Hyundai 2006 Sonata: Moving Upscale

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The Hyundai Sonata has little road feel, is fairly quiet, offers good acceleration, and is priced between  $18,000 and  $22,000 placing it ten percent less than its competitors while offering more features. You have two engine choices, a four cylinder that produces 162 horsepower and a V6 with 235 horsepower. The engines are quite peppy and unless you crave attention, the four cylinder is quite sufficient. We would strongly suggest that you drive a Sonata with both motors before making up your mind.

For 2006 the Sonata is longer and roomier with more leg space, cargo capacity and height than the previous model. Safety wise the Sonata has traction and stability control, antilock 4-wheel disc brakes, front side airbags, and head-protecting curtain side airbags. All models come with a 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Mom’s view: A totally Stepford vehicle. It blends in nicely, never raises a hand to its occupants, and is content with its lot in life. Its peppy engine delivers about 23 mpg in mixed driving and my only irritant was the Sonata’s emergency maneuvering ability and the way Hyundai has made the accelerator sensitive to initial input.

The Hyundai’s gauges are easily readable in all lighting situations, the seats aren’t bad, and there is enough storage room to make you happy even if you have active children and a carry-on sized purse. The glove box is more than adequate and the Sonata has a small center armrest console with two compartments.  I found the seating position above average as it gives you an excellent view of the road and the tilt and telescoping steering wheel made it easy for a shorter driver to get comfortable. Another factor that made it pleasurable to drive was the wide and low door opening that doesn’t catch your high heels.

Dad’s view:  Hyundai has become a safety leader as they provide every buyer with standard front side-impact and two-row side-curtain airbags, ABS, electronic stability control, traction control, and active headrests. If they can do that and make a profit why can’t the others?  The Sonata is frisky, in need of more handling refinement, and capable of going close to 400 miles before refueling with either engine. I liked the four cylinder better as it was easier to modulate and you get a couple miles more per gallon. Besides, when you are stuck on the 405 or 210, which is pretty much every day, the extra power from the V6 is wasted.

Working woman’s view: You immediately notice that there is plenty of room inside and that includes a 16.3 cu. ft. trunk, although it has a high liftover. The turning radius is a tight 35.8 ft. so you have all the ingredients that should appeal to those who are not prejudice against a good deal. The warranty, room, and ability to blend in make it of interest to those of us girls who work in downtown areas and don’t crave attention, but love loyalty.

College going male’s view: This is a sweet, not unattractive, companion that just might be worth a second date. There is plenty of room for whatnot and the rear seats fold down in a 60/40 split to lug larger loads. I sort of liked its looks, but too frilly on the road.

Family conference: The Sonata is the best Hyundai sedan yet. Our recommendation is to remove any blinders you might be wearing that would preclude seeing a Korean car in your parking space. For the websites of major vehicle manufactures go to