The Hyundai Sonata was barely a blip on the automotive radar until the company introduced the sixth-generation model so it's kind of surprising to learn the car is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

The Hyundai Sonata was barely a blip on the automotive radar until the company introduced the sixth-generation model so it's kind of surprising to learn the car is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

Originally introduced in 1985, the first-generation Sonata was rear wheel drive and as beige as beige can be.  The second-generation model was introduced in 1988 and employed a front-wheel drive system for "enhanced interior packaging efficiency."

As the years passed, the company introduced new and improved versions of the Sonata.  By the time in the fifth-generation model arrived in 2004 it was deemed a competent competitor to the established players and received "near universal praise from automotive media and customers alike."

However, the real turning point was the sixth-generation Sonata which was introduced in 2009 with a striking Fluidic Sculpture design that finally got customers to notice.

More recently, Hyundai introduced the seven-generation Sonata at the 2014 New York Auto Show.  It features a 2.4-liter GDI four-cylinder engine that produces 185 bhp (138 kW) and 178 lb-ft (241 Nm) of torque as well as a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that develops 245 bhp (182 kW) and 260 lb-ft (352 Nm) of torque.  There's also a hybrid variant that has a 2.0-liter GDI four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission with an integrated electric motor.  This enables the car to produce a combined output of 193 bhp (144 kW) and return an estimated fuel economy rating of 39 mpg city / 44 mpg highway / 42 mpg combined.

In total, Hyundai has sold over 7.3 million Sonatas since 1985 and more than 2.3 million Sonatas in the United States.

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Hyundai celebrates the Sonata's 30th anniversary