Sonata throughout the years
When the made-in-Korea Sonata arrived in late 1987, it was arguably the first Hyundai to measure up to what North American buyers expected in a mid-size sedan. The car was given an attractive redesign for 1995 with more interior space and greater output from the base four-cylinder engine and optional V6. Further makeovers for the 1999 and 2002 model years included updated engines, larger platforms and upgraded suspensions. For the 2006 model year, the base four-cylinder was bumped to 162 horsepower (later 175), while the optional 3.3-litre V6 that was rated at 235 horses, but was later increased to 249. Right on schedule, an all-new Sonata made its appearance for the 2011 model year.
THE GOOD STUFF
With each successive Sonata model, Hyundai has shown that it can compete in the mid-size class right alongside more established players such as Honda, Toyota and Chevrolet. In the key areas of appearance, performance, content and value, it has made both import- and North American based competitors alike sit up and take notice. The Sonata’s fashionable interior featured plenty of stretch-out room for five passengers and the overall quality of the interior also earned high marks. A mild makeover, improved suspension and much appreciated power increase for 2009 provided a real boost for the Sonata’s image.
Although the fifth-generation Sonata was comfortable, well-built and well-equipped, its handling was still not quite up to the same level of refinement as the class leading Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. In tight turns, the body still tended to lean a bit too much and the ride was a bit choppy on rough roads. Fuel economy for the base and optional engines was so-so on pre-2009 cars, but had improved considerably along with the increased power of the 2009-10 models. Unfortunately, V6 Sonatas from this period were no longer available with a manual transmission. The 2011 model cannot be had with a V6 at all.
The 2006-10 Sonata was solid proof that Hyundai could build a solid, well-appointed and attractive automobile to hold its own among a horde of mid-size competitors. It might not have been the sportiest sedan of the bunch, but in this group most buyers sought quality, content and style, which the Sonata had in spades. Factor in Hyundai’s long-term basic and powertrain warranties and a Sonata is one of the better used-car deals around.
PRICES AT A GLANCE
The 2006-10 Sonata holds its resale value better than previous Hyundais, although not quite to the level attained by its main competitors. For all years, the higher values represent a fully loaded GLS V6. The low end of a given price range represents higher-use, low-option vehicles.
The low end of a given price range represents higher-mileage, low-option vehicles.
Year range Approx. price range
Engines: 2.4-litre DOHC four-cylinder (162-175 hp); 3.3-litre DOHC V6 (235-249 hp).
Transmissions: five-speed manual; four-speed automatic (I4); five-speed automatic (V6).
Layout: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive.
Body: Four-door sedan.