Midsize car; Built in Canada
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $1,500*


1990 Hyundai Sonata


1991 Hyundai Sonata


1994 Hyundai Sonata


1992 Hyundai Sonata


1992 Hyundai Sonata

Pros:
  • Acceleration (V6)
  • Antilock brakes (optional)
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Visibility
Cons:
  • Acceleration (4-cylinder automatic)
  • Fuel economy
  • Road noise
  • Wind noise

Not the most refined or exciting car on the block, and noisier than many, Sonata is still a sensible, well-designed family sedan. What this sedan lacks in refinement and assembly quality compared to a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry, it manages to make up for in price and value.

Overview

Early in 1989, Hyundai introduced a larger front-drive 4-door sedan called the Sonata. Dimensionally, it ranks as a large compact. The standard 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine was built under Mitsubishi licensing, but with Hyundai’s multipoint fuel injection. A 3.0-liter V6 arrived for 1990, hooked to an electronically controlled automatic transmission with Normal and Power shift modes. Sonatas came in standard and plusher GLS trim. All Sonatas were equipped with motorized front shoulder belts to meet the federal passive-restraint equipment.

Yearly Updates

1991 Sonata
Interiors were redesigned this year. New items included seats, console, instrument-panel fascia, dual cupholders, and a fade-out light.
1992 Sonata
A Mitsubishi-built 2.0-liter, 16-valve four replaced the 2.4-liter for 1992, and antilock braking became available on the GLS with V6 power. Styling changes included a fresh grille, revised taillights, and slight sheetmetal alterations.
1993 Sonata
Except for a body-color front air intake and new wheel covers, this year’s Sonata changed little.
1994 Sonata
No change at all hit the 1994 models, as the Sonata was awaiting redesign as an early ’95 model.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Two engines were available in 1990 Sonatas: a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, rated at 116 horsepower; and a new 3.0-liter V6 that made 142 horsepower. Both a 5-speed manual and 4-speed overdrive automatic transmission were available, but V6 Sonatas came only with automatic. For 1992, a smaller (2.0-liter) 4-cylinder engine with dual-overhead cams, yielding 128 horsepower replaced the prior single-cam four. The new engine had dual balance shafts for smoothness, multipoint fuel injection, distributorless ignition, and a hydraulic cam-belt tension adjuster.

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/143
Engine HP 116
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 142
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
21/28
21/26
Turbocharged dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 128
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 121
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
20/27
21/27
25.7
20.5
ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/181
Engine HP 142
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 158
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

18/24

16.6

Road Test

Acceleration is fairly impressive with the 2.4-liter four and a 5-speed, but only adequate with automatic. Picking a V6 doesn’t make a lot of difference, but does offer quieter running. The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, introduced for 1992, feels no more peppy than the old 2.4. In city/highway driving, we averaged 20.5 mpg with a 4-cylinder automatic Sonata and a decidedly thirsty 16.6 mpg with the V6. Though relatively quiet mechanically, Sonatas suffer noticeable wind noise on the highway, along with excessive road noise.

Handling and roadholding are very capable for this class, but hardly agile. Steering feels light and responsive. The well-controlled, comfortably pliant ride is another “plus,” though you get a bit of floatiness at times. Simulated panic stops from 60 mph were marred by sudden, early rear-wheel lockup as well as long stopping distances.

Four adults have plenty of room in the tall interior. Head and leg space are generous. Entry/exit is easy, due to fairly wide doors. A bumper-height opening makes the sizable trunk easy to load.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1992 Hyundai Sonata 4-cylinder

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 4
40%
Steering/Handling - 3
30%
Quietness - 3
30%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
30%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 4
40%

Total: 38

Specifications

4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
104.3 184.3 68.9 55.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
14.0 17.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.5 37.4 42.9 37.3
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1994 Sonata 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 121
Injury 183
Theft 131

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: Harsh shifts into second or fourth gears on cars with automatic transmissions is probably due to a missing or defective air-exhaust plug. (1990-94)
Blower motor
Description: If the blower motor is noisy or jams and blows the fuse, or if the inside of the windshield fogs up, there may be a water leak at the plenum. (1990-94)
Engine misfire
Description: Stalling at idle, no air conditioning, and a “check engine” light could be caused by a bad ground. Splicing a ground wire into the original one leading to the computer might solve the problem. (1990-94)
Manual transmission
Description: Gear clashes or grinding when shifting from second to third gear is corrected by installing beefier synchronizers. (1992-94)
Water leak
Description: Water on the floor from what appears to be a leaking heater core is really a leaking heater valve. (1990-94)

Recall History

1990
Description: Safety catch on secondary hood-latch striker could bind, allowing hood to fly open while car is moving if primary latch is released or hood is not completely closed.
1990
Description: Spring-clamp on coolant bypass hose of 2.4-liter engine may contact and possibly damage the fuel-supply hose, which could result in fuel leakage into engine compartment and possible fire.
1990-94
Description: Motorized shoulder belt can travel slowly or chatter in its track; may eventually become inoperative, increasing risk of injury in sudden stop or accident.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.