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2003 Sonata

Overall rating:  Product Rating: 4.0

Reviewed by 22 users

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Reviews written: 4
View all reviews by guititon




Great car for the money


by guititon:      Aug 25, 2008


Product Rating: 5.0 Recommended: Yes 

Pros: Cheap, dependable, a lot of features for the cost.
Cons: Door handles, all of them. The finish flakes off.
The Bottom Line: This car has been great - 130000 trouble free miles. I can't say the same for other cars I have owned (all US made before this).


We bought the four cylinder model new. It was funny, when we bought it the dealer was telling us all the features and I told him I didn't want electric windows, mirrors, CD player and all the other stuff he was listing, I wanted a cheap car. And he told me those were not options, the car came loaded with them. There was no extra cost. That sold it.

We now have 130,000 trouble-free miles on it. For the first couple of years my wife used it, just for shopping and dropping the kid off at school. I bought her a Suburu Baja in 2005, so I inherited it. I had a 1997 GMC Sonoma I was driving, and I wanted better gas milage.

We never had any problems with it. I was surprised that something that cheap could be so dependable, it has been a great car. I drive 40 miles to and from work each day, and every other weekend I go to our second home in Missouri - 325 miles away.

Last month I couldn't get it to start. I went online and read where a valve from the gas tank will sometimes fill up with gas fumes, so I cranked it hard for a while and got it started. I took it straight to the dealer. While I was there I had them tune it up, replace the timing belt and hoses and valves and perform a transmission service (the transmission fluid was burned pretty bad, I have a lead foot). I changed out the front brake pads when I got it home (the dealer wanted too much for that simple procedure). I expect to get another 100,000 from it before I retire it. We paid it off last year, so it is ours - free and clear. Every mile we drive it now it is just saving us money.

I bought a 2009 Nissan Versa earlier this year, which I am using to commute to work most of the time. I use this car now for the trips to Missouri - it is more comfortable. I also use it whenever I have to pick up lumber or building materials for around the house. I can put 10 foot lumber in it and still close the trunk. Last week I put a bunch of 12 foot vinyl soffit in it.

The only reason I bought a new Nissan instead of another Hyundai is the door handles. The paint and chrome has come off all of them, both inside and out. The back doors are never used, so the handles should be fine, but they peeled just the same. I checked, no recalls. Too bad, the Elantra is much better, is roomy and costs the same. I would have rather had one of those, but the door handles are not easy to replace (and probably not cheap). After having the Nissan for a couple of months now, I really wish I would have bought the Hyundai instead. I will be getting rid of the Versa soon.

As for the Sonata, it has a few pings in it from shopping carts and bicycles, but still looks pretty good. Everything still works, including the AC and CD player. I change the oil every 3000-4000 miles, and it isn't using any yet. I change the air filters twice a year. It gets about 32 mpg, as good or better than the Versa we bought. It has surprising zip for a four cylinder.
Amount Paid (US$): 14500
Condition: New
Model Year: 2003
Model and Options: Hyundai Sonaota
Product Rating: 5.0
Recommended: Yes 
Reliability:  
Roominess:  
Build Quality  
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