The Hyundai Sonata, a midsize family sedan, has steadily advanced in its highly competitive segment and is no longer a fringe alternative to the mainstream represented by the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
With its redesign in 2011, the Sonata had its most successful year (225,961 units sold). It was the first time a Hyundai model sold more than 200,000 units in a year, and the stellar year vaulted the Sonata into 11th on the season-end, best-selling list where Honda, Ford, Nissan and Toyota all had sedan entries.
The 2012 Hyundai Sonata, therefore, largely remains the same as last year (why tinker with success?) with only a few updates.
The new Sonata has a telematics service (Blue Link), a higher-resolution touchscreen display to the optional navigation system and a panoramic sunroof is now offered in the Limited trim level. The 2012 model’s engine has also been recalibrated, so it gets slightly better gas mileages than last year’s offering.
Available in GLS, SE and Limited trim levels, the 2012 Sonata has a substantial list of standard equipment. The GLS features: keyless entry, air-conditioning, cruise control, full power accessories, heated mirrors, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, a 60/40-split rear seatback, a trip computer, Bluetooth and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an iPod/USB audio interface, an auxiliary audio jack and steering-wheel-mounted controls.
My test vehicle for the week was the SE 2.0 with a turbocharged engine. It adds dual-zone automatic climate control and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. My weekly driver also included the optional Navigation and Sunroof packages which feature the navigation system with touchscreen display, a rearview camera, premium Infinity speakers and a sunroof.
The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, with its six-speed automatic, generates 274 horsepower and is Hyundai’s answer those who might opt for a six-cylinder engine. It’s not available. The turbo-charged offering is plenty sufficient. It’s quick off the line and has considerable pride and power when asked to change lanes or manuver in demanding situations.
As a family sedan, four adults are comfortable, although the sloping roof does reduce backseat headroom.
Stellar fuel economy for class.
Extensive standard list features, including USB and Bluetooth connectivity.
Exterior color: Sparkling Ruby . . . . too bright.
Facts & Figures: 2012 Hyundai Sonata
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg (city), 34 mpg (highway).
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $24,645.00
Price As Tested: $28,455.00
The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:
When once the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry had few, if any, strong rivals, the Hyundai Sonata has scooted down the road and is now among frontrunners in the midsize sedan caravan.
Article Last Updated: August 7, 2013.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.