Undecided buyer

I’m in the process of purchasing a new car. I’m undecided between a Hyundai Sonata and Honda Accord 2012. I drive an average of 25K miles a year and need a reliable and fuel efficient vehicle. My last vehicle was a Honda Civic 2003 (bought brand new) and I was very happy with the car’s overall performance in the 8 years I owned it. I always give my cars scheduled maintenance to avoid mechanical problems in the future.

Having stated the above, which of the two options (Sonata or Accord) do you recommend and why?

Any other make and model suggestions you recommend?

Thank you in advance for your feedback.

p.s. I have test driven both cars and like them both. The Accord is approximately $1,300 more than the Sonata (Honda grand total = $25,304 and Sonata grand total = $23,959). The Sonata comes with overall better warranty than the Honda.

Do you have any feedback regarding transmission, engine, recall and overall mechanical problems in previous models for both?

It couldn’t get any closer, they are both great cars. Drive the exact model of each you’re considering several times on your commute route, see which appeals to you. Hondas can ride ‘rougher’ than some like, others like the ‘feel of the road’. The Sonata is fully the equal of the Accord overall.

To further confuse things, have you driven a 2012 Camry SE (4 cylinder)? It is MUCH improved over last year and would be on my short list.

Thank you for your feedback. I will research the 2012 Camry SE model.

If you like the Sonata, consider a Kia Optima. Kia is a division of Hyundai, and the base price on the Kia is a few hundred less than the Hyundai. The Kia Optima EX seems to be similar to the Hyundai Sonata SE.

Or have a little bit of fun in a Mazda 6

Or save some money and look at the Ford Fusion and Nissan Altima and see if the $$ difference is worth it.

So much for trying to narrow down your search.

Thank you all for your feedback; it is greatly appreciated.

It’s a bit of a tossup in my opinion. You might keep in mind the latest automotive news story about Honda leading everyone in Recalls with Toyota coming in at second place.

Personally, I think the Mazdas are better cars.

If fuel economy is the most important, I would go for the Sonata; if driving fun is important to you, pick a Mazda 6. For your driving needs, 8 years at 25,000 miles a year, I would avoid a Ford Fusion. My OWN choice would be a 4 cylinder Camry with automatic. It has the quietest ride, and is also a long lived car with good reliability.

The Sonata (as well as the Kia) still has a timing belt, so budget an additional 2x$800 over those 8 years for replacement.

Good point about the timing belt - if it’s otherwise a toss-up, that would tilt me away from the Sonata/Optima.

I had a 2008 Honda Accord it had the V6. It was a good car expect for the road noise and the uncomfortable front seats. I’ve talked to so many other people who felt the same way about both those issues. One thing about the Honda they really hold there value when you go to sell them.

The newer Sonata/Optima’s don’t have a timing belt as far as I know, but check before you buy.

Be careful with Camry’s. Not because of their quality, Camry’s are excellent cars but according to several insurance companies, they are among the highest for auto theft! Very few people take that into consideration when purchasing a midsized sedan.

katid; I agree with you, but that should not be a criteria for car selection. Good looking women are more likely to be attacked at subway stations. Very few will make themselves deliberately ugly to minimize this.

Moppysita, both of your selections are excellent choices. I’ve spent time with both a new Sonata (a weeks rental) and a new Accord (I drive one at work), and my aged back prefers the Accord. I found it more comfortable long-term. But from a quality, utility, and ergonomic standpoint they’re both extremely comparable.

Perhaps your significant other can make the final choice for you.

I own a 2011 Sonata (essentially the same car as the 2012). Couple of notes:

  1. I don’t recall a timing belt being mentioned anywhere in the maintenance section of the owner’s manual.
  2. In general I am happy with the car: decent handling, good acceleration, good fuel economy (although don’t expect to get the EPA figures), comfortable, and roomy.
  3. It uses a direct injection engine, which is a somewhat new technology. This means the following:
    a) You need to use Top Tier gas (Google this to find out what it is) or use fuel injector cleaner at every oil change. Basically, Chevron, Shell, Texaco, and many other brands of gas are Top Tier. Costco and Arco are NOT Top Tier providers. However, the car uses regular 87 octane gas, not premium.
    b) There is some thought that direct injection engines beat up motor oil. The “severe” schedule for my Sonata is 3750 miles, the regular interval is 7,500 miles.
    c) Some of the earlier cars with direct injection engines had problems with intake valve fouling, particularly Audi–another topic you can Google at your leisure. Hopefully Hyundai has figured this one out, but it’s something to think about.

Note that I’ve never driven a Honda Accord. However, during the buying process I drove an earlier model Nissan Altima which impressed me a great deal. . . .


I wanted to buy a Nissan Altima when I was in the process of shopping for a new car but it was about 6k out of my budget, unless I wanted to buy a used one and this time around I didn’t want to buy a used car.

Thank you all for your feedback; it is greatly appreciated.

I had a bad experience with a used 2005 Nissan Altima and don’t think I’ll go back to owning one. I’m sure Nissans are good cars but I personally don’t feel comfortable investing my money, especially after a bad and expensive experience.

I ended up buying a Nissan Versa. It was highly rated in its class and I was looking for something relatively inexpensive and reliable. Everyone kept telling me to buy a Kia but they didn’t get a lot of good reviews. I’m not a huge fan of Kias anyway. Everyone says that Kias have the best warranties (100k bumper to bumper, drivetrain etc) but I don’t base my decision on warranties alone. I

Went through the same thing a little over a year ago - and here were my thoughts on the models we looked at :

Toyota Camry : No way, no how. Sloppy, unresponsive handling compared to every other vehicle we looked at, and awfully tight in the backseat for child seats, thanks to the shaping an positioning of the front seats. The new one might be better, but I SERIOUSLY doubt Toyota has its handling improved to even match the competition yet…

Honda Accord: Generally decent, but not spectacular in any way. The dealers were all unbelievably obnoxious, though, and none would allow us to test drive the vehicle on rough roads or highways. One of them had a nasty flare when we test drove it, too… Overall, too highly priced for the negatives.

Hyundai Sonata: I personally don’t like the looks. WAY overdone in the styling department, IMO, but otherwise a decent car. Better than the Camry or Accord, IMO, and slightly cheaper

Ford Fusion: This ended up being our second pick. Not really better or worse than the Sonata in any noticeable way on the test drives, IMO. Decent handling, decent styling, VERY highly rated for reliability. About the same price as the Sonata. I rented one later and managed 38 mpg on the highway, which is VERY good IMO for a midsize.

Mazda6: Best handling of them all, IMO, but some might find the ride a bit firm. Good styling, and most of the guts (except the transmission) are the same as in the Ford Fusion. Its actually bigger than the Fusion, though, with the most spacious backseat of any in this list (well, the Accord has more headroom, but we needed legroom). It had, IMO, the most comfortable seats of any of them as well… MPG is a bit lower (we get 24-25 city, 31-32 highway) than all but the Accord (it beats the accord according to owner reports), but not by enough for us to care given the benefits and our low annual useage (8k miles per year). Call it the benefit of a 6 speed over a 5 speed auto - the 6 and the Accord both use 5 speeds, so they trail the others on mpg. It also was the cheapest of them all, comparably equipped - about $2k under the Fusion and Sonata and about $4k under the Camry or Accord.

If I had to do it again today, the Mazda would still win easily. If I could wait a few months, though, I would - the 2013 Fusion is on its way soon, and the styling to me looks very good, and the mpg promised there is VERY tempting to me (the base model will be using the same powertrain that is rated at 23/33 that got me 38 hwy, but there will be options to go to 26/37 at the same power level, 23/33 with higher power, or 47/44 for the hybrid (WELL over the current competition) or even over 100 MPGe for plugin, better than anything but the Nissan Leaf…