Hyundai proved to its competitors that it can build a car that is affordable and easy to maintain. For a mid-sized sedan, the Sonata offers a lot of features like a plush and sporty trim variant, a number of safety features, and a front-wheel drive system. The Sonata’s fluid and aerodynamic styling proves that Hyundai’s sedans aren’t just built for families, but also for the sporty and discerning few.
1985 to 1987: First Generation
The Hyundai Sonata was first made available to the Korean and Canadian markets. Based on the Hyundai Stellar’s body, it was powered by a 1.6-liter I4 engine, coupled with a 5-speed manual transmission. The Hyundai Sonata was also sold in New Zealand, and it was fitted with a 1.6-liter Mitsubishi engine. Unfortunately, the Sonata was not made available to the US market because it did not meet the EPA’s emission standards.
1988 to 1993: Second Generation
Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro of ItalDesign, the Hyundai Sonata was made available to the North American market after the success of the Excel. It used the Mitsubishi Galant Sigma platform and its 2.4-liter Sirius I4 engine. A 2.0-liter engine variant of the Hyundai Sonata was introduced to the U.S market in 1992, replacing the original 2.4-liter sedan. The Sonata was also made available to the Canadian market in 1987.
1993 to 1998: Third Generation
The front and rear of the Hyundai Sonata underwent some modifications in 1996. A 2.0-liter Sirius I4 was the base engine used during this generation. In some markets, a 3.0-liter Mitsubishi V6 engine was offered as an option. ABS, alloy wheels, body-colored bumpers, cruise and climate control, rear electric windows, traction control, satellite navigation, and isofix child seat anchor points were some of the standard features offered by Hyundai for the European Sonata market.
1999 to 2005: Fourth Generation
Hyundai’s Santa Fe, a compact cross-over SUV, shared its platform with the Sonata. The 1998 models were powered by either a 2.0-liter Hyundai Sirius or a 2.5-liter Hyundai Delta V6 engine. In 2002, the Sonata’s engine was changed to an all-aluminum,2.7-liter DOHC Hyundai Delta V6. The Sonata’s overall sales in 2004 reached 104,000 units. The Kia Optima’s body frame is also based on this Sonata’s platform.
2004 to 2010: Fifth Generation
Hyundai launched the new Sonata with the opening of its Montgomery, Alabama plant in 2005. Based on the NF platform, the Sonata was fitted with a new all-aluminum I4 engine called “Theta.” The 2.4-liter and 3.3-liter V6 engines were made available to the mass market. Hyundai also released a diesel variant for the Sonata, which was used in Europe, New Zealand, and in Singapore as a taxi service. The Sonata also underwent a facelift in 2008, with the help of the Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center Inc. A chrome 3 bar grill and jewel-projector headlights were added to the front fascia. The “slush molding” production technique was also adopted by Hyundai. Six airbags; an anti-lock braking system, electronic stability control, and traction control were standard features for the US market.
2011 to Present: Sixth Generation
Built from hot-stamped, ultra high-strength steel, the sixth generation Hyundai Sonata debuted in the Korean market in 2009. Direct injection technology was used by Hyundai on their new engines, improving fuel economy. A 6-speed manual and automatic transmission was also made available for the Sonata GLS and SE. Hyundai also introduced the Sonata Hybrid, powered by the Blue Drive power train. It was one of the five finalists for the 2011 Green Car of the Year award.