For the last five years, Hyundai has been working hard to improve the quality of its Sonata small sedan, making it competitive with standards such as the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry. For the 2009 model year, Hyundai adds significant tech, including a stereo and navigation system from Infinity.
The front of the Sonata shows bold styling choices, including extra large headlight enclosures and a tall grille. Beyond these cues, the Sonata looks like a fairly conventional small sedan, although its twin rear exhaust pipes give it some performance style.
We were impressed by the interior fit and finish, although the faux wood trim was unnecessary. Hyundai keeps the instrument panel simple, using extra space below the navigation unit for two small storage hatches.
The five-speed transmission seemed to spend some time hunting for gears on hills, and was a little slow to shift in general. When put into passing gear by mashing the gas pedal, it kicks down to a gear that makes the engine emit an uncomfortable growl.
The instrument cluster is relatively bare, although we like the blue display on the speedometer. The Sonata includes a full trip computer, with information such as range to empty and average fuel economy.