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Hyundai Introduces 2011 Sonata at LA Auto Show with 4-Cylinder GDI Engine; GDI Turbo and Hybrid Powertrains Slated

Hyundai Motor America President and CEO John Krafcik introduces the all-new 2011 Sonata along with Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture design language. Click to enlarge.

Hyundai introduced its all-new 2011 Sonata at the Los Angeles Auto Show, marking the North American debut of the latest version of the midsize sedan. The Sonata will feature an all 4-cylinder engine lineup, launching with a naturally-aspirated version of the new Theta II GDI 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with a Gasoline Direct-Injection (GDI) fuel delivery system. (Earlier post.) Sonata is the first midsize sedan to adopt GDI technology as standard equipment in a naturally aspirated powertrain.

Next year, Hyundai will add a 2.0-liter Theta II turbocharged GDI four-cylinder engine and a 2.4-liter Hybrid Blue Drive model featuring Hyundai’s lithium polymer battery pack. (Earlier post.) Details about these powertrains will be announced at the 2010 New York Auto Show.

GDI offers greater control of the fuel mixture at the optimum moment achieved by direct injection improves efficiency. The fuel is injected by a camshaft-driven, high pressure pump that operates at pressures up to 2,175 psi. Direct injection also utilizes a higher than normal 11.3:1 compression ratio for increased power. The pistons are dished to increase combustion efficiency in the cylinder.

At launch, the 2011 Sonata will deliver an estimated 23 mpg city/35 mpg highway fuel economy with the available six-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC. When equipped with the six-speed manual, the Sonata achieves an estimated 23 mpg city/34 mpg highway fuel economy rating. The preliminary horsepower and torque ratings for the Theta II GDI are 198 hp (148 kW) and 184 lb-ft (250 N·m) of torque. In the SE trim which includes a standard dual exhaust, the engine delivers 200 hp (149 kW).

Comparison of 4-cylinder Mid-size Sedans
  2011 Sonata 2010 Camry 2010 Accord 2010 Altima 2010 Fusion 2010 Malibu
Displacement [L] 2.4 2.5 2.4 2.5 2.5 2.4
Horsepower 198 @ 6300 169 @ 6000 177 @ 6500 175 @ 5600 175 @ 6000 169 @ 6400
Specific output [HP/L] 82.5 67.6 73.8 70.0 70.0 70.4
Torque [lb-ft] 184 @ 4250 167 @ 4100 161 @ 4300 180 @ 3900 172 @ 4500 160 @ 4500
Fuel economy [city/hwy] 23/35 22/33 22/31 23/31 23/34 22/33
Vehicle Weight [lbs] 3199 3307 3269 3180 3342 3415
Power-to-weight [hp/lb] 0.62 0.51 0.54 0.55 0.52 0.50
Turning diameter [ft] 35.8 36.1 37.7 36.1 37.5 40.4

This high-tech, all-aluminum, 16-valve engine features 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.

New transmission. Hyundai’s all-new six-speed automatic A6MF2 transaxle helps the company meet its goals of improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. An option of manual control is available through the SHIFTRONIC feature, accessible by moving the gear selector into a separate gate. Pushing the selector forward or pulling it rearward will shift the transmission up or down sequentially, adding to driver control. The SE trim will also feature steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. A clear LCD readout on the instrument panel shows the gear being used.

Designed for transverse engine applications in passenger cars and SUVs, the new compact transmission puts Hyundai into a class of auto manufacturers who have designed their own proprietary six-speed automatic transmissions. The strength of the design is its unique layout which makes it smaller, more compact and lighter than other six-speed transmissions on the market today.

In this application, the six-speed helps brings a 9% gain in fuel economy (35 mpg versus 32 mpg). The gearbox has no dipstick because it is filled with automatic transmission fluid that is good for the life of the vehicle under normal usage conditions, thereby reducing maintenance costs.

Developed over a four-year period, this new six-speed automatic is 26.4 pounds lighter than the five-speed it replaces. It also is 1.6 inches shorter and considerably simpler, having 62 fewer parts, which is a key to increased durability, lighter weight and lower cost.

The addition of a sixth gear enables closer spacing between gear ratios providing a better balance of performance and fuel economy while the wide overall gear ratio helps deliver strong acceleration.

The gearbox has three planetary gearsets and a unique flat torque converter that shortens the unit’s overall length by 0.47 inches. Four pinion differentials improve durability and further minimize size.

Slight manufacturing deviations from one solenoid valve to the next often times cause fluctuation in the hydraulic pressure and affect shift precision and quality. The transmission featured in the Sonata integrates adjustment screws in the valves that enable each of the eight valves to be calibrated at the factory. This feature ensures stable hydraulic pressure at any shift point which facilitates a high degree of precision and control needed to deliver fast, smooth and precise shifts throughout the rpm range.

Sonata is rich in ultra-high-strength steel, leading to world-class body rigidity. The 2011 Sonata is 25% stiffer in torsion and 19% stiffer in bending rigidity than its predecessor, yet it is lighter than many midsize sedans, also offering more interior room.



WOW, the Japanese occupiers of seventy years ago would never have imagined this..


I dont know if it is fair to compare a 2011 with 2010 equivalent models from other manufacturers.

Making the best choice is not going to be easy.

Price wise, the Sonata has a definate advantage of up to 20% in many places.


Latest sales stats (in Canada) for Nov 2009 over Nov 2008..

Hyundai's +28.4%
Honda's + 27.8%
Toyota's + 26.9%
Nissan's + 19.5%

Ford's -3%
GMs -27%
Chrysler's -54%.

It is obvious that many buyers have switched away from Big-3 products in 2009.

Will this trend continue in 2010? If so, GM and Chrysler may be in for a rough ride.


"The gearbox has no dipstick because it is filled with automatic transmission fluid that is good for the life of the vehicle under normal usage conditions, thereby reducing maintenance costs."

Could somebody knowledgeable comment possible disadvantages of this solution.
Is it at all possible to replace the transmission fluid without first removing the tranny?
Would you buy such car as used w/ over 100 K miles on odometer, that might have been abused, or used as a taxi?

I remember words of an auto executive: "The price of used car determines the price of the new car". (True for Toyotas, Hondas.)


This company has some good products. They debuted a luxury model right in the middle of a downturn. Some might say that was poor timing, but it put them in the big leagues and there is no turning back now.

The Goracle


Ford's -3%
GMs -27%
Chrysler's -54%.

It is obvious that many buyers have switched away from Big-3 products in 2009.

I agree with the exception of Ford. Ford seems to be hanging in there. Of course the common link between GM and Chrysler is that they are government auto companies now. It looks like people don't want to buy cars from the Central Automotive Planning Bureau.



The Mercedes C230 has a sealed transmission. You can still change the fluid when you drop the pan and change the filter. It prevents contamination and uses synthetic fluid, so there is no need for a dipstick.

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