That the Sonata has been a runaway success for Hyundai is no secret. Annual sales are on pace to exceed 200,000 units this year, placing the Sonata among the most popular vehicles on the market, and it's a 2011 Automobile Magazine All-Star. On top of that, we are currently about to wrap up a successful Four Seasons test of a 200-hp four-cylinder Sonata SE, which has proven to be a staff favorite. As further testament to its popularity, the Sonata is ubiquitous on the streets of Ann Arbor. In fact, as I write, I can see a Sonata parallel parking on Liberty Street just outside my office window.
In short, the Sonata is a very good car. If the 274-hp turbocharged model didn't exist, it'd still be a very good car, as the normally aspirated four-cylinder is sufficient for almost any task you set it to and returns impressive fuel economy (our Four Seasons car has seen mpg in the high 30s in freeway driving). But the turbocharged Sonata does exist, and it settles the question of whether a mid-size sedan needs to offer a six-cylinder with a firm, "No."
The turbo four doesn't exactly turn the Sonata into a sports car, but it feels great on the freeway as you accelerate from 65 mph to 85 mph or more with a modest dab on the accelerator - no drama, just a nice rush of power. Other than that extra dose of power, the turbo Sonata feels the same as the normally aspirated car: seats that are a little more firm that I'd like; there's a very well-executed center stack with a user-friendly entertainment/navigation interface; the ride is a nicely balanced. I can't honestly say that I'd pony up the extra money for the turbocharged engine if I were buying a Sonata, but for those who savor horsepower, the $1500 premium is a reasonable price to pay.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor