Settle into the 2015 Sonata Sport, and it’s clear that Hyundai has lofty aspirations for its family sedan. The seventh-generation Sonata sedan follows in the footsteps of the 2011 model whose bold styling made it a sales success.
The all-new car borrows its design theme from the upscale Genesis sedan, and while not as radically different as its predecessor, it continues to have a style and refinement that rivals anything in its class and puts it on par with some entry-level luxury cars. It also has a five-year, 60,000-mile warranty and a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
There are six models, and prices range from $21,150 to $33,525. I drove a Sport 2.0 T whose base price was $28,575.
Hyundai has chosen to use only four-cylinder engines in the Sonata. The standard engine is a direct-injection, 2.4-liter engine with 185 horsepower. The Sport can be equipped with this engine or the 2.0-liter turbocharged unit that delivers 245 horsepower, down from last year’s turbo that delivered 274 horsepower. Hyundai said both engines have been tuned to deliver less maximum power in order to have better low-speed responsiveness. That makes sense because strong throttle response at low speed is more useful than all-out power.
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Fuel economy for the turbo is rated at 23 miles per gallon in the city and 32 on the highway. The 2.4-liter engine is rated at 25 in the city and 37 on the highway.
Even though the turbo is a bit thirstier, it is far more fun to drive. I couldn’t tell that the engine has less horsepower because it responds well when you need a quick squirt of acceleration.
The well-designed cabin has the look and feel of a much more expensive car. Hyundai designers have created the ambience of an upscale car by paying attention to details. Additional sound deadening is used in the dashboard and under the floorpan, and an underbody tray made of fibrous glass expansion board helps reduce road noise. It also aids aerodynamics.
Switches are used for audio and climate control instead of just a touch screen. Kudos. Secondary switches are integrated into the steering wheel that now has a D shape so it doesn’t interfere with the driver’s legs.
The test car was equipped with a blind-spot monitor, rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity and Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system. Forward collision warning, lane departure warning and smart cruise control with full-stop capability are available only on the Limited model.
In the past, I felt that the Sonata’s steering wheel was too low and I could never quite get comfortable with the seat, steering wheel and pedal relationship. The new car is better in that regard but I still had to work to find the right setup for me.
Headroom and legroom in the front are quite generous, and the trunk is quite big. The sloping roof impinges on rear entry but not terribly so.
The base price of the test vehicle was $28,575. Floor mats and destination charges brought the sticker price to $29,510.
Five years or 60,000 miles with a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
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2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0T
Engine: 2.0-liter, 245-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Wheelbase: 110 inches
Curb weight: 3,329 pounds
Base price: $28,575
As driven: $29,510
MPG rating: 23 in the city, 32 on the highway