Safety, reliability are top features

The 2008 Hyundai Sonata, with six standard airbags, earned a U.S. government five-star crash test rating for front and side impacts.


Korean automaker Hyundai’s Sonata is in its fifth generation — reflecting about 20 years of development. It’s always been a bit of a tough go for this mid-size sedan because the market typically sees the Japanese brands from Honda, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota as segment leaders.

I say make room for the Koreans.

A good place to start for a mid-size family car is with safety. The Sonata has six standard airbags (front, seat-mounted side impact and side air curtain), standard active front head restraints, standard child seat LATCH system and seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters. It also earned a U.S. government five-star crash test rating for front and side impacts.

The Sonata offers a pair of engines that drive the front wheels. The first is a 2.4-litre, four-cylinder engine in the GL and GLS models, rated at 162 horsepower — with a fuel consumption rating of 9.6 L/100 km city and 6.3 L/100 km highway with the standard five-speed manual transmission.

Standard in GL V6 and GLS V6 models is a 3.3-litre V6 that produces 234 hp. Mileage? About 11.6 L/100 km city/7.2 L/100 km highway. All V6-equipped models get Hyundai’s five-speed automatic transmission, which features an overdrive lock-up torque converter for improved highway fuel economy.

Starting from the bottom of the range, the GL features that 2.4-litre, four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual transmission, four-wheel disc brakes, 16-inch steel wheels, six airbags, active front head restraints, keyless entry system with security alarm, air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, power door locks, heated exterior power mirrors, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, tilt steering column and a leather-wrapped gear shift knob. ABS and an automatic transmission are options — but still, the base price is an astonishing $22,295.

Above the GL is the GL V6, adding the 3.3-litre V6, five-speed automatic transmission, 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, telescoping steering wheel, ABS brakes, and driver’s seat lumbar support. Price? $26,795.

For image-conscious buyers, the luxury-spec GLS trim can be had with the four-cylinder engine, and features leather seating and trim panels, heated front seats, driver’s power seat controls, an adjustable leather-trimmed centre console, automatic climate control, telescopic steering wheel with remote audio controls, chrome exterior accents and a trip computer for $27,695. With a V6 under its hood, the GLS V6 rings in at $28,495.

And for $29,995 you can opt for the Sonata Limited, with even more convenience and luxury.

Me? I’d stick to the base GL plus an automatic transmission and ABS brakes. Called the Premium package, it pegs the price at $25,545 — and incorporates all the car you would ever really need.

2008 Sonata GL Premium

  • Type: Mid-size, 5-passenger sedan FWD

  • Price: $25,545

  • Engine: 2.4L L4 DOHC

  • HP: 162 @ 5,800 rpm

  • Torque: 164 @ 4,250 rpm


  • Value for money

  • Ease of use

  • Sharp styling

  • Reliability

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