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The Sonata is automaker Hyundai’s flagship midsize car and also one of its most popular. Boasting modern amenities and reliability at an affordable price, the Sonata makes owners choose it over and over again. But are some Hyundai Sonatas better than others?

Though this popular vehicle has some of the happiest owners in America, there are owners of one model year, in particular, that would disagree.

The Hyundai Sonata model year you should stay away from

After compiling all complaints from owners, creates a model year comparison to help both current and potential owners see the best and worst of the Hyundai Sonata. This comparison clearly shows that while most model years have seemed to perform well, there’s one model year that receives significantly more complaints than any other.

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata has more complaints than any other Sonata model year, earning a staggering 803 total. That number is more than three times the amount of complaints for any other model year.

The 2011 Sonata is also’s choice as “Worst Model Year” based on several other factors “such as repair cost and average mileage when problems occur.” Between the sheer enormity of owner-reported complaints and severity of such complaints, gives the 2011 Hyundai Sonata its “Avoid Like the Plague” stamp of distinction.

Why the 2011 Hyundai Sonata is the worst model year of all

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata is the main reason picked “engine problems” as its choice for the overall worst category across all model years.

More than 300 owners have made complaints about the 2011 Hyundai Sonata’s engine, with the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) reporting 758 complaints. According to, the ” 2011 Sonata has a seriously defective engine that seizes without warning.”

The number-one-reported problem, with 175 complaints, is that the Sonata’s engine seized. This complaint is also ranked as’s number-one-worst overall Sonata problem.

Occurring at an average of around 94,000 miles, this problem costs owners an average of $5,110 to fix and earns a Severity Rating of 9.2 (out of 10). But 42 additional owners complain of their 2011 Hyundai Sonatas’ engines stalling while driving, 28 have claims of excessive engine noise, and 26 complain of excessive oil consumption.

More than 1,000 complaints have been made to the NHTSA regarding the category with’s second-most complaints. Nearly 150 owners report problems with 2011 Hyundai Sonata’s steering, with 74 owners complaining of clicking noise when turning and 44 have claims of shaking, wobbling, and clicking.

Though engine and steering problems undoubtedly receive the majority percentage of 2011 Hyundai Sonata complaints, there are plenty of other complaints in other categories as well. More than 70 owners report problems with electrical, 53 report problems with interior accessories, and 48 report problems with the Sonata’s lights.

There are 36 more complaints in the body/paint categories, 32 in seat belts/air bags, 19 in AC/heater, and 17 in suspension, transmission, and wheels/hubs categories.

Which model years prove to be the most reliable?

Newer model years 2016-2018 obviously have minimal complaints by owners, but you shouldn’t be put off by the poor performance of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata when it comes to used models.

Most older model years have proved reliable to owners, with model years 2011-2015 being the years with the most complaints. The 2014 Sonata is the only exception to this, only receiving 58 complaints from owners.

The 2010 Sonata only has 117 complaints, while the 2009 and 2008 model years have 75 and 49 complaints, respectively. Looking for a used Sonata that won’t give you too many problems? An older Hyundai Sonata may be the way to go.


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