOHC 3.3-L V6

I4: Manual/5 Auto/4
V6: Auto/5


Power rack and pinion

Power 4-disc

Air bags:
2 (front)
2 (side)
4 (side curtain)
Fuel economy city/hwy:

I4 M/5: 24/34 mpg
I4 A/4: 24/33 mpg
V6 A/5: 20/30 mpg


Sonata GL: $ 17,895
Sonata GLS: $ 19,395
Sonata LX: $ 22,895