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2009 Hyundai Sonata revealed [updated]

by Nick Aziz

[Update: Live auto show images added.] Hyundai has unveiled a facelifted version of its Sonata mid-size sedan for the 2009 model year. On display at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show this week, the car features an all-new interior, enhanced suspension, revised powertrains, and an improved exterior.



Hyundai revised the exterior with new bumpers, lamps, wheels and grille creating a more elegant appearance.

The 2009 Sonata debuts Hyundai's second-generation Theta four-cylinder engine. The Theta II 2.4-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder engine delivers more horsepower and quicker acceleration, while also improving fuel economy.

The engine delivers 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway fuel economy with the standard five-speed manual transmission or the new five-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual mode. The Theta II is rated at 175 horsepower and 168 pound-feet of torque.

Engine technologies include Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) on both camshafts and a Variable Induction System (VIS) for better engine breathing. A version of this engine also meets Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) standards.

Sonata's 3.3-liter V6 engine has also been improved for more performance and efficiency. It now pumps out 15 more horsepower and three more pound-feet of torque (249 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 229 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm). A variable intake system is added for 2009, which further broadens the engine's power curve. New mileage figures for V6-powered Sonatas are 19 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.

All V6-powered Sonatas use Hyundai's five-speed Shiftronic automatic transmission, which features an overdrive lock-up torque converter for improved highway fuel economy.

New for 2009 are standard auxiliary input jacks (3.5 mm mini-jack and USB input) to accommodate and charge audio devices such as iPods.

Among the other refinements are the addition of dual-zone climate controls for the driver and front-seat passenger, and two-stage front seat warmers. A new factory-installed touch screen navigation system is now available as well.

Handling

The front half of the four-wheel independent suspension system features a double-wishbone system with coil springs, revalved, twin-tube, gas-filled hydraulic shock absorbers, and a larger 26 mm stabilizer bar. The system's lower control arms increase handling precision while reducing vibration.

Out back, a new sophisticated multi-link system provides better handling, ride quality, and noise isolation.

The performance-oriented Sonata SE features its own unique sport-tuned suspension. The new setup offers a 15 percent stiffer front spring rate, 10 percent stiffer rear spring rate, unique strut valving at all four corners and 27 mm front and 17 mm rear stabilizer bars.

Safety

The ABS braking system now incorporates Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) to automatically target braking force to front and rear axles.

In the event that a crash is unavoidable, the Sonata features six airbags -- including dual front, front seat-mounted side-impact, and front and rear side curtain airbags-along with active front-seat head restraints.

Other passive safety features include rear headrests for improved visibility, three-point seatbelts for all seating positions, front-seat seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters, and a rear-seat Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system for child seats.

Sonata GLS

The Sonata GLS features an impressive array of standard active and passive safety features including ESC, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), six airbags, ABS and active front head restraints.

Other standard features include power windows, door locks and outside heated side mirrors, keyless entry with alarm, an AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system with USB/iPod auxiliary inputs, 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback, air conditioning, cruise control and tilt-adjustable steering column.

The Popular Equipment Package includes automatic headlights, chrome window belt moldings, woodgrain interior accents, power driver seat with adjustable lumbar support, steering wheel audio controls and a trip computer. A sunroof is also available.

Sonata SE -- I4 or V6

The sport-focused SE adds the company's sport-tuned suspension as standard equipment, matched with a five-speed manual transmission (2.4L four-cylinder) or optional five-speed automatic (3.3L V6). Other performance-oriented SE features include 17-inch alloy wheels with 215/55R17 all-season performance tires, rear decklid spoiler, fog lights, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, special cloth seats with leather bolsters, and an eight-way power driver's seat with adjustable lumbar support. The Sonata SE V6 adds dual chrome exhaust tips.

Other standard features include automatic headlights, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, chrome window belt moldings, telescoping steering wheel and a trip computer. The Premium Package includes an AM/FM/XM/6-CD Changer/MP3 audio system with USB/iPod auxiliary inputs, six speakers, subwoofer and component amplifier, power tilt-and-slide sunroof, and an electrochromic auto-dimming rear-view mirror with HomeLink and a compass.

Sonata Limited

The Limited is the fully equipped Sonata mode, featuring leather seats, a standard Infinity AM/FM/XM Satellite/6-CD Changer/MP3 audio system with six speakers, subwoofer and component amplifier, an eight-way power driver's seat, heated front seats and power sunroof. Other upgrades include automatic temperature control, an electrochromic auto-dimming rear-view mirror with HomeLink and compass, sliding center armrest, premium scuff plates and 215/55R17 tires. The only option besides the engine choice is a navigation system.

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