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2008 Hyundai Sonata Test Drive Review

Picture of 2008 Hyundai Sonata The Sonata is a great alternative among midsize sedans, providing a spacious cabin and plenty of standard safety features.

7.3 /10
Overall Score

The family sedan segment is dominated by the likes of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, but they are not the sole entrants in this corner of the market. Though Hyundai has offered a similarly sized sedan in the past, it has only become competitive with these frontrunners in recent years.

The 2008 Hyundai Sonata is a sharp, modern, midsize sedan with a spacious interior, plenty of comfort features, and class-leading standard safety features.

Look and Feel

8/ 10

The Sonata stands out from other sedans with crisp, aggressive styling. The strong headlight and grille design provide the Sonata with a confident appearance. Out back, the taillights are similar to that of the Honda Accord, which was likely a deliberate decision by Hyundai's designers.

Inside, the Sonata has a clean, straightforward design. A single insert panel spans the dash and breaks it up, providing a sharp two-tone theme. The prominent placement of the radio atop this insert makes it easy to operate and find controls.

There are three trims for the 2008 Hyundai Sonata; GLS, SE, and Limited. Standard features on the Sonata include remote keyless entry, power heated side mirrors, power windows, air conditioning, cruise control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with tilt functionality. The SE trim adds 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, a leather-wrapped shift knob, and an eight-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support.

The Limited tops things off with leather upholstery, automatic climate control, heated front seats, and a sliding center armrest.


5/ 10

The Sonata provides a choice of two engines, and each is available on any trim. The base 2.4-liter 4-cylinder makes 162 horsepower and the available 3.3-liter V6 makes 234 horsepower. The 4-cylinder engine routes power through either a 5-speed manual transmission or available 4-speed automatic. The V6 hooks up to a 5-speed automatic. Both engines route power to the front wheels.

Though the base 4-cylinder engine provides adequate power for getting around town, it is often sluggish when pushed. Look to the V6 engine for pulling away quickly and confidently accelerating up to highway speeds.

Opting for the SE trim adds a rear spoiler and performance tires. But Hyundai has not succeeded in dialing in that proper road feel just yet. This is where the Camry and Accord start to pull away.

Form and Function

6/ 10

The Sonata has a surprisingly spacious cabin, thanks in part to its arched greenhouse. This also provides the Sonata with great visibility. The Sonata has comfortable front seats with plenty of side bolstering. Unfortunately, the way the power driver’s seat articulates forces taller drivers to choose between maximum headroom and legroom. They may want to check out the GLS with its manual seats.

The Sonata provides 16.3 cubic feet of cargo space, which can be expanded by folding down the 60/40 split/fold rear seats. In fact, the Sonata’s trunk is larger than the Camry and Accord, which have 15 cubic feet and 14 cubic feet, respectively.

Tech Level

7/ 10

The Sonata comes standard with six speakers and an AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo and satellite radio. A Premium Package on the SE trim adds a six-disc CD changer. This comes standard on the range-topping Limited trim, along with an amplifier and subwoofer. The Limited also comes with an electrochromic auto-dimming rearview mirror. This mirror provides HomeLink connectivity and a digital compass.


9/ 10

The Sonata provides a full array of front- and side-impact airbags as standard safety equipment. In addition to the mandatory front airbags, it provides front-seat side-impact airbags and head side-curtain airbags. Other standard safety features include a tire pressure monitoring system, traction control, electronic stability control, and antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution.

The Sonata earns a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It earns this rating in both front- and side-impact testing.


9/ 10

The most fuel-efficient version of the 2008 Hyundai Sonata is the 4-cylinder engine when paired to the 5-speed manual transmission. It returns 21 mpg city, 31 highway, 25 combined. Opting for the automatic does not incur much of a hit on efficiency, as it returns 21 mpg city, 30 highway, 24 combined. The V6 returns 19 mpg city, 28 highway, 22 combined.

Base MSRP for the 2008 Hyundai Sonata is $17,670 for the 4-cylinder manual GLS trim. The automatic version starts at $18,870, while the V6 version starts at $21,120. A mid-range SE 4-cylinder starts at $19,750, while the 4-cylinder version of the Limited starts at $22,470. The range-topping V6 Limited starts at $24,170.


From open-wheel racecars to specialty off-road vehicles, George Kennedy has driven it all. A career automotive journalist, George has been a contributor, editor, and/or producer at some of the most respected publications and outlets, including Consumer Reports, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine,, Hemmings Classic Wheels,, the Providence Journal, and WheelsTV.

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