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