Best & Worst Hyundai Sonata Years

We've ranked each Hyundai Sonata model for all generations, so you can avoid picking the worst Hyundai Sonata years and go for the best years.

In this guide, I’ll break down the latest Hyundai Sonata generations, revealing the best years for the Hyundai Sonata to buy and the worst years to avoid.

Drawing insights from authoritative sources like NHTSA, Consumer Reports, and J.D. Power, we meticulously analyze data to identify the most and least reliable Sonata years. Our evaluation is grounded in rigorous research, ensuring accuracy and relevance.

Specifically, I’ll highlight each Hyundai Sonata generation’s powertrain configurations, safety and tech, reliability, common owner-reported problems, and recalls.

Let’s dive right in!

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Table of ContentsShow

Hyundai Sonata Generations

The Hyundai Sonata, first introduced in 1985, has become a prominent figure in the mid-size sedan market. Over the years, it has evolved significantly in design, technology, and performance.

This article will focus on the Sonata models from 1999 onwards, covering the 4th to the 8th generations.

Here is a table showcasing all the Hyundai Sonata generations from 1999. As you can see, the Hyundai Sonata is still going strong.

GenerationYears
4th generation (EF/EF-B)1999-2005
5th generation (NF)2006-2010
6th generation (YF)2011-2014
7th generation (LF)2015-2019
8th generation (DN8)2020-Present

This generational breakdown is crucial for understanding Sonata’s development, highlighting the significant changes and improvements that are pivotal in influencing buyer decisions.

Hyundai Sonata Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

When evaluating the Hyundai best and worst model years for the Hyundai Sonata, we’ve considered various factors to provide a comprehensive assessment. These factors include:

  • Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports reliability scores
  • Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
  • NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • JD Power owner ratings
  • Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
  • VehicleHistory owner ratings
  • Cars.com owner ratings

Here is a graph combining all the ratings and reviews from the above sources.

Hyundai Sonata Car Smite Score Combined Overall Score

Next, in the table below, we’ve categorized each Sonata model year into three groups: best, neutral, and worst years.

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
4th generation (EF/EF-B)2004
2005
N/A1999
2000
2001
2002

2003
5th generation (NF)2009
2010
20082006
2007
6th generation (YF)2014N/A2011
2012
2013
7th generation (LF)2018
2019
N/A2015
2016

2017
8th generation (DN8)2020
2021
2024
20232022

“Neutral Years” are those that neither stand out for excellence nor have significant issues. They represent a middle ground in terms of reliability and satisfaction.

It’s important to note that factors like NHTSA recalls can significantly impact a model year’s ranking. Generally, more complaints and recalls correlate with lower reliability ratings.

Let’s dive into the best, neutral, and worst years for Hyundai Sonata.

Best & Worst Years for Hyundai Sonata 4th Generation (1999-2005)

Hyundai Sonata 4th generation 1999 model
The 1999 Hyundai Sonata

The fourth generation of the Hyundai Sonata, launched in 1999, was pivotal in changing perceptions of the Hyundai brand worldwide, focusing on improved design and technology.

2004 and 2005 are the best years for the fourth-gen Hyundai Sonata, while the model years between 1999 and 2003 are the worst years to avoid.

The Best Years: 2004, 2005

The 2004 and 2005 Hyundai Sonata models epitomize the advancements of the fourth generation.

These models came equipped with a 2.7L V6 or a 2.4L I4 engine, offering a balance of performance and fuel efficiency, with the V6 averaging around 20 MPG combined and the Inline-4 slightly higher.

The transmission options included a smooth-shifting 4-speed automatic and a 5-speed manual.

These years saw enhancements in cabin features, including better quality materials, a more sophisticated audio system, advanced safety features like side airbags, and improved crash test ratings.

Despite some lingering issues with sub-frame corrosion, these models significantly improved overall quality and reliability.

The Worst Years: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003

The initial years of the fourth-generation Sonata, particularly 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003, were marred by several reliability issues.

The 1999 and 2000 Hyundai Sonata models were plagued by engine cradle corrosion, transmission issues, and engine stalling at low-speed driving.

The 2001 Hyundai Sonata introduced additional problems, including camshaft position sensor failures and rust-prone brake lines.

The persistent problem of sub-frame corrosion continued to be a significant issue in the 2002 and 2003 Hyundai Sonatas, leading to steering problems.

Recalls during these years for engine stalling (2.5l V6) and front sub-frame corrosion further tarnished their reputation.

See NHTSA 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 Hyundai Sonata recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Hyundai Sonata 5th Generation (2006-2010)

Hyundai Sonata 5th generation 2006 model
The 2006 Hyundai Sonata

The fifth generation of the Hyundai Sonata, introduced in 2006, marked a significant evolution in design and build quality, reflecting Hyundai’s growing confidence in competing with established midsize sedans.

2009 and 2010 are Hyundai Sonata’s best years in this generation, while 2006 and 2007 are the worst fifth-gen Hyundai Sonata model years you should avoid.

The Best Years: 2009, 2010

The best years of this generation’s Hyundai Sonata are undoubtedly the 2009 and 2010 models.

These years featured robust engine options, including a 2.4L I4 and a 3.3L V6, with the latter offering a more spirited driving experience and an average fuel economy of around 22 MPG combined.

The 2009 Hyundai Sonata introduced key safety enhancements, such as standard stability control and improved crash test scores, making it a top pick for safety-conscious buyers.

Additionally, these models boasted higher trim levels, including the Limited, which offered luxury features like leather upholstery, a sunroof, and premium audio systems.

Technological advancements were notable, with features like Bluetooth connectivity and USB ports becoming standard.

These years are lauded for their reliability, improved build quality, and comprehensive feature set.

The Neutral Years: 2008

The 2008 Hyundai Sonata served as a transitional year, maintaining the solid foundation of the earlier models while introducing incremental improvements.

It continued to offer the same engine and transmission choices as the preceding years, with the 4-speed automatic replaced by a more efficient 5-speed automatic transmission.

Safety features were enhanced, with active head restraints added to the roster. Fuel efficiency remained competitive, with the 2.4L engine offering around 25 MPG combined.

 While not as feature-rich as the subsequent years, the 2008 model held its own regarding reliability and overall value.

The Worst Years: 2006, 2007

With the highest number of owner complaints and recalls on NHTSA, 2006 and 2007 are the worst years of the fifth-generation Hyundai Sonata, which is wise to avoid.

The 2006 and 2007 Hyundai Sonata models were notorious for issues related to the airbag system, including occupant classification sensor failures, and faced recalls related to seat belts, ABS module short circuits leading to braking issues, and cross-member corrosion.

Suspension problems due to worn or rusty components were also common, alongside various electrical glitches.

Despite these setbacks, these models laid the groundwork for the improvements that would define the later years of this generation.

However, these years are generally considered less reliable for potential buyers due to their higher incidence of issues.

See NHTSA 2006, 2007 Hyundai Sonata recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Hyundai Sonata 6th Generation (2011-2014)

Hyundai Sonata 6th generation 2011 model
The 2011 Hyundai Sonata

The sixth generation of the Hyundai Sonata, introduced in 2011, marked a dramatic shift in design and technology.

NOTE: I highly recommend performing thorough checks via VIN, as the sixth-gen Hyundai Sonata models have considerably high numbers of owner complaints and recalls.

The Best Year: 2014

The best Hyundai Sonata model year of the generation, 2014, has the lowest counts of owner-reported issues and recalls.

Equipped with a 2.4L I4 engine, delivering a balance of performance and efficiency, and a more powerful 2.0L turbocharged option for those seeking extra power, this model year excelled in performance dynamics.

The average fuel economy was impressive, with the base engine offering around 28 MPG (37 MPG, Hybrid) combined.

Alongside the advanced technological features, such as Hyundai’s Blue Link system, offering telematics services and infotainment options, safety features included a rearview camera and blind-spot monitoring in higher trims.

The interior quality was enhanced with higher trims featuring leather seating and premium audio systems.

The Worst Years: 2011, 2012, 2013

Which year Hyundai Sonata was bad? What year did Sonatas have engine problems? 2011, 2012, and 2013 are the Hyundai Sonata years to avoid due to the vast number of recalls and owner complaints concerning various domains.

These years were plagued with issues related to the steering system, such as vibrations, power steering loss, and engine problems, including excessive oil consumption and engine stalling.

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata faced significant concerns with bearing wear, leading to engine failures and recalls for issues like brake line leaks and improper steering gear assembly.

The 2012 and 2013 Hyundai Sonata models struggled with engine and suspension problems, with coil spring fractures being a notable issue.

Necessary recalls for these models concern disabled airbags and seat belt pre-tensioners, high-pressure fuel pipe and cracked low-pressure fuel hose leaks, bearing and connecting rod wear, causing engine stalling, transmission shift cable detachment and rollaway risk, brake line leaks, improper steering gear assembly and loss of power steering assist, and front coil spring fractures.

See NHTSA 2011, 2012, 2013 Hyundai Sonata recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Hyundai Sonata 7th Generation (2015-2019)

Hyundai Sonata 7th generation 2015 model
The 2015 Hyundai Sonata

The seventh-generation Hyundai Sonata, introduced in 2015, heralded an era of refined style and enhanced technology, positioning it as a competitive player in the midsize sedan market.

2018 and 2019 are the best years for the seventh-generation Hyundai Sonata, while 2015, 2016, and 2017 are the worst years to avoid.

The Best Years: 2018, 2019

Which Sonata model is the best? The 2018 and 2019 Hyundai Sonata models represented the best years of this generation, characterized by their reliability, advanced features, and improved build quality.

These years offered a range of powertrain options, including a fuel-efficient 2.4L I4, a turbo 1.6L for those prioritizing efficiency, and a more potent 2.0L turbo engine for enhanced performance.

These models boasted an impressive fuel economy, with the base engine averaging about 29 MPG combined.

Safety was a significant focus, with advanced features like lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking available.

The interior saw a substantial uplift in quality, with higher trims featuring luxurious leather seats, a panoramic sunroof, and an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation.

The infotainment system was compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, offering seamless smartphone integration.

The blend of comfort, technology, and reliability makes the 2018 and 2019 Sonata models highly recommended for buyers.

The Worst Years: 2015, 2016, 2017

What Hyundai Sonata years to avoid? The worst seventh-generation Hyundai Sonata model years, 2015, 2016, and 2017 saw similar problems to the previous generation and added new issues to the list.

Common problems included hybrid system failures, excessive oil consumption, and engine stalling.

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata was particularly problematic, with recalls for issues such as the loss of power steering, brake calipers that may fracture, and sunroof panel detachment.

In the 2016 and 2017 Hyundai Sonata models, issues around engine stalling, oil consumption, and power steering assist loss persisted, posing significant reliability and safety concerns.

These years also saw recalls for critical safety components like seat belts and brake calipers, further undermining consumer confidence.

Despite their appealing design and features, these model years are often viewed cautiously due to their higher incidence of mechanical and safety issues.

See NHTSA 2015, 2016, 2017 Hyundai Sonata recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Hyundai Sonata 8th Generation (2020-Present)

Hyundai Sonata 8th generation 2020 model
The 2020 Hyundai Sonata

The eighth-generation Hyundai Sonata, launched in 2020, marked a significant leap forward in design, technology, and performance, setting new standards in the midsize sedan segment.

2022 is the worst eighth-gen Hyundai Sonata model year to avoid, while 2020, 2021, and 2024 are the best model years to buy.

The Best Years: 2020, 2021, 2024

What is the most reliable year for the Hyundai Sonata? The 2020, 2021, and 2024 Sonata models stand out for their exceptional blend of innovation, reliability, and performance.

These years featured various powertrain options, including a 2.5L I4 engine delivering a balanced mix of power and efficiency and a 1.6L turbocharged engine for those seeking a more dynamic driving experience.

Regarding fuel efficiency, these models typically offer around 32 MPG combined, which is impressive for the segment.

Safety is paramount in these models, with standard features including forward collision-avoidance assist, lane-keeping assist, and advanced smart cruise control.

Higher trims offer luxurious amenities like leather seating, panoramic sunroofs, and larger infotainment displays with enhanced connectivity features.

Hyundai’s commitment to integrating cutting-edge technology is evident in features like the Digital Key and advanced driver-assist systems, making these years ideal for tech-savvy consumers and families.

The Neutral Year: 2023

The 2023 Hyundai Sonata maintained the high standards of its predecessors, offering a similar array of powertrain options and maintaining its commitment to safety and technology.

While it did not introduce significant upgrades from the 2021 and 2022 models, it remained a solid choice, offering a well-rounded package of efficiency, comfort, and advanced features.

Buyers can expect reliable performance, a comfortable interior, and a suite of safety features that make the Sonata a competitive option in its class.

The Worst Year: 2022

The 2022 Hyundai Sonata, despite being part of a generally well-received generation, experienced a dip in ratings, particularly from Consumer Reports and Cars.com.

This model year faced issues related to fuel leaks at pipe connections and a loss of drive power, leading to recalls.

These issues and some consumer feedback on interior quality and infotainment system reliability make the 2022 Sonata a less favorable option than other years in this generation.

Potential buyers should exercise caution and consider earlier or later models for a more consistent and reliable ownership experience.

Hyundai Sonata Resale Values

Explore the following graph of the Hyundai Sonata’s resale value trends across different model years.

Hyundai Sonata Average List Price

Conclusion

As we wrap up our guide on the Hyundai Sonata’s lineage, consider models from the best years, like 2014, 2018, and 2019, for a reliable purchase.

On the other hand, it’s wise to avoid the 2015, 2016, and 2017 models due to their frequent issues.

Do you own a Hyundai Sonata, and if so, which year? How has your experience been?

Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

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Jonathan Eckert

Jonathan is an ASE-certified mechanic with over 22 years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry. His expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, but he specializes in diagnosing and repairing Japanese cars. His previous workplace highly commended his meticulous attention to detail, and that's exaclty what he uses at Car Smite to craft the best guides for each purpose.