2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS Review & Test Drive


At first glance you might think that the all-new 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS is all about its sleek sexy lines but it is much more than that.  With the new Hyundai ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design it is a pleasure to look from any angle as it cuts through the air with a very low 0.28 coefficient of drag, but the six generation Sonata GLS is also about its new more fuel efficient and powerful four-cylinder engines, new six-speed automatic transmission, smooth and precise suspension system, and comfortable, contemporary interior with luxury features.

Sleek, sexy lines aside, the exterior of the all-new Sonata is long, light and low.  The raked A-pillars and high beltline allows for a long, sleek roofline accented by the third window that is very unique.  A monoform side profile includes flowing lines highlighted by a Hyundai signature chrome accent that spans the entire length of the car.  Normally, this type of trim is only found around the perimeter of the greenhouse.  On the new Sonata this trim extends out from the headlamps clusters, juts up along the hood and through the beltline and ends at the end of the third window.  Just below and running parallel to this chrome strip is a deeply cut scallop line that runs the length of the two door, around the large rear lamp cluster and ends at the wide chrome bar in the middle of the trunk back, giving the Sonata another unique look, a look like the car is in motion when standing still.  The lower side extensions further give the car a lower side stance.  The newly designed power-remote/heated side mirrors are aerodynamically designed as are the pull-out door handles further helping the car to cut through the air with minimum noise.

The front fascia is bold with a large, powerful chrome grille surrounding three painted blades, and headlamps that integrate precise details.  Below is another air intake with foglamp housings at the sides.

The pushed-up hood features a nice scallop in the center giving the new Sonata a powerful look.

The sophisticated look continues inside where Hyundai has created an upscale ambiance thanks to the flow-through center console and instrument panel that divides the front into two cockpits-one for the driver, the other for the front passenger.  You are surrounded by pleasing flowing circular angles and a wrap from the dashboard into the doors for a seamless look.  These flowing, soft-touch surfaces complement the exterior design and wrap around the front and rear passengers.

The sleek design, combined with Hyundai’s expertise in interior packaging has produced an interior that delivers class-leading comfort, functionality and practicality.  A sleek roofline typically compromises headroom and interior volume, but, at 120.2 cubic feet, the Sonata has the most interior volume of its key competitors.  It is so spacious; Sonata continues to be classified by the EPA as a large car, truly a ‘class above’ the Camry, Altima, Fusion andMalibu(all classified as mid-size cars).  Even in trunk room, the Sonata shines again with 16.4cu.ft. giving it a 9.3% advantage over the Camry, and a 17.1% advantage over the Accord.

Inside use of chrome rings, metallic surfaces and high-grade plastic buttons, dials and switches are first class.  The new tilt/telescoping steering wheel feels perfect in your hands.  The instrument cluster is easy to see and understand, and all controls are easy to reach and fully illuminated for safe nighttime travel.  The seats are very comfortable and supportive for long or short drives as the driver’s seat is 8-way powered.  Even the headliner meeting the top of the windshield is nicely tucked in, just like a much more expensive luxury sedan.  I came to really appreciate Hyundai’s attention to detail inside.

The new Sonata comes with a new Theta II GDI 2.4 liter four-cylinder, all-aluminum, DOHC, VVT engine with gasoline direct-injection which contributes to improved fuel efficiency, lower emissions, and greater horsepower.  The small potent engine generates 200hp at 6,300rpm and 186lb.ft. of torque at 4,250rpm.

The power and torque is channeled to the front wheels via Hyundai’s in-house developed standard 6-speed manual or an optional six-speed automatic with Shiftronic manual control which I tested.  Gear shifts are silky smooth and the unit is designed for transverse engine applications in passenger cars and SUVs, the new compact transmission puts Hyundai into an elite class of automotive manufacturers who have designed their own proprietary six-speed automatic transmissions.  The strength of the design is its unique layout which makes it smaller, more compact and lighter than any other six-speed transmission on the market today.  With this new automatic transmission the new Sonata delivers 22mpg/city and 35mpg/highway, awesome number for an EPA rated full-size sedan.

An advanced four-wheel independent suspension system combines a supple ride with precise handling and steering response for the Sonata GLS and Limited models.  Sonata uses MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension systems with increased travel for improved wheel control and a smoother ride.  All four wheels are controlled by coil springs, fade-resistant gas-charged shocks and stabilizer bars.  The suspension has been optimized to keep the vehicle flat during cornering and provide quick turn-in response.  The rear suspension uses aluminum components to reduce weight and improve suspension performance.  Low-rolling resistance tires 205/65R16in. and 16X6.5in. cast alloy wheels on the GLS improve fuel economy while maintaining good ride and handling performance, (optional tires/wheels are 17 and 18in. low-rolling resistance tires).

Helping to make that so is Sonata’s column-mounted, motor-driven electric power steering that adjusts instantly to changing driving conditions while improving fuel economy over a conventional steering system.  A quick-ratio steering rack is used for crisp feel on turn-in.  Sonata’s turning diameter of 35.8ft. is better than Camry, Accord, Altima, Fusion andMalibu.  Hyundai puts the emphasis on sport with the new Sonata but doesn’t forget comfort and a compliant ride.

The all-new Sonata GLS also features an advanced, state-of-the art braking package.  The package includes 11.8in. vented rotors/twin-piston calipers up front and 11.2in. solid rotors/single-piston calipers in the rear.  Braking power and control are enhanced with standard ABS, BA, EBD.

Sonata is built from the ground up with safety in mind, with a hot stamped ultra-high strength steel body structure, advanced airbag technology and electronic stability control delivering on Hyundai’s commitment to both active and passive safety technology.  Sonata features six airbags-including dual front, front seat-mounted side-impact and front rear side curtain airbags-along with active front-seat head restraints.  Other passive safety features include shingle-style rear-seat head restraints for improved visibility, three-point seatbelts for all seating positions, front-seat seatbelt pretensioners/force limiters, and a rear-seat LATCH system for child seats.

Standard features in the mid-level GLS that I happily tested but not mentioned above includes solar control window glass, remote keyless entry with alarm, power windows/door locks with driver’s side express up/down, front console with dual cupholders, storage slots and a padded center, two-tiered storage bin, 2-12-volt power plugs, 60/40 split rear bench seat with pull-down armrest and dual cupholders, grab handles above all passenger doors, steering wheel mounted cruise control, audio and phone controls, AC, cabin air filter, AM-FM-XM/CD audio system with six speakers, integrated Bluetooth hands free phone system, advanced trip computer, ECO indicator letting you know when you are driving currently with the highest fuel economy available, thick cut-pile carpeting with front/rear floor mats, dual lighted vanity mirrors, dual map lights, projector beam headlamps, map pockets behind both front seatbacks and storage slots at the bottom of all four doors.

My new Sonata GLS came optioned with 16in. tires/alloy wheels, power driver’s seat/lumbar support, leatherette interior door panel inserts, automatic headlight control, navigation with high-resolution touch-screen display, iPod cable and Hyundai’s new Dimension AM-FM-XM-CD premium audio system with eight speakers including a subwoofer that sounded fantastic.

The all-new 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS is premium in every aspect today and is equipped the way you want and at a price thousands below the competition.  The GLS model starts at just $20,195.00, and my nicely loaded model was priced at only $23,500.00 including $720.00 destination.




  • Price: Base Sonata 19,395 As-Tested Sonata GLS $23,500
  • Wheelbase: 110in.
  • Total length: 189.8in.
  • Total width: 72.2in.
  • Total height: 57.9in.
  • Track: f/r-62.9/62.9in.
  • Headroom: f/r-40/37.8in.
  • Legroom: f/r-45.5/34.6in.
  • EPA passenger volume: 103.8cu.ft.
  • Cargo volume: 16.4cu.ft.
  • 0-60mph: 8.2 seconds
  • Fuel tank: 18.5 gallons
  • Curb weight: 3,199lbs.