To say that Hyundai is just a corporation in South Korea would be like saying that Microsoft is just a software company in North America. Mr. Hyundai has been a driving force behind manufacturing and big business for South Korea for many years. His automotive company’s entry into the US in the mid-1980’s had a rough beginning with subpar vehicles- to say the least. Hyundai, under the leadership of Mong-Koo Chung [Chairman and CEO Hyundai Motor Company], is now producing some of the highest value, uppermost quality, and stylish vehicles on the road- worldwide.
My continued drives in Hyundai products has convinced me that they refuse to stand still, even on their successful sedans, such as the Sonata and Genesis. The newest release of the 2015 Sonata is an indicator of Hyundai’s vision of the future. However, the changes and upgrades to the current 2014 Sonata are impressive- and the current model still looks sporty and aggressive (released in 2011). The 2013 Sonata was named one of the most dependable midsize cars by J.D. Power and Associates and Hyundai still made major changes to the 2014 model.
My time in the 2014 Sonata 2.0T proved to be a great drive through the streets and highways of Southern California. This mid-size sedan is just right for a combination of tight city streets and nerve-wracking highway transitions. Being overall 189.8 inches long and having a wheelbase of 110.0 in. the Sonata is small enough for narrow city parking spaces, yet large enough for 5 adults on a short run. The overall width of 72.2 inches makes room for shoulders and hips and luggage without filling the traffic lane up. The ride is fairly smooth, even with the optional P225/45R18 tires.
The Sonata also improved in keeping the cabin quiet, noisy interiors being one of the shortcomings of Hyundai’s lower priced vehicles. The 2014 Sonata has undergone significant changes to reduce cabin noise- including a set of revised 17-inch wheels and tires to reduce road noise. More carpet insulation and foam was added to the floor, A, and B pillars, as well as a new dampen the suspension.
Another example is the 50+ major sub-systems that are new or redesigned for the current model. Some of these upgrades are hardly noticeable, i.e. a slightly changed grille design and a full-leather steering wheel coming standard on SE and Limited models. Other redesigns are more obvious such as HID Xenon headlights, LED taillights and their Driver Selectable Steering Mode (DSSM) coming standard on all trims. This variable steering assist feels more like a gimmick and just one more dial to think about before driving the car.
Our Sonata 2.0 liter-Turbo was peppy enough when the power band begins above 1,600 rpm. The quieter 2.0 liter Theta II turbocharged GDI engine pumps out a solid 274 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 269 lb.-ft of torque from 1,650 up to 4,500 rpm. With paddle shifting in the higher rpm range, the Sonata is more fun to drive than many of the mid-size competitors. The twin-scroll turbo is not very noticeable- not like a jet engine taking off like some other turbo-charged sedans. The six-speed automatic is also well matched to this engine and smooth shifts are almost unnoticeable. When pushed hard, there is still some significant whining from the drivetrain but it is hardly a nuisance.
The EPA estimated 21 mpg city and 32 mpg highway was pretty accurate for my week’s drive. Thankfully, Hyundai has tuned their engine to perform with efficient power on regular gasoline. The following graph shows what the competitors deliver in horsepower with V6 and I-4 turbo-boosted power. But several of these cars require premium fuel to get these horses.
Engine 2.0L Turbo I4 3.5L V6 3.5L V6 3.5L V6 2.0L Turbo I4 2.0L Turbo I4 3.6L V6
Horsepower 274 @ 6000 268 @ 6200 278 @ 6200 270 @ 6400 231 @ 5500 259 @ 5500 280 @ 6200
The new sport-tuned exhaust (standard on SE 2.0T) was also a nice touch when zipping onto a freeway or passing a truck. Growl from the exhaust is hardly heard under normal driving conditions but the free-flowing exhaust is a bonus for power. Even so, the Sonata 2.0T still meets all the future emission requirements across the US.
True to Hyundai’s pattern of more for less, consumers get lots of driver-assist goodies and computerized safety features. For example, there is now a driver’s blind spot mirror (optional on GLS), Blind Spot Detection System (standard on Limited), and Hyundai’s telematics services program. Other standard safety technologies include Electronic Stability Control (ESC), side air curtains for front and rear passengers, and active-front head restraints.
Hyundai owners are provided safety and car care services via the Hyundai Blue Link telematics system which includes Automatic Collision Notification, Enhanced Roadside Assistance, Automatic Diagnostic Trouble Code Notification, Monthly Vehicle Health Report and in-vehicle Car Care Maintenance Scheduling. Assurance Connected Care is standard for three years on all 2014 Sonatas.
The Sonata interior now comes with the third-generation navigation and audio multimedia system with an eight-inch touchscreen display. A 4.3-inch touchscreen audio display with rearview camera and HD Radio is standard on SE and Limited. The Limited model revised auto climate control works quicker to cool and warm the passengers in front and rear seats. Also, the comfortable front seats are now cooled and ventilated on the driver’s side.
The Hyundai BLUE LINK® is an advanced version of OnStar® with mobile apps. It is described as follows:
“The mobile app allows subscribers to remotely access various optional Blue Link features and services through compatible mobile devices.” This system is currently available for Google Android® and Apple® iOS through Google Play or Apple iTunes, respectively. A BlackBerry® version is also available. Overall, this system is easy to use and some of the information is actually helpful.
As stated above, there is a lot to like about the 2014 Sonata and it will be an even better bargain when the 2015 rolls into showrooms. With a quieter ride and sporty handling, this is a definite contender for the mid-size sedan shopping list.