2006 Hyundai Sonata Review
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.
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
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
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
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
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
|For more information visit the Hyundai website here.
DOHC 2.4-L I4
DOHC 3.3-L V6
| I4: Manual/5 Auto/4
rack and pinion
4 (side curtain)
I4 M/5: 24/34 mpg
I4 A/4: 24/33 mpg
V6 A/5: 20/30 mpg
GL: $ 17,895
Sonata GLS: $ 19,395
Sonata LX: $ 22,895