Thursday, December 3, 2009

2011 Hyundai Sonata Makes N.A. Debut at LA Show, Gets 2.4L, 2.0L Turbo and Hybrid Powertrains

The much anticipated and talked about 2011 Hyundai Sonata made its North American premiere at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The all-new mid-size sedan (although EPA classifies it as a large sedan) represents a dramatic departure from the previous generation Sonata models both in terms of design and technology.

Despite the fact that the sixth-generation Sonata is aimed price-wise at the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Chevy Malibu, its so-called 'four-door coupe' styling with the sleek roofline and sculptured body surfaces brings it closer to the likes of the VW Passat CC.

And even if the design is not to everyone's taste, few will disagree that it offers the Sonata what the previous models lacked: personality.

The same can be said about the interior that's distinguished by the swoopy lines of the dashboard and the deeply set gauges of the instrument panel.

At 189.8 in (4,820mm) long, 72.2 in. (1,835mm) wide and 57.9 in. (1,470mm) tall with a wheelbase of 110 in. (2,795mm), the new Sonata is slightly longer and wider but a tad lower than the current model.

Surprisingly, 2011 Sonata is 130 pounds lighter than the existing model thanks to several weight saving measures such as the increased use of aluminum in the four-wheel independent suspension system and the ultra-high-strength steel in the body.

Furthermore, according to Hyundai, the new Sonata is 25 percent stiffer in torsion and 19 percent stiffer in bending rigidity than its predecessor.

When the 2011 Sonata goes on sale in the States in January 2010, it will be offered with Hyundai's newly developed Theta II GDI 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with direct injection that makes 198 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 184 lb-ft of torque at 4,250 rpm. In the SE trim, which includes a standard dual exhaust, the engine delivers 200 horsepower.

Power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC manual control.

Hyundai estimates that the automatic version will get 23mpg in the city and 35mpg on the highway, beating all of its four-cylinder competitors in the U.S.the debut of the 2.4-liter version in the States

While there are no current plans for a V6 model in the States, in the second half of 2010, Hyundai will add a 2.0-liter Theta II turbocharged GDI four-cylinder engine and a 2.4-liter Hybrid Blue Drive model featuring the firm's lithium polymer battery pack. The Korean automaker said that more details about these powertrains will be released at the 2010 New York Auto Show in April.

Depending on the model trim, the new Sonata will be offered with various goodies including a high-end Infinity audio system with a 400-watt amplifier and a touch screen navigation system.

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