On the heels of the success of the Excel, the Hyundai Sonata was introduced in order to further entice car buyers into the efficient and economical ways of the Korean automaker. The exterior accessories of the Hyundai Sonata were designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro of the famed ItalDesign company. For the first US generation (and second overall), the model was outfitted with a base 2.0L inline four-cylinder engine mated to a either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. Trim levels for the United States were the GL and the GLS. The GL offered two different engine configurations, the 2.4L inline four-cylinder and the 2.0. The GLS was equipped with a 3.0L V6 good for approximately 146 horsepower. As for the model's dimensions, the Sonata premiered stateside with a wheelbase of 104.3 inches, a width of 68.9 inches, a height of 55.5 inches, and an overall length of 184.3 inches. In 1993, the third generation and second US generation debuted. The base engine was a 2.0L inline four-cylinder, however, there were several inline four-cylinder configurations available for the model in different markets. The top-level engine remained a 3.0L V6. All engines were once again mated to either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. Measurements this time around gave the Hyundai Sonata a wheelbase of 106.3 inches, a width of 69.7 inches, a height of 55.3 inches, and an overall length of 185 inches. This series of the Sonata ran until 1998.
1998 ushered in the third US generation of the Sonata. The base engine was a 2.0L Sirius inline four-cylinder that churned out 138 horsepower while a 2.5L Delta V6 (170 hp) took over for the previous 3.0L configuration. The Santa Fe, Hyundai's inaugural SUV, premiered in 2001 and shared the same platform and parts with the Sonata. In 2002, a new DOHC 2.7 Delta V6 was introduced into the lineup comprised of all-aluminum and produced 173 horsepower. The 2002 Sonata also featured a Sirius II four-cylinder, which was responsible for up to 138 horsepower along with 157 pounds-per-foot of torque. Third generation versions of the Hyundai Sonata measured in with a wheelbase of 106.3 inches, a width of 71.5 inches, a height of 55.5 inches, and an overall length of 185.4 inches. Before the fifth overall generation (fourth for North America) of the Sonata hit US shores, it first debuted in Korea for 2004. Built on an all-new platform, the brand unveiled an all-aluminum inline four-cylinder Theta engine for the new Sonata. The base 2.4L four-cylinder engine produced 164 horsepower. A bolder 3.3L V6, rated at 237 horsepower was the higher-level option. Once again, the Sonata was directed through either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic.
The fourth-generation US model made its North American debut in May 2005. The Hyundai Sonata parts and the model itself were produced at Hyundai's first US plant located in Montgomery, Alabama. Longer and taller than the previous generations of the car, the fifth generation of the Hyundai Sonata shows off a wheelbase of 107.5 inches, a width of 72 inches, a height of 58 inches, and an overall length of 189 inches. The Hyundai Sonata parts were redesigned, and the company displayed the changes at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show. There were improvements made across the board to the exterior accessories, which included a new grille, new tail lights, new projector headlights, and an updated wheel/spoke design for the Limited trim level. The changes to the Hyundai Sonata parts preceded the arrival of the sixth generation (fifth for the US), which was welcomed into showrooms for 2009. Trim levels were the GLS, SE, and Limited. The standard engine is a 2.4L direct-injection inline four-cylinder (198 horsepower and 184 pounds-per-foot of torque). A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the entry-level GLS while a six-speed automatic comes with the SE and Limited, although it is also offered as an option for the GLS.
Style and comfort are the order of the day when it comes to the Hyundai Sonata. Not your ordinary sedan, the Sonata can demonstrate an eclectic brand of luxury. The deceptively roomy cabin and interior lend themselves to qualities most normally associated with higher-end models. But the Sonata makes it work. Backed by a steadily-performing powertrain, the Sonata is equipped with all of the necessary muscle to deliver the big hit when it has to. Certainly an open canvas to its drivers, the Sonata is a rare breed that invites a classic, intimate feel.
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