I was reviewing some articles on the new 2011 Hyundai Sonata. I thought I would share this one from USA Today. We, at Glenbrook Hyundai, could not be happier with the newest products from Hyundai. This article tells just a few reasons why.
By James R. Healey, USA TODAY
When a car’s as close to the family sedan sweet spot as Hyundai’s 2011 Sonata is, you have to be careful about jazzing it up. Easy to go too far and lose the balance that makes the original delightful.
Hyundai, which seems lately to have the magic touch (sales through November are up 23% in a market up 11%), perhaps strayed over the line in creating its 2.0T, a go-fast turbocharged version of Sonata. But errors are slight and, overall, the car’s dandy.
The test car had a hard ride. Not just sportingly stiff, but punishing over potholes and broken asphalt that characterize too much of American road surfaces. The suspension, aimed at cornering agility, is stiffer than on non-turbo models, and 225/45Rx18 tires are standard. The “45” means the sidewalls are so stubby and stiff that there’s little give.
The turbo engine, which uses gasoline direct injection (GDI) for more power and fuel efficiency, grumbled unpleasantly at cold start. After it warmed, and always under hard throttle, it sounded good. GDI engines often are noisier than others, giving the impression there’s a coarse, unrefined powerplant under the hood. Payback for the GDI noise is extra performance and miles per gallon. Hyundai calls its combination of GDI and turbocharging “Blue Drive.” We don’t know why.
The loaded test car also was $30,000, no longer the hard-to-resist pricing that helped make Hyundai a success. On the other hand, that price brought leather upholstery, navigation, backup camera, heated front and rear seats and — can you stand it? — premium door sill scuff plates.
If you don’t need all that, the base 2.0T is about $25,000, which seems more like Hyundai pricing.
Mainly, the balance swung wildly positive.
Sonata 2.0T did as intended — went quickly, and did so smoothly. The turbo engine has higher power ratings (274 horsepower, 269 pounds-feet of torque) than rivals’ V-6 engines and uses regular gasoline. Some companies recommend or require pricier premium fuel for their turbos.
The 2.0T engine wasn’t high-strung, as some turbos can be. It rolled out a seamless flow of power from just above idle to redline. It never seemed like — you know the type — a smallish four-cylinder meant for fuel economy but turbocharged to get its power back to where it should have been.
Nope. It came across as a highly entertaining and agreeable engine of indeterminate cylinders and size, equally at home slogging or flogging.
The six-speed automatic transmission is a new unit designed by Hyundai. It snapped off shifts, up and down, with no pause and no jolt. That’s how all automatics should work, but other automakers seem to have forgotten that.
The manual-shift mode worked the common-sense way: Pull the floor-mounted gear lever slightly toward yourself to enter the manual gate, then tap forward or backward to change gears. High-end Limited versions of the 2.0T, such as the test car, also provide steering wheel paddles allowing you to fingertip-shift without first putting the lever into the manual position.
Sonata‘s paddles were small enough not to get in the way when you reached for the turn signal or other controls mounted on the steering column.
An “eco” button on the dashboard changed engine and transmission settings to use less fuel. But it seemed odd in such a quick, fun-oriented machine. Its biggest benefit was that when you turned it off, it stayed off; it didn’t reset, nanny-fashion, each time you restarted the engine. One more feature that other automakers should note well.
If you drive it like you stole it — which the 2.0T drivetrain invites — you’ll be disappointed by the fuel economy. No question. And you’ll want to drive it hard after just a few times using wide-open throttle. Addictive. We didn’t have enough traffic-free roads to do much of that, alas, so you can’t blame our 17 mpg fuel economy on a lead foot.
The loaded test car had soft-touch interior surfaces that were better than your usual soft-touch materials. Made you want to fondle everything.
Because it’s a Sonata, the 2.0T also:
•Had comfortable seats and, in what appears a physics-defying situation, lots of legroom in back even though the numbers show it should be a bit tight. More evidence that you can’t buy a car based solely on its specifications.
•Turned in a short, 35.8-foot radius, nearly 2 feet tighter than the worst of its rivals (Ford Fusion, 37.5 ft.). That made the 2.0T handy for dodging holiday traffic and using tight mall parking spots.
•Provided excellent storage. The trunk was a generous 16.4 cubic feet, and an array of thoughtful nooks in the center console area meant you needn’t surrender a cup holder to stow cellphone, checkbook and other items normally accompanying an American motorist. If you live where the road surfaces are bad, you’ll wish you bought a softer-riding machine. Otherwise, prepare for automotive delight.
About the 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T
•What? Turbocharged version of recently redesigned, four-door, front-drive, midsize Sonata sedan.
•When? On sale since November.
•Where? Made at Montgomery, Ala.
•Why? Jazz up the Sonata line,
•How much? SE starts at $24,865 including $720 shipping. Limited: $27,765.
•Who’ll buy? People who don’t accept that a mainstream family sedan needs to be boring.
•How powerful? 2-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder rated 274 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, 269 pounds-feet of torque at 1,750 rpm, mated to six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift mode.
•How big?Midsize by common-sense yardstick; barely into full-size category by government index. Sonata 2.0T is 189.8 inches long, 72.2 in. wide, 57.9 in. tall on 110-in. wheelbase. Passenger space, 103.8 cubic feet. Trunk, 16.4 cu. ft. Weighs 3,401 to 3,516 lbs.
• How thirsty?Rated 22 miles per gallon in town, 33 mpg on the highway, 26 mpg in combined driving. Test car trip computer registered 16.8 mpg (5.95 gallons per 100 miles) in suburban traffic, including some cold-weather idling to keep interior warm.
Burns regular, holds 18.5 gallons.
•Overall: Too-stiff ride, otherwise a honey.