Midsize car; Built in South Korea, USA
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $6,100 – $15,000*

2006 Hyundai Sonata

2006 Hyundai Sonata

2006 Hyundai Sonata

2006 Hyundai Sonata

  • Acceleration (V6)
  • Control layout/materials
  • Fuel economy (4-cyl)
  • Passenger room and comfort
  • Quietness
  • Acceleration (4-cyl)
  • Ride (coarse surfaces)

Dynamically, Sonata cannot match the class-leading Honda Accord in terms of engineering. It’s not as refined as a Camry, or as sporty as an Altima. Even so, its power, refinement, safety features, and value pricing make it a Recommended midsize pick. Sonata’s strength hails from its clever blend of comfort, roominess, mainstream design, and everyday performance at an appealing price. Kudos go to Hyundai for making curtain side airbags, ABS, and stability control standard on every Sonata, not just the more-costly top-line models. Because Sonatas depreciate faster than a Camry or Accord, they can be tempting used-car choices.


Hyundai’s midsize sedan was redesigned for 2006 with fresh looks, more power, and standard curtain side airbags. Sonata’s redesign added 1.2 inches to wheelbase, 2.2 inches to overall length, and about 2 inches to height. Passenger space grew in every dimension, with the biggest gain being 1.2 inches of additional rear-seat leg room. Trunk space grew by 2.2 cubic feet, to 16.3.

Sonata continued with a base four-cylinder GL model, uplevel GLS in four-cylinder or V6 form, and top-line LX V6. Both engines were new. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder made 162 horsepower, versus 138 for the previous 2.4-liter. The V6 grew from 2.7 liters with 170 horsepower to a 3.3-liter with 235 horsepower.

Transmission choices included a five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic for the four-cylinder; a five-speed automatic was standard with the V6. Traction and stability control, antilock four-wheel disc brakes, front side airbags, and head-protecting curtain side airbags were standard on all Sonatas.

The GL sedan rode on 16-inch steel wheels, the GLS on 16-inch alloys, and the LX on 17-inch alloys that were optional on the GLS V6. The LX also included heated leather seats, a power driver’s seat, and automatic climate control.

Like all Hyundai models, the Sonata came with a 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Competitors to the front-wheel-drive Sonata included the Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry.

Yearly Updates

2007 Sonata
For its second season in Hyundai’s lineup, the redesigned Sonata showed little change. This year’s lineup consisted of the four-cylinder GLS, plus V6 SE and Limited models. No more GL or LX sedans were offered.
2008 Sonata
Both the 162-hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and the 234-hp 3.3-liter V6 were now available on all three trim levels: GLS, SE, and Limited.
2009 Sonata
The 2009 Sonata received revised suspension tuning, a redesigned interior, and freshened exterior styling. The 2.4-liter 4-cylinder gained 13 hp to 175, while the V6 gained 15 hp to 249. Previously, 4-cylinder models used a 4-speed automatic; for ’09, they got the dame 5-speed automatic as the V6 models. Sonata GLS and Limited models got firmer suspension tuning. A navigation system with voice recognition was a new Limited-exclusive option.
2010 Sonata
The 2010 Hyundai Sonata was largely unchanged.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Two new engines were available under Sonata hoods. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder made 162 horsepower, while the 3.3-liter V6 generated 235 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission or optional four-speed automatic worked with the four-cylinder; but a five-speed automatic was standard with the V6.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/144
Engine HP 162
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 164
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.3/204
Engine HP 235
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 226
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic



Road Test

Acceleration varies by engine. The four-cylinder is weak from a stop, and lacks reserve power for confident passing, but the strong V6 is more than adequate for most driving. A test SE V6 sedan accelerated to 60 mph in a rather swift 6.9 seconds. Generally smooth, Hyundai’s automatic transmissions hesitate briefly before downshifting. In addition, the five-speed tends to “hunt” between gears on hilly terrain.

Fuel economy also depends upon engine choice. A test automatic-transmission four-cylinder averaged 25.9 mpg in mostly highway driving. A test SE V6 sedan averaged 18.8 mpg in mixed city/highway driving, 15.6 including gas-eating performance tests. An extended-use LS sedan averaged 21 mpg. Hyundai recommends regular-grade fuel for both engines.

Sonata’s generally compliant ride strikes a fair balance between control and comfort, but the sedan sometimes struggles to maintain that equilibrium. Sonatas bound over larger bumps and ridges. The available 17-inch tires reduce bouncing, but impart more impact harshness. Wavy pavement promotes bounding and wallow, particularly as speed increases.

In moderate driving, at least, the Sonata exhibits good control. Though agile, it’s not as aggressive in fast maneuvers as sport-oriented sedans like the Nissan Altima. Quick cornering reveals disappointing noseplow, excessive body lean, and steering imprecision. Once in a turn, the 17-inch tires offer markedly tighter grip than the 16s. Steering is nicely weighted, though response is slow in parking-lot maneuvers.

Quietness compares to the class-leading Toyota Camry, with impressively hushed wind rush and well-muted engine noise. The engine note rises with speed, but isn’t annoying. Coarse-surface thrum emanates from the available 17-inch tires, in particular. Ridges produce tire thump, and clunking was noticed from the rear suspension in an extended-use test Sonata.

Simple white-on-black gauges are easy to read in any lighting condition. Major controls fall readily to hand. Materials rank a cut above the class norm. Interiors are highlighted by soft, padded surfaces-even the storage bins are lined. Still, interior panels are not as solid to the touch, and materials not as rich-feeling, as in an Accord or Camry.

Front seats provide sufficient space for large adults. A good driving position is aided by the Limited’s standard tilt/telescope steering wheel, though some testers had difficulty finding a comfortable seatback angle. Thin roof pillars and an upright driving position contribute to excellent outward visibility. Head and leg space are good enough for large adults in the backseat. Firmer padding would enhance long-distance support, but seats are comfortable otherwise. Wide door openings and expansive footwells make for easy entry/exit.

Trunk space qualifies as ample. Lockable, split folding rear seatbacks and non-intrusive strut-type trunk hinges are welcome touches. Abundant interior storage is highlighted by a generous-size glovebox, two-tier center armrest console, and large door map pockets.


Model Tested: Hyundai Sonata SE V6

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.


Acceleration - 7
Fuel Economy - 5
Ride Quality - 6
Steering/Handling - 5
Quietness - 7


Controls/Materials - 8
Room/Comfort Front - 7
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
Cargo Room - 5


Value - 7

Total: 62


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
107.4 188.9 72.1 58.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
16.3 17.7 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.1 38.2 43.7 37.4
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2006 Sonata w/side airbags 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Front Passenger Injury - 5

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Rear Passenger Injury - 5


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

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: Automatic transmission may not operate in drive or reverse due to the maladjustment of the transmission range shift and could ultimately lead to complete transmission failure. (2006)
Automatic transmission
Description: The transmission may not shift out of park due to failure of the key lock control module. (2006)
Oil leak
Description: Oil may leak from the transaxle at the oil seals, but looks like a seam leak. (2006-07)
Steering noise
Description: Whining power steering is frequently caused by a restricted filter screen in the bottom of the fluid reservoir. (2007-09)
Transmission leak
Description: Transmission fluid may leak from the front pump seal at the torque converter requiring replacement, or the reduction brake piston cover requiring replacement of two O-rings. (2006)
Transmission noise
Description: When shifting from reverse to drive, a snap noise may be heard requiring an isolation washer on the front hub. (2006)
Description: The low tire pressure warning light may illuminate due to electromagnetic interference from transmitters near police stations, airports or other sources of electronic transmission, but will usually go out when moving out of range. The warning light may also be activated by some electronic devices plugged in the accessory power outlet. (2006-07)
Description: The displayed temperature may be off from 5-10 degrees from actual outside temperature, on vehicles with the fully automatic temperature control, requiring replacement of the temperature sensor. (2006)
Transmission problems
Description: Harsh or late shifts may be corrected with a software update, but it that fails the transmission or transmission control module may need to be replaced. (199-07)
Check-engine light
Description: The 3.3L engine may seem to lack power and check engine light may illuminate due to a faulty accelerator pedal sensor. (2006-07)

Recall History

2006 w/3.3-liter engine and ESC
Description: Electronic Stability Control may have been programmed to be oversensitive, causing inadvertent application of outer front brake; could cause vehicle to slow and affect its travel path.
Description: Front seatbelt may interfere with manual seatback recliner knob, and could cause recliner to release inadvertently.
Description: Improperly-assembled inner headlamp bezels may cause turn-signal lenses to be incorrectly positioned, reducing illumination intensity.
Description: Airbag warning label could distort or separate from the sunvisor.
Description: The stop lamp switch in the affected vehicles may malfunction and cause the brake lights to not illuminate when the brake pedal is depressed or may cause the brake lights to remain illuminated when the brake pedal is released. A stop lamp switch malfunction may also affect the operation of the brake-transmission shift interlock feature so the transmission shifter would not be able to be shifted out of the park position. Dealers will replace the stop lamp switch free of charge.
2006-08 Sonata vehicles equipped with occupant classification system (OCS) in the right front seat
Description: The OCS may misidentify a small adult as a child, and fail to deploy the airbag in a crash. Dealers will test the system, and ship the seat cushion to a facility that will evaluate and repair or reprogram the seat cushion and OCS as necessary.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


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.