Wednesday, December 05, 2007

2009 Hyundai Sonata - Auto Shows

2009 Hyundai Sonata - Auto Shows

The 2008 Korean-spec Sonata Transform previews the 2009 Sonata for North America.

For 2008, Hyundai has launched a mid-cycle refresh for the Sonata in Korea where it is known as the Sonata Transform.

The rest of the world will have to wait until the 2009 model year to see the changes. Stay tuned for more details on the U.S.-spec Sonata which will bow in February at the 2008 Chicago auto show.

The Korean Transform receives minor visual upgrades—the design team says it didn't want to mess with a design it considers to be successful. The bumper, grille, and headlights have been sharpened to help give the car a more edgy image. The Korean facelift also brings new alloy wheel options.

The transformation continues inside, where almost all the interior plastics have been upgraded. A new center console, dashboard, and door panels are all intended to project a more luxurious image than the current pieces. The sedan also gets dual-zone climate control, an auxiliary input jack for music players, and an ionization system that's supposed to prevent mold growth. If that's really a concern, we're all for ionizing whatever we can.

Mechanical changes make up the biggest part of the refresh. A revised front subframe makes the Korean-spec Sonata safer in frontal collisions.

Theta II Under the Hood

The car heralds Hyundai's next-generation Theta engine family, a version of the four-cylinder "World Engine" that was a joint venture of Hyundai, Mitsubishi, and the former DaimlerChrysler. World Engines are already available in such vehicles as the Dodge Caliber and Avenger, and the Chrysler Sebring.

Hyundai (which took the engineering lead on the World Engine project) introduces Theta II powerplants that deliver more horsepower and torque while maintaining or improving on their previous fuel economy figures. The engine improvements were made possible by a variable induction system and variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust camshafts.

In total, Hyundai will offer five engine choices for the Sonata Transform, but we don't expect the 2.0-liter Theta four-cylinder gasoline or diesel mills to be available in U.S. models. Instead, we expect some tweaking to the Korean-spec DOHC 2.4-liter four-cylinder (Theta II) that generates 169 hp and 165 pound-feet of torque--the current 2.4L 4-cyl. Theta in the Sonata makes 162 hp and 164 lb-ft-and the 3.3-liter V-6 that produces 239 hp and 228 lb-ft.

Additionally, Hyundai engineers tweaked the Sonata Transform's five-speed manual transmission for easier shifting, and revised the four- and five-speed automatic transmissions for smoother operation and better fuel economy.

Hyundai will begin shipping export versions of the Sonata early in the new year.

BY JAKE HOLMES, November 2007

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