Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hyundai Sonata

Has any other automaker gone from imitator to innovator this quickly? That's what the 2013 Hyundai Sonata midsize sedan has us wondering. It was only a few years ago that Hyundais came across as Korean-flavored interpretations of more established cars, but now every new family sedan seems to be taking cues from Korea's finest. Let's start with the Sonata's bold "fluidic sculpture" design language, which truly looks like nothing else on the road. It was revolutionary when the Sonata debuted in 2010, a breath of fresh air in a segment notorious for stale styling. Since then, we've seen the Nissan Altima get all swoopy for its latest redesign, and the new Ford Fusion's physique has likewise been streamlined. Yes, that's right: Hyundai set the trend, and the others followed suit. Even fiercely independent Honda pays homage to Hyundai these days, as the new Accord's taillights look like they were lifted straight off the Hyundai Genesis luxury sedan. The Sonata is also a leader under the hood, where the base 2.4-liter engine offers up to 200 horsepower, and the optional 2.0-liter turbocharged engine marshals a whopping 274 horses. We can remember when only high-strung performance machines like the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution made that kind of power with a 2.0-liter inline-4. Fuel economy is stellar as well, reaching in the mid-30 mpg range with either engine. Naturally, Hyundai hasn't gotten everything about the Sonata right overnight. But when you take all of the Sonata's strong points and add Hyundai's traditional value advantage to the mix, it's no wonder other automakers are suddenly scrambling to keep up.