2013 Hyundai Sonata Review and Prices
The 2013 Hyundai Sonata is the best car for you if you’re confident this impressive midsize sedan can maintain its edge against a slew of spanking new rivals.
The 2013 Hyundai Sonata will represent the third model year for a roomy four-door whose bold styling caused a sensation when it debuted for 2011 but might not look so daring against a reinvigorated competitive set. That set will include a quartet of all-new midsize stalwarts – the 2013 Honda Accord, 2013 Ford Fusion, 2013 Nissan Altima, and 2013 Chevrolet Malibu -- plus a 2013 Toyota Camry still fresh from its model-year 2012 redesign.
Should you wait for the 2013 Hyundai Sonata or buy a 2012 Hyundai Sonata? Waiting for the 2013 Sonata gives you opportunity to take its measure against the fresher competition. It also gives Hyundai a chance to tweak it to contend with those updated rivals. Buy a 2012 Sonata and you’ll get a car that’ll still look original against its model-year 2012 competitors and will give you an extra year before Sonata’s next styling revisions, likely due for model-year 2014
2013 Hyundai Sonata Changes back to top
Styling: The 2013 Hyundai Sonata styling isn’t apt to change and the car should still look distinctive enough thanks to this South Korean automaker’s “Fluidic Sculpture” design themes. Dimensions won’t change, either, so beneath that baby-Benz bodywork, the 2013 Sonata ought to remain among the roomiest and most comfortable midsize sedans.
Expect the 2013 Sonata lineup to return a trio of model groups, each named for its engine type. The mainstays will again be 2013 Sonata models with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine; they’re likely to return in GLS, 2.4 SE, and 2.4 Limited trim. A step up in performance will be the 2013 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T models, named for their 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and offered in 2.0T SE and 2.0T Limited trim. Representing maximum fuel savings will be the 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, which will again combine a gas engine with an electric motor.
Styling differences among the 2013 Sonata models should remain subtle, the exception being the Hybrid’s extra-large grille opening and LED-accented headlamps and taillamps (it’ll also use special electroluminescent dashboard lighting). Otherwise, look for the 2013 Sonata SE and Limited models to show slightly more exterior chrome trim than the GLS versions and for the 2.0T SE to have less brightwork in its grille in keeping with its sporty image. Expect the 2013 Sonata GLS and Hybrid models to return with 16-inch wheels, the Limiteds with 17s, and the SEs with 18s.
Mechanical: The 2013 Hyundai Sonata should sustain the three-engine lineup that’s proved quite capable of satisfying buyers’ needs for power and fuel economy. And it’ll no longer be the only leading midsize car with an all-four-cylinder roster: the 2013 Malibu will follow the trend toward high-tech engines that provide six-cylinder performance with four-cylinder gas mileage.
Expect the 2013 Sonata to reprise the 2.4-liter four and for it to again rate 198 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque in the Sonata GLS and 2.4 Limited models and 200 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque in the 2.4 SE model. (Think of torque as the muscle behind acceleration, horsepower the energy that sustains momentum.)
Expect the 2013 Sonata 2.0T SE and Sonata 2.0T Limited to repeat with a turbocharged 2.0-liter again rated a V-6-like 274 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. The 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid will continue to team a 2.4-liter gas engine with an electric motor for a net 206 horsepower and 193 pound-feet of torque. The Sonata Hybrid uses a self-charging powertrain that requires no plug-in and saves gas primarily by propelling the car on electricity at low speeds and by shutting off the gas engine at stops.
The 2013 Sonata 2.4 GLS model could well continue to offer a six-speed manual transmission, but all other ’13 Sonatas will almost certainly return with a six-speed automatic as their sole transmission. Use of a conventional automatic in the 2013 Sonata Hybrid would continue to set it apart from the hybrid herd, where continuously variable transmissions are the rule.
All 2013 Sonatas will retain front-wheel drive. To maximize fuel economy, the 2.4-liter models with automatic transmission and those with the 2.0 turbo engine will continue with Hyundai’s Active Eco system. Engaged by a dashboard button, Active Eco remaps throttle application and transmission shift points to increase real-world mileage by up to 7 percent, Hyundai says. The 2012 Sonata Hybrid will continue with a similar system called Blue Mode, which Hyundai says boosts real-world mileage by 5 percent.
Features: Mucho equipment for the money will continue as a 2013 Sonata hallmark. Bluetooth cell-phone linking, satellite radio, and a USB iPod interface are again expected as standard on every model. A navigation system should remain an option on all but the GLS version, though air conditioning, power windows, locks, and mirrors, remote keyless entry, tilt/telescope steering wheel, and a 60/40 split folding rear seatback will return as standard on all 2013 Sonatas.
Also expected to return as standard is Hyundai’s surprisingly wide-ranging Blue Link safety, service, and infotainment telematics system. Blue Link goes beyond basic emergency roadside assistance and collision notification, tapping smartphone technology to deliver such features as vehicle-location sharing via social networking, including Facebook. Depending on the level of service you wish to pay for, Blue Link can deliver turn-by-turn directions and point-of-interest locating through the radio.
By far, Blue Link’s most intriguing component is what Hyundai calls Geo-Fence. This can monitor the car’s movement in and out of predefined regions, proscribed speeds, even set times of day configured on the owner’s website. If the car violates any of the parameters, Blue Link sends the owner a text, email, or phone alert. An interface that enables law enforcement to remotely slow the car or prevent its engine from starting also is included.
As for amenities, expect 2013 Sonata SE models to again have combination leather-and-cloth upholstery and be available with a power moonroof. The 2013 Sonata Limited models should again come with full leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, and a multi-pane Panoramic moonroof.
2013 Hyundai Sonata Prices back to top
Prices for the 2013 Hyundai Sonata were not released in time for this review but given the intensified 2013 competition they should not increase drastically from model-year 2012 Sonata prices. That suggests a 2013 Sonata base-price range of roughly $20,900-$29,500. (Estimated base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Hyundai’s fee for the 2012 Sonata was $760.)
Expect the 2013 Sonata GLS to start around $20,900 with manual transmission and around $22,000 with automatic. Figure $750 or so for an option package that equips automatic-transmission GLS with such perks as alloy wheels, power driver’s seat with lumbar support, and upgraded interior trim.
Estimated base price is $24,500 for the 2013 Hyundai Sonata 2.4 SE and $28,000 for the 2012 Hyundai Sonata 2.4 Limited. An option package that adds to these models features such as a navigation system with backup camera, power moonroof, and upgraded audio likely will cost around $2,900.
Estimated base price is $26,000 for the 2013 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T SE and $29,500 for the 2013 Sonata 2.0T Limited. Expect to pay about $2,900 to add navigation and a moonroof to the 2.0T SE and about $2,200 to add navigation to the 2013 Sonata 2.0T Limited. Estimated base price for the 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is about $28,000, with another $5,000 or so for an option package that adds the navigation system, leather upholstery, Panoramic moonroof, and other upgrades.
Blue Link telematics should continue complementary for an introductory period of up to six months and then cost as little as $80 per year for the most basic service to some $700 for a three-year package of all its levels of service.
2013 Hyundai Sonata Fuel Economy back to top
EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2013 Hyundai Sonata were not available in time for this review, but should not change much from 2012 Sonata ratings. Still, Hyundai was able to do some fine-tuning to the 2012 models that resulted in slight EPA-ratings gains for selected models.
If the automaker can’t stretch fuel economy still further, expect the 2013 Sonata GLS (both manual and automatic transmission) and the 2.4 SE and 2.4 Limited models to rate 24/35 mpg city/highway and 28 mpg combined. The 2013 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T SE and 2013 Sonata 2.0T Limited should again rate 22/34 mpg city/highway, 26 mpg combined.
Expect the 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid to rate about 35/40 mpg city/highway and 37 mpg combined. Note that Hyundai configures the Sonata Hybrid to favor highway fuel economy. That’s the reverse of most hybrids, which rate higher city mileage than highway mileage. Hyundai figures maximum highway fuel economy best suits American driving conditions.
2013 Hyundai Sonata Release Date back to top
Expect the 2013 Hyundai Sonata in showrooms by summer 2012. Be aware that the 2013 Kia Optima will continue as essentially the same car as the Sonata, but with different exterior styling and interior design and with slightly different powertrain tuning. Hyundai and Kia share a South Korean parent company and market a variety of cars and crossover SUVs based on common underskin components.
What's next for the 2013 Hyundai Sonata back to top
Look for a midcycle refresh around model-year 2014 and a full redesign around 2016 or ’17. Typical of midcycle updates, the 2014 Sonata would receive gently altered front and rear styling but no change to basic body shape or dimensions. New features and revised cabin trim might also be part of the freshening.
Future powertrains will likely concentrate on getting more low-rpm torque from four-cylinder engines of similar or even smaller displacement, perhaps with help from more extensive use of turbocharging. Hyundai may also be considering a sportier dual-clutch automatic-type transmission for Sonata 2.0T models. The company is likely developing plug-in hybrid technology, as well. This would enable future Sonata Hybirds to charge from the public or private grid to provide extended electric-only range before resorting to the gas engine. Whether a plug-in Sonata Hybrid would happen during the current design generation or wait until the 2016 or ’17 redesign is uncertain.
2013 Hyundai Sonata Competition back to top
Honda Accord: It’s always news when Honda fully redesigns an Accord, and that’ll be the case for model-year 2013. The last all-new Accord came for model-year 2008 and upheld – strengthened, even – the car’s standing as the benchmark midsize sedan for room, engineering, and driving satisfaction. But times have changed. Reversing a trend in which each successive generation Accord grew larger and more powerful, reports say the 2013 Accord may be smaller than the 2008-2012 car as Honda seeks to keep weight in check and maximize fuel economy. That’s not to suggest the 2013 Accord would notably less cabin space but does probably indicate engine size and power won’t continue to expand. Still, Honda is likely to counter the trend toward all-four-cylinder powertrains and continue to offer a V-6. Expect evolutionary styling and additional high-tech features but no drastic increase in price.
Toyota Camry: Toyota gets a jump on the wholesale revision of the midsize class by introducing its all-new Camry for model-year 2012. It’s the first full redesign for the segment sales leader since model-year 2007 and should bring sleeker styling, more technology, and an updated roster of four- and six-cylinder gas engines, as well as a more fuel-efficient gas-electric hybrid. Toyota could feel pressure to give this newest Camry a sportier edge but isn’t likely to take its eye off the car’s primary goal as a spacious, comfortable, and refined midsize sedan.
Chevrolet Malibu: Chevy’s popular midsize sedan joins the redesigned class of 2013 with all-new styling, additional features, and an electrically assisted gas model -- all packaged in a car smaller than the 2008-2012 Malibu. And one that no longer offers a six-cylinder engine. Following the tack Buick took with its midsize 2012 Regal, Chevy turns to General Motors’ German arm for an Americanized version of the Opel Insignia. The 2013 Malibu will be several inches more compact on the outside than the all-American generation it replaces but not notably smaller inside; it’ll even have a larger trunk. Styling is more curvaceous and the dashboard takes on a “dual-cockpit” look inspired by the Chevy Camaro. At launch the core engine will be a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with some 190 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Also available will be a 2.4-liter four augmented by GM’s eAssist technology in which a small electric motor helps save fuel by lending a hand during acceleration and cruising, not by propelling the car on battery power alone.