The Sonata's high door sills and steeply raked front and rear glass remind us of the coupe-like silhouette of the Volkswagen CC and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class--what interesting company this Korean sedan keeps!
The Sonata's interior isn't just "nice for a Hyundai," it's nice, period. There are a few bits made of hard, hollow plastic, but most of the areas that drivers and passengers would regularly feel (steering wheel, dashboard, shifter, door pulls) are pleasing to the touch and to the eye.
While the Limited trim features leather trim, the SE model only features leather on the steering wheel, shifter, and the front seat bolsters. The seats' center panels are still cloth.
Data is stored on 8GB of flash memory, so the maps aren't as sexy as those on the best hard-drive-based systems, but they work. There also isn't a 3D view available, just this top-down view. Fortunately, the interface is quite snappy and easy to use.
Through its XM satellite radio uplink, the Sonata receives traffic flow and incident data, which it uses to automatically suggest alternate routes when it sees traffic along your chosen path. Stocks, sports scores, and weather updates are also accessed through this connection.
The Sonata's steering wheel is where the voice controls reside. Voice commands are available for the navigation, audio playback, and hands-free calling systems. Onscreen prompts guide the user toward the right commands, reducing confusion. We like that.
A trio of monochromatic LCD displays reside within and between the Sonata's pair of analog gauges. Here, users can keep tabs on their fuel economy, fuel levels, coolant temperature, and a plethora of other info settings.
All Sonatas are equipped with standard USB and auxiliary audio inputs. When connected to an optional Hyundai 30-pin dock cable (which utilizes both of these inputs) the audio system becomes iPhone/iPod compatible, as well.
When connected to an iPhone or iPod, the system allows users to browse their devices by artist, album, genre, and other categories. The system was also recognized our Android OS phone when mounted as a USB device and let us browse the folder structure for songs.
At the GLS and SE trim level, the best stereo you can get is this Dimension audio system. It features seven speakers and 360 watts of amplification. With its Variable EQ settings, it sounds great for most types of music.
However, the Limited trim level is available with an eight-speaker Infinity-branded system with 400 watts of power. We assume it sounds even better, but were unable to test it.
When paired with a Bluetooth phone, the Sonata is able to make hands-free calls. Addresses are automatically imported on pairing; and if the phone supports A2DP, Bluetooth audio appears as an audio source.