Behind the Wheel
2006 Hyundai Sonata: Filling the Camry's Rearview Mirror
Benefiting from a thorough redesign, the Sonata has risen toward the
top of the class.
By CHERYL JENSEN
Published: November 6, 2005
DETROIT'S auto executives have plenty to fret about, including serious
threats to their domestic companies from seemingly unstoppable Japanese
rivals. But what keeps the leaders of Toyota, Honda and Nissan up at
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The Heart of the Midsize Market
Reading the Tea Leaves on Quality (November 6, 2005) High on the list
must be Hyundai, a competitive juggernaut from South Korea that keeps
gaining, in sales and perceptions, with each new or redesigned model
that it rolls onto American roads. Its latest car, the redesigned 2006
Sonata, could serve as a diorama for the company's remarkable progress
over the last decade - and a warning shot to Japan's auto industry that
the Koreans have learned to play hardball.
While the previous Sonata was a clear imitation of the big-selling
class leaders, the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, the new one is truly
competitive with those cars in almost every way. It also raises the bar
among mainstream midsize cars in the safety features it includes on all
The car was redesigned with American tastes in mind, with contributions
from Hyundai's design centers in California and Michigan. V-6 models
are built at a new plant in Montgomery, Ala., though four-cylinder cars
are assembled in South Korea.
Not only has this Korean company followed the playbook that the
Japanese used to steal market share from Detroit - making steady
improvements in quality and value, and branching out from inexpensive
entry-level cars to more pricey, more profitable models - it is also
following the ...