By on November 26, 2010

Review any car priced between $18,000 and $28,000 lately, and someone’s bound to comment, “I’d much rather have a $20,000 Hyundai Sonata.” This hasn’t just been talk. Sales of the 2011 Sonata have exceeded Hyundai’s most fanciful expectations, leaving the car in short supply. Now, to add fuel to the fire, you can get the Sonata with a turbo. Should you? Well, it depends.

The Sonata with a turbo looks exactly like a Sonata without a turbo, with one minor exception: the Limited 2.0T wears the SE’s 18-inch alloys in place of the 2.4’s 17s. Those who expect a more powerful car to look more powerful, or at least different, will be disappointed. Others will see a swoopy sedan that’s far more stylish than the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Some of the new has worn off since the Sonata’s spring debut, but it will still be a year or two before key competitors can possibly catch up. The most immediate aesthetic challenge will come from a redesigned Kia Optima, which shares the Sonata’s platform and powertrains but has even more dramatic (if also more disjointed) styling.

The Sonata’s interior is similarly unaffected by the powertrain upgrade. As such, it’s among the segment leaders in terms of styling, materials, room, and comfort. Anyone seeking performance-oriented bits like a boost gauge or aggressively bolstered buckets won’t find them.

The normally aspirated 2.4-liter engine’s 198-200 horsepower is plenty powerful for the great majority of midsize sedan buyers. But some people “need” more grunt, and a number of others—perhaps a quarter of the total—will pay for more even if they’ll rarely if ever actually use it. Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Chevrolet, and Mazda offer such buyers a 3.5-or-so-liter V6. Hyundai has taken a different route by offering a turbocharged 2.0-liter four instead.

Fortified with direct injection and a twin scroll turbocharger cast integral with the exhaust manifold, the Hyundai engine manages a few more horsepower than any of the sixes (for a total of 274) and ties the stoutest (Mazda’s 3.7) for peak torque (269 pound-feet). Typical of a turbo, the torque peak arrives early, at 1,750 rpm. Curb weight, 3,338 pounds for the SE 2.0T and 3,452 pounds for the Limited 2.0T, is among the lowest in the group, so the specs promise thrillingly strong performance.

Well, the turbocharged engine delivers strong acceleration, but without much in the way of thrills. The turbo 2.0 is a little louder than the normally aspirated 2.4, but is otherwise refined and revs with the same general lack of drama. The additional noise is mostly mechanical. There’s none of the exhaust roar / drone present in Hyundai’s previous-generation 2.0-liter turbo, still offered in the Genesis Coupe. The main aural shortcoming: even a very good four never sounds nearly as sweet as a decent six. At low rpm there’s little lag. At higher rpm there’s none. As with many boosted engines that employ the latest technology, the power curve is exceedingly linear. There’s no strong shove at low rpm (despite what the torque peak might suggest), no sudden surge of power in the midrange, no zing in the final rush for the redline. Also very little torque steer.

The mandatory manually-shiftable six-speed automatic transmission behaves well enough. The Limited 2.0T gains the SE’s shift paddles. These permit a little more involvement, but are no substitute for the manual transmission not offered.

The biggest upside surprise with the 2.0T: fuel economy. The EPA rates the 2.0T for 22 city / 33 highway, compared to the 2.4’s 22/35. In the real world, I observed as low as 11 in full hoon mode. But in casual driving the trip computer’s numbers easily exceeded the EPA’s, with the average even touching 40 MPG during one stretch of semi-rural byway.

Handling is also much the same. The Sonata’s steering is considerably firmer than a Camry XLE’s, but still isn’t especially sporting. The chassis feels composed and balanced in casual driving but, typical of a mainstream-oriented front-wheel-drive midsizer, understeers when pressed. The 18s lifted from the SE sharpen the Limited’s steering a bit, but also add some thumpiness to the ride and some tire noise on concrete. As with the 2.4, the top trim level is the way to go, though its additional features (leather upholstery, sunroof, 360-watt audio system, automatic climate control, and so forth) do inflate the base price. The SE’s firmer suspension unsettles the car’s ride more than it improves the car’s handling.

The $1,750 price bump for the turbo, which includes the shift paddles and larger wheels and takes the Limited to $27,765, suggests a healthy bang for the buck.

But with the Sonata’s character hardly affected, much less transformed, by the addition of boost, those who think Evo and STI (or at least 2005-2009 Legacy GT) when they hear “274-horsepower turbocharged four” are bound to be disappointed. The Sonata 2.0T simply wasn’t developed with enthusiasts in mind, likely because there just aren’t that many of them. It was developed to compete head on with the V6-powered Camcord crowd. And that’s what it does. Expect the Sonata 2.0T to be in short supply for the same reasons the 2.4 has been. It delivers what the mainstream buyer wants, just a little more quickly.

Hyundai provided this vehicle at a ride-and-drive event.

Michael Karesh owns and operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive reliability and pricing data.

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82 Comments on “Review: Hyundai Sonata Turbo...”


  • avatar
    tparkit

    They’ll sell a ton of these. Hyundai cuts out all the extra heft associated with mounting a V6 drivetrain. The result is lighter, cheaper, quicker – a combination with wide appeal.

    Maybe Acura will learn something and decide the TSX doesn’t really benefit from a V6 either.

    • 0 avatar
      PlentyofCars

      I assume this is basically the same 2.0T in the Genesis Coupe (?)
       
      I drove both the 2.0T and V6 Genesis Couple back to back and vise-versa.   I preferred the V6 hands down.

    • 0 avatar

      The Genesis Coupe uses an older-generation turbo four.  From the review:
       
      “There’s none of the exhaust roar / drone present in Hyundai’s previous-generation 2.0-liter turbo, still offered in the Genesis Coupe.”
       
      The Sonata 2.0T produces quite a bit more power than the Genesis Coupe’s turbo four.

    • 0 avatar
      jasontali

      The Sonata is a great car… But let’s not exzagerate “the Hyundai engine manages a few more horsepower than any of the sixes. Hyundai sixes? The Nissan Maxima’s six is within this class and comes in at 290 horses. Where do you get your data? I am just tired all the cheerleading. There are alot great things about this car no need to stretch the truth about cars. No pun intended.

      • 0 avatar
        xj220

        No, you’re flat out wrong. The Nissan Maxima is NOT in the same class as a Sonata, Accord or Camry. Ever heard of a Nissan Altima? These cars start under or around $20k…The Maxima starts at over $32K!

        If you want to bump it up to the Maxima’s class you’ve got the 2013 Hyundai Azera which is cheaper than a Maxima (<$30K vs $32.5k), has a smaller engine than a Maxima (3.3L vs 3.5L), yet still produces more horsepower than the Maxima (293hp vs 290hp).

      • 0 avatar
        kevinprice

        What a ridiculous analogy. The Maxima could easily be an Infiniti. In fact, it cost about the same as the Infiniti G Class (few hundred bucks difference) and also recommends premium glass. The Maxima costs approximately 50% more than the Sonata. Talk about exaggerating.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Yeah, the turbo is pretty undramatic. Most customers that come in to drive them don’t even push hard enough to feel the extra power. I fight all temptation to yell “Floor it!” The power is so linear, you don’t even feel the speed accumulating. Very deceptive. Sucks that all the turbos look like SEs. A different wheel design would have been nice.
    The lease is killer, also. We just had an employee lease an SE turbo with $2500 down for $248 per month out the door! Your payment may be higher :)
    Skip the Limited, get the SE. You get a hot looking sedan that’s very quick for barely $25k MSRP.
    Get’em while the gettin’s good. There are plenty of turbos out there right now, but now that the 2011 Elantra is in full production at Montgomery, expect the Sonata supply to thin out again.

  • avatar
    modemjunki

    Too bad my local Hyundai dealer experience was coated with sleaze, it killed any possibility I’d purchase any model from them any time soon. The brand has some nice offerings these days.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Question: how’s the city mileage?  I ask because every turbo car, from my old Saab to modern Subarus and VWs, seem to have real trouble returning mileage that’s, well, exactly on par with a V6.  Modern turbos that spool up quickly actually seem worse.
     
    On the highway, or driven as if you had an egg between your foot and the pedal, they do very well.  Otherwise, not so much.
     
    Also, does this share suspension tuning with the SE, or just tires?  And how’s the interior noise vis a vis the Accord and Camry?

    • 0 avatar

      I didn’t have the opportunity to really test city mileage. From the driving I could do the Sonata 2.0T seemed at least as efficient as a V6.
      Only the tires are shared. The Limited 2.0T’s suspension isn’t as firm as the SE 2.0T’s. The latter often feels unsettled.
      Interior noise levels are higher than a Camry, especially with the 18s. Probably a bit lower than the Accord, though I haven’t driven an Accord recently.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    First, initially the Hyundai look bothered me.
    I didn’t know why, but something seemed over the top.
    Maybe it was the front grill.
    Maybe it was the very forceful side lines.
    Maybe it was a combo of both.

    But it now grows more annoying.
    I don’t know why, but it sooo much better on the new Elantra.

    Second…I love turbo.
    I am one that is willing to pay extra for power I only use sometimes.
    But I seem to keep finding more opportunity everyday!
    So I am hoping this not only works for Hyundai, but it spreads across all manufacturers.
    Just like the ecoboost is spreading across Ford’s line.

    Third…Michael, having driven both this Hyundai and the Mazda6 S, WHICH one fits its promise of performance the better?
    My 6S is so F/ing fun in the Ozarks, I find it difficult to imagine the Hyundai doing as well around the mountain turns.

    Finally..the Kia IS cool. The one I fell in love with at the LA show was white with solid piano black top.
    Very dialed down cooler than the Sonata.

    • 0 avatar

      I haven’t driven the Mazda6 in two years, so my memory of it isn’t so good. Might be time for another drive.
      Where are you in the Ozarks? I’ll be visiting Arkansas for Xmas. Drop me a line if you’re anywhere near Hardy, AR.

  • avatar
    Hank

    I’m not surprised it’s not that dramatic.  I kind of saw this more as a replacement for their V6 in the lineup than a sporting edition of the Sonata.

  • avatar
    TG57

    I find the sound and feel (i.e. vibrations and gritty-ness of power delivery, more specifically the lack thereof) of a V6 to be more appealing than the power upgrade over a 4-cylinder. A good modern V6, such as Toyota’s or Nissan’s 3.5-liter motors, is absolutely delightful to the senses. No matter how powerful you make a 4-cylinder, it will never be as smooth or silent as a six. So, for me, this “V6 alternative” has no appeal at all. In fact, you actually mention it is nosier - that is a downgrade in my book.
    Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, and if so, perhaps Hyundai has the right idea.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      Could not agree more…
      After driving a good and well tuned V6 (in my case – Subaru’s H6) for a while, getting into any 4-cylinder vehicle is an aural and perceptive pain.
       

    • 0 avatar
      PlentyofCars

      I agree as well.
       
      When I read things like car editors saying that Audi’s V6′s were a waste, based solely on the horsepower being only slightly more than the 4 cylinder 2.0T, makes me think they don’t really know what they are talking about regarding anything about cars in general.
       
      Audi’s old 1.8T was actually more refined than the current engine.  But only horsepower matters to some.
       
      Amazing the A4 does not come with a 6 unless you move up to the S4.  Even as nice as the 3.0T is, the old 4.2 eight was also sweet.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      Crosley

      I definitely prefer a motor with torque over a motor with horsepower, even if it’s “slower”.
       
      My last car was a Subaru turbo 4, and it was quick, but you really had to rev the hell out of it to get it to move. It was an absolute dog off from a stop.
       
      The car I have now has a V6, and isn’t nearly as “fast” (in a quarter-mile sense), but for the normal driving I do 90% of the time, it’s much more responsive for accelerating quickly.  It also gets about the same gas mileage.  All of this, and it barely breaks a sweat, I don’t have to get anywhere near the redline.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      You aren’t the only one who feels that way.
       
      I don’t care for the sound most modern inline Fours make when revved over 5,000 rpms. That’s why my car has a twin-cam inline Six and my wife’s car has a Boxer four (which is exceedingly smooth with a very nice sound at high RPMs) with twin cams.

    • 0 avatar
      turbosaab

      I think it’s all what you are used to. I’ve had several turbo Saab 4′s. Now also have a turbo Saab V6 (9-3 Aero, GM 2.8L, like in SRX). To my ears, the 4′s sound much more pleasing. The 6 is more like a constant drone.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      turbosaab,
       
      My first car was an ’83 900S, and the little 2.0 liter 8 valve was pretty gutless but sounded great even at high RPMS. Every other car with an inline Four I’ve driven or owned since then has sounded awful.
       
      My ex’s ’03 Corolla sounded horrible compared to the old Saab. I don’t know what it is, but the 1.8 liter 16 valve four just didn’t care to be revved at all and let you know it.

    • 0 avatar

      The Saab V6 drones much more than most. The Turbo X exhaust could be especially annoying.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      When I read things like car editors saying that Audi’s V6′s were a waste, based solely on the horsepower being only slightly more than the 4 cylinder 2.0T, makes me think they don’t really know what they are talking about regarding anything about cars in general.
       
      I agree.  I joined my buddy on a test drive of a couple 2005 A4s back-to-back a year ago.  One had the 3.2 V6, the other had the turbo four.  The sound of the V6 would have been worth any extra cost!  Too bad we didn’t like the ride quality on either.  The V6 in his new S4 also sounds great, though much more subdued.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I still like a good turbo 4 banger. I had one in my old Dodge Lancer years ago, that thing was a beast for it’s time. More recently, I had a V6/4 speed Malibu and a 4 cylinder/6 speed Pontiac G6, both get about the same mileage. But, I have to admit that the Malibu was the more relaxed driver. Now, if I could get the LNF 260 HP Ecotec in my G6, it would be perfect! While I haven’t driven the Sonata Turbo, conceptually, I like the idea of this car.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    Standard 17 inch, optional 18 inch wheels… When this insanity gonna end?!
    Best riding vehicles I ever had (and that without harming crispness of everyday handling) – 1992 Mercedes 400E and SAAB-9000, both on 65-profile 15-inchers. The latter was on feather-wieight forged aftermarkets, making things even better and suspension bushings’ life much longer on Russia’s potholed “directions”.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      Amen brother.

    • 0 avatar
      Bytor

      Yeah it’s getting worse. I was look at the 2011 Scion TC.
       
      Base wheels 18″ !
       
      They looks silly IMO.
      They ride harsher.
      They cost more to tire.
      The wheels will get pothole damage.
       

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Agreed wholeheartedly.  The love of big wheels is seeing some cars with unnecessarily harsh rides, dragging fuel economy numbers down and compromising interior space.  It’s a trend that can’t die soon enough.
       
      Anecdotes:  I spent some time in a pair of Minis this week: the base Cooper on 15″ rims seemed a much more agile car than the 17″ equipped S, and it rode better, too.
       
      Second was a year and bit ago when I bought our van.  Snow tires for a Toyota Sienna (16″) were about $150 each.  The same tires for the Ford Flex I had considered (18″) were twice the price, and three times the price once rims were factored in.  Madness.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      +100

      I was at Costco the other day browsing tires (mmmm, new tire smell, one of the prime ingredients in men’s pot pourri along with fresh sawdust and grass clippings), and they had the same tire in both a 16″ and a 17″ size sitting side by side, and the 17″ was about 50% more expensive. 

      One of the greatest things about the 1981 VW Rabbit diesel I had a few years back was that it used the 155/80R13 tire size, you know, the one that all of the tires stores use for their ad pricing (and the one size they figure that nobody uses any longer).  I drove out of the Firestone with four brand-new tires mounted and balanced, for . . . . $124.00.

      Those days are no longer!

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      While I agree to a point that the ‘bigger is better’ wheel mentality has gotten a bit out of control, I will admit that it does make the vehicles look better.
       
      Also, tires for larger wheels are hardly that much more expensive.  Psar – Tirerack.com has good name brand (Dunlop) winter tires that fit the 18″ Flex for just $170 a piece.  You can get Bridgestone Blizzaks for $146 a piece.  Yes, Canadian prices are probably a bit different, but with the current exchange rates they shouldn’t be that far off.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      @Nullo
       
      Canadian tire prices are like Canadian book prices or Canadian (S2000/370Z/Porsche) prices: in other words, insane bordering on criminal.  Mind you, this was they year Quebec made snows mandatory, and there was a shortage, but snows for my Fit were $100/tire, for the Sienna they were $120.  For the Flex they were $220/tire.  Factor rims into that and things get really stupid.
       
      What gets me is the mileage penalty they must incur, especially  in the city.  A 18+” rim is a lot of unsprung mass and rotational inertia.  At a time when fuel economy is so paramount, it’s a dumb affectation.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Ditto… I swapped out my 17″ factory GTI rims for 18s when I needed new tires.  The 18″ tires cost $130 each, the 17s were $110.  Not a huge deal, and they look great…

    • 0 avatar
      FleetofWheel

      Little windows, big wheels and high sills: it’s the antidote to Camry Beige-ness demanded by the ‘sport’ enthusiasts who don’t get their thrills in true sport coupes but want to re-shape the 4 door mid-size sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      Seminole 95

      Agree, plus the larger tires increase the turning radius. They also seem to increase road noise.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      The stupid trend to oversize wheels also impacts those of us who have older iron in the stable, too.  I wanted summer tires for my old Probe GT and had to shell out $200 each for Pilot Sports…for 16″ rims!  I asked the tire dealer and his answer was simple:  Not much demand for that level of tire in such a “small” size.
       
      Lots of folks are in for rude surprises when they go to purchase the first set of replacement tires.  Especially when they cost nearly 50% more than what they are used to…and last half as long to boot.  it’s no wonder that when you shop for a used car that the “new” tires boldly listed in the ad are Pep-Boy specials.  Most sellers are not amused when I consider their “investment” to be of no value to me at all.

    • 0 avatar

      Add me to the list of people who don’t care for the big-wheel look. Wagon wheels belong on a fence or gate, with genuine wood spokes and iron tires.
      They are stupid from a design standpoint too for two reasons, too much unsprung weight and they need overly large wheelhousings which take away needed interior space. And the o-ring tires…c’monnnn….

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I hear ya. I’m looking to replace the tires on my wife’s car 225/50/17′s. The cheapest tires I can find at Discount Tire $92.00 per tire. The Conti ExtremeContact DWS that I want are $137.00 per tire! WTF?

      Why are there such huge hoops on a garden variety Pontiac G6?

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    I’m still not in love with the looks or the interior on the new Sonata, but it sounds like the performance is there.  If the bones are solid, the new Kia Optima, which at least to me looks 10x better inside and out, should be very tempting in turbo form.

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    I am tired of hearing how great this car is.  Ok, ok, I get all of the good points, but hear me out.  The first thing a car must do is what it’s designed to do.  Pickups should haul, sports cars should handle, and a midsized sedan should be able to hold four average sized adults.
    Now, I invite your average mid sized male to sit in the backseat of this car.  Your head WILL hit the ceiling.  I am 5’10″ and have a 32″ inseam, a size that’s considered dead on average.  Guess what?  I have more headroom in some 2 door coupes than I do the new Sonata.  What I find ironic is that a lack of headroom was one of the bad points of the 1996-1999 Taurus, prompting the 2000 roof raise; and this car has even less than the Taurus did.  That’s where the 2MPG over the Fusion and Accord.  If you design a sedan with no headroom in the second row, you can get an MPG advantage via enhanced aerodynamics as well.
    Now the car can be great in every other category, but it’s all a waste if the car, truck, or other vehicle won’t fufill it’s purpose, and this one doesn’t.
    I invite you all to give it a try for yourself.

  • avatar
    Jeff in NH

    dwford: “The power is so linear, you don’t even feel the speed accumulating.”
    = speeding tickets with zero thrills.   Sounds delightful!

  • avatar
    partsisparts

    I’ll take the smooth power of a V6 Accord over this car. One thing I have been noticing here in NJ. The lack of Hyundais over 7 years old. Did they all die after the warranty expired?

  • avatar
    ajla

    The Ford 3.7, GM LY7, and Nissan VQ are comparatively thirsty, but they do deliver a satisfying pop. I was hoping the Sonata Turbo would give a bit more enjoyment powertrain-wise.
    _______________
    How much does a 3.8L Azera go for these days?

  • avatar
    quiksilver180

    Nice review Michael. Hyundai makes it looks so much fun in their commercial, but marketing usually includes overhyping on the undelivering product.
    Editors, I know it’s been awhile but I really do miss the star ratings… I find them very beneficial, especially when you do the Take Two reviews where you can balance out each reviewer’s comments.

  • avatar
    BrunoSaccoBenz

    It seems that TTAC just can’t get enough of Hyundai lately.  I actually liked the look for the previous generation Sonata, but this current one is terribly over styled.  I’m not impressed with the new Hyundai design language and think it will look dated quickly.  I find myself feeling the same way about some of the new Fords (Fiesta, Focus), which isn’t surprising since it looks like Hyundai straight copied the front quarter of the Focus for the new Elantra.   I’m not a fan of the interiors either.  They’re too swoopy, coming down in weird V shapes at the center console.  And please don’t tell me they’re still installing silver painted plastic trim (so 2002). I’m wondering if Saab is onto something with their new all black interior designs and Volkswagen with their clean, classic shapes like the new Jetta (at least they speak to me).  Call me not on board this pro Hyundai momentum train.

  • avatar
    schmidty86

    I don’t get it. The car is heavier, has more horsepower (by a lot), and still gets better gas mileage than the GTI. I know this is off topic, but isn’t it time VW did something with their 2.0T???

    • 0 avatar
      quiksilver180

      YES!

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Gearing, gearing, gearing.  Sounds like Hyundai is following the trend of overdriving the crap out of a high horsepower engine to get advertising numbers and meh performance.

    • 0 avatar
      schmidty86

      But the Sonata’s 0-60 time is still faster (http://www.autoblog.com/2010/06/23/hyundai-new-2-0-turbo-hits-60-in-6-5-seconds-returns-34-mpg-hi/). My problem is, VW has been working on this 2.0T and throwing it in every model they can for years, yet they have been wallowing around the 200 HP mark for a while. Yet Hyundai comes out with their spanking new 2.0T and get 270+. There’s no torque steer, so don’t say that’s why the GTI can’t be more powerful. In a world of 260 HP MS3′s and V6 Accords, VW needs something better for an “enthusiast” car.

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      VW’s fuel economy has lagged the competition for years.  Look at the 2.5 liter inline-five and compare its horsepower and mileage to an Accord or Camry (both heavier cars than the Golf/Rabbit/Jetta).

  • avatar
    william442

    Michael, I drove it thursday, (SE again) and it it still rough, and now nosier on the same interstate. The local dealer wants about $5000.00 above my buying service price but they will talk.
    I would be a lot happier if Free Trade translated into Korean. (Thursday a week ago that is)

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Free Trade translates from Korean to English, but for some reason doesn’t translate from English back to Korean!
      There’s no way a dealer could be $5000 off without trying to charge over sticker. These cars are nice, but they aren’t rare. We are dealing on them at my dealership.

    • 0 avatar

      LOL  $5000 above Sticker?
      That’s extortion.  Wait for the Chrysler 200C.  More power and fully loaded for $25,000. Just one month left to wait.

    • 0 avatar
      william442

      Sorry! They did come down a lot for a unit in stock, but that was where they started. It  took a couple of days, so I still have the Accord here in FL. For the record it has a lot of NVH also, for some reason.

    • 0 avatar
      michaelfrankie

      Dealer emailed me today (last day of the month) Offered me a limited turbo for invoice ~28,500.
      Tempting but I passed for now.

  • avatar

    GREAT REVIEW AS ALWAYS MIKE.
    frankly, I couldn’t choose a Sonata because I did have a headroom issue and I didn’t feel as comfortable in it as I did the Elantra.
    That said, I’m more interested in getting into the 200C 2011  because Car&Driver claim its fully loaded to the tune of $25,000  with a V6 engine that offers more power and torque than this car.
    Yes the Sonata has better styling but it still doesn’t perform or feel as good inside as the exterior would suggest.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Another good review.   I also agree with some of the member comments about headroom.  My first foray into the new Sonata’s back seat nearly resulted in a concussion.
    While some lament that the 2.0T is not quite an enthusiast’s smash home run, they need to remember that in the business world smash home runs are highly overrated.  It’s the cumulative effect of many small victories that wins the day.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I had a non-turbo as a rental earlier this year. I was impressed, but this line “…but are no substitute for the manual transmission not offered.” and a visit to the Hyundai website to confirm this killed any interest I had in this car. Perhaps I’m just being difficult, but I can’t get into driving an automatic. Once I started driving manuals on a regular basis I just couldn’t go back. My wife loves her Passat wagon… except for the automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      Almost Jake

      My wife hates to drive an automatic. I considered one years ago, but got it out of my system after driving one for a year in Seoul. When I transferred back to the states, I fell in love all over again with my manual Accord.

      Even though new autos can be faster than manuals, it sucks most of the fun out of the car. (Don’t even try to sell me on paddle shifting, that does nothing for me.)

      Trying to find a vehicle that’s fun to drive, offers a manual transmission, affordable (buy and own), and reliable is becoming so difficult. I really like the new Mustang V6 with the performance package, but it comes with 19″ summer tires. Living in Michigan, it forces me to buy winter tires right off the bat, to the tune of $1,000 mounted and balanced. The search for a new car continues…

  • avatar
    H Man

    “My wife hates to drive an automatic.”
     
    Google search results:  2 results (0.18 seconds), both to this article.  
     
     

  • avatar
    Acubra

    Hyundai is still looking for its own styling parlance and based on its latest efforts it is unlikely to find one any time soon. Right now it reminds me of certain modelling or movie “stars” – too much make-up and very little substance once the war paint is washed off.
    Again, what one can expect from a company with a drunken honda’s logo?!
     
    Justa kiddin’.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    I will never consider a Hyundai until I can see 5 year old cars running around that aren’t junk.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    As I have said before, gentlemen…
     
    Hyundai is  the new Toyota, just like Toyota is the new GM. Get used to it.
     
    Go out and buy those “Toyotas” like it’s 1995…

  • avatar
    shaker

    Seems like a lot of fuel-efficient car for $25k…

  • avatar
    Jaeger

    Funny how the smooth, linear power delivery is being cast as a negative.  Would people actually prefer a peaky on/off turbo feel with lots of lag?  Nothing… nothing…. BIG PUSH… nothing.  Not me – I’ll take strong power just off idle whenever needed.

    I drove the Sonata in both turbo and the 2.4 guise, and there is no way I am still considering the normally aspirated model.  As an enthusiast, I wouldn’t choose to settle for “adequate” when “ample” is available for not much more money and even less of a fuel economy penalty. And driving them back-to-back, I actually found the turbo marginally QUIETER than the 2.4, which is not what I was expecting. Also, in Canada, we don’t get the 2.4SE with 18″ tires and (slightly) sport-tuned suspension- so the difference in handling between 2.4 and 2.0T is more noticeable.

    No, I’m not saying the Sonata 2.0T is a sports sedan, but in the midsize family sedan segment it is one of the sportier and more entertaining rides – closer in concept to my existing Altima 3.5SE than any Camry or Accord.  Great styling inside and out, unbeatable combo of power and fuel efficiency, and cheaper than many rivals.  Yep, they’ll sell a bunch.  They stand a good chance of selling one to me.

    • 0 avatar
      klossfam

      Agree 100% – I’ve driven but versions substantial miles and the 2.0T is A LOT more car for a little more money.  I’ve driven the SE versions of both with the 18s…The 2.4 with the SE suspension and 18s (here in the States) immediately BEGS for more power anyways, so the 2.0T is perfect with this platform.
      As people have noted, it’s not a sports sedan but in my opinion, it’s a lot sportier than even an Accord V6.  From behind the wheel, the Sonata 2.0T SE seems MUCH lighter and more agile than its V6 competition…HIGHLY recommended and the cars I drive most are a 2008 Infiniti G35xS and a 2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T…In some ways, I like the Sonata better than either of these cars from my fleet…I can’t think of a FWD sedan I like better that can be readily obtained…
       
       

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I hear this car doesn’t require premuim fuel. I do wonder about oil changes, what type of oil the average consumer will use and how often they will change it. Also will most enthusiastic customers of this car realize that to make a high stress small displacement turbo engine survive the long haul you must let the engine idle for a full minute before killing the ignition to let the turbo oil supply cool down and prevent coking after a few WOT runs. Of course using a good quality synthetic will solve most of this issue but I wonder how many will do this? Good thing this car has a 10/100 warranty.

  • avatar
    Jaeger

    ^^^ It runs on regular.

    I read the review again and understand the criticisms even less.

    1) It doesn’t visibly distinguish itself from the 2.4.  Well, some people appreciate understatement and the bottom line is both look good.  I don’t see this as a negative and don’t think a spoiler and skirts would do the lines of this car any favors.  Is the Altima V6 criticized for being visually a near twin for it’s 4 cylinder stablemate?  Or the Accord?  Or the Mazda 6?

    2) It has a turbo, but isn’t a thrill ride like an EVO or STI.  Well, the Sonata neither intends nor pretends to be an EVO fighter.  It is a V6 Camcordima fighter that happens to use a blown 4.  Do we criticise the Accord for not being an EVO thrill ride?

    Again, taking both turbo and 2.4 models out back-to-back for extended drives, there is no way I would say that the addition of the turbo has “barely affected” the driving experience.

    Judged within its class, it is nothing less than a VERY compelling entry.

  • avatar
    hachee

    My dad just bought one of these to replace a 2004 Avalon.  Hyundai’s surging popularity is due to several factors, of course, and the Sonata’s looks are one of them.  You either like it or you don’t, but it’s not bland, and that’s what immediately sets it apart from its competitors.  My dad, and others, obviously, really like the way it looks.  Add the value, and the apparent quality (perceived or real), and it’s compelling. 

    The review is spot on.  It’s not meant to deliver Evo thrills – it’s meant as a V6 alternative.  It’s lighter and more fuel efficient than V6 competitors, but yes, probably at the expense of noise.  I was afraid my father would regret his choice (he also looked at the Genesis V6 and Ford Fusion and Taurus, but ruled out another Toyota) because of the noise compared to the Avalon, which he liked.  He went for the turbo to get the extra power he thought he’d need when driving in the hills and mountains of upstate NY in the summers. 

    The Avalon was quiet and confortable, like a good old American car but with marginally higher quality.  Perfect for the long, straight roads of Florida.  I’m curious to see what the Sonata is like when I see him in few weeks.

  • avatar
    Jaeger

    BTW – it’s not “basically the same” engine as in the Genesis Coupe 2.0T.  From Motor Trend’s review of the Sonata Turbo:

    “The Sonata’s mill utilizes the same aluminum block as the Genesis Coupe’s 2.0-liter turbo, but boasts reinforced pistons and connecting rods, a new cylinder head (for the direct injection), a slightly higher compression ratio (9.5:1 vs. 9.4:1), a twin-scroll rather than single-scroll turbo, and, most notable, a compact balance shaft module that vastly improves engine NVH, especially with the pedal to the metal.

    Whereas the Genesis’s 2.0T can be buzzy and unrefined at WOT, the Sonata’s is euphonious and polished. And if you’re worried about the reliability of a turbo, consider this: Hyundai subjected the 2.0T to 300 continuous hours of WOT testing, followed by double and triple bogeys (20 hours each of additional WOT above redline).”

  • avatar
    view2share

    Isn’t there a recall on Sonata– the EPS steering had some issue.  I don’t care to drive a car without good steering, this EPS ain’t gonna cut it.


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