New [Korean] Hyundai Sonata Revealed

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

One of our Best and Brightest over in South Korea got the inside line on the new Hyundai Sonata. Here’s what he knows so far . . .

The car was officially released today [ Hyundai press release HERE] in front of about 200 invited guests (I was NOT one of them). The car has been available for pre-sales for about 2 weeks and has, according to the salesperson I spoke to, sold over 20,000 units. For comparison, in August, the ‘old’ Sonata sold about 7,000 units. That number was probably down a little as people were no doubt waiting for the new model. In July, the ‘old’ Sonata sold about 9,000 units. So the new model has ‘pre-sold’ more than the last two months of sales of the old car. (These sales numbers of the ‘old’ model are official numbers from the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association).

The salesperson told me that it would take about 45 days to get delivery of a new Sonata if I ordered one today. I didn’t order one, but I might. My wife (Korean citizen) has an uncle who works for Hyundai (who doesn’t in Korea, eh? lol) and he gets about a 20% discount on new cars that he can also transfer to family members. We bought our 2002 Elantra (called Avante here) that way. We ended up paying about 9 million won for that car and it even came with a full-size spare tire with matching aluminum wheel! I digress . . .

Dealers do not currently have any units in stock, only brochures and price guides. I was told that test-drive models would be available next week. I booked a test drive and would be happy to share my experiences with you (if you’re interested, that is).

Here’s some of the vital information from the brochure and price guide…

Prices range from 19.6 million won (base model, no additional options) to 29.3 million won (Sports model with all available options). The current exchange rate is about 1,200 won to the US dollar.

There are, if you can believe it, NINE different trim levels. Officially the car is known in Korea as the Hyundai Sonata Y20.

The base model (19.6 million) is the Grand edition. Next up is the Prime edition, available in two trims: Deluxe (23.15 million) and Super Deluxe (24.7 million).

Next up is the Premier edition, available in two trims: Deluxe (24.9 million) and Super Deluxe (25.8 million).

Between the Prime and Premier editions, there is something called the Premier Beige edition for 25.3 million.

Next up is the Top edition, available in two trims: Deluxe (25.95 million) and Super Deluxe (27.85 million).

Next up is the Sports model, available in only one trim (28.2 million).

Available options include:

Electronic Toll-road collection system for 250,000 won

A 3-piece panoramic sunroof for 1.15 million won

Intelligent DMB [look it up on wikipedia] 6.5-inch touch-screen navigation for between 850,000 won and 1.6 million depending on model)

A 6-speed automatic transmission (includes foot-operated parking brake, Eco-driving monitoring system, and rear-seat center console air vents) for 1.7 million won

Premium 8-inch wide-screen touch-screen navigation (includes JBL premium sound, voice activation, rear-view camera, and rear parking guide) for 2.0 million won

All navigation systems include real-time traffic information and the ability to play external video files (for example from a USB memory stick).

Sadly for me as I’m a big fan of manuals, a manual transmission (6-speed) is only available on the base model. All other models come with a 6-speed automatic. Only the top-of-the-line Sports model comes with paddle shifters.

There are three tire sizes available (all with aluminum wheels): P205/65 R16, P215/55 R17, P225/45 R18.

Premier editions and up come with rear heated seats. That’s something that I’ve never seen before on a car of this class.

The car is available in nine different colors, which is A LOT by Korean standards. Available colors are: Bright White, White Crystal, Slick Silver, Hyper Metallic, Dark Grey, Espresso, Remington Red, Blue Black, and Black Diamond.

Overall length: 4,820 mm

Wheelbase: 2,795 mm

Front overhang: 940 mm

Rear overhang: 1,085 mm

Vehicle width: 1,835 mm

Front track: 1,597 mm (16-inch wheel); 1,591 mm (17-inch wheel); 1,587 mm (18-inch wheel)

Rear track: 1,595 mm (16-inch wheel); 1,589 mm (17-inch wheel); 1,585 mm (18-inch wheel)

Vehicle height: 1,470 mm

Curb weight: 1,395 kg (manual transmission), 1,410 kg (automatic transmission).

The timing of this car is VERY important as Toyota will be launching its Korean dealer network NEXT month with four models, RAV4, Prius, and Camry (gas and hybrid). Naturally, the Sonata and Camry will be up against each other in sales. The petrol Camry here is expected to retail for about 35 million won. Must of the internet pundits have been predicting the Camry to fail here.

Generally, the internet buzz has been positive. The only complaint I’ve seen so far is about the steering wheel, muffler/exhaust treatment, and the paddle shifters only being available on the most expensive model. As I said, I’ll be driving the car next week and would be happy to email you about it.

Meanwhile, anything specific you’d like to know?

Yours in automotivity,


Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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2 of 33 comments
  • Huey Huey on Sep 18, 2009

    @ csliwins... I'm just curious, what do you perceive to be the difference between what I wrote (The current exchange rate is about 1,200 won to the US dollar) and what you wrote (I assume he meant $1 = 1200 won)? I'm no economics or mathematics wiz., but aren't they the same thing? I just saw a test-drive car on the road today, and boy did it look goooooooooooood!

  • V6 V6 on Sep 18, 2009

    i bet if this was released by someone other than Hyundai there'd be hardly any of the "omgz it looks like this and this and omgz they always steal everyones design can't they do their own" it's so draining and boring. imo congrats to Hyundai for taking a risk designing something a bit more different in possibly the dullest segment in the car industry

  • ToolGuy First picture: I realize that opinions vary on the height of modern trucks, but that entry door on the building is 80 inches tall and hits just below the headlights. Does anyone really believe this is reasonable?Second picture: I do not believe that is a good parking spot to be able to access the bed storage. More specifically, how do you plan to unload topsoil with the truck parked like that? Maybe you kids are taller than me.
  • ToolGuy The other day I attempted to check the engine oil in one of my old embarrassing vehicles and I guess the red shop towel I used wasn't genuine Snap-on (lots of counterfeits floating around) plus my driveway isn't completely level and long story short, the engine seized 3 minutes later.No more used cars for me, and nothing but dealer service from here on in (the journalists were right).
  • Doughboy Wow, Merc knocks it out of the park with their naming convention… again. /s
  • Doughboy I’ve seen car bras before, but never car beards. ZZ Top would be proud.
  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.