In recent years, reviewers have praised the Hyundai Sonata as one of the automaker’s best models. The midsize sedan has won numerous awards from authorities such as J.D. Power, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Kelley Blue Book, and AAA. The Sonata went from never winning to constantly winning. Along with the Accent, the Sonata played a pivotal role in securing Hyundai’s foothold in the North American market.
However, according to CarComplaints.com, the 2019 Sonata has some “really awful” problems. And they’ve left several owners less than pleased with their choice.
Complaints about the 2019 Hyundai Sonata are flat-out scary
Imagine opening your car’s trunk when your leg suddenly feels like it’s on fire. Did you buy a Hyundai Sonata or a Harley-Davidson? Burning your leg on a factory exhaust protruding from a car isn’t normal. Here’s the owner’s complaint submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
“[The] exhaust tip under [the] right rear bumper extends past [the] end of [the] bumper. A few weeks ago, someone burned their leg while accessing the trunk. Yesterday, a separate person was also burned [by the] same exhaust tip from standing close to [the] bumper to access the trunk. We had [a] 2016 Sonata for 4 years and never experienced burns from [a] similar exhaust tip. [The] car was parked on [a] level driveway. [The] car was warmed up from [a] recent drive and turned off.”
Another individual stated in a complaint to the NHTSA that they leased a 2019 Sonata in mid-January that year, and engine problems began almost immediately. In that short period, the Sonata’s engine experienced severe fluctuations in drive power, with sluggish acceleration and lower “speed and power.” And that April, the Sonata drastically decelerated on its own while shaking badly.
Hyundai denied owners warranty coverage and faced legal action
Local dealerships’ certified service technicians can address most vehicle owner complaints. And though it’s not rare for an automaker to find itself in court, few new car owners experience something awful enough to warrant litigation.
However, that isn’t the case concerning engine problems that 2019 Hyundai Sonata owners experienced. According to the consumer watchdog site Top Class Actions, not only are the engine problems severe, but Hyundai at the time also denied responsibility. As a result, the automaker regularly denied owners warranty coverage.
Findings have since shown the 2019 Sonata’s engine issues stem from “the connecting rod bearings in the gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines.” The affected connecting rod bearings have been known to fracture, releasing metal fragments into the oil supply. If the issue is left unfixed, the metal debris will cause severe engine damage. The oil filter cannot catch all debris, allowing contaminated oil to circulate through the engine. Eventually, it damages components until the engine fails unexpectedly.
In response to possible litigation, the automaker finally “agreed to fund a Hyundai theta engine settlement center to resolve the claims …” However, it still refused to admit any wrongdoing.
Besides “certain” 2019 models, it seems a significantly larger number of 2011 to 2018 Sonatas might fall under the class action. Top Class Actions also says people who bought or leased “certain 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, and 2014–2015, 2018, and certain 2019 Hyundai Tucson vehicles” are also eligible.
Interestingly, Hyundai and Kia seem to be targets of litigation concerning all sorts of engine problems, with the worst being fires.
2019 Hyundai Sonata overview
U.S. News ranked the 2019 Hyundai Sonata third out of 11 in its “Best 2019 Affordable Midsize Cars.” Kelley Blue Book ranked it 4.4 stars based on reviews from experts and owners. Both websites lauded this sedan for its affordability and high-tech features. Hyundai’s 10-year powertrain warranty was another feather in the Sonata’s cap. Though the 2019 model was a carryover, Hyundai made some adjustments to its content levels in mid-2018.
Cars.com prices used 2019 Hyundai Sonata models between $12,000 and $21,500, depending on the trim level. The 2019 model offered six trims: the 185-hp four-cylinder SE base model; the more fuel-efficient 178-hp turbocharged four-cylinder Eco; the SEL, with the same engine as the SE but better tech; the Sport, with an SE engine but sportier; the Limited, which features more tech upgrades (yeah, same SE engine); and, finally, the Limited 2.0L, featuring a 245-hp turbo-four.
According to U.S. News and Cars.com, the 2019 Hyundai Sonata offers fairly good tech for the money. Its handling is good and steering responsive. There’s also an easy-to-use infotainment system, along with a quiet, comfortable interior. On the downside (besides leg burns), the Sonata’s base engine is below adequate (when not on fire), most safety tech is missing from all models, and the interior quality is what you might expect from a bargain sedan. Last, why Hyundai equipped its Sport model with a base engine is puzzling.