Hyundai Sonata saloon (2005-2010)
“Reliable, spacious and comfortable, the Sonata is a budget alternative to pricier executive saloons."
- Generous, confidence-inspiring five-year warranty
- Very well equipped as standard
- Low list prices
- Poor resale values
- Cheap, uninspired interior trim
- Forgettable styling
Hyundai's usual focus on value for money is apparent with the Sonata. It offers far more in the way of equipment than many rivals and it's very inexpensive to buy. The diesel engine performs well and Hyundai's excellent record for reliability is backed up by a lengthy warranty. The downside is the build quality and driving experience, which aren't up to the standards of rivals like the Mazda6 or Honda Accord.
MPG, running costs & CO2
The 2.0-litre petrol model is the pricier Sonata to run with 37.7mpg and 179g/km of CO2, which means £200 per year for road tax. The diesel, though slightly dearer to buy, is the better bet, as it returns 47.1mpg and emits 159g/km of CO2
- so road tax costs £155 annually. Specify an automatic gearbox and that figure goes up, with 40.4mpg and 184g/km, meaning £200 road tax. Residual values are not great for either model, as the Hyundai doesn't have the badge appeal of more prestigious rivals.
Engines, drive & performance
The Hyundai Sonata was originally available with large, thirsty 2.4- and 3.3-litre petrol engines, but these have now been phased out in favour of more economical 162- and 148bhp 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines. The diesel is refined and quiet at low speeds, but it becomes quite noisy on motorways. The petrol is smooth enough, but it lacks mid-range punch and needs to be worked hard to get the Sonata going. The steering is light and the Sonata grips well in corners. It rolls around quite a lot though and the handling is in no way sporty. The instruments are clear and easy to use, but the whole interior appears quite bland.
Interior & comfort
Comfort is the Hyundai Sonata's trump card, as the cabin is spacious and the ride is impressively smooth. It's not quite as good on bumpy roads, though, as it becomes unsettled rather easily. Both engines are quite noisy at speed, so things can get loud in the cabin. The seats are comfortable, but they're not particularly supportive.
Practicality & boot space
There is a lot of cabin space in the Sonata. There's plenty of headroom throughout the interior and rear seat passengers won't be short of leg- or foot room. At 462 litres, the boot isn't particularly big for a car of the Sonata's size, but the rear seats split and fold, which makes it more useful. There aren't masses of cubby holes, but the twin cup holders, glovebox and door pockets are all very spacious.
Reliability & safety
Safety is good as the Sonata has a four-star child and adult Euro NCAP rating and it comes with six airbags, anti-lock brakes and stability control as standard. Build quality is a sore point, as the dash is very cheap and the materials aren't good quality at all. However, the unlimited mileage, five-year warranty proves that Hyundai has confidence in its cars. Hyundai featured strongly in the 2010 Driver Power survey, with a sixth position out of 35 manufacturers.
Price, value for money & options
The Sonata is very keenly priced, especially when you consider the amount of standard equipment. Alloy wheels, leather seats, air conditioning and an mp3-compatible stereo are standard on all models. The low list price makes it cheaper than the majority of rivals like the Mazda6 and the Kia Magentis.