I purchased this car because I wanted something with better fuel economy and lower insurance rates to replace my 2008 Ford Mustang GT. And something that I didn't need to worry about storing in the winter. As I live in Minnesota, and ended up losing storage space, I could only really enjoy the Mustang eight months or less out of the year.
The new Sonata is very roomy and comfortable on the inside. The instrument panel and gauges are attractive and well laid out. The SE comes with cloth seats with leather side bolsters, front and back. The seats are firm but comfortable. The floor in the back is nearly flat, making for tons of leg room.
The heater throws out warm air quickly even on the coldest of days, however it seems like it takes quite a long time for it to throw out truly hot air in the winter.
On models with GPS Navigation, the buttons and display seem kind of cheap and out of place to me, the stock stereo seems to match the interior much nicer in my opinion, and delivers perfectly good sound. Mine has a push button engine-start with a "smart-key", which I find gimmicky and unnecessary, something that will more than likely just cause headaches when the car gets old.
If I really want to be picky, I can speak of a few gripes with the interior. The passenger seat sits a little too low (especially on cars with manual-adjust passenger seats). Also the material on the back of the front seats is cheap looking rock hard plastic, that seems like it will scratch easily over time.
The AUX cable hookup and USB for the radio are in a bit of an awkward location (far bottom center of the instrument panel). Also when the USB is connected, it defaults my MP3 to the same song for some reason every time the car is shut off, then turned back on, and you really can't scroll through songs according to your own playlists. I charge the player with an adapter, and use the AUX cable so I can at least control what plays and in what order. And as with every Asian car I've encountered, the 12-volt chargers turn off unless you have the ignition or accessory switch on, which I find annoying.
The performance from the new 2.4 liter motor is very smooth, and well above average. A 2.0 Liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is optional; I test drove one and it is truly a rocket. The 6-speed automatic transmission with the standard 2.4 motor is very smooth, however there is quite of bit of downshifting on small hills, especially if you use the cruise control, and this cuts into fuel economy. I think a V6 should have been offered as well in a car this size. I am a little disappointed with the fuel economy so far. In a mix of city/highway driving going to work I am averaging about 24 MPG, and probably about 33 MPG is the best the car has done so far on a few long trips. However it is winter here, and COLD, and I am hoping that as spring comes, and as the car breaks in, that these numbers will shoot up.
The SE model is essentially a suspension and wheel package. It comes with wide 18 inch wheels with low-profile tires, and firmer springs and suspension components. Needless to say, the SE not the greatest in the snow, but I think it does remarkably well with what it has to work with. The traction control, ABS and stability control only kick in when they absolutely have to, which I think is a good thing. I've managed to get across town with 3 inches of unplowed snow in the streets without getting stuck.
The car handles curves and twisty roads well, but the electric power steering just feels a bit weird, numb and out of place. The ride on the SE is OK with me, but will definitely be a little too firm for some people's tastes. It adds some dress-up and flair to the car's looks, but all in all, I don't think it was worth the extra money.
The headlights take a bit of getting used to. There is almost a sort of "blind spot" on them when you get above a certain height level looking straight ahead.
So far I am very satisfied with the car, and I will post updates as time goes on. 10 years ago I scoffed at Hyundai, but they truly have come a long way!