SEATTLE, April 17, 2015 — To say that the latest Sonata Sport 2.0T from Hyundai is a great car for the money is somewhat understating the value this car offers consumers in its price segment. There are few sedans that come close to offering the sense of overall refinement that Hyundai has clearly done a great job of implementing into its 2015 models.
This Sonata is a gorgeous-looking car, with clean body lines and a very modern front fascia with a nice assertive look, and is lined with L.E.D. daytime running lights as well.
Its 245 horsepower / 260 lb-ft. of torque, 2.0-liter turbo-charged engine helps this car feel quite sporty – in fact, it’s a clear winner for a sedan of this size that’s priced under $30,000. The six-speed automatic does a solid job of gear placement; however, a couple of extra gears would help the fuel economy. Hopefully, we’ll see eight- or nine-speed transmissions in future Sonatas. There are paddle shifters as well, and we found they really do help sport things up quite a bit. We’re very delighted Hyundai hasn’t used those dreaded CVT (Continuously Variable) transmissions as so many Japanese auto-makers have made the mistake doing.
The engine is rather responsive, with just a slight noticeable turbo-lag, and there’s plenty of power available for passing slower vehicles and for hauling a car full of people over a mountain pass. The EPA rates the fuel economy for the 2.0T-series at 32 on the highway and 23 for city driving. Our experience with taking the car to the Oregon coast saw pretty similar fuel ratings, using the car’s on-board, real-time fuel consumption system – we saw closer to 30 and 21. Then again, some of us have a bit more of a “lead foot’ than others.
Another thing to keep in mind when looking at the rated economy of a turbo-based engine is that the numbers reflect best-case scenarios. And honestly, who drives a turbo car in such a way that one’s foot isn’t always lying on it hard? The only time the turbo is not being used is once they have the car up to speed and in most traffic conditions that rarely happens.
The Sonata does an admirable job of making the driver and passengers feel comfortable with plenty of amenities scattered throughout. There are ample cup-holders, plenty of power and USB outlets as well as seats that provide nice comfort, even on extended drives. Rear headroom should easily accommodate most adult passengers as well – legroom is also here in ample supply. There’s nothing that feels “cramped” inside – Hyundai knocked it out of the park here.
Another area that the Sonata is best-in-class in is road-noise – or the lack thereof. This is easily the quietest sedan we’ve tested in its class; we’re talking high-end, BMW/Cadillac/Mercedes quiet. Hyundai’s engineering team did an incredible job of finding ways to isolate outside noise – it’s so quiet that it’s easy to get lost to the outside world on long trips.
The infotainment system does provide nice-sounding audio playback; however, it still lacks the punch and low frequency response that the Infinity-based audio system found in both certain KIA and other Hyundai models offers. Navigation is easy to use but still looks a bit dated, graphically, compared to other navigation systems available. Its menu-driven user interface is rather intuitive and easy to figure out in no time at all.
Driving this car presents a number of things to really like about it such as it the steering feel. While not really thought of for handling in the past, this steering system that Hyundai implemented in this car is on-point. It has a “feel” to it that’s not too weighty and not too light – it has a very solid feel that provides the driver with a good sense of “road feel.”
Handling is good but not too great thanks to the tires, which start to show signs of distress around corners long before body-roll is a huge factor. Also, the braking system took a bit to get used to in that it has a tendency to grab really quickly towards the top of the pedal but then quickly transitions into a more level braking experiences.
In the end, the Hyundai Sport 2.0T is one hell of a bargain when doing a price-to-features comparison to many of its competitors and is a car that you seriously need to consider. However, it does make one wonder why they called it the “Sport” edition when it has a decrease in horsepower from previous generations and there just doesn’t seem to be anything that stands out as “sporty” about it.
Hyundai backs this car with a solid 10-year / 100,000 mile powertrain warranty, five-year / 60,000 mile “New vehicle warranty.” Clearly, they have no problems backing this car up by offering that level of “peace-of-mind.” It’s a solid car and one we’d easily consider buying.