With the addition of this turbo four engine option, the Sonata-which also includes a normally-aspirated four and, soon, a hybrid-now offers a complete model lineup that should compete well with the heavy hitters in its class. While the non-turbo four-cylinder is refined and offers adequate power, the turbo is just as smooth and refined and despite the additional 74 hp and 83 lb-ft of torque, it sacrifices very little in terms of economy. To me, the Sonata turbo offers the most appealing combination of refinement, style, performance, price, and economy in its class. It’s as refined as the Camry and Accord in terms of interior quality and performance, it has styling as distinctive as that of the Mazda 6, and a turbo four-cylinder engine that, in this segment, was previously only available in the Subaru Legacy.
– Jennifer Misaros, Production Editor
The newly available turbocharged four-cylinder is a welcome addition to the Sonata lineup. Its impressive 274 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque are delivered smoothly, without perceptible turbo lag, via a slick six-speed automatic. I used our turbocharged Sonata for a 150-mile round trip through the Detroit metro area, driving it on surfaces ranging from narrow, highly crowned, hilly gravel roads; to suburban four-lane boulevards; to crowded urban freeways. Under all conditions, there was plenty of power, plenty of composure, and plenty of comfort.
As with other Sonata models I’ve driven, I was pleased here with the general quality and user-friendliness of the cabin, especially the excellent navigation system interface and the ease with which I was able to pair my BlackBerry with Bluetooth. I did find it difficult, though, to access previously dialed phone numbers on the touch-screen, and this required me to remove my eyes from the road for too long.
– Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
My issue with the Sonata Turbo is the same as that which I have with most V-6-powered family sedans. Namely, there’s more power than necessary and more power than the two front tires can handle. To the first point, I drove the Turbo shortly after a night with our long term, normally aspirated Sonata, and noticed no real difference in drivability. That’s not to say the Turbo isn’t faster — it is — but rather that the extra speed rarely if ever improves the overall driving experience. To the second point, though the Turbo is hardly in Mazdaspeed 3 territory when it comes to torque steer, there’s still a definite feeling that there’s not much traction to spare when you nail the throttle at low speeds.
Of course, the very fact that I’m complaining about the same things that bother me in six-cylinder sedans quite convincingly proves how good a job Hyundai did with this four-cylinder. Power and refinement fall completely in line with what customers expect from the larger engines, and yet you have the benefit of better fuel economy.
Otherwise, the Sonata Turbo is the same as the cheaper Sonata, which is to say very, very good. Hyundai deserves particular credit for nailing the navigation interface, something that continues to vex most of its competitors and even many premium cars. Hyundai has traditionally had more trouble figuring out how to tune a suspension. Every one of its models I’ve driven in the past, including the pricier Genesis sedan, has either been too mushy or too harsh. No such issues with the Sonata. It’s buttoned down at high speeds but never had trouble dispensing with rough patches of pavement.
Given the competitiveness of the midsize segment, I’d hesitate to crown the Sonata the clear champion. The Ford Fusion, Mazda 6, Honda Accord, and several others all have their strong points and would ably serve the average buyer. And yet if I were called upon to recommend one family sedan (as I often am) my current answer would have to be the Sonata.
– David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T
Base price (with destination): $24,865
Price as tested: $27,600
2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine
Electronic stability control
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Tire pressure monitoring system
18-inch alloy wheels
Proximity keyless entry system
60/40 split rear seat
Tilt/telescoping steering column
Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
Dual-zone automatic climate control
AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system with 6 speakers
XM satellite radio
iPod/USB and auxiliary input jacks
Options on this vehicle:
SE navigation & sunroof package — $2600
Power tilt/slide sunroof
Navigation with hi-resolution touch screen
Dimension AM/FM/XM/CD premium audio system
Carpeted floor mats — $100
iPod cable — $35
Key options not on vehicle:
Fuel economy: 22/34/28 mpg (est) (city/hwy/combined)
Size: 2.0L turbocharged I-4
Horsepower: 274 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 269 lb-ft @ 1750-4500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Curb weight: 3338 lb
Wheels/tires: 18-inch alloy wheels
225/45R18 Hankook Optimo H431 all-season tires