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Old March 15th, 2005, 03:26 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Charlotte, NC
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2006 Hyundai Sonata

The 2006 Hyundai Sonata page

It looks like the Accord and Camry may finally have some respectable competition from Hyundai.

The new Sonata appears ready to play in the big leagues, something it's predecessor failed to do despite it's high value and long warranties. You're probably thinking, "It's a Hyundai, who cares?". Well, I like to cheer for the underdog. You see, when a new Accord (or Camry, for that matter) debuts, it's chart-topping success is a given, but when a new Sonata arrives, no one knows what will happen. Will it exceed expectations? Or will it be forgotten, doomed to reside at the bottom of the sales charts?

No matter the outcome, things will get interesting. What's even more interesting is the progress that Hyundai has made over the years. Each year, the Korean company gets closer and closer to the Japanese automakers in terms of reliability and quality. Hell, the last time I checked, their reliability ratings were higher than many of the domestic and European makes. Not bad considering they were at the bottom a few years ago. If they keep it up, they may one day be known for quality and reliability just like Honda, Toyota, and Nissan. With the new Sonata, it looks as if Hyundai may make that happen sooner than expected.

The car definitely looks the part of a mainstream family sedan. While it won't win any beauty contests, I think it looks clean and conservative, if a bit derivative. The stylists certainly didn't try anything daring or original when they penned it's shape. In fact, each section of the car seems to resemble a different sedan. The rear screams 7th-gen Accord (especially the taillights), the fenders and front doors recall the current-gen VW Passat, and the rear doors and roofline are very Camry-like in their shapes. The front-end has to be the most original part of the car with the scooped-out hood and sharp-looking projector headlamps. Despite those unique styling cues, the nose still manages to have a familiar look to it (I can't put my finger on what car it resembles though). Overall, I think it looks as good, or maybe even better, than the Camry and Accord.

Even with just a few interior photos available, it's easy to see that the 2006's interior is a huge improvement over the 2005's in both fit and finish. The plastics that make up the dash no longer look incredibly cheap and insubstantial, and the pieces fit together without wide, jagged seams between them. Even the faux wood trim has been improved. Not only is the new car's interior a class above the old car's in quality, but it's a class above in space, too, literally. The 2006 Sonata boasts 105.4 cubic-feet of passenger space (the old car had 100.0) and 16.3 cubic-feet of trunk space (the old car had 14.0, the same as a 7th-gen Accord) for a total volume of 121.7 cubic-feet (the Camry has 118.5, the Accord has 116.7) , enough to land it in the EPA's Large Car category. That's a lot of space in a car that's within an inch of the Accord in every dimension.

In addition to best-in-class interior space, the new Sonata also leads the class in standard safety features. 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, Traction Control (TCS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), side airbags, side curtain airbags, and active head restraints, are standard on all models. Stability control isn't even available on the Accord, and neither the Camry nor the Accord are available with active head restraints. Of those safety features listed above, the current Sonata comes standard with only side airbags while ABS and TCS are optional, even on the top of line LX.

Unfortunately, the 2006 Sonata is missing some of the optional luxury features we've come to expect in a modern family sedan. Goodies such as HID headlamps, Navigation system, satellite radio, dual-zone climate control, and power adjustable pedals are not available at all. Strangely, the Korean Domestic Model (KDM) Sonata is available with such premium features as an Electronically Controlled Suspension (ECS), the aforementioned power adjustable pedals, and a reverse warning system. The photo below shows these features and more.

Now for the good stuff

Two all-new, high-feature all-aluminum engines provide power on par with the competition. The base engine, called Theta, is a 2.4 Litre DOHC 16-valve Inline 4 with Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) on the intake camshaft. It's replacing the cobby old iron-block, Sirius II inline four that's been in the Sonata since 1999. Output isn't final, but the preliminary specs show [email protected],800 rpm and [email protected],250 rpm. If those numbers hold true, the Theta engine will be very competitive with the Accord's and Camry's inline fours, on paper at least. It will be paired with either a 5-speed manual, or an adaptive 4-speed automatic with SHIFTRONIC manual-shift control.

The Theta engine

The optional engine is a 3.3 Litre DOHC 24-valve V6 with Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) on the intake cam, a variable induction system, and a tuned dual exhaust system. Output for the Lamda V6 is estimated at [email protected],000 rpm and [email protected],500 rpm on 87 octane. The sole transmission available is an adaptive 5-speed automatic with SHIFTRONIC manual-shift control. So no manual with the V6 .

The Lamda engine

Using the available specs and CarTest 2000, I am able to estimate the acceleration times of the three different powertrain combos.

The following numbers from CT 2K are what I expect to see in a mag like Car and Driver when they test the new Sonata:

2006 Sonata I4 5MT 0-60: 8.2 1/4-mile: [email protected]
2006 Sonata I4 4AT 0-60: 9.7 1/4-mile: [email protected]
2006 Sonata V6 5AT 0-60: 7.1 1/4-mile: [email protected]

Previous-generation Sonata:

2005 Sonata I4 5MT 0-60: 8.3 1/4-mile: [email protected]
2005 sonata I4 4AT 0-60: 9.9 1/4-mile: [email protected]
2005 Sonata V6 4AT 0-60: 8.8 1/4-mile: [email protected]

Competition (still CarTest 2000):

2005 Camry I4 5AT 0-60: 8.7 1/4-mile: [email protected]
2005 Camry I4 5MT 0-60: 8.7 1/4-mile: [email protected]
2005 Camry V6 5AT 0-60: 7.3 1/4-mile: [email protected]
2005 Camry SE 5AT 0-60: 7.6 1/4-mile: [email protected]

2005 Accord I4 5AT 0-60: 8.6 1/4-mile: [email protected]
2005 Accord I4 5MT 0-60: 7.9 1/4-mile: [email protected]
2005 Accord V6 5AT 0-60: 7.1 1/4-mile: [email protected] (regular fuel)
2005 Accord V6 5AT 0-60: 6.8 1/4-mile: [email protected] (premium fuel)

And of course, I have to include the sluggish 6G AV6 in the comparison since I own one LOL

2002 Accord V6 4AT 0-60: 8.3 1/4-mile: [email protected]

As you can see, the Sonata V6 holds up well against the Camry V6 and Accord V6 (regular fuel). It's much faster than the previous V6 Sonata, that's for sure. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if a few owners manage to run low 15's at the track. The 4-cylinder models lag behind the competition somewhat, but they still accelerate adequately.

More info, specs, and pictures can be found in the links below:

Press Release

Photo Gallery (56k destruction)



There's been no word on pricing as of yet, but we should find out sometime in the coming weeks before the car's scheduled debut sometime this Spring.

I apologize for the length.

Thanks for reading!
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