The Sonata lineup kicks off with the GLS for $20,895. It comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with direct injection producing 198 horsepower, one of the most powerful standard engines in the class. For 2013, all Sonatas come with a six-speed automatic, and the GLS comes standard with features like iPod/iPhone connectivity, Bluetooth and, new for 2013, Hyundai's BlueLink telematics system. That pairing gives the Sonata up to 35 MPG on the highway.
Moving up to SE or Limited trims opens up the possibility to get the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 274 horsepower, or as much as most competitor's V6 engines. But the 2.0T gets up to 34 MPG highway, besting the six-cylinders. SE and Limited also offer navigation. Extras like a panoramic moonroof and full-leather seats, heated front and rear, are available only on the Limited, while the SE gets a sport suspension and paddle shifters. SE is the best value because of its good level of content and access to popular options unavailable on GLS.
See what other sedans are making waves with our 2013 sedan buying guide
The Toyota Camry is the one to beat in the class because of its best-seller status. It features its hallmark quiet, spacious interior and refined powertrains. The latest model, new for 2012, addressed some of the major criticisms of the old car by adding better interior quality, improved in-car technology with the Toyota Entune system and making it a little sharper to drive. But the Camry is still more conservatively designed than the Sonata, is more expensive and doesn't come with a warranty to rival Hyundai's. The Nissan Altima is new for 2013. Its base 2.5-liter four-cylinder is rated at 38 MPG highway, more than Sonata's. The Nissan is also available with a V6 engine and offers an inexpensive navigation option. But the Altima is styled more conservatively and doesn't offer anything like Hyundai's BlueLink. The Volkswagen Passat trumps Sonata with its class-exclusive TDI Clean Diesel option, which produces up to 42 MPG highway. The Passat also has a larger rear seat and trunk, free scheduled maintenance and standard dual-zone automatic climate control. But the Passat is generally more expensive than the Sonata and the gas engines aren't as efficient. The new Chevrolet Malibu's Eco trim has a 37 MPG highway rating, beating the Passat. It offers Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system and OnStar, rivaling BlueLink. The Sonata's rear seat dimensions are greater, though.
As it rolls into its third model year, this version of the Sonata continues to be a serious candidate for midsize sedan supremacy. It has popular technology features even on the least expensive version, up-to-date powertrain with strong fuel economy figures and styling that looks as if it belongs on a luxury car. The Sonata makes a lot of sense for a lot of shoppers.
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