Hyundai is all set to stir up the family sedan segment with the stylish, powerful and efficient 2011 Sonata. The latest in Hyundai’s new lineup of products, the Sonata gets a coupe-like shape reminiscent of the Volkswagen CC. And that’s a very big compliment to be sure. The car is one of just a few Hyundai products to be designed in the United States at the company’s California Design Center.
Under the hood, there’s a direct-injection version of Hyundai’s Theta II 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 198-hp (or 200-hp in the SE trim level with a dual-exhaust setup). Torque is rated at 186 ft-lbs. In total, that’s 25 more horsepower and 18 more ft-lbs of torque than the old 4-cylinder. In fact, with improved 4-cylinder performance and the fact that only 10 percent of previous generation Sonata buyers opted for the V6, Hyundai hasn’t announced any plans to offer a V6 model and probably won’t.
The car’s fuel-economy rating is set at 23/35 mpg (city/highway), which Hyundai says will make it the most fuel-efficient (non-hybrid) mid-size sedan on the marker. Although, to be truthful, the 2011 sonata, like its predecessor, is so roomy inside that it is technically classified as a full-size sedan.
The direct-injection powerlant isn’t the only reason for the improved fuel-economy, however, as the 2011 Sonata also gets a new six-speed automatic transmission (which will find it’s way into the Tucson, as well as the next Santa Fe and Azera). Not only does the extra gear help for improved highway fuel mileage but the unit weights 26 lbs less, is more compact and uses 62 fewer parts.
On top of all this, Hyundia says the high compression 2.4-liter engine will deliver full power on regular 87 octane pump gas.
A few vehicle highlights include trunk pulls for the rear seats to fold down and the option of heated rear seats. Hyundai is also eager to point out that despite the car’s slowing roofline it has the same amount of rear headroom as the previous generation car, which is more than any other car in its class except the Honda Accord.
Hyundai will offer the Sonata in three trim levels, GLS, SE (Sport) and Limited (luxury). SE models will get the dual-exhaust pipes with the 200-hp rating, as well as paddle shifters, tighter steering and larger sway bars to help deliver improved handling.
The 2011 Hyundai Sonata is set to go on sale in January. Pricing has not yet been released.