• Oct 13, 2005

We've been waiting the 2006 Hyundai Sonata to pull in the Autoblog Driveway ever since glowing reviews of the car hit the pages of every major auto rag. It's obvious at first glance that the 2006 Sonata is a major improvement over past iterations. There are so many questions to be answered, however, like whether it has improved enough to become a legitimate player in a family sedan market that's dominated by a pair of relatively pricey Japanese heavyweights: the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS 450 AB

One fact that no one seems to be questioning is that the Sonata looks great on paper. We received the GLS model with the 3.3L V6 that has a base price of $20,895, above which resides only the LX starting at $22,895. The only available options on the GLS are a power tilt-and-slide sunroof and a sorely missed Premium Sport Package for $1,500 that includes the aforementioned sunroof, a power driver?s seat, a few odds and ends and larger 17? alloy wheels, all of which our tester lacked. What it didn?t lack was an incredibly long list of standard features including six airbags, nearly power everything, cruise control, a CD/MP3 stereo with wheel-mounted controls, Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, 16? alloy wheels, a 5-speed automatic with SHIFTRONIC and, of course, the new 235-hp 3.3L V6 with continuous variable-valve timing.

2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS 450 AB

All of that for just $20,895 less tax and delivery, which, according to this Edmunds comparison, is $2,880 less than a comparably equipped Camry and $3,055 less than an Accord, neither of which is even available with such dynamic hardware as ESC or TC. Sure the new Sonata?s a great deal, sure it?s the best product to come out of Korea yet, and sure, it?s pretty good looking to boot. But while me, you and every other car guy knows how far Hyundai has come with the Sonata, it?s those other folks out there who still associate Korean cars with basic, no-frills transportation that Hyundai has to reach.

2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS 450 AB

For an automaker, trying to reverse a negative image with consumers is a painfully slow process ? just ask one of the domestics. But Hyundai?s making all the right moves with this car and creating converts faster than Billy Graham in a biker bar. While I would certainly count myself among the converted, I?m still not convinced that the new Sonata can successfully compete at the elevated price level of its competitors.

2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS 450 AB

As we learned from an earlier post, the car has been selling like gangbusters compared to the model it replaces and transaction prices at the dealership have also been rising. But as a car person you have to ask yourself, deep down, if someone gave you the choice of a loaded Accord or Sonata for free, which would you take? Yeah, it?s a tough question to answer. Is the Sonata a better car than the Accord or Camry? No, it really isn?t for reasons we?ll touch on later in the week. Is the Sonata a better car for the money? Yes, it absotively, posolutely is, and that?s enough in my book to earn it a pass to play with the big dogs.

2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS 450 AB

Over the next week we?ll get into the experience of driving the Sonata, particularly how Hyundai?s new 235-hp 3.3L Lambda V6 performs in concert with the car?s 5-speed slushbox. The Sonata will accompany me on a trip that spans the length of Ohio so I?ll have plenty of seat time to evaluate the handling as well as the car?s interior design and overall fit and finish. I?m curious to know whether by the end of the week the Sonata will have me on my knees praising Hyundai or merely continuing my defense of it to those who still wrongly consider Korean cars to be crap.




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  • 41 Comments
      • 9 Years Ago
      I have owned a 2002 Elantra, my parents noticed it and liked it so much they purchased a brand new Santa Fe and brand new Sonata. None of the three cars have given any problems. I have been in plenty of brand new Toyota Camrys and they just dont seem like there "all that" I mean by no measure is it trying to defeat the impossible. There was nothing special about the Camry, in fact very disappointing all the LCD displays look early 90's and there is no privacy. But if you look at the #1 selling cars in the past (Ford Taurus) they are very bland boring cars. I found the dash in the Camry a disapointment it looked like a bench seat dash, nothing special about this car. One thing for certian, if you want to be #1 in the USA you better sell some bland shit.
      • 9 Years Ago
      As an Elantra (GT hatch) owner I have to battle the anti-Hyundai image frequently. The thing that has the ability to change their minds is actually getting in my car. Usually after a ten minute trip the naysayers have changed their tune. The new Sonata is an amazing looking car. I sat in one and it's very comfortable and spacious. I think it definitely has the legs to compete against the top two Japanese cars. I think Hyundai is really on the right track. If somebody gave me the choice between a loaded Accord and a loaded Sonata I'd take the Sonata hands-down because I've had such a great experience with my Elantra. I also believe that if the average midsize-sedan buyer would go and see the Sonata in person and drive it, they'd be quickly won over. I expect in no more than five years that Hyundai, Toyota, and Honda will be the top three major competitors.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Interesting observations, enjoyed the article and hope you include general and minor interesting observations as the week goes on...
      • 9 Years Ago
      >Is this car better than a Mazda6, an Altima, a Legacy, or Passat? No it isn't. I beg to differ. But debating which car is "better" can be very subjective and a matter of personal tastes. I think most people are comparing it to the Accord/Camry b/c of the projected sales volume. I believe Camry is the current leader...
      • 9 Years Ago
      "I know the Korean's have made BIG inroads in quality, refinement, durability, blah blah blah. But at the end of the day... Sad but true. We live in a MASSIVELY image dominated world and the image Hyundai has is 'couldn't afford the alternatives'." -VWGuy Don't you mean "the image Hyundai has is 'couldn't afford to [1] risk cardiac arrythmia from lawsuit threats in wrangling Secret Warranty or [2] pay astronomical markups for non-warranty repairs on electrical/drivetrain catastrophes."? >_> The image Hyundai is building is the same Toyota and Honda built in their nascent days. Affordable Quality, Durability, Reliability. The fact that the Accord and Camry have stayed bestsellers through the years are a testament to the longterm viability of the Affordable QDR image. Obviously, the ppl who buy Passats for the chrome infestation and Jettas for the Cherenkov radiation backlight are a completely different demographic. If you pull in $80K/yr and want a 325i or C230 for your 2 yrs of hardwon MBA, go right ahead. But recognize that you're in that specific demographic. Hyundai has neither an obligation nor the motivation to concentrate on the chrome-and-glow demographic. Their competitive target is Toyota and they're going to do it the way Toyota did. By hitting the mainstream first. Meanwhile, the chrome-and-glow demographic has a plentiful spectrum of Mini Coopers, Passats, and 325i's to keep them happy. That they would chose these cars for their image w/out more objective consideration is their well-deserved moment of bliss. Because eventually, they'll meet someone who bought a Mazda3 or Sonata and realize drive belts and wire harnesses DON'T all burn out that often. Sad but true indeed.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I think this is a really nice and slick looking car with very clean lines. Hyundai has proven to me it more then makes a capable car. I think they have already driven past the Domestics and are now in the Japanese rear view mirrors. If they can only get the Tiburon more power & RWD id be REALLY happy.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I also abserved that most Hyundai bashers have never even been in a Hyundai not alone drove one. I owned 2002 sonata and my previous car was 98 Honda accord. If I had a choice I will take the fully loaded Sonata over Accord anyday.
      • 9 Years Ago
      >But at the end of the day, a Hyundai just >means that you didn't like the >Kia you cross-shopped. Sad but true. We live >in a MASSIVELY image dominated world and the >image Hyundai has is 'couldn't afford the >alternatives'. Unfortunately, that's not true. It was more like 'they gave a lot more car for a lot less than Honda or GM or Toyota or Ford were willing to give me' and ended up being rather reliable, like Hyundais belonging to other people I knew who had Hyundais before I bought mine. I never even looked at the Kias.
      • 9 Years Ago
      This is a good looking car. Sure, it borrows styling cues from other makes, but so does everybody else. I never seriously considered a Hyundai before, but this new Sonata may have made me a converter.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Brian W - At first, when I found out about the new Hyundai factory in the states, I agreed with you. Then I realized the move to Alabama is smart because American workers are just as good as South Korean workers - they just need to have a decent employer to make them shine. Look at how well Honda, Toyota, Subaru, Nissan and Suzuki have done in North America? Yet VW tried a factory in Pennsylvania and it failed - anyone else see a trend here? Like the Asians appear to be better employers? Though Hyundai also learned the hard way that Quebecois are lousy workers when they tried building Sonatas there 15 years ago - but they seem to be the exception in Canada and the USA. So it's not ALWAYS just who the better employers are, but also the attitude of employees. Plus, Hyundai have issues with the socialist-communist-radical auto unions (which have struck Hyundai and other car makers in South Korea almost every year for decades) so since costs are similar in Alabama, why not bring in US jobs? Good for them!
      • 9 Years Ago
      It certainly is off to a good start. My 2002 Alti is going to require some air flow upgrades to hold it back. Get a good skirt kit, front fascia and rear spoiler (not that fast a furious, parachute deploying, overdone wing crap), and it'll definately convert me.
      • 9 Years Ago
      >We live in a MASSIVELY image dominated world and the image Hyundai has is 'couldn't afford the alternatives'. That's your opinion. While the world might be image domiated, I am a single person that is not. So I really don't care what people think of what I am driving. The person that I care about when picking a car is myself, not myself perceived by others... I say there are plenty of people that would pick a Hyundai model over it's competition, even regardless of price. And the number is growing...
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