2016 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T: efficient family sedan defined

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Redesigned last year, the 2016 Hyundai Sonata has only a few minor changes from 2015, and it remains an increasingly popular family sedan in one of the most competitive segments in the automotive industry.

New standard items for 2016, include: A seven-inch touchscreen except on the top-line range-Limited 2.0T (which continues to have an 8-inch screen). Both systems feature smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

A rearview camera and automatic headlights are now also standard on all trims. An automatic emergency braking system debuts on the Limited 2.0T and the full lineup has had its suspension tweaked for improved handling.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

The 2016 Hyundai Sonata is marketed as a five-passenger sedan, but it’s better suited for four adults. It’s versatile with six trims offered: SE, Sport, Eco, Limited, Sport 2.0T, and Limited 2.0T. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission are standard.

Eco models come with a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The 2.0T models feature a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.

 

The 2016 Hyundai Sonata is a quiet, efficient family sedan.
The 2016 Hyundai Sonata is a quiet, efficient family sedan. Images © James Raia/2016

The top-line Limited 2.0T, my test vehicle (and like all Hyundai vehicles), included lengthy laundry list of standard features: a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlight control, rear parking sensors, a lane-departure warning system, an automatic pre-collision braking system, automatic engine stop-start and driver memory settings.

A heated steering wheel, rear window sunshades, ventilated front seats, a nine-speaker premium audio system and technology features from the Limited trim and the Sport’s Tech package are also standard.

The Weekly Driver had a rare occasion to extend a test drive to two weeks. A 2016 Hyundai Sonata was my driving companion during the recent Tour of California professional bicycle race.

I drove the Sonata direct from Sacramento to San Diego and returned to Sacramento with extended side trips to South Lake Tahoe and Santa Rosa. The total trip was 1,842 miles, most often on freeways and equally often when the flow of traffic exceeded the speed limit. Nearly always, the air-conditioning was engaged.

The trip to San Diego was 498 miles at high speeds and primarily on Interstate 5 before some smaller freeways for about the final 100 miles and at a bumper-to-bumper, slow-moving pace. The Sonata is rated at 21 mpg in city driving and 31 mpg on the freeway. I averaged 30.8 mpg in my first tank of regular grade fuel and 32.1 on my second fill-up.

It was only the second time in 11 years of The Weekly Driver columns a vehicle averaged better gas mileage than its EPA estimates. The first time was a few years on a similar treks from Sacramento to Los Angeles and while also driving a Hyundai, the top-rated Santa Fe sport utility vehicle. It also averaged more than one mpg better than its EPA freeway estimates.

While my test vehicle was the turbo-charged trim, the lack of strong, quick acceleration was noticeable. And it was the only disappointment for the trip. The Sonata never struggled, but it was far from quick.

One of the pleasant surprises was the Sonata’s quiet ride. Freeway noise and wind rush were nearly non-existent, a driving quality often found only on far more expensive vehicles.

Hyundai also has among the industry’s best navigation systems. Hyundai’s touchscreen interface is intuitive and the new seven-inch diameter meant less negotiating for the right features. The maps were clear, labeled well and presented in easy-to-read fonts.

I drove the entire trip without a passenger, but from the driver’s perspective, the seat padding and support was ideal for the long haul, and it only further added to the Sonata’s overall appeal.

Likes:

Better gas mileage average than EPA estimates.
Quality interior and exterior construction.
Best warranty in the industry.
Ample trunk space.

Dislikes:

Some driver side pillar obstruction.
Turbo-charged engine steady but acceleration disappointing.

Facts & Figures: 2016 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T

Acceleration: 0-60 mph: 8.7 seconds.
Airbags: 7.
Fuel economy: 21 mpg (city), 31 mpg (highway), 25 mpg (combined) six-speed automatic transmission.
Horsepower: 245
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $34,075.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.hyundaiusa.com.
Price As Tested: $35,050.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 10 years/100,000 miles; Corrosion, 7 years/unlimited miles.

What Others Say:

“Fun to drive, thanks to engaging handling and responsive powertrains.” — Consumer Reports.

“Possibly the most striking characteristic of the 2016 Hyundai Sonata is the hushed way in which it goes about its business. This is a seriously quiet car. Dispatching road irregularities with smooth damping and peaceful confidence is this sedan’s biggest strength.” — Edmunds.com.

“It’s no small feat that the 2016 Hyundai Sonata midsize sedan is a strongly competitive alternative to the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. It comes with a comfortable and quiet interior, plenty of high-tech, and wrapped in conservatively attractive styling that’s sure to stay that way for years to come.” – Kelley Blue Book.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“It’s hard to infiltrate the Honda and Toyota have on the mid-priced sedan segment. The Hyundai Sonata holds its own against the family sedan monoliths in many areas and outdoes the heavy hitters with its best-in-the-industry warranty.”

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