2003 Sonata New Car Test Drive
Hyundai Sonata is a roomy and comfortable midsize sedan with a level of quality and refinement that may surprise you the first time you get in and take a good look at it. It costs less than the name-brand sedans, but measures up well against them.
Sonata is packed with features, making it an excellent value. It's easy to operate its well-designed controls and everything is exactly where you expect it to be. The interior is nicely finished and has a general feeling of quality. Front and rear accommodations are comfortable, making this good transportation for four or five. Sonata cruises smoothly down the highway, even at elevated speeds, and does everything you ask of it with responsive steering and responsive performance from the available V6 and automatic.
Hyundai has come a long way in the past few years and now sells more cars in the U.S. than BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Lincoln, Lexus, Acura, Volvo, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Mercury, or Saturn. The Sonata has been part of this success. Hyundai sold more than 62,000 Sonatas here in 2001. Another part of it is the piece of mind Hyundai offers through one of the best warranties in the industry.
The interior gets some minor upgrades for 2003. Hyundai gave the Sonata a major facelift for 2002, and it presents an elegant shape with a bold waterfall grille and headlight treatment.
Three models are available: Sonata ($15,499); Sonata GLS ($16,999); and Sonata LX ($18,324).
The base Sonata is well-equipped for its price. It comes standard with air conditioning, AM/FM/CD audio system, rear defroster, power mirrors, power locks with keyless remote, power windows, cruise control, remote fuel door and trunk releases, 60/40 split folding rear seat, variable intermittent wipers, and 15-inch all-season tires. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is standard, as is a five-speed manual transmission.
GLS is a V6-powered model with a higher level of interior trim, including deluxe cloth upholstery, woodgrain trim, an upgraded stereo, an improved center console, dual map lights, and rear cup holders. GLS also comes with heated mirrors and a power antenna. Upgrades underneath include 16-inch alloy wheels with 205/60 high-performance tires, four-wheel disc brakes, and gas-pressure shock absorbers, all of which improve handling and braking.
LX is the luxury model, and comes with leather seating surfaces, better carpet, automatic temperature control, and an eight-way power driver's seat.
The V6-powered GLS and LX are still available with a five-speed manual transmission. Hyundai's automatic transmission adds $500 to the price of any Sonata.
The V6 engine is available as an option for the base model as part of a $1050 option package that includes a power moonroof or as part of a $1600 package that includes the moonroof and anti-lock brakes. ABS, traction control, and the moonroof can be added to any Sonata for $1250. The moonroof is also offered as a stand-alone option for $550. Other combinations and permutations are available as well.
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