Hyundai has taken the wraps off its next generation Sonata for the 2011 model year. What will be perhaps the most unique and confident-looking Hyundai yet represents a large advancement in style and image for the brand.

Hyundai’s new mid-size sedan is a four-door coupe with shades of Mercedes CLS and Toyota Camry.

While the general outward appearance may not look totally convincing, the significance of this generation is incontrovertible. Interior and exterior design both stand out as large steps forward for the brand, establishing new cues that may find their ways to other new Hyundai offerings.

The design language is what Hyundai is calling ‘Fluidic Sculpture’.

It’s already shown up on the more aggressive 2010 Tucson, and will most certainly be spanning the entire range (looking forward to seeing it translated to the Genesis Coupe).

Exterior

This is, essentially, a quantum leap forward for the Sonata. A striking point of interest is the chrome accent which–rather than being used simply to punctuate the greenhouse–runs nearly the entire length of the car, beginning at the trailing edge of the headlamp, terminating at the rear of the DLO.

In concert with the chrome-accented beltline is a long, sculpted character line.

The complex surfacing may not be aesthetically pleasing to everyone, but it certainly exhibits well-resolved solutions to incorporating its accents into the overall forms.

Front-end graphics are unlike anything else on the road and the grill strikes me as both confident and a bit luxurious (though perhaps slightly plasticky).

The front fascia is subtly and intricately sculpted, and does well to incorporate fog lamps into the lower intake. The rear-end graphics are bold and uncomplicated; the upper bounds of the tail lamps are defined by the same side character line that wraps around the rear quarter panel and finds its way to another non-traditionally-shaped bit of chromework.

Interior

Slightly Acura-esque, there is a high level of resolve and an apparently above-average level of attention to detail for this price-range vehicle.

The surfaces flow together, but stay distinct and controlled with attractively shaped and well-placed parting lines.

The dual binnacle instrument cluster, sleek center console, and attractive steering wheel make for a more than decent place to spend your time… though it is a bit surprising that more care wasn’t taken in making the glove compartment release something special.

Verdict

A stylish, confident exterior and modish interior surely make for a solid mid-size entry.

Take a closer look at http://www.hyundaisonata.com/

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