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You'll Like The 2008 Hyundai Sonata If...

If you’re attracted to the idea of a feature-filled mid-size sedan that won’t bust your budget, the Hyundai Sonata should be one of the cars on your list. Also worth noting is Hyundai’s very real commitment to including a high level of standard safety equipment on every vehicle.

You May Not Like The 2008 Hyundai Sonata If...

The Sonata carries the unenviable burden of competing in the same category as the Accord and Camry, perennial industry benchmarks not only in popularity but also in quality. For anyone accustomed to that top-level refinement, the Sonata’s higher level of equipment for the money might not be enough to tip the scales in its favor.

What's New

The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is now available on all trims, while the GLS trim can now be had with a V6 engine. XM Satellite Radio is standard across the line and the SE receives a power driver’s seat. Limited models now feature a six-speaker Infiniti sound system with separate subwoofer.

Interior Features

Although the Sonata competes in the mid-size sedan category, the EPA actually groups it in the "Large Car" category due to its generous interior space. Even though it barely makes the "Large Car" cutoff, the Sonata treats front and rear passengers to a cabin that is spacious and comfortable, although some might find the front seat cushion lacking in thigh support due to its minimal up-angle adjustment. The attractive environment also features nicer materials and cleaner designs than many might expect, with the possible exception of the center of the instrument panel, and the Sonata’s designers have done a fine job in minimizing the effects of inexpensive plastic.

Exterior Features

The Hyundai Sonata features significantly more contemporary styling than previous generations, though some might argue the design is also somewhat generic. The SE trim’s available features, like dual chrome exhaust outlets and 17-inch aluminum wheels equipped with aggressive Michelin Pilot tires, provide a little more character. Overall, we like the Sonata’s new styling, even if it’s squarely on the conservative side, and don’t see any single design feature likely to turn anybody away from the car.

Driving Impressions

The Hyundai Sonata drives like a small car. On the plus side, that means more nimble and confident handling. On the flip side, that means a ride less insulated from rough roads. Over smooth highways, our V6 Sonata GLS was comfortable and quiet, even with its low-profile tires. It also delivered brisk acceleration – both off the line and in short-order passing situations – while the five-speed automatic transmission shifted smoothly and responded quickly to manual commands. Overall, the new Sonata does many things well. But, unlike some of its world-beating competitors, the new Sonata is merely equal to the sum of its parts.

Pricing Notes

The Hyundai Sonata GLS with a manual transmission has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $18,000, while the sporty SE starts just under $20,000; the four-cylinder Limited sells for $23,000 and a fully loaded V6 Limited tops out in the mid $26,000 range. While these prices can be up to $4,000 lower than those of some of the Sonata’s best-selling competitors, lower resale values should be taken into consideration. We do, however, expect to see Hyundai vehicles command increasingly better prices in the resale market. To be sure you don’t pay too much for your Sonata, check the Fair Purchase Price, which shows the typical transaction price being paid in your area.

Notable Equipment

One of the Sonata’s key selling points is its impressive equipment list, including an admirable array of standard safety features. The base Sonata features a sophisticated 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system, cruise control, keyless entry, power windows and door locks, heated power side mirrors and leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel (V6 only). The long list of standard safety equipment includes front, front-side and front- and rear-curtain airbags, electronic stability control, traction control, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) and whiplash-reducing active front head restraints.

Notable Options

Available upgrades include a 234-horsepower V6, four-speed and five-speed automatic transmissions with manual gear select, sunroof, Infinity AM/FM/6 CD/MP3 sound system, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, automatic headlights, trip computer, fog lights, heated front seats, eight-way power driver’s seat and auto-dimming rearview mirror. Many of these features are standard on the SE and Limited.

Favorite Features

Automatic Air Quality SystemWhen a sensor detects an excess of pollen or diesel fumes, for instance, the ventilation system automatically switches into the recirculation mode. Aggressive Low-Profile TiresThe same tires you might expect to find on a sporty coupe help to make the V6 Sonata a worthy companion on meandering roads.

Under the Hood

The base powertrain package in the 2008 Hyundai Sonata is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder mated to a five-speed manual transmission, which complements the car’s nimble handling better than the same engine in combination with the available four-speed automatic transmission. With dual overhead cams and continuously variable valve timing, this all-aluminum engine is good for 162 horsepower and 164 pound-feet of torque. The best partnership under the hood, however, is the sophisticated new 3.3-liter V6 and the responsive five-speed automatic transmission. With 234 horsepower, 226 pound-feet of torque and manually selectable gears, it isn’t hard to coax the V6 Sonata into having a little fun.2.4-liter in-line 4162 horsepower @ 5800 rpm164 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/31 (manual), 21/30 (automatic)3.3-liter V6234 horsepower @ 6000 rpm226 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3500 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28

Editors' Notes

Quickly becoming a major player in the U.S. market, Hyundai demonstrates an uncanny ability to produce high-quality products at bargain-basement prices. The latest example of the company’s accelerated design evolution is the Sonata, a roomy and well-equipped sedan challenging the dominance of the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry (at least on paper) but costing thousands of dollars less. Built at Hyundai’s factory in Alabama, the Sonata boasts an impressive list of standard safety equipment, helping it earn a five-star crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Road Test Video Reviews

2008 Hyundai Sonata Owner Reviews

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This roomy sedan will smoothly and comfortably get you where you need to go.

2008 Hyundai Sonata

Our Hyundai Sonata is absolutely great! It performs extremely well in all weather conditions and virtually always provides a smooth ride. Whether we're just driving it to the local grocery store or taking it on a three-hour trip down the highway, we have always been impressed with the functionality and quality experience our Sonata gives us. The interior is a very soft cloth material, and there is a lot of space, which is crucial for us since we have two large dogs that we like to bring on car rides. My favorite feature would have to be the Bluetooth, as it makes driving a hands-free affair and is thus significantly safer for driver and passenger alike. For us, the only real issue we had with our vehicle was the tires, which we wound up replacing. They were inconsistently losing air, and the tire pressure would dramatically change each time we went to start the car. Aside from that, we have been very fortunate with our car.

- Allie B

Great in all weather, minor interior design quirks

2008 Hyundai Sonata Limited

I only have minor complaints about the Sonata. The cup holders are sized impractically for only one beverage - all too often my morning coffee ends up spilling over either from acceleration or braking. Mechanically I haven't had any issues, but my reverse lights are not currently working despite new bulbs, and the tpms dash light has been lit since shortly after I bought it a year ago. The car is well powered, handles almost as well as my previous one, a 2013 Dodge Dart, and does far better in the snow. I've made it through icy roads that stranded larger and smaller vehicles alike. I work at a hospital on a large hill, and I've not had to call out once for fear of not making it to work.

- Ben W

I've had my car for 5 years and have only changed the battery once

2008 Hyundai Sonata GLS

Hyundai Sonata is a great car to have . It's excellent on gas mileage drives smooth and just an overall great car to have. Extremely spacious, rides great. Good car to have if you're traveling long distance. I got my particular model from a dealership in Chapel Hill. The gentleman and lady that helped me secure the car was extremely nice and helpful. They both made sure I got exactly what I wanted at the time and made sure I got a great deal on the price and mileage on the car. When I purchased it, it only had one owner before myself and only had 10,000 miles on it. Practically a brand new car. They only had it for a year .

- Ashley H

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