Hyundai is relatively inexperienced when it comes to turbocharging gas engines, and that showed with the company's last boosted powerplant, in the Genesis coupe. In addition to providing relatively tepid performance, the coupe's turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder is sluggish and abrasive. While the Sonata 2.0T's engine uses the same block as the Genesis coupe's, the Koreans have made enough changes to craft what feels like an entirely new -- and seriously impressive -- engine.
You won't miss a V-6.
Hyundai will position the Sonata 2.0T as a polished and powerful V-6 replacement, not as an edgier, sportier sedan. To deliver that refined character, there's now a balance shaft that does wonders to smooth and calm the engine as you push it to the 6600-rpm redline. The new engine also benefits from direct injection and a higher compression ratio, and a larger, twin-scroll turbocharger runs 17.4 psi of boost to deliver 274 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque on regular unleaded. Those numbers beat every competitor's mid-size sedan -- whether equipped with a V-6 or a turbo four-cylinder -- save for the 280-hp Volkswagen CC VR6. Peak torque is available from 1800 to 4500 rpm, but in most gears, the turbo can't achieve full boost until about 2900 rpm--and output is limited in the lower gears to avoid overwhelming the front tires. Once underway, though, the Sonata 2.0T is more than hearty enough for its mission as a V-6 replacement. Factory-measured acceleration from 0 to 60 mph is a lively 6.5 seconds.
With such performance and power, it's remarkable that Hyundai can also deliver fuel economy to shame less powerful, normally aspirated four-cylinders. The 22 mpg city rating is great, putting the Sonata on par with the most fuel-efficient, nonhybrid mid-size sedans. But 34 mpg on the highway is truly exceptional, with the nearest competitor being a 33-mpg, 169-hp Toyota Camry.