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2003 Hyundai Sonata Sedan

4dr Sdn LX V6 Manual

Starting at | Starting at 20 MPG City - 27 MPG Highway

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  • Average Retail is not available
  • $18,574 original MSRP
Printable Version

2003 Hyundai Sonata Sedan

Printable Version

2003 Hyundai Sonata Sedan


2003 Hyundai Sonata

Source: New Car Test Drive


Hyundai Sonata is a roomy and comfortable midsize sedan with a level of quality and refinement that may surprise you the first time you get in and take a good look at it. It costs less than the name-brand sedans, but measures up well against them.

Sonata is packed with features, making it an excellent value. It's easy to operate its well-designed controls and everything is exactly where you expect it to be. The interior is nicely finished and has a general feeling of quality. Front and rear accommodations are comfortable, making this good transportation for four or five. Sonata cruises smoothly down the highway, even at elevated speeds, and does everything you ask of it with responsive steering and responsive performance from the available V6 and automatic.

Hyundai has come a long way in the past few years and now sells more cars in the U.S. than BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Lincoln, Lexus, Acura, Volvo, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Mercury, or Saturn. The Sonata has been part of this success. Hyundai sold more than 62,000 Sonatas here in 2001. Another part of it is the piece of mind Hyundai offers through one of the best warranties in the industry.

The interior gets some minor upgrades for 2003. Hyundai gave the Sonata a major facelift for 2002, and it presents an elegant shape with a bold waterfall grille and headlight treatment.

Model Lineup

Three models are available: Sonata ($15,499); Sonata GLS ($16,999); and Sonata LX ($18,324).

The base Sonata is well-equipped for its price. It comes standard with air conditioning, AM/FM/CD audio system, rear defroster, power mirrors, power locks with keyless remote, power windows, cruise control, remote fuel door and trunk releases, 60/40 split folding rear seat, variable intermittent wipers, and 15-inch all-season tires. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is standard, as is a five-speed manual transmission.

GLS is a V6-powered model with a higher level of interior trim, including deluxe cloth upholstery, woodgrain trim, an upgraded stereo, an improved center console, dual map lights, and rear cup holders. GLS also comes with heated mirrors and a power antenna. Upgrades underneath include 16-inch alloy wheels with 205/60 high-performance tires, four-wheel disc brakes, and gas-pressure shock absorbers, all of which improve handling and braking.

LX is the luxury model, and comes with leather seating surfaces, better carpet, automatic temperature control, and an eight-way power driver's seat.

The V6-powered GLS and LX are still available with a five-speed manual transmission. Hyundai's automatic transmission adds $500 to the price of any Sonata.

The V6 engine is available as an option for the base model as part of a $1050 option package that includes a power moonroof or as part of a $1600 package that includes the moonroof and anti-lock brakes. ABS, traction control, and the moonroof can be added to any Sonata for $1250. The moonroof is also offered as a stand-alone option for $550. Other combinations and permutations are available as well.


The Hyundai Sonata is strikingly handsome, expressive without being oppressive, with graceful lines and rich details that one would expect on a far more expensive automobile. The Sonata's overall shape suggests the feline form of a Jaguar; while its sophisticated headlight treatment could have been borrowed from a Mercedes-Benz. It's better looking than the Kia Optima, which shares the Hyundai's architecture.

The waterfall grille is formal but not pretentious. Chrome trim around the grille, over the doors and on the trunk is well placed, and like jewelry tastefully worn, it enhances rather than distracts. The bold headlight design is more than stylish. The small low-beams are halogen projector lamps that produce a uniformly bright pattern, and the complementary high beams are very bright. Good headlamps are extremely important, especially on dark and stormy nights. The Sonata's are excellent.

The Sonata's pull-type door handles feel solid. They don't feel as though they'd break if you needed to force open a door that had frozen shut. The doors close with a solid thunk. Sonata comes standard with a keyless remote fob.

Interior Features

Climb into a Hyundai Sonata and you do not feel like you're sitting in a second-rate car. It's quite nice. The interior materials are of good quality, and vastly superior to what's found in the new Saturn L-Series sedans. The interior is nicely finished, again better than the Saturn. The interior is conservative in appearance and sitting in a Sonata while parked is a positive experience.

The front seats are broad for maximum comfort, and lightly bolstered, making it easy to slide in and out. A pair of knobs on the driver's seat permits adjusting the seat bottom from cushy to firm for good support to the legs and posterior. Both the leather and cloth upholstery are comfortable and of decent quality.

It's easy to operate the Sonata without taking your eyes off the road. Switchgear is clearly marked and easy to operate. Radio controls are big, clearly marked, and easy to operate. HVAC is straightforward with two rows of big buttons and knobs that are easy to discern and operate. Window switches are conveniently mounted on the doors, but, alas, are not illuminated. Gauges are clearly marked.

The upper and lower portions of the instrument panel are dressed in contrasting shades of vinyl. The plush fabric on the seats is repeated in the door panels. The GLS and LX also have a two-compartment center armrest. The glovebox opens with a firm feel. Only the ashtray feels flimsy. There's a nice rubber-lined spot ahead of shifter for my wallet.

Hyundai has wrapped the Sonata's wheel in a leather-like urethane that's buttery soft and wonderful to hold. It's characteristic of the attention given to detail throughout the Sonata's interior. The ignition switch is on the dash, rather than plugged into the steering column.

A splash of artificial wood around the center stack of the GLS and LX won't fool anyone, but looks somehow appropriate anyway. A frame of burnished aluminum surrounds the automatic shifter quadrant, with the Shiftronic manual-override slot alongside. Illuminated Shiftronic manual shift indicators were added for 2003.

Carpeted floor mats come standard for 2003. LX models now offer a HomeLink remote system and electrochromic inside rear view mirror as options. Hyundai added electric switches for the trunk and fuel door releases for 2002. Placed on the driver's door, the power releases are easy to reach and operate.

The back seat offers good room for two adults, with sufficient legroom and comfort for a long trip. The rear seat folds 60/40, allowing long items to pass through from the trunk. The seat itself is contoured for two passengers, with a folding center armrest between them, but Hyundai has provided three-point seat belts for three people. Map pockets on the backs of the front seats add useful storage space.

Changes made to the rear suspension for 2002 allowed Hyundai engineers to increase the Sonata's trunk volume to 14.1 cubic feet. Articulated trunk lid supports stay out of the trunk itself, so you don't have to worry about groceries or luggage being crushed by conventional trunk hinges.

Driving Impressions

The Hyundai Sonata cruises nicely, with a smooth ride and good stability at high speeds. Steering is sharp and the available V6 and automatic are a responsive team, delivering good acceleration performance for passing or merging onto freeways.

Hyundai 's 2.7-liter V6 provides quick acceleration from a standstill. The Sonata accelerates smoothly and without great drama. It doesn't have the most powerful V6 among mid-size sedans, so the Hyundai would probably lose a drag race against a Toyota Camry V6. But it's stronger than the four-cylinder engines that come in the Camry and Accord and other sedans that cost more than a Sonata GLS with a V6. The Hyundai V6 idles quietly, but not silently.

The Sonata's automatic transmission is responsive and sophisticated. Shifts are smooth, almost unnoticeable. Using fuzzy logic, the transmission's electronic controller adapts to the driver's style and minimizes hunting when climbing hills. It's sometimes helpful to slap the Shiftronic lever to the right and downshift manually, but it isn't necessary as stepping on the gas will induce it to downshift. Using the Shiftronic is fun at times, however, and can give the driver more precise shifting control. Slip the shift lever over to a second slot, and once there row it fore and aft to shift up and down manually. The transmission will hold the selected gear rather than shifting automatically. The Shiftronic override is useful for engine braking on long, steep downgrades.

The four-cylinder engine that comes with the base model works well when paired with the five-speed manual gearbox. It does not, however, offer strong power, especially at higher elevations. It lacks the response of the V6, particularly at lower revs. It delivers 22/30 mpg with the manual, 21/28 with the automatic. The V6 gets 20/27 mpg with the automatic.

Sonata's ride is smooth, soaking up tar strips and potholes. Some popping over seams can be heard, and at speed the Sonata has a tendency to drift within its lane. But our test car glided effortlessly at 75 mph, with only a ruffle of wind noise and the slightest amount of tire noise interfering with our utter tranquility. We enjoyed even the pianissimo passages of classical music on the Sonata's standard CD player. The nose dives a bit under hard braking and the rear suspension squats under hard acceleration, but the Sonata's four-wheel independent suspension works well in the daily grind.

Steering is responsive. It's a bit slower than the new Honda Accord's steering, so you have to turn the wheel more. Drive it very hard on a bumpy, winding road and you can feel some chassis flex. This third-generation Hyundai Sonata was launched for the 1999 model year, so its chassis isn't as rigid as what you get with the newest name-brand sedans. (Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Nissan Altima all benefit from completely re-engineered chassis within the past year.) Also, the tires don't feel as connected to a wet road we'd like. But the Sonata is alright.

Braking in the Sonata GLS is solid with the four-wheel discs, an upgrade over the rear drum brakes in the base model. ABS is optional and we recommend it as it allows the driver to brake and steer at the same time in an emergency stopping situation.


Hyundai Sonata is a handsome family sedan that sells for thousands of dollars less than the name-brand mid-size cars. Drivers will immediately feel comfortable and in control. The interior is finished nicely and all controls are easy to operate.

Sonata rides smoothly and the available V6 and automatic deliver smooth, responsive performance.

Overall, the Hyundai Sonata offers a strong value among mid-size sedans. That's particularly true when you factor in Sonata's impressive warranty, with bumper-to-bumper coverage for 5 years/60,000 miles and 24-hour roadside assistance for five full years; it includes limited powertrain coverage for 10 years/100,000 miles and corrosion coverage for 5 years/100,000 miles. Even if the car is pre-owned, Hyundai still backs the Sonata's powertrain for five years or 60,000 miles.

Model Line Overview

Model lineup: Sonata ($15,499); GLS ($16,999), LX ($18,324)
Engines: 138-hp 2.4-liter dohc 16-valve inline-4; 170-hp 2.7-liter dohc 24-valve V6
Transmissions: 5-speed manual; 4-speed automatic
Safety equipment (standard): front airbags with passenger presence detection, front seatbelt pretensioners, rear 3-point seatbelts, child seat anchors
Safety equipment (optional): ABS/traction control
Basic warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles
Assembled in: Asan, Korea

Specifications As Tested

Model tested (MSRP): Hyundai Sonata LX automatic ($18,824)
Standard equipment: air conditioning, leather upholstery, woodgrain trim, power door locks w/ remote, power mirrors, power windows, cruise control, tilt wheel, 60/40 split folding rear seat, variable intermittent wipers, rear defroster, power antenna, heated mirrors, AM/FM/CD/cassette audio, dual front map lights, V6 engine, 16-inch alloy wheels, power driver's seat, deluxe carpeting, automatic climate control, carpeted floor mats
Options as tested (MSRP): anti-lock brakes, traction control, power tile and slide moonroof with sunshade ($1250)
Destination charge: ($495)
Gas guzzler tax: N/A
Price as tested (MSRP): $20,569
Layout: front-wheel drive
Engine: 2.7-liter dohc 24-valve V6
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 170 @ 6000
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm): 182 @ 4000
Transmission: 4-speed automatic with Shiftronic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: 19/27 mpg city/hwy mpg
Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
Length/width/height: 186.9/71.7/56.0 in.
Track, f/r: 60.6/60.2 in.
Turning circle: 34.4 ft.
Seating capacity: 5
Head/hip/leg room, f: 39.3/55.8/43.3 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m: N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r: 37.6/54.4/36.2 in.
Trunk volume: 14.1 cu. ft.
Payload: N/A
Towing capacity: N/A
Suspension, f: independent
Suspension, r: independent
Ground clearance: N/A
Curb weight: 3212 lbs.
Tires: P205/60HR16
Brakes, f/r: disc/disc with ABS
Fuel capacity: 17.2 gal.

Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) effective as of August 06, 2001.
Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges.

N/A: Information not available or not applicable.
Manufacturer Info Sources: 1-800-826-2277 - www.hyundaiusa.com

Copyright © 1994-2003 New Car Test Drive, Inc. 

Printable Version

2003 Hyundai Sonata Sedan

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Air Bag Std
Child Safety Locks Std

Road Visibility

Fog Lamps Std
Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std


Alarm Std
Printable Version

2003 Hyundai Sonata Sedan

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 5 Years/60,000 Miles
Drivetrain 10 Years/100,000 Miles
Corrosion 5 Years/100,000 Miles
Roadside Assistance 5 Years/Unlimited Miles

Hyundai Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

120-months/100,000-mile Powertrain warranty from original in-service date.
Age/Mileage Eligibility up to 5 model years old w/ less than 60,000 miles
Lease Term Certified No
Point Inspection 150
Download checklist
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance 10-Year/Unlimited Mileage from In-Service Date
Special Financing Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $50

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2003 Hyundai Sonata Sedan

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