The History Of Hyundai Sonata

The Hyundai Sonata is a mid-size sedan manufactured and marketed globally by Hyundai Motor Company since its introduction with model year 1988. The Sonata has evolved through four generations and several intermediate restylings.

The name Sonata derives from the musical term for a composition featuring one or more solo instruments.

The first-generation Sonata (Y2) was part of Hyundai's expansion in North America after the success of the Excel. (The original Sonata (Y1) debuted in South Korea in November 1985 with an 2.0 engine on the body of Stellar, which was not successful and is almost forgotten.) It was introduced in South Korea on June 1, 1987. It was then introduced in Canada in September 1987 as a 1988 model, and in 1988, as a 1989 model in the United States. The exterior was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro of ItalDesign. The vehicle received a mid-term facelift in 1992. It replaced the Stellar as Hyundai's large family car. Sonatas were built in Asan, Korea, and in Bromont, Quebec.

The Sonata was designed by Hyundai and featured Mitsubishi's engineering, including its 2.4L 110hp (82kW) Sirius I4 engine as used in American-market models. A 3.0L V6 based on the Mitsubishi 6G72 arrived in 1990. The U.S. model received the 2.0L engine for the 1992, replacing the original 2.4L engine.

Trim levels in the US were:

  • GL (2.4 and 2.0 engines)
  • GLS (3.0 engine)

The second-generation Sonata (Y3) debuted in 1993, as a 1995 model. The base engine in most markets was a 2.0L 126hp (94kW) Sirius I4, but there was a 3.0L, 142hp (106kW) Mitsubishi V6 option in some markets. This generation continued after the demise of the Bromont, Quebec plant in September 1993. After that, all Sonatas would be built in Korea, until the opening of the Beijing Hyundai plant in December 2002.

A facelift for the Sonata (Y3 facelift) in 1996 saw modifications front and rear. Sales were up 25% that first year.[citation needed] The four-cylinder engine was up to 137hp (102kW) that year as well.

A new model arrived in 1998 (1999 for North America), launching the (EF) series.

Engines were 2.4L 138hp (103kW) Hyundai Sirius and a 2.5L 170hp (127kW) Hyundai Delta V6 A special 10-year warranty.

The 2002 model featured the all-aluminum, DOHC 2.7L Hyundai Delta V6 powered the Sonata with 173hp (129kW). It also featured the same Sirius II 4 cylinder which at the time made 138 hp (111 kW), 157 ft·lbf (213 N·m) of torque. Sales reached 104,000 for 2004.

The Kia Optima (called the Magentis in Canada and Europe) was based on the same automobile platform of this generation of Sonata and shared the same doors and some others panels.

This Sonata also lent its platform to the first-generation Hyundai Santa Fe, a compact crossover SUV.

This generation of Sonata is still being built (since 2002) and sold in China as of September 2006 by Beijing Hyundai Co. and in Russia by TagAZ.

The 4th generation Sonata was launched in August 2004 in Korea, based on a new platform created from the project NF. The company's first all-aluminum I4 engine, dubbed Theta, debuted in the new Sonata. Engine choices at launch were a 2.4L I4 that produced 164hp (122kW) at 5,800rpm and a 3.3L 237hp (177kW) V6. The diesel version was used as a taxicab in Singapore.

The U.S. May 2005 launch of the new Sonata coincided with the production commencement at the company's first U.S. assembly plant — in Montgomery, Alabama.

Classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‎ as a large car, the fourth generation was 2in (50.8mm) longer and taller and 1in (25.4mm) wider than the previous generation. Standard features included anti-lock braking system/ electronic stability control/ traction control system as well as six airbags (driver/ front passenger front and side, and side curtain).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the Sonata with 5 Stars in frontal and side crashes. The Sonata received a "Good" offset frontal impact rating, an "Acceptable" side impact rating, and a "Good" rear crash protection rating from the IIHS.


Hyundai facelifted the Sonata for the 2008 model year, marketing the revised model as the Hyundai Sonata Transform in Korea, and debuting the model elsewhere as an 'early' 2009 model. While the original 2006 fourth generation model was designed primarily in Korea, the restyling was designed primarily at HATCI (Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center, Inc) in Superior Township, MI — its first major assignment.

The redesign features revised engines, front fascia and grill, taillights, headlights, wheel cover designs and an extensively revised IP (Instrument Panel). Hyundai adopted the "slush molding,” production technique that enables much a much higher grade of texturing and shaping of the IP surface.

Redesigned gauges feature a blue backlight, and a touch-screen navigation system, optional on the 'Limited' trim level only, includes satellite radio capability. Bluetooth capability is available as an optional unit, separate from the audio or navigation system, and all models include both a USB port along with an auxiliary input jack. An optional USB adaptor cord allows integration of an iPod, and chrome interior door handles are standard on the Limited trim.

The 2.4L Theta II engine receives an eight-percent increase in power to 175hp (168 hp with PZEV) and the 3.3L Lambda V6 receives an increase from 234 to 249hp (186kW). Fuel efficiency is EPA rated at 22/ 32 for the I4 and 19/ 29 for the V6. The base model GLS is available with a manual five speed transmission. GLS, SE and Limited models feature a newly available, manually-shiftable five-speed automatic transmission marketed as "Shiftronic."

Europe: models received the following European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP) ratings:

  • Adult Occupant: , score 27
  • Child Occupant: , score 37
  • Pedestrian: , score 12.

Sonata Ling Xiang

Beijing Hyundai launched a redesigned 4th generation Sonata called the Ling Xiang for the Chinese market with an updated exterior and revised rear seating.

Sonata Hybrid

Hyundai has scheduled a hybrid electric Sonata, featuring lithium-ion battery technology, to make its debut at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November 2008 — and projects its release in the U.S. market in 2010.

The Sonata has received the following awards:

  • "Interior of the Year", 2009 Sonata, Ward's Auto World, category: Best Redesign.
  • "Best Vehicles for $25,000 or Less" in 2008 Consumer Reports
  • "Top Picks 2008" in 2008 Consumer Reports
  • "Best New Family Car (under $35,000)" in the 2006 Canadian Car of the Year awards.
  • Kiplinger’s Personal Finance “Best in Class” in the under $20,000 category – 2007 Sonata: Kiplinger’s Personal Finance 2007 Car Buyer’s Guide "Best of 2007 Cars" March 2007.
  • - 2007 Sonata: Best Deal For Small Families
  • "Consumers Digest Best Buy" - 2006 Sonata
  • NHTSA 5-Star Crash Rating – 2006 Sonata: Government star ratings are part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) New Car Assessment Program ( Model tested with standard side-impact airbags (SABs).
  • Named "Best Bet" in Jack Gillis' The Car Book 2006 - 2006 Sonata
  • Kiplinger’s Personal Finance “Best in Class” in the $18,000 to $23,000 category – 2006 Sonata: Kiplinger’s Personal Finance 2006 Car Buyer’s December 2005.
  • Kiplinger’s Personal Finance “Best New Car” in the $18,000 to $23,000 category – 2006 Sonata: Kiplinger’s Personal Finance 2006 Car Buyer’s December 2005.
  • MotorWeek’s “Driver’s Choice Award” for Best Family Sedan – 2006 Sonata

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