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Usually you expect this kind of wanton wackiness from Kia but lately Hyundai, especially with its stylishly understated Genesis luxury sedan, had always been the one to count of for sleek, easy to read styling.

Whether or not being a touch “conservative” is a bad thing to you is of no matter here. The reason? Unfortunately when looking at the 2011 Hyundai Sonata from the side you can’t tell which end is the front. It looks like a giant banana.

The last generation Sonata may have been a tad boring to people who went to art-school (i.e. Starbucks Baristas) but there was a beauty in the inherent simplicity of its styling. It was far better looking than either the Accord or Camry and didn’t try to look German like the Altima with its faux-Hofmeister kink (a styling move stolen from the last generation Passat and about 20 BMWs).

The interior of the new Sonata is a bit overdone as well (at least that matches the outside). It just reeks of trying to be something it’s so clearly not. It is sort of the Ryan Seacrest of automobile interiors in that it wants you to believe it’s cool and stylish but really it’s just a dwarf with a celebrity fetish (Ryan Seacrest, not the Sonata).

Production of this new Sonata just began in Alabama this week so vehicles should be trickling into Hyundai dealers shortly. There have been some serious changes to the powertrain choices for the 2011 Sonata in that now there aren’t any. Thankfully, that isn’t a bad thing when you consider the new engine.

An all new design, the 2.4 liter 4 cylinder with direct injection makes 200 horsepower and 186 pound feet of torque. Let’s be honest here, the Sonata never really made sense with a six cylinder engine and that was borne out by its low uptake rate in retail sales.

Fuel efficiency is improved by 10% and highway fuel economy is estimated to be 35 miles per gallon which would qualify it for best in class status for power and efficiency. Finally, an affordable Hyundai with a world class engine. (Apologies but the 4 cylinder engine in the Accent sounds like a squirrel being asphyxiated by a rubber band while being pelted with paper clips.)

The exterior styling of automobiles always affects different people in different ways. Where some people see an expressive and beautiful design others see a piece of fruit manifested in steel and glass. The 2011 does have one thing going for it. It looks like nothing else on the road. Now which way is it going exactly?

source: examiner

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