2006 Sonata GL 2.5L/5 speed manual initial impressions

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Well, I'm closing in on 1,000 miles now and am on my third tank of gas. My early impressions of the car are:
Pros -
Styling is great, but then this is very subjective.
Interior room is great for this size (exterior-wise) car. Power is great for a 4 cylinder. Braking is impressive and I like having disks on all four corners. Quietness for a car of this price. Controls are pretty good and easy to find, although I dislike the dimmer switch that must be pushed forward and pulled back. I much prefer the toggle style dimmers in my American cars. Sound system is pretty good. Assembly quality seems very good. The car handles well and the Michelin tires perform great in snow. The steering is a little too light with too little feedback, but not a major problem.
Cons -
Heater doesn't distribute heat well to the footwells. Windows fog up with more than two people in the car. The seat belts are too close to the interior panel making it hard for me to grab ahold of them to put them on. The receptacle is also too close to the console leaving insufficient room for my hand to insert the buckle. The electronic throttle is too light (too little feedback) making it hard to make a smooth start in 1st gear as the engine is also too quiet to hear. In an automatic this wouldn't be an issue. The storage bins are all the wrong size for common items. I use a 4x6" spiral bound notebook to keep my vehicle log for fuel purchases and maintenance. The cubby under the heater controls is about 5 7/8" wide which means this notebook won't fit in it. It fits perfectly in a similar cubby in my Chrysler minivan. Likewise, the top compartment of the console looks like it was designed to hold a short stack of CDs, but again it is about 1/8" too small for a standard CD case. And the bottom compartment looks like it is the right size for a standard square box of tissues, but again it is about 1/8" too small. Fortunately, the tissue boxes give and I can jamb one in there.
Neutral -
Fuel economy - First tank was 27 MPG (60-70% highway probably) and second tank was 29 MPG (maybe 70-80% highway), both in weather running in the high 20s to low 30s. I'm hoping for at least 30 in my normal mix of driving once the car is broke in and the weather gets a little warmer. I drive 70-80% highway typically. I'd like to get closer to the 34 highway rating, but I doubt that will happen as all of the road tests I've seen of Hyundais show that they don't get as close to the EPA ratings as to most other car makers (Toyota in particular does well in this regard).
I'm be curious to hear others initial impressions of their Sonatas.
Matt
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I've got a GLS V6 with 1900 miles at 3 weeks. So far not too bad except for the headlight issue - I had to adjust them myself because the dealer insisted on using a line on the wall the first time I brought it back for blinding oncoming traffic. That resulted in no light AT ALL beyond 70 feet from the car. Second trip back resulted in lighting the trees instead of the road. Off to a nice dark road I went. I think they're pretty close to OK now. I can see, and I've driven another vehicle towards it, and it's not too bad - brighter than most non HID, but not anything like it was from the factory. Another issue that they have yet to resolve is a shaking / vibration. Kind of like an imbalanced tire, but faster - more of a vibration. Problem was present on test drive of car, but salesman said it was probably flat spots on the tires from sitting on lot. First trip back initially resulted in tech saying she didn't feel it. She was instruct to balance the tires by the service mangler. One tire was off by 1.25. Next trip back resulted in them figuring out that the tech. inflated tires to like 36 psi. Spec is 30 psi., and they say vehicle rides rough if over inflated. It still does. Have not been back yet, as I've got better things to do than spend days at dealer. Waiting for survey(s). I intend to go back and ask how they'd like me to fill them out. I figure that they can give me a loaner while they figure out how to correct the vibration that's obviously not flat spots, not balancing, and not tire inflation. It's worse at certain bands of speed - 53 mph, 60 mph, and right around 70 mph (yes, that's legal here). Anyone else feel anything similar?
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Bob wrote:

I was lucky as my headlights seemed to be aimed pretty well out of the box. I've had just a couple of cars "flash" me during the two weeks I've owned the car, and visibility down the road seems good from the driver's seat.

I haven't experienced this, but when my car was back for the "recall" last week (seat recline handles, cupholder rubber and trim behind the door handles), the salesman and service manager were talking about a recall for tires that had been ruined during shipment. The symptom was a permanent flat spot due to the cars being bound down too tightly on the ship coming over.
Now, I thought the Sonata was built in the US in Alabama, at least I think that is what the web site said, but it turns our my Sonata was built in Asan, which I learned when I was reading the fine print in the window sticker after getting it home. I would have still bought the car in all likelihood, but I definitely felt a little mislead by Hyundai. I'm wondering if only the V-6s are made in the US as they advertise that the V-6 engine is also made in that same plant.
Anyway, you may want to ask them to replace the tires as it may be a flat spot issue after all. My Sonata is quite smooth up to reasonable speeds anyway. Once I get 1200 miles on it, I'll open it up a little more!
Even the service manager didn't understand the replacement of the cup holder rubber and door trim on my car. He said the door trim pieces in particular looked identical to the one's they had to replace! He wasn's sure on the cupholder either, but thought the original rubber was too flimsy and maybe wasn't holding the cups in place. He said the seat recline lever was changed to hold the seat belt in place (it has an indentation now) as some folks were getting the seat belt caught between the handle and the seat.
I appreciate the attention by Hyundai to these little details, but I wish they would pay more attention to the bigger details like designing a heater that has a "floor" mode that really puts heat on the floor and not through every other vent in the dash as well!!
Matt
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Try driving at the car on a 2 lane road in another vehicle. You may need to adjust them down just a little. It will actually help you to see even better.

Interesting....
What's the first digit of the VIN if 5, it's 'bama. If K, it came over on a boat. Yes, currently all (and only) V-6's are built here.

What's with the cup holder and trim? They did the seat recliner before I bought it.

I'll have to look at that too.
Wanna see what happens to a Sonata in a side crash? http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/database/aspx/searchmedia.aspx?foundmedia=Y&database=v&tstnoT54&r_tstnoT54&v_tstnoT54&p_tstnoT54
How about the proverbial brick wall? http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/database/aspx/searchmedia.aspx?foundmedia=Y&database=v&tstnoT53&r_tstnoT53&v_tstnoT53&p_tstnoT53

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with your windows fogging up, are you sure your ventilations set to fresh and not recirc? thatll mkae it fog up fast in recirc with two people.. i find the recirc handy for when i warm to car up on a -30f morning.. Uses the interior air thus takeing less time to heat interior, but once im in i switch to fresh or itll fog right up . we drive a 99 accent..

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Jody wrote:

Yes, I've confirmed that. I haven't taken it back to the dealer yet, but will do so this spring when things get really damp. I found turning the fan up to speed 3 or 4 helps, but I've never had to do that in my other cars. The only other car that had this problem was a 1971 Beetle, but it had basically no defrost capability at all!! I expected more from a modern design.
Matt
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Matt Whiting wrote:

I can't speak about the Sonata, but that's typical of the Elantra. The fans are just wimpy. I routinely have to use the 3 and 4 fan settings. You'll get used to it.
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I have a 40 miles GL AT, I can compare it with a V6 2003 Camry: feels exactly the same, handles the road a little better (possible due to superior tires), power is adequate, suspension feels unrefined (running over the speed bumps produces a loud thud), quiet otherwise. Transmission shifts nicely, shiftronic is a un-necessary addition: does anybody use this on a current basis?!
James
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James Atkinson wrote:

That reminds me that I have a loud snap/pop sound in my dash when I hit a really sharp bump. It does it rarely, but if I hit just the right bump (usually the leading edge of a bridge where the road has settle a couple of inches before the concrete bridge apron), it makes one loud snap that sounds like it is coming from the upper center of the dash.
As for the tranny, I test drove the shiftronic and felt it largely a gimic. It wasn't natural to me to shift gears by toggling the handle. I've driven stick all my driving life (30 years now) and I kept wanting to go opposite directions on alternate gears! The only advantage I could see was the ability to hold the transmission in a given gear. However, this could have been accomplished much more easily and cheaply with a button on the shifter. My minivans are notorious for shifting constantly when driving on hilly roads (like interstate 80 through western PA) and route 15 near where I live. The are constantly going from lock to unlock in 4th to 3rd back to 4th back to lockup and then repeating. And the engine doesn't really lug at all before the transmission downshifts. I like to be able to use the throttle rather than the transmission to maintain speed on little hills.
Matt
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superior
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I just checked the pressure in the tires. Dealer over-inflated them to 35 psi (recommended 30 front, 29 rear). That might be the reason for the roughness of the suspension. I didn't have the chance to drive the care on a highway only local streets. Never exceeded 50 mph, but my wife that followed me with the other car told me that at a certain moment I was driving with 65 mph. The speedometer might not be accurate (Sonata's) or she did not drive it at constant speed.
James
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James Atkinson wrote:

That's not actually overinflated. The tires are rated to 44 psi. You'll find that the car handles best and the tires wear most evenly with 4-5 psi more pressure in the front than in the rear. That's because the front tires carry ~60% of the weight of the vehicle. Lower pressures may feel more comfortable, but you'll pay for it in the long run with increased tire wear.

It's really hard to believe that the speedo could be off by 15 mph. If you want to guage it, do it while driving side-by-side on the highway. Or, if you can find a measured mile locally, drive it at 60 mph and time how long it takes. It should take exactly 1 minute. If it varies significantly, take it to the dealer.
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Matt Whiting wrote:

I laugh every time I see a statement like this. Get some snow tires and you'll discover how pathetic "all season" tires truly are in the snow.

The Elantra is the same. The Elantra is my first car with power steering and I'd rather not have it at all. Manual rack and pinion is far more precise. If I could find a manual rack for it, I'd change it in a heartbeat!

Ditto for the Elantra.

I don't know what reports you've been reading, but manual transmission Hyundais, typically exceed their EPA ratings if they're driven sensibly. My '04 Elantra GT hatchback is rated at 34 mpg, but I regularly get 35-37 mpg @65 mph on highway drives in the summer. I'll typically average 34 or so combined. With snow tires on, winter blend gas and cold weather, my winter mileage drops to 33-35 mpg on the highway and ~32 overall.
You don't specify the speeds you drive at or what your driving habits are. That will have more of an effect on your mileage than any other factor.
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Brian Nystrom wrote:

Like I do with your statement. People who don't know how to drive in snow say this all the time. I've got 30 years of winter driving experience, including five years driving tractor trailers on and off road hauling logs.
I drive my K1500 quite regularly in the snow as I plow my 1700' long driveway with it. It has the heaviest lug M&S tires I could find. Snow tires are better in snow, but the difference is relatively minor in most conditions. In the conditions that prevail 95% of the time in PA and NY (dry or wet pavement), all-season tires are better performers than snow tires.
I've had no problem climbing my driveway with the Sonata's stock Michelins, so adding snow tires would be solving a problem that doesn't exist.

Yes, I agree that in a small car, there is little need for power steering unless you are physically handicapped. I'd prefer manual myself.

I guess every brand has to have its achilles heel!

I've seen no reports on a standard shift hyundais. One report I saw was one handed out by the salesman. I think it was Motor Trend, but I'm not sure. I believe there was a Consumer Reports test a while back on either the Sonata (not the new model) or the Elantra and it didn't fair well mileage-wise. I check every tank in all of my cars so I'll know in a few months how the Sonata is doing.

I've been driving 55 mostly with excursions to 50 and 60 to vary the speed during break-in. I've been shifting at the recommended 15, 25, 35 and 45 points, which is pretty conservative ... less than 3,000 RPM in most gears. I've not yet revved the engine past 4,000 grand.
Matt
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Matt Whiting wrote:

I guess we'll just have to disagree on this point. I'm in my 1st winter driving in New Hampshire and I know how to drive in snow. I've compared good snow tires (Nokian) to the stock Michellins and there is absolutely no comparison in traction. The Nokians are FAR better in snow and significantly better on ice.

Granted, the stock tires are better on wet/dry pavement, but that's not my concern in winter. Snow tires are better on snow and ice.

Unfortunately, I haven't found anyone that makes a manual rack for Hyundais. I've considered just disconnecting the p/s pump and draining the fluid, since the steering is rack and pinion and the stock steering ratio seems reasonable for use un-boosted, but I'm not sure how well that will work. I may try it next summer, as an experiment. It would be nice to get rid of the extra weight and drag of the p/s pump. I would think it would gain an extra mpg or two.

In this case, one warm heel and one cold heel. ;-)

Hyundai automatics seem to struggle to meet their EPA ratings and most often don't in the real world.

Like you, I was initially disappointed with the gas mileage in my Elantra. However, it increased rapidly for the first few tankfulls and continued to increase gradually for ~10K miles. I switched the engine to synthetic oil at 3000 miles and the transmission to synthetic lube at 10K. That seems to increase fuel mileage, particularly in winter. If you decide to do the same, Redline MT-90 seems to be the synthetic gear lube of choice for the tranny. You must use a GL-3 lube and it's one of the few available.
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Brian Nystrom wrote:

Most tests I've seen show less than a 20% difference on packed snow and often even less on ice. This is your 1st year driving in the winter and you already claim to know how to drive in snow? :-)
Disagreeing is fine. To me it is simply a decision as to what to optimize. Do you optimize for a handful of days in a typical winter that have snow and ice or do you optimize for the 90% or more days that have wet or dry pavement? I choose to optimize for the conditions I encounter most often here in northern PA and upstate NY. Now, if I lived in Telluride or Alaska, I'd probably make a different choice.

I've never disputed that snow tires are better on snow and ice. I simply don't have to deal with snow or ice on the roads more than a few days in a typical winter. So far this winter, I've driven to work on two days where the road was snow covered and had yet to be plowed and cindered and salted. The other 45 days (I count winter as starting with the first snow which this year was just before Thanksgiving as I recall), the roads have been wet at worst and mostly clear and dry.

I don't know if that would work or not. Most power steering cars I've driven steer really hard when the pump fails. I doubt you could measure the savings in fuel. The power steering really only works hard while steering at very low speeds, and I doubt it consumes even 1/4 horsepower. Remember, it is only doing the work you would be doing with manual steering. And this isn't much work most of the time. And very few humans can develop even 1/4 horsepower for any length of time, and that is using your legs!

Actually, both of my feet stay fairly cold until about 30 minutes have elapsed. My wife and I were driving for about 90 minutes this past weekend visiting motorcycle dealers (I have to do something to keep my spirits up in the winter!) and my feet did eventually get warm, but it took at least 30 minutes and this was on a pretty warm day ... about 30F.

I've used Mobil 1 for years and plan to switch over at the first oil change. My truck has synthetic in the gearbox as Chevy calls for a particular gear lube made by Castrol and I'm pretty sure it is synthetic. I think it is called Syntorq or something like that.
I hadn't even checked the gear lube requirement for the Sonata as yet. I thought GL-3 was a pretty old standard. Isn't GL-5 or -6 what is current?
Matt
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Matt Whiting wrote:

Oops! That was a typo; it's my 31st winter driving in NH. As written, it would be a pretty bizarre claim.

Damn, another typo! MT-90 is a GL-4 lube, not GL-3. It's not a question of age of the standard, but of the material the that the synchronizers are made of. Double check the requirements for the Sonata, but the Elantra transmission requires a GL-4 oil. GL-5 or "universal" lubes will not work acceptably, as they're too slippery for proper synchro function. I've been using MT-90 for nearly 20K miles and it's been great. I know several other Elantra owners that use it as well.
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Well then, you're almost as old as me. That gives you a couple of muligans in these types of things.
--

-Mike-
snipped-for-privacy@alltel.net
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Matt Whiting wrote:

One more small nit on the 4 cylinder is the dipstick. The tube is about 4" down in a hole in the engine decorative cover (I still can't figure out why anyone needs these on their engine fer cryin' out loud!). And the tube is black. I can't even see the tube in anything other than bright sunlight or with a flashlight. Getting the dipstick back into the tube at night or on a cloudy day is a pain.
Matt
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Matt Whiting wrote:

I can only think of two reasons for them:
1) Showroom appeal. It looks nice. 2) It does keep the engine cleaner, which makes it more pleasant to work on. At least the Hyundai covers are quick to remove and you could always leave them off, if you want to.
If you think Hyundai engines are bad, take a look at a VW sometime. My girlfriend's Passat's engine compartment has so many covers that it take half an hour of disassembly to gain access to anything in it. It's the most inconveniently designed car I've ever worked on. Fortunately for me, it's pretty reliable and when she bought it (used), it came with a transferrable extended warranty. She just has her friendly, local VW mechanic work on it and the warranty covers everything significant. It gets me off the hook. ;-)
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Brian Nystrom wrote:

I've heard that VWs in generally are a pain to work on. The only VWs I've owned were two Beetles, a 1971 and a 1975. Both were fairly easy to work on, but didn't have some of the creature comforts such as heating and defrosting. My Beetles were the only cars where I had to scrap the inside of the windshield as I drove!
Matt
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