Class: Midsize Car
Miles driven: 462
Fuel used: 18.2 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 25.4 mpg
|CG Report Card|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Room and Comfort||A-|
|Power and Performance||B+|
|Fit and Finish||B+|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
Driving mix: 45% city, 55% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 23/32/26 (city, highway, combined)
Base price: $32,450 (not including $885 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Carpeted floor mats ($125)
Price as tested: $33,460
The great: Value, warranty
The good: Acceleration, control layout, visibility, passenger space
The not so good: High step-up to folded rear seat back, ride composure not up to the best
Midsize-car contenders have a tough row to hoe. What sales haven’t been siphoned off by crossovers go largely to the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, with little left over for any of the others. And some of those “others” are pretty darn good cars.
One is the Hyundai Sonata. We’ve covered the recently refreshed 2018 Sonata in a wide-scope First Spin report and with a bit more focus in a review of a top-line Limited with the base 2.4-liter engine, but now we’ve also had the opportunity to drive a Limited equipped with the more powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged 2.0-liter four.
In our previous review of the Limited, editor John Biel made mention that he didn’t feel the 2.4-liter engine made it any more than “a merely adequate accelerator from a standing stop,” but I rather disagree; floor the throttle, and the car responded with a snappier launch than many competitors – particularly those with small-displacement turbocharged engines under their hoods – and continued to pull in nicely linear (if not especially strong) fashion. That engine also worked well with the Sonata’s quick-to-downshift conventional 6-speed automatic transmission to provide fine passing response. Furthermore, the combination averaged 28.7 mpg in about 35 percent city driving, a decent showing for a midsize car.
By contrast, this Limited’s 2.0-liter turbo was just a bit softer in its initial launch from a stop but ultimately provided far more power: My 0-60-mph times averaged a snappy 6.6 seconds, impressive for the class. Mated to the same 6-speed automatic, it likewise gave great passing response, but suffered a bit at the pump; overall we averaged 25.4 mpg in about 45 percent city driving, though I managed 32.6 on a long highway trip. (In mostly city driving we averaged only about 20 mpg, so the turbo mostly takes its toll around town.)
Although we long felt that ride quality was generally a stumbling block with Hyundais, the company seems to be getting it together in recent years. That was demonstrated by this Limited, for while there remained a bit of brittleness over smaller bumps, overall it rode well enough. Note, however, that the Limited comes with a sport-tuned suspension and 18-inch low-profile tires – both of which provide a sportier driving feel at the expense of ride quality – so lower-line models may fare better over bumps.
What traditionally had not been a stumbling block was Hyundai’s control layouts. Thankfully, the company has largely left well enough alone here – with the audio system featuring both volume and tuning knobs along with eight physical buttons – and though the climate system’s fan speed and mode controls are of the rather tedious “repetitive-step pushbutton” design rather than the temperature’s more convenient rotary knob, at least all the controls fall within fairly easy reach. While John mentioned previously that the grey-on-silver climate-control graphics weren’t the easiest to see (and the situation doesn’t improve with its night lighting), the control layout remains a Sonata strong point.
So does visibility. While top contenders also do well in this regard, the Sonata is among the best in terms of having thin roof pillars that block little of your view, though some rivals offer a wide-angle 180-degree rearview camera (versus the Sonata’s roughly 160-degree view) that aids in backing out of parking spaces.
Interior storage space is likewise on par with top rivals – maybe even a bit better. There’s a large glovebox, a large 2-tier console box, two cupholders and a mid-console bin, a large forward-console bin under Aux/USB/ two 12-volt plugs (really handy), and map pockets with cupholders in the doors. The tested Limited also comes with a Qi wireless charging pad.
Though virtually every midsize car is roomy inside, the Sonata is probably among the roomiest. Of note is that the driver seat can be raised very high (a boon to shorter folks), there’s plenty of rear head and leg room even with the front seat all the way back, and rear-seaters also get their own 12-volt plug. I also really liked the fact that the front doors hosted both vertical forward handles (easier for closing) and handles in the door armrests (easier to control the door when opening).
Most competitors also now feature rather ritzy interior materials – at least on upper-line versions – and the Sonata Limited holds its own here, too. Even the door tops are padded, and the overall look is quite upscale.
Test Drive: 2016 Kia Optima LX Turbo
If there’s a downside in my book, it’s in cargo versatility. Although the trunk is wide at the back, sickle-shaped hinges dip into the load area, there’s no additional “hidden” storage under the floor, and the folded rear seat backs rest about five inches above the cargo floor, making it hard to slide long items forward. In fairness, most of those failings also apply to Sonata’s closest rivals (Volkswagen’s Passat being among the few to offer a flat floor with the rear seat backs folded), but it’s still something I hold as a general sedan demerit.
Hyundai’s claim to fame has long been its great warranty (5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper and 10/100 powertrain) along with an attractive value equation, and those hold for the tested Limited. Included in its $33,430 sticker were a host of high-tech safety and convenience features, the stout 245-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo engine, power sunroof, rear side window sun shades, keyless access and starting, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, driver-seat memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, satellite radio, Qi wireless charging, and Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system.