2014 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T First Drive
274 Horses For Those Who Think A Sonata Is Too Sensible
The 2014 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T is a rolling rationalization for image-conscious consumers reluctantly shopping for a midsize sedan. For those who say they can't be seen in a sensible, midsize four-door, Hyundai counters with the Sonata 2.0T's attractive 18-inch wheels, dual-panel sunroof, HID headlights, and 274 hp. With so many competitive entries in the segment, Hyundai made a few minor changes to the Sonata lineup for 2014 to remain in the game. We spent some time in a loaded Sonata 2.0T to determine whether a higher-performance $32,755 Sonata makes any sense.
The Sonata 2.0T is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 that's supposed to provide the power of a V-6 but with better fuel economy. With 274 hp at 6000 rpm and 269 lb-ft from 1650-4500 rpm, the Sonata 2.0T's engine is, not surprisingly, central to the driving experience. It's not tough to make the tires spin by giving the car too much gas, and while that certainly doesn't make the car faster, it makes the driving experience a bit more exciting. There's enough power to clearly demonstrate to passengers that this is no ordinary midsize sedan, so in that sense, the upgrade does its job. But the Sonata 2.0T has never been at the front of the pack in 0-60 mph acceleration. We've tested 2011 models at 6.5 and 7.0 seconds, behind the sub-6.0-second six-cylinder Volkswagen Passat and Toyota Camry that the Sonata trailed in a three-car comparison.
So the Sonata 2.0T will lose in a midsize sedan drag race against six-cylinder competitors, but the fuel economy is decent, and unlike the Passat, it takes regular gas. The EPA adjusted the car's mileage for 2014, reporting a more realistic 21/32 mpg city/highway instead of the similar 2013 model's 22/34 mpg. In our Real MPG testing, however, the Sonata 2.0T test car achieved 22/34 mpg. As Kim Reynolds has explained, Real MPG testing happens "in the real world with actual aerodynamics, true rolling resistance, and real traffic-acceleration rates," not on a dyno with a more easily manipulated EPA test procedure.
The 2014 Sonata 2.0T's suspension communicates enough road imperfections to keep the driver from feeling overly isolated, but not enough to cause regret at not opting for a car with a cushier suspension. As with many new Hyundais and Kias, the 2014 model-year Sonata gets a three-mode adjustable steering system. From Comfort to Sport mode, there's a definite change in the weight of the steering. We preferred the heavier feel of the Sport mode, but with a couple clicks of a steering wheel button, another driver can make the car easier to steer. While it's cool that the feature is standard even on the base-model Sonata, we would have liked a quicker steering rack for the 2.0T.
No one will confuse the Sonata 2.0T for a sports sedan, but the Hyundai still has plenty to offer. Inside you'll find lots of storage, from the two-bin storage compartment between the front seats to the large open area at the bottom of the center stack and a closed compartment just above it. Though you can't view navigation directions on the instrument cluster's color info screen, the layout is pleasant and we're fans of the design, which features two blue rings on the tachometer and speedometer. The temperature and gas gauges appear pushed forward, giving the instrument cluster more dimension, and we're fans of the gas gauge's fuel-level bar that gets thinner as the tank goes from full to empty.
Rear-seat headroom is lacking, but as long as your passengers aren't as tall as this 6-foot, 4-inch writer, space shouldn't be much of a problem. Now a Hyundai/Kia staple, the heated rear seats are still cool. The driver's seat on the Limited trim is now cooled and heated, while the front passenger seat has a three-stage heating function. The dual-panel sunroof is another fun gee-whiz feature, and it really changes the look of the car on the outside. Some people never warmed to the Sonata's huge headlights and the chrome trim that stretches beyond the edge of the front windows, but pair our test car's extra-cost white paint with a contrasting black roof and you've got a car that makes an impression.
The 2014 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T isn't the most rewarding car to drive in its class, nor is it the quickest. Considering all you get for the as-tested $32,755 price (navigation on an 8-inch screen, HIDs, dual-panel sunroof, hands-free keyless entry, cool LED taillights, heated/cooled driver seat, leather seats, and more), the car could attract those who want lots of features but can't understand the appeal of a base-model CLA. If the Kia Optima with the same engine and features just isn't your style, the Hyundai Sonata 2.0T could be a good fit when a sporty design is at least as important as a genuinely sporty driving experience.
|2014 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$32,755|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE ENGINES||2.0L/274-hp/269-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve turbocharged I-4|
|LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT||189.8 x 72.2 x 57.9 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.5 sec (MT est)|
|REAL MPG CITY/HWY FUEL ECON||22/34 mpg|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON||21/32 mpg|
|ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY||160/105 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||0.78 lb/mile|