2007 Sonata New Car Test Drive
There's a new player in the mid-size sedan market, and it's from Hyundai. Yes, Hyundai.
The Hyundai Sonata was showered with media awards last year, when it was redesigned and launched as an all-new model for 2006. MotorWeek called the Sonata the 'Best Family Sedan,' Kiplinger's Personal Finance named it 'Best in Class,' Consumers Digest called it a 'Best Buy,' and Popular Mechanics gave it a 'Safety Excellence' award. Meanwhile, the Sonata finished among the top three mid-size cars in the 2006 J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study. And the Sonata earned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's five-star crash test rating for front and side impacts, the highest rating given.
For the 2007 model year, the Sonata promises more content for less money. Retail prices have been lowered on the entry GLS models. A new Sonata SE comes standard with the 234-hp V6 engine and 17-inch wheels and tires, and a new top-of-the-line Limited model features a new chrome grille and an optional Infinity premium audio system.
This second-generation Sonata is bigger, better equipped, more technologically advanced and sharper looking than the previous-generation (pre-2006) model. Exterior-wise, it competes primarily against the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima; and secondarily against the Chevrolet Malibu, Kia Optima and Ford Fusion. On the inside, however, the Sonata has moved up a class. Sonata is now a large car, with a full-size edge in creature comfort. It's roomier in almost every dimension than its mid-size competitors. Fit and finish are on a par with most others in the class.
In terms of performance, Sonata now equals or bests comparably featured cars. The Hyundai Sonata is a four-door, five-passenger sedan, and comes with a choice of four-cylinder and V6 engines. As you'd expect, the Sonata is aggressively priced, positioned smack in the middle of the range of mid-size sedans.
The 2007 Hyundai Sonata comes in three trim levels, GLS, SE, and Limited. The base engine is a 162-hp four-cylinder. The uplevel engine is a 234-hp V6. The four-cylinder is available with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed Shiftronic automatic. The V6 comes with the five-speed Shiftronic automatic introduced for 2006. Gone is last year's base-level Sonata GL.
The GLS ($17,195) comes with the four-cylinder engine and manual transmission or four-speed automatic ($18,295). Air conditioning; cruise control; power outside mirrors; power windows; central locking with keyless remote; AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with six speakers; a leather-wrapped, tilt steering wheel; and 16-inch wheels come standard. XM Satellite Radio will be standard later in the model year. Option packages for the GLS add 17-inch tires with five-spoke aluminum wheels, fog lamps, and luxury features.
The SE ($20,995) comes with the 3.3-liter V6 (with dual, chrome-tipped exhausts), five-speed Shiftronic automatic transmission, larger disc brakes, 17-inch alloy wheels fitted with lower-profile tires, solar-control glass, fog lights, chrome window belt moldings, driver's-seat lumbar support, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and a trip computer. Options include a power/tilt sunroof ($900), eight-way power driver's seat with electrochromic auto-dimming rearview mirror, HomeLink and compass ($550); or all of the above plus CD changer, MP3 player, subwoofer and amplifier ($1,950).
The Limited ($22,995) is a fully equipped luxury model featuring leather seating surfaces, eight-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, automatic climate control with automatic Air Quality System (AQS), electrochromic auto-dimming rear view mirror with HomeLink and compass, telescoping steering wheel, and a sliding center armrest. A new chrome center-bar grille and chrome-accented exterior door handles identify Limited from the outside. The only option is an Ultimate Package ($1750) consisting of a power/tilt sunroof and an Infinity AM/FM/MP3/6-CD changer with six speakers, subwoofer and component amplifier.
Safety features on all Sonatas include the mandatory dual-stage front-seat airbags; front-seat side-impact airbags for torso protection; and full-coverage side curtain airbags designed to provide head protection. Antilock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and electronic stability control (ESC) with traction control come standard.