The Hyundai Sonata name has been a part of the American car market since its debut in 1989. Now in its fourth generation, and wearing new skin for 2009, the car offers a level of refinement usually reserved for more expensive cars.
The Sonata is offered in three separate trim levels--GLS, SE, and Limited. Each trim is available with either a 2.4L inline four-cylinder or 3.3L V6. The I4 delivers 175 horsepower (up from 162 horsepower in 2008), while the V6 puts out 249 horsepower (up from 234 horsepower). The base engine can be mated to either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic, while the V6 comes only with a five-speed automatic. All Sonatas are front-wheel drive, and partial-zero emissions versions of the 2.4L GLS and Limited can be ordered.
The base GLS Sonata offers plenty to like, including wheels, remote keyless entry, an alarm system, cruise control, air conditioning, tilt steering, a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat, an AM/FM/XM/CD stereo with MP3 capability and USB and auxiliary inputs, and power windows, locks, and heated mirrors.
The SE is the sporty model in the Sonata line. It features 17-inch alloy wheels, performance tires, a sport-tuned suspension, fog lights, chrome exhaust tips, and a rear spoiler. Also included in the SE trim is an eight-way power driver's seat, steering wheel audio controls, leather seat bolsters, chrome window moldings, and metalgrain interior accents.
In the fully equipped Limited, you'll find leather seating with two-stage heat to the front seats, eight-way power driver's seat, a power sunroof, an Infinity stereo with a six-disc CD changer, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a sliding center armrest.
A Popular Equipment Package for the GLS adds automatic headlights, woodgrain interior accents, the power driver's seat, and steering wheel audio controls. A Premium Package is available on the SE, and it features an upgraded stereo, sunroof, and auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink and compass. Optional on the Limited is a navigation system.
Despite the increased power in both engines, each offers similar fuel efficiency due to the introduction of variable induction and variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts. The four-cylinder returns 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway, while the V6 returns 19 mpg city/29 mpg highway.
All 2009 Hyundai Sonatas come with a bevy of standard safety features, including electronic stability and traction control, anti-lock braking, six air bags, and front active head restraints.
Hyundai's Sonata receives a mild facelift for 2009, with more changes in both the cabin and the engine bay. The front end has been revised and now features a classier look with a more upscale grille and larger headlight treatment.
Inside, both 3.5 mm and USB auxiliary jacks are new, the door trim has been revised, and the console wears a new design. The front seat heaters now have a high-low setting, and a power sunroof and dual climate control have been added as standard features to the Limited. A touch-screen navigation system is a new option.
Both of the Sonata's engines are more powerful as well. The 2.4L four-cylinder is up from 162 horsepower to 175 horsepower, while the 3.3L V6 goes from 234 horsepower to 249 horsepower. Variable induction and variable timing on the intake system are new to the base engine, while the V6 also gets a variable intake system.