The 2012 Hyundai Sonata, with better interior space, more powerful engines, better fuel efficiency and a stellar set of safety features, is poised to overtake some of the best-selling midsized cars in America. With the amazing power of its normally aspirated and turbocharged engines, its outstanding levels of quality and attractive price, the 2012 Hyundai Sonata has the 2012 Toyota Camry dead in its sights.
Model Range and Pricing
The 2012 Hyundai Sonata is offered in three separate model trims, the GLS (MSRP $19,695), SE and Limited. SE and Limited models are available with a 2.0-liter turbocharged GDI engine (2.0T) as well.
The 2012 Toyota Camry is available in four model trims L (MSRP $21,955), LE, SE and XLE. Toyota offers a 3.5-liter V6 on the SE and XLE models.
Both offer Hybrid models as well, but the focus here will remain on the gasoline engines.
While comparing pricing can seem like a challenge due to the mismatched number of models, note the wide price differential of the entry models with the Sonata GLS being $2,260 more economical than the Camry L, a difference of over 10 percent. At the top end of the spectrum, the Sonata still proves to be a better bargain with the Limited 2.0T coming in $1,750 less expensive than the Camry XLE V6. You’d think that with a price difference as significant as that, the Camry would provide a lot more for the money, but it doesn’t.
Power and Performance
The heart of any car is its engine. Where the Camry soldiers on with the traditional four-and six-cylinder engines it has provided year after year, Hyundai has invested heavily in advanced engine technology. The standard gasoline direct-injection (GDI) 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine provides the new Sonata with a remarkable 198 hp (200 on SE models) and 186 lb/ft of torque. Those numbers give the Sonata best-in-class four-cylinder horsepower and best-in-class torque. Compare those numbers to the Toyota Camry’s larger and less efficient 2.5-liter engine that produces 178 hp and 170 lb/ft of torque.
The Sonata not only outpowers the Camry’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, but when equipped with the 2.0T, it will outperform the Camry’s 3.5-liter V6 as well. With a power output of 274 hp and 269 lb/ft of torque, the 2.0T engine is six hp and 21 lb/ft more powerful than the Toyota V6. And with an EPA estimated 34 highway mpg, the 2.0T equipped Sonata is not only more powerful, it’s also significantly more efficient; the V6 Camry only delivers 30 highway mpg.
Part of the Sonata’s fuel efficiency victory over the Camry is due to its light weight. With a curb weight of 3,199 pounds, the Sonata is lighter than almost every car in its class. This low weight combined with the Sonata's new engines gives the car a leading weight-to-power ratio of 16.2 pounds per horsepower. Quick and frugal, the Sonata’s advanced powertrain pays exponential dividends over the Toyota Camry.
Part of the lightweight recipe of the Sonata comes down to the use of advanced building materials. Utilizing a hot stamped, ultra-high-strength steel body structure gives the Sonata world-class rigidity, making the Sonata lighter, stiffer and stronger than its competitors. But Hyundai relies on more than a rigid body to keep its passengers safe. Each Sonata comes with a large selection of active safety features including Electronic Stability Control, six airbags and an advanced braking system. This braking system includes four-wheel disc brakes that utilize an Anti-Lock Braking System with Brake Assist, which applies maximum braking when detecting an emergency stop. The system also includes Electronic Brakeforce Distribution which adjusts the braking force between the front and rear axles based on vehicle load.
All Sonatas are equipped with Hyundai’s exclusive Blue Link® safety, service and infotainment service. This safety service can provide Hyundai owners with Automatic Crash Notification and assistance, remote door lock/unlock via web or phone, alarm and panic notification, location sharing and web vehicle diagnostics among many other things.
This impressive suite of features, the rigid structure along with many advanced active safety features, proves Hyundai’s commitment to safety.
Is it possible to be bigger on the inside than the outside? Hyundai thinks so. Despite being less than one inch longer and wider than the Camry, its impressive interior volume means the Sonata has been classified as a large car by the EPA rather than a midsize car like the Camry. The Sonata offers buyers more overall interior volume, front and rear hip room, rear shoulder room and front leg- and headroom. The Sonata is also able to swallow more cargo. With available heated front and rear leather seats, optional nine-speaker Infinity® stereo, HD Radio, standard iPod connectivity and an optional three-piece panoramic sunroof, Hyundai ensures that all that extra space was more comfortable than the competition’s as well.
The Sonata also adds to its value by offering America’s Best Warranty: A 10-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty compared to the five-year/60,000-mile offering on the Camry. The Sonata continues its dominance by offering a five-year/60,000-mile New Vehicle Limited Warranty to the three-year/36,000-mile warranty on the Camry. The Sonata also offers 24-hour roadside assistance, not available on the Camry at all.
When buying a new midsize car, you can have a car that is powerful. You could buy a sedan that is loaded with features. You could shop for a set of wheels with class-leading fuel efficiency. You could look for a vehicle to fit within your budget. Perhaps you need family transportation with impressive safety features. You can have all this and more in the new 2012 Hyundai Sonata.
With such an impressive showing against the Camry, it is easy to see why Hyundai is amongst the world’s fastest growing car companies.