2011 Hyundai Sonata
You're probably asking yourself, what does Hyundai--much less the Sonata--have to do with anything performance or luxury oriented? And that's a fair question. Aside from the Genesis Coupe (sporty) and Sedan (lux) there's not much among Hyundai's current range to sate the go-fast, style-hungry enthusiast. Until the 2011 Sonata, that is.
That's not to say this is a rival to the Aston Martin Rapide, or even the BMW 3-Series, for that matter. But most enthusiasts know that fun and style can be found at every price point--even in the budget realm. Mazda, for example, is renowned for building affordable cars with the soul of a racer. The Sonata is a car in a similar vein, with the added dash of its exterior and interior presence.
Hyundai flew Tim Healey, a freelance contributor, and I out to Torrey Pines to spend a quick day in the new Sonata. Tim and I traded stints behind the wheels of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata SE and Limited, and Tim got a short turn in the GLS as well. We took to the freeways and backroads between Torrey Pines and Temecula with alternating bouts of cruising and carving, occasionally letting the car stretch its legs, and seeing some beautiful scenery along the way. In this review, we offer you our individual takes, highlighting what we found most notable during our day with the cars.
Tim: Hyundai stylists gave the new car a look that stands out more than the bland lines of the previous generation. A large three-bar grille leads to a curvy hood, and the roofline sweeps up and down gracefully, while a chrome strip rides along the side, reaching from the A-pillar back to the trunk.
The curvaceousness doesn't stop at the rear, as even the rear bumper curves upward from end-to-end. The look is attractive but risky--some may be put off by the large grille, while others may be taken aback by the curvy hood. Curves aren't new in this class, and other cars have taken even more risk with styling--witness the current Honda Accord--but bland still sells, and companies that dare to be bold risk alienating some buyers. I think the Sonata strikes a nice balance between bold looks and conservative mainstream style, but I know some folks won't agree.