Now in its seventh generation, the Sonata has been in the U.S. market longer than any other Hyundai product with a few years on both the Accent and Elantra, but it is far from showing its age.
In fact, U.S. News and World Report makes the Sonata its No. 1 pick in its analysis of reviews for affordable midsize cars, and Kelly Blue Book has listed it among its Best Family Cars of 2016.
It’s easy to see why. Both inside and out, its styling is reminiscent of sedans far above its price range, and it offers a wide range of technological features that don’t require an engineering degree to operate.
Arriving in the U.S. from South Korea for the 1989 model year, a big change in the Sonata came in the makeover for 2011, which really took the car to a new level. Then it was further enhanced by the redesign of 2015. Apparently, Hyundai shoppers like it. The South Korean automaker sold more Sonatas the first quarter of 2016 than another other two of its nameplates combined.
Hyundai has added more content for 2016 with a new 7-inch touchscreen replacing the 5-inch one on the previous model (an 8-inch is an option on Sport and Limited trims). A rearview camera is standard on all models, and automatic emergency braking is available on the top-of-the-line Limited trim.
The suspension also has been retuned on all models, and items such as a sunroof, new wheel design, and blind spot detection are available on certain trims either as standard or as an option.
Speaking of trims, the Sonata is offered in six versions, starting with the base SE ($22,585 MSRP including the destination and delivery charge) and continuing with the Sport, Eco, Limited, Sport 2.0T, and Limited 2.0T. The 2.0T models not only get the turbo engine but also some other standard features. There’s also a hybrid model.
Our test car was the Sport 2.0T, which comes with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual gear selection via paddle shifters (standard on all trims). It’s rated at 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque is may be set for normal, sport, or eco mode to enhance your driving experience.
Fuel economy in the Sport 2.0T is rated at 23 miles-per-gallon city and an impressive 32 mpg highway for a combined 26 mpg. If you’re looking for more in the way of mileage, the Sonata Eco offer numbers of 28/38/32 with its 1.6-liter turbo matched with a seven-speed automatic. (A 2.4-liter four-banger with 185 hp and 178 lb.-ft. of torque is standard on SE, Sport, and Limited models.)
Performance for the Sport 2.0T falls short of being neck-snapping, but the suspension tweaks seem to lend an air of agility to its performance, though we wish it had a manual tranny to get more from the driving experience. It does handle normal street bumps smoothly, and the ride is very quiet.
The cabin itself has lots of room both up front and in the back, and climate and radio controls are very intuitive to operate. When it comes to changing stations or mode, voice commands for the radio take a couple of seconds to respond but the responses are accurate.
Our test vehicle did not have navigation, but Hyundai has shown in the past the knack for getting it right and keeping it simple. It’s available in an optional Tech Package that must be purchased in conjunction with a Premium Package on Sport models. Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system, however, is standard throughout the Sonata lineup.
Base MSRP without those packages with $29,760. Throw in floor mats and our test vehicle ran $29,885.
What’s good about the 2016 Sonata Sport 2.0T: A lot, actually. Standard features include items like a blind sport detection system, Sport leather seating surfaces with heated fronts, Blue Tooth hands-free phone, Smart Phone integration, and more (see the slide show). And it looks great inside and out.
What’s not-so good about the 2016 Sonata 2.0T: Though not a slug, the engine could have a little more kick. Most reviewers report a zero-to-60 mph time in the neighborhood of eight seconds.
For a look at the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0T and more details, check out the accompanying slide show.