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Quick Facts
2006 Hyundai Sonata GL
- I-4/GL
- GLS V6

$22,025-$26,600 (Cdn)

Fuel economy, city/hwy:
GL I-4., 9.6/6.3 l/100 km (29.4/44.8 mpg)

GLS V6, 11.5/7.2 l/100 km (24.6/39.2 mpg)

- 162-hp I-4/
- 235-hp V6

 FWD, 5-speed manual; 4-speed and 5-speed automatics with Shiftronic.

2006 Hyundai Sonata Road Test
Safety results bolster new Sonata's standing

By Bill Roebuck

2006 Hyundai Sonata is the winner in the Family Sedan under $35,000 category. Photo by Bill RoebuckNov. 5, 2005 -- When it comes to evaluating a car's safety, you can't do much better that getting top marks in the crash tests done by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) New Car Assessment Program (NCAP).

In NHTSA's latest round of tests, the 2006 Sonata mid-size sedan earned the highest rating available -- five stars -- in frontal and side-impact crash tests for both the driver and passenger seating positions.

The NCAP side impact crash tests are conducted at 62 km/h, and full frontal barrier impacts are done at 56.3 km/h.

The 2006 Sonata's good rating is the result of a higher level of standard safety equipment Hyundai introduced in the new model. Every Sonata is now equipped with advanced dual front airbags, seat-mounted side-impact airbags for the driver and front seat occupant, and side curtain airbags designed to help protect the driver, front-seat passenger and outboard rear-seat passengers.

In addition, the front seats feature active head restraints for extra protection against whiplash in rear collisions.

Crashworthiness of the sedan was aided by the use of an all-new, computer-designed rigid body structure. It features reinforced bulkheads, pillars and side-impact protection to provide the foundation for a stiffer front subframe.

Hyundai's own testing using computer simulation and on-road evaluations also helped its designers optimize crumple zones and impact load diffusion paths.

2006 Hyundai Sonata. Photo by Bill RoebuckThe Sonata's top-level crash test rating is a reflection of the effort the South Korean automaker has put into improving its models since it decided back in 1999 to produce vehicles that would compete with Japanese quality. The latest Sonata family sedan is aimed directly at drivers who would consider a Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima or Honda Accord as their first choices.

I recently spent a week each in the four-cylinder, 162-hp base GL Sonata with a manual transmission, and a top-of-the-line, 235-hp GLS 3.3-litre V6 with a five-speed automatic.

The new model's design has a modern, clean look. I thought it displayed great fit and finish -- seeming equal outside and inside to its main Japanese competitors.

The Sonata's styling is in the same unexciting vein as the Camry and Accord, but I noticed that it was different enough to attract a fair bit of attention from onlookers whenever I parked it. That's not something that happens often with family sedans.

The driving experience isn't exceptional but there's nothing to complain about. The ride is certainly stiffer and more controlled on the V6 model; I found the ride on the base four-cylinder GL -- which uses less robust suspension components -- to be too soft for my liking.

But one thing I really liked was the price -- it's about $3,000 less than competitive, comparably equipped models. The 2006 Sonata GL starts at $21,900 with a destination charge of $615. (That compares to a 2005 Honda Accord DX at $24,300 plus a destination charge of $1,280.)

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