2011 Hyundai Sonata: Up Close

Front angle

The Sonata has long been a practical family sedan, but Hyundai aims to increase the car's style appeal with the redesigned 2011 model, which sports a more distinctive — if not revolutionary — design.

The changes are immediately apparent in the Sonata's face, which features a wide chrome grille and long, thin headlights that run into the fenders. Chrome trim around the side windows is a common styling cue; Hyundai has taken it a step further by extending the chrome strip, which sits at the base of the windows, forward along the sides of the hood to the headlights. While the overall look definitely pushes the bar compared to the previous Sonata, there are some other memorable designs, including the Mazda6, in the segment.

Hyundai significantly updated the Sonata's interior for the 2009 model year with better materials. Although the cabin design of the 2011 model is all-new, materials quality seems about the same; it's still competitive but doesn't notably raise the bar for the class, which is already fairly high. Less compelling is the appearance of the faux wood and silver accents in the middle of the dash of top-of-the-line Limited trim levels. Two other trims are also offered: a base GLS and midlevel SE.

The sleek new exterior design has consequences for backseat passenger space. While legroom is good — it's close to what you'll find in a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord — there's not much extra headroom for taller adults, and those same people might find that they have to dip their head when exiting to avoid bumping it on the headliner. The backseat cushions felt a little lumpy, too.

The Sonata is Hyundai's best-selling model in the U.S. and it's not hard to see why: It offers a lot of value for the money. The 2011 Sonata adds some style to the overall package. It promises to remain a solid value, too, with base versions expected to start at less than $20,000. Profile Front Headlight Grille Headlight Wheel Tail Dashboard Gearshift Front seata Controls Rear interior Rear seats Dashboard Controls Rear Badge Taillight Rear angle Headlight Engine Engine Hood Mirror Fog lamp Tail Rear Badge



Sexy. And refreshing.


Did they have any GLS or Limited models at the Auto Show?

This looks like an SE model with the paddle shifters. And does the SE have a different shift gear? It doesn't look like the gated style on the Korean model and the press release pictures.


That roof-line reminds me of a Mercedes, the ways its swept back.

Derrick G


Consumer Reports today posted a since-removed blog entry of a first drive of the Sonata in which they said Hyundai told them that though the pre-production SE they drove had a gated shifter, the production SE would have a leather-booted one like you see here and shift paddles. Other models will have the normal zig-zag one with a manual gate.


i am surprised u didn't mention anything about the body shaped Volvo-like AC controls. & no Dual zone?? & what does GDI stand for on the engine? I do see some Camry Solara in those headlights....

we did comment on the Volvo controls here in the press room! but no it didn't make it to the story.


..NOW THIS IS A STYLIN' new car..just wondering if Hyundai kidnapped stylists from Honda or Toyota..their new designs are so boring..or in the case of Acura just plain ugly!

Derrick G


GDI is Gasoline Direct Injection. This is an SE; it doesn't have dual zone auto climate control. The Limited does, though.


Bottom-hinged accelerator pedal = no floormat problem

Ken L.

I think with the exception of the headlights, the rest of the car looks really good. I still can't believe Hyundai could come up with something like this. It seems with each new generation, their vehicles are more than 50x better than the last one. Imho, it's beyond the industry norm.


Thanks for pointing that put H, for some unknown reason a bottom hinged accelerator makes me feel like I'm drive a car that is more sporty than it actually is LOL


I see a Volkswagen CC...............

A very sexy car. I love it. Plus it's a four door.


I really don't get it. How did one accident cause automakers to move to a different style accelerator? I mean how many cars were sold because they were top heavy? Which caused how many more people to die?

Derrick G

I don't think the Lexus wreck was behind this, Jello. Many European makes had moved to bottom hinged ones quite some time ago, presumably for ease and comfort. The Genesis has it and it came out well before the Toyota issue became so well known.


Finally!!! A midsize entry, well equipped at $25K that is not of the cookie-cutter variety. This is a hot car.

Though some of the styling is borrowed, both interior and exterior, so what? Honda borrowed heavily from Bimmer the same way and it's a fact of design.

What is most impressive is the direct inject 4 cylinder which will return nearly 40 mpg's. Hyundai has become a manufacturer that spends gobs of profit on R&D and product improvement.

It's no wonder they are now #4 ahead of Honda and Ford in world sales.


just bought a 2.0T limited in white of this car. MAN!! wow....great HP, plenty of power, leather, and even rear heated seats and rear A/C on the limited.

Very impressed. was going to get buick regal Turbo, but after driving it and it having a lot less power, and almost 10K dollars more....think about it.

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