The original Sonata began as Hyundai's version of the Mitsubishi Sigma Galant, at that time Mitsubishi's premier offering in America.
In the early '90s, the Hyundai Sonata had only two trim levels, both sedans: base and GLS.
When the Sonata was redesigned for the 1995 model year, it became known as Hyundai's version of the Mitsubishi Diamante. The Sonata compared to the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Ford Taurus, Nissan Maxima and the redesigned Chevy Lumina. The car was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in January 1994, with pricing announced later that month, and was released in dealerships in late February 1994.
The 2.0-liter Four was redesigned with increases in horsepower, torque and fuel economy. The entire body, platform and suspension were new as well, with improvements in front/rear balance, center of gravity, road feel, turning circle and ride.
The base and GL had the 2.0-liter Four standard, the GLS a 3.0-liter V6 (also optional on the GL with the leather package).
Air conditioning was standard on all levels, as are a clock, cup holders, rear-window defogger, rear-seat heater ducts, tilt wheel, front and rear stabilizer bars, power steering, body-color bumpers and door handles, variable-speed intermittent wipers and the usual fuel-filler door and trunk releases.
The base and GL had standard 4-way adjustable driver's seat in cloth, and GLS had a 6-way seat in deluxe cloth with leather optional. GLS also received a 60/40 split rear seat with fold-down center armrest. ABS was available on GL and GLS, the V6 option on the GL brought with it 4-wheel discs.
The GLS had a power antenna to go with its standard 6-speaker stereo (10-speaker stereo optional). Base and GL had 4-speaker stereos standard.
Information about the 1996 Sonata was unveiled in September 1995, and the car went on sale in October 1995.
For 1997, the Sonata received a facelift, and went on sale in November 1996.
No changes were made for 1998, as the third-generation Sonata continued sales through October 1998.
A bigger Sonata was released in November 1998 as a 1999 model.
As of February 1994:
- $13,299 (1995 Hyundai Sonata)
- $14,799 (1995 Hyundai Sonata GL)
- $17,199 (1995 Hyundai Sonata GLS)
As of August 29, 1994:
- $13,399 (1995 Hyundai Sonata)
- $17,399 (1995 Hyundai Sonata GLS)
As of April 17, 1995:
- $13,599 (1995 Hyundai Sonata)
- $15,129 (1995 Hyundai Sonata GL)
- $17,599 (1995 Hyundai Sonata GLS)
As of October 6, 1995:
- $13,999 (1996 Hyundai Sonata)
- $15,699 (1996 Hyundai Sonata GL)
- $17,999 (1996 Hyundai Sonata GLS)