Midsize car; Built in South Korea
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,300 – $2,000*


1995 Hyundai Sonata


1995 Hyundai Sonata


1996 Hyundai Sonata


1997 Hyundai Sonata


1997 Hyundai Sonata

Pros:
  • Acceleration (V6)
  • Optional antilock brakes
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Ride
Cons:
  • Automatic-transmission performance
  • Wind noise

Anyone seeking a low-priced family car with plenty of interior space should look over a Sonata before deciding on a purchase. Just don’t expect it to shine above the competition.

Overview

A redesigned Sonata went on sale in spring of 1994 as an early ’95 model, with a longer front-drive chassis, fresh styling, and dual airbags. Base engine was a dual-overhead-cam 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that was substantially revised for 1995 to produce 137 horsepower. A 142-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 was standard on the GLS and optional on the GL. The 4-cylinder could have either a 5-speed manual transmission or 4-speed automatic, while the V6 got only the automatic. Antilock brakes were optional, but only on models with a V6 engine.

Yearly Updates

1996 Sonata
A split folding rear seatback, previously standard only on the GLS sedan, now was standard on all Sonatas. Models with the V6 got new liquid-filled engine mounts and additional sound insulation.
1997 Sonata
Sonatas earned a facelift for ’97. Visual changes included reshaped front and rear body panels, restyled taillamps, a new ovoid vertical-bar grille, reflector headlamps, smoother bumpers, plus new wheels and wheel covers.
1998 Sonata
Hyundai’s largest car carried on into 1998 unchanged. Sonata was redesigned for ’99.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Sonatas came with a choice of two Mitsubishi-designed engines: dual-overhead-cam 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, rated at 137 horsepower; or a 142-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6. All V6 Sonatas had a 4-speed automatic transmission, but 4-cylinder models might have the standard 5-speed manual gearbox.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 137
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 129
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
22/28
21/29
23.8
ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/181
Engine HP 142
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 168
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

18/24

20.5

Road Test

The V6 engine furnishes more-than-adequate acceleration from a standing start, capable of reaching 60 mph in just over 9 seconds and delivering welcome passing response. A 4-cylinder Sonata with automatic is sluggish, but gets excellent fuel economy–a credible 23.8 mpg, versus 20.5 mpg for a V6 sedan. Wind noise is prominent around the side windows at highway speeds, making long drives more fatiguing.

Ride quality is impressive. The suspension is firm enough to provide a stable, comfortable highway ride and absorbent enough to soak up most bumps. On the other hand, the ride can get jumpy when rolling over bad roads. A Sonata is easy to drive, but handling ranks just about average–acceptable, that is, but nothing to boast about.

While the previous Sonata was spacious, this one is noticeably roomier. Partly due to its longer wheelbase, the Sonata’s rear seat looks huge compared to space inside some competitors. Expect plenty of head, leg, and elbow room up front, and also in the rear. Cargo space is generous. The new dashboard has a more convenient design than its predecessor, with easy-to-read gauges and an ample-size glovebox. Panel fit isn’t always top-notch, but Sonatas appear to be tight and well-built.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1996 Hyundai Sonata GL 3.0-liter

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 - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 4
40%
Quietness - 5
50%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
40%
Cargo Room - 3
30%

Other

Value - 5
50%

Total: 44

Specifications

4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
106.3 185.0 69.7 55.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
13.2 17.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.5 37.7 43.3 36.6
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1997 Sonata 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
60%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 1
20%
Rear Passenger Injury - 2
40%

HLDI

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

Collision 134
Injury 194
Theft 93

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: Automatic transmissions may suffer shift shock or harsh shifting when accelerating from a stop due to a problem with the transmission-control module. (1995-97)
Automatic transmission
Description: If the transmission slips or will not go into fourth gear, the end clutch needs to be replaced. (1995-96)
Brakes
Description: The brakes may pulsate under light application. A revised set of brake pads plus a hardware kit are available. (1995-97)
Engine misfire
Description: Rough idle, speed vacillations, shock shifting from park, and hard upshifts and downshifts may result from misadjusted throttle-position sensor and idle switch. (1995-97)
Manual transmission
Description: Manual transaxles may grind when attempting to shift into reverse. The problem is corrected with a new reverse idle-gear bushing and reverse shift lever (1995) or reverse synchronizer. (1995-96)
Rough idle
Description: Stalling on V6 models can be caused by problems with the wiring to the mass airflow sensor. (1999-00)
Transmission leak
Description: Casting porosity in transmission housing may cause leaks. (1999-01)
Battery
Description: If the battery insulation cover is not reinstalled after batter service, the battery life will be severely shortened. (1995-04)

Recall History

1995
Description: On 356 cars with gas-filled shock absorbers, one or both lower rear spring seats are not securely attached.
1996-97
Description: Wipers may not operate, due to contamination in contacts.
1998
Description: A crack could develop in the upper fuel-tank surface, allowing fuel to leak.

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.