SEATTLE, August 9th, 2014 – It’s been great to see Hyundai make the transition of making simple, affordable “commuter” cars as they did when I was a youth into becoming a world-class competitor in the more upscale car market. Its cars have been garnering the praise of both the critic and consumer for several years now—I was excited to check out its latest Sonata.
The Sonata as a platform has been around since 1985 and has gone through many variations over the years but none have been more exciting than its current state of evolution, refinement and attention to details.
Engine choices for the 2014 model are a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder which has 190 horsepower with 179 lb-ft. of torque and a 2.0-liter engine that gets a turbo on it which pumps the power up to 274 horsepower with 269 lb-ft. of torque. Either way you choose, this isn’t a car that feels sluggish in the least and provides a good power to weight ratio.
Hyundai paired up the engines with an automatic, 6-speed transmission with “Shiftronic”, a way to use a manual mode of shifting that really is quite effective in ramping up a more sporty experience to riving the Sonata.
With such a small variance in fuel economy, it’s a bit surprising that anyone would opt for the lower-performing engine. The non-turbo engine is rated at 24 MPG in the city and 35 on the highway with the turbo model getting an EPA rating of 21/32 respectively. For this reviewer, it’s a no-brainer decision to go for the turbo model, assuming one has the extra money to pay for the higher performance.
The design cues of this car are a mix of modern and elegance with a slight hint of some European action as well. Its front fascia has nicely assertive, yet conservative look to it that does an admirable job of communicating what this Sonata is all about. It has a good sense of refinement that’s both modern and elegant as well.
What really makes the Sonata a pleasure to drive around is the tech inside. Its audio system presents passengers with excellent sound quality, has an easy to use and very responsive touch screen with on-board navigation that’s rather straight-forward.
Additionally, the Bluetooth audio, USB/Aux jacks are easy to get to, dash-mounted positions. Unlike so many sedans I’ve encountered in the Sonata’s price range, its Bluetooth sound quality for both the driver and person on the other end of the phone call is very good – well above average.
Audio quality of its available 400-watt, Infinity-powered nine speaker system is very good, in fact it’s better than most sedans in its class I can think of. Support for WMA/MP3-encoded CDs, Bluetooth audio, satellite radio via SiriusXM and an iPod/USB jack along with a standard 1/8” audio jack.
Interior space for the driver and passengers is very ample, at no time did the car ever feel cramped – even when filled with four adults. Its “fifth” seat, the middle part of the rear bench is a bit too small for an older teenager or adult to take long distance rides on.
Trunk space is very spacious and a small family shouldn’t have much issues fitting all of their luggage or shopping excursions to Costco.
Surprisingly, the car has a nice, quieted ride quality to it with decent steering thanks to the electric steering, a better-tuned suspension over previous years and more sound insulation. Overall the Sonata provides a rewarding, albeit a bit too soft at times perhaps, ride and handling experience that fits the vehicle well.
Safety features of all the Sonata models include a 5-star crash safety rating by the NHTSA, ABS brakes, traction control, brake assist for pending front-end collisions, six airbags, crumple zones and blind spot indicators.
It’s hard to believe that a sedan with all that the Sonata offers starts at just over the $20k mark — at that price, Hyundai is offering a hell of a lot of car and one that frankly, is keeping the Japanese automakers on their heals.
If you’re looking for a four-door sedan that offers customers an industry-leading warranty, (10yrs / 100k miles on the powertrain), looks great, offers very good technology and won’t break the bank in doing so than the 2014 Sonata may just be what the doctor ordered.