Mar 8, 2022
The Sonata offers more standard convenience and safety features than its competition. Plus, the midsize car typically lasts over 200,000 miles or 20 years–with some owners reporting reaching over 300,000 miles. But beware of the four-cylinder engine used between 2011 and 2013, which can suffer major mechanical failure.
- Since 2010, Hyundai has offered four generations of Sonata sedans, including the current model that debuted for 2020.
- The lineup has included everything from mainstream four-cylinder models to turbocharged four-cylinders, V6s, and hybrids.
- A well-maintained Sonata can last upward of 200,000 miles with regular maintenance.
- The weakest link in the Sonata is the four-cylinder engine used between 2011 and 2013, which can suffer major mechanical failure.
- Several recalls have attempted to address problems with the 2011-2013 Sonata, but owners continue to report problems.
- It may be more complex, but the Sonata Hybrid has a good reliability record.
Hyundai’s Sonata Can Last from 200,000 to 300,000 Miles in its Lifetime, which Equals About 20 Years of Service
Generally speaking, the Sonata has been well-received by owners and the media. Ratings from Sonata owners on Vehicle History are typically in the mid- to upper-four-star range (out of five stars), from a low of 4.1 stars for the 2013 model to five stars for the newest models.
It’s not hard to find used Sonata sedans for sale online with 200,000 or more miles, which suggests good longevity. While most of the high-mile Sonatas currently for sale with upward of 200,000 miles are from the 2015 model year or older, some newer models are beginning to approach those high odometer readings.
Owners on Hyundai-Forums report upward of 300,000 miles in some instances. At an average of around 14,000 miles a year, that means some drivers may be able to get as many as 20 years out of a Sonata.
Regular Maintenance is Critical to Getting the Most out of a Sonata, but the 2011 Through 2013 Models Should Be Avoided
A redesign for the 2011 model year brought fresh, low-slung styling to the Sonata. Unfortunately, that model year was accompanied by a four-cylinder engine called Theta II that can be problematic, if not catastrophic.
Complaints registered by owners online largely center around internal issues such as bearing failures and defective piston rings that can lead to metal shards in the engine, resulting in potential mechanical seizure. The cost of replacing an engine may outweigh the value of the car.
According to Car Complaints, the 2011 model year is one to avoid due to the high potential of engine failures. Similar complaints follow the Sonata through 2013, which suggests that internal changes made the engine more reliable beginning with the 2014 model year.
So problematic was the Sonata’s Theta II engine that the automaker has issued several recalls to address internal components used in 2011 through 2013 Sonata models. These concerns are echoed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has logged over 3,000 complaints from 2011 Sonata owners. Drivers have noted as recently as March 2022 that the four-cylinder engine may seize while driving.
When Considering a Pre-owned Hyundai Sonata, Look to 2016-or-newer Models for the Best Reliability Record
While the redesigned 2015 Sonata’s more conservative styling may not be as visually appealing, this generation of the mid-size sedan has a better reliability track record than its predecessor.
By the 2016 model year, Car Complaints rates the Sonata as “Pretty Good.” Reported problem areas taper off considerably closer to the current model year.
J.D. Power agrees, rating the 2016 Sonata as “Great” for its reliability. Even newer models are roughly the same, aside from a small dip for the 2020 model year when the Sonata was redesigned again.
The Hyundai Sonata’s Longevity Makes it a Good Used-car Buy, but the Hybrid Model Has a Problem with Battery Failure that Can Eventually Add Over $1,500 to the Cost
Hyundai has offered a gasoline-electric version of the Sonata sedan since the 2012 model year. With its electric motor and lithium-polymer battery pack, the Sonata Hybrid can run on electric power alone for short stints to save fuel.
Even though this powertrain is more technically complex than the base four-cylinder, there are fewer complaints from owners online. The biggest problem is battery failure. A replacement battery can cost around $1,500, plus another $300 to $400 to have it professionally installed, according to retailer Best Hybrid Batteries.
So, while Hyundai Sonata gas and hybrid models are decent used-vehicle options, it’s important to consider the bigger issues that may end up costing more money in the long run.
Frequently Asked Questions
By Stephanie Stephan | Mar 8, 2022
What is the 2017 Hyundai Sonata’s Reliability Rating?
The 2017 Hyundai Sonata was given an “excellent” four out of five predicted reliability rating by J.D. Power & Associates. Consumer reviews awarded the Sonata 4.8 out of five stars for reliability, and praised its performance, styling, and comfort.
What is the 2011 Hyundai Sonata’s Reliability Rating?
Consumer Reports gave the 2011 Hyundai Sonata its worst reliability rating of one out of five, for the Sonata’s defective body paint, engine, and steering. 3,045 NHTSA complaints and 14 recalls exist for the 2011 Hyundai Sonata for fuel leaks, airbags, suspension, and power steering problems.
John Smith on June 13, 2021
Structural Problems With Welds Breaking On My Hyundai Sonata
At five months old I heard a metal crunching noise In the roof on the driver's side. Took the car to the dealer they said the spotweld in the a-pillar broke and they had to weld it back together. Nine months later it happened again this time three more welds broke at the windshield. Now I am worried about the safety of the car in case of an accident. After talking to multiple body shops they all said they have never heard of welds breaking in a new car, only if it was in a wreck.
Rod N on March 31, 2022
2007 Hyundai Sonata Limited v6
This is the best Sonata ever. Say what you want about the newest model, but it cannot top this one. Our 2007 Hyundai Sonata Limited v6 just crossed 400,000 miles and it continues to purr along on the original drive train. Everything still works great, even the heated seats! Our first major engine repair came in 2021 when we had to replace the throttle assembly. It is an amazing vehicle and a huge blessing in our lives. Thanks, Hyundai!
Noel B on September 10, 2021
Safety Issues And A Recall On The Engine
There are tons of blind spots when I am trying to look to my left or right before turning- I have to adjust my head to see out of the window to get a clear view. Otherwise, the car is blinding me from seeing. There is a recall on the engine. My oil does not stay in the vehicle. The car does not excel that quickly.
Larry S on August 7, 2021
Reliable Is The Only Way To Describe The Hyundai Sonata
I lease so I have a new one every 3 years. I think in all the time I have had a sonata, there was once a software update and once my car didn't start and it was supposedly a known problem and they helped me get it started over the phone. I brought it in and they replaced a sensor. It is a good, reliable car.
Mark M on August 4, 2021
Repeated Mechanical Issues With The Hyundai Sonata
My car has had repeated mechanical issues and does not seem to be a reliable car even though everything was covered by a factory warranty. It has been bad enough that the engine had to be replaced. They told us it was metal fragments in the oil pan and knocking sounds were heard while the motor was running.
Natalia S on June 14, 2021
Non-Stop Problems With My Hyundai Sonata Show Up
The oil pan broke getting an oil change. The seatbelt does not retract all the way. The seat gets stuck when adjusting. Acceleration is weak. The software update was not done BC I was told my car did not need to be done and then my car shut off in the middle of driving it. Radio always had static.
Lavish Sharma on August 16, 2021
Hyundai Sonata: Best Option For Long Term
I bought the car last year, honestly, I drive a lot. I've been in tough times, and this thing never let me down. Runs perfectly after proper maintenance. I have about 62000 miles on it and still accelerates like new. If you thinking to have one for the long term, it's the best option.
Christopher F on September 11, 2021
My Hyundai Sonata Is Safe And Reliable
This car is a very smooth drive and is very reliable in inclement weather. It is steering technology that helps keep the car aligned within your lane while on streets/ highways etc. It is truly superb. I feel safe in this car.
Rosado J on August 19, 2021
Poor Engineering On the Sonata Caused Major Issues
In 4 years the inverter has been damaged needing replacement two times on clean, paved roadways. The failure to shield the inverter - thus costing almost $1,000 each time it is damaged - is a major engineering snafu.
Violet D on August 17, 2021
Manufacturing Defects With The Hyundai Sonata Led To Issues
Numerous manufactured defects. Condensation in headlamps retains water inside mirrors, interior workmanship poo! Edit in the dealership for replacement on headlamps and side mirrors and the problem still exists.
Assumpta Sandrasagra on September 8, 2021
Major Transmission Issues
First-year itself has problems. They changed the transmission in the first year it took 6 months to get the parts. Every year dealerships change transmission. I changed three times the transmission.
Jimmy V on August 25, 2021
Hyundai Sonata: Engine Replacement At 38k Miles
The engine has 38,000 miles on it and it makes a terrible clicking noise that the dealership cannot diagnose. They replaced the engine but the noise is still there.
Virginia M on June 30, 2021
Oil Consumption Problems With The Hyundai Sonata
There’s a class-action lawsuit. It drinks oil. I have to put oil in my car every 3 weeks. After a year of owning the car. We had to replace the battery.
Ally P on November 21, 2021
I Will Continue Using Hyundai Sonatas As My Daily Vehicle
It is a great vehicle and very reliable. I have safety features like a great backup camera. This is my second one and the previous I had for 10 years.
Joshan N on February 16, 2022
Minor Issues But Affordable Maintenance
It has been a very reliable car until now and with very easy and affordable maintenance. The problem is very slight which includes wind noise.
Brielle M on October 13, 2021
Engine Issues With My Hyundai Sonata
Engine issues and I have to take to dealership all the time. I have had to replace rotors and brakes numerous times and it still squeaks.
Henny N on November 19, 2021
Hyundai Sonatas Will Never Give You A Problem
My Hyundai sonata is extremely comfortable and very reliable. I have no problems with my car and I feel as if it is very safe too!
Matthew D on December 13, 2021
The Hyundai Sonata Is Reliable With A Few Minor Issues
It is a reliable car. Mine has over 100 thousand miles on it. I have had battery problems but overall the car is very good.
Lorraine M on January 20, 2022
No Issues So Far With The Hyundai Sonata
As of today no problems, this is a very dependable vehicle. This vehicle rides very smooth, has great power.
Hyundai Sonata Reliability: How Long Will it Last?