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For this Sonata, styling and price are pluses

By Clayton Collins / January 6, 2006



Fans of sedans need to know about this one: The voluminous 2006 Hyundai Sonata is settling in among such high-rated cousins as Accord and Camry, and looking very comfortable in that crowd. J.D. Power and Associates praised earlier incarnations of the car, and this fourth-generation version, built in Alabama, has been given more sophisticated styling to complement its reliability - still backed by a generous warranty.

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Its big edge: price. The top-line LX we tested listed at under $23,000, with every imaginable feature - leather, heated seats, air conditioning, cruise control - considered standard. (The lowest of three Sonata trim lines starts at about $18,000.) Interior fit and finish - often an area where low price manifests itself - did not disappoint, even if Hyundai is still evolving toward the door-thudding tightness of much more expensive marquees.

Sonata's ride, in a church-quiet cabin, felt predictably stable. Its 3.3-liter V6 makes a more than ample 235 horsepower. And despite its "large car" EPA classification, Sonata beats the new-car average on smog emissions, and is no pump-suckler: On the highway we notched close to its officially rated 30 m.p.g.

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