2009 Hyundai Sonata

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What Changed for 2009:
  • 2009 model represents a major makeover for this midsize sedan

  • 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine boosts horsepower, torque, mpg

  • 3.3-liter V-6 engine boosts horsepower, torque, highway mpg

  • Interior upgrades: new climate controls, instrument panel lighting, colors

  • Exterior enhancements: new alloy wheels, lights, seven paint colors

  • USB/iPod auxiliary input standard

  • GLS, Limited models get firmer ride; SE gets sport tuning
The best-selling Hyundai model, the front-wheel-drive (FWD), midsize Sonata sedan, underwent a substantial refreshening for the 2009 model year. Redesigned in 2006, the Sonata competes against the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima, all of which have been upgraded in recent model years. Hyundai executives admit that upgrades were needed for the Sonata to remain competitive.

Changes to the Sonata's cabin include a sweeping center-console design; new alloy wheels highlight the exterior; and enhance the car's on-road feel, but the biggest news is under the hood. Both engine choices-a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder and a 3.3-liter V-6 engine-get improved horsepower, torque and fuel economy.

The redesigned cabin's new center console and instrument panel feature blue back-lighting and styling cues from Hyundai's Veracruz crossover utility vehicle. Classified as a large car by the EPA, the Sonata also includes a 16.3-cubic foot trunk. Tan, brown and gray shades are available, and the cupholders are re-engineered to hold larger beverage containers, Hyundai says.

The 2009 Sonata Limited, with the V-6 engine, leather seats, wood trim and an Infinity AM/FM/6-CD/MP3 stereo, has a starting price of less than $27,000.

Model Lineup
The base Sonata GLS, which can be had with the 4- or 6-cylinder motor, features power windows and locks; remote keyless entry with an alarm; AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 stereo with 6 speakers; dual-zone air conditioning; cruise control; and more. Front-seat warmers are now standard, and the GLS comes with metallic interior trim (or optional woodgrain trim).

The SE is the sporty Sonata, also available with either the 4-cylinder or the V-6 engine. The SE includes a B&M Racing shifter with the 5-speed manual transmission; 17-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires with stiffer sidewalls; fog lights; a rear spoiler; and special cloth seats with leather bolsters. A sport-tuned suspension enhances the Sonata SE's road-handling ability, Hyundai says. The SE V-6 engine gets dual chrome exhaust tips.

The Sonata Limited gets leather seats; a 360-watt Infinity 6-speaker stereo with a 6-disc CD changer and XM satellite radio; automatic air conditioning; chrome door handles; and a power sunroof. The only option on the Limited, sold with either the 4- or 6-cylinder engine, is the navigation system with touch-screen display.

A USB port accommodates MP3 players including iPods as well as flash-drive memory sticks. The 6-speaker stereo's faceplate will show song, artist and title information. The auxiliary connection charges the iPod.

Hyundai's all-aluminum 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine is thoroughly revised, adding both continuously variable valve timing (CVVT) and a variable induction system (VIC). The result is improved power, torque and fuel economy, the automaker says. The engine generates 175 hp (up from 162 hp) and 168 lb.-ft. of torque (up from 164 lb.-ft.). Besides power hikes, gas mileage improves to 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway with either the manual or automatic transmission, according to EPA estimates. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard; a new 5-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic is an option.

The Lambda 3.3-liter V-6 engine makes 249 hp (up from 234 hp) and 229 lb.-ft. of torque (up from 226 lb.-ft.). This aluminum powerplant adds a variable intake system for 2009, which makes for better standing-start acceleration and passing power, Hyundai says. A 5-speed automatic transmission with Sportronic that allows manual shifting is standard. Hyundai says new transmission parts make for smoother shifting. Mileage is 19 mpg city/29 mpg highway, according to EPA estimates.

Sonata GLS and Limited models get a more agile ride, thanks to a new multi-link rear suspension setup, Hyundai claims. Sway bars are larger, spring rates are increased and even shocks get revised valves. This all results in better handling and a quieter ride, the automaker adds. Sporty SE models get a new sport-tuned suspension with stiffer front and rear spring rates; special strut valving; thicker front and rear stabilizer bars; and 17-inch alloy wheels and tires.

Electronic stability control (ESC) is standard fare on all 2009 Hyundai Sonatas. The anti-lock braking system (ABS) includes brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution, which improve stopping in panic situations and adjust braking between front and rear axles depending on vehicle loading, Hyundai says. Six air bags-dual front, side, and side curtain-are standard.

Hyundai adds GPS navigation to the Sonata line for the first time in 2009. It's an option on the up-level Limited model. The touch-screen display panel, which also operates the XM radio, allows a user to push in an address, seek one of the millions of points of interest and negotiate a detour. And whereas the price of navigation still hovers around $2,000 for some of Hyundai's rivals, GPS is available on the Hyundai for $1,250.

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