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:
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
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.
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
I'm be curious to hear others initial impressions of their Sonatas.
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
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
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
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!!
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
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
I'll have to look at that too.
Wanna see what happens to a Sonata in a side crash?
How about the proverbial brick wall?
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..
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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. ;-)
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!
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