The Hyundai Sonata stands out in a hotly contested class by being good at everything and bad at nothing. What do you need to know before you buy a Hyundai Sonata? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in the Ultimate Buyer’s Guide.
There’s a term in baseball called the Mendoza Line that describes the level at which your batting average needs to minimally be in order to stay in the Major Leagues. Fall below that line and you’re out. Stay above it and, generally, you’re safe.
There are things we dislike about every single midsize sedan, but the Sonata manages to stay above the Mendoza line in every single category. There’s a lot to like about the affordable, comfortable sedan and very little to dislike.
The Sonata is the perfect average of every other midsizer. It’s comfortable, enough, putting its ride somewhere between the taut Mazda6 and the cushy Camry. Steering is a little numb, but it doesn’t feel like the steering wheel is in Miami and the tires are in Anchorage.
The 1.6-liter turbo engine is on the smaller end of offerings, but with the 2.0-liter turbo you’ve got power that keeps the Sonata in the same league as the Fusion and quick V6 Honda.
It feels like driving a nice car, as opposed to driving nothing. That’s about as good as you’re going to get in this class.
The Hyundai Sonata entered its seventh generation as a 2015 model. Yes, seventh generation— the Sonata has been on our shores since the 1980s. But why have you only recently heard of the Sonata? Well, even though Hyundai doesn’t want me to tell you this, here’s a secret: They haven’t exactly always been known for their quality.
But fear not, as Hyundai has been making some fine automobiles of late, and the seventh generation Sonata is no exception. The 2015 car built on the success of the previous model with a bigger cabin, sharp new exterior styling, a revised interior and an available 1.6-liter turbo inline four mated to a new 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.
For 2016, Hyundai gives us new aluminum suspension components, available Automatic Emergency Braking, a 7-inch touchscreen with Android auto on all but the highest trim, an available conventional sunroof on certain trim levels, and the Limited gets the Sport fascia and new wheels.
You can get a Sonata with a slew of engine options: the base 2.4L I4, a 1.6-liter turbo I4, a 2.0-liter turbo I4, and a parallel hybrid 154 horsepower 2.0-liter direct injected inline four coupled with a 51 horsepower electric motor.
The base 2.4-liter puts out competitive power figures for a standard engine while the 2.0-liter keeps competitive turbo fours and V6s at bay with 245 stallions. The 1.6-liter is down on power, but makes up for it in low end torque and fuel economy.
Between the electric motor and the internal combustion engine, the parallel hybrid cranks out a net 193 horsepower at 6000 rpm— not bad considering the reasonably low 3,500 lb curb weight.
All Sonatas except for the 1.6-liter Eco model get a six-speed automatic transmission. The Eco gets a seven-speed dual clutch unit.
2016 Hyundai Sonata Engine Options
|Engine||Max Horsepower (hp)||Max Torque (lb-ft)|
|1.6L Turbo I4||178 @ 5500 rpm||195 @ 1500 rpm|
|2.0L Turbo I4||245 @ 6000 rpm||260 @ 1350 rpm|
|2.0L Hybrid I4||193 @ 6000 rpm||-|
|2.4L I4||185 @ 6000 rpm||178 @ 4000 rpm|
Sonata fuel economy numbers are solid across the board 32 MPG combined for the 1.6-liter-equipped ECO trim is a best-in-class number for a non-hybrid.
Even the base 2.4-liter I4 gets a very respectable 30 MPG combined on SE and Sport trims. Unsurprisingly, the 245 horsepower turbo I4 brings up the rear while the hybrid scores up to a whopping 42 MPG combined.
So if you want fuel economy, you’ve got options.
2016 Hyundai Sonata Fuel Economy Ratings (City/Highway/Combined)
|_||1.6L Turbo I4||2.0L Turbo I4||2.0L Hybrid I4||2.4L I4|
|Fuel Economy- Auto||28/38/32 (ECO)||23/32/26 (Sport 2.0)|
21/31/25 (Limited 2.0)
|39/43/41 (hybrid limited)|
40/44/42 (hybrid SE)
The Sonata comes with 11.6-inch solid disc brakes in the back with 12-inch vented rotors up front. Steering is electric and column or rack-mounted, suspension is a MacPherson strut front up front and a multi-link setup in the rear.
Hyundai offers six main trim levels: SE, Sport, Eco, Limited, Sport 2.0T, and Limited 2.0T. The Hybrid comes in Hybrid SE and Hybrid Limited trims.
- SE: Starts at $21,750. Notable standard features: 2.4-liter I4, 6-speed automatic transmission, 16” alloy wheels, rearview camera, seven airbags, power mirrors, projector beam automatic headlights, air conditioning, power windows, power locks, cloth seats, 60/40 split folding rear bench, Bluetooth, cruise control, 6-speaker audio system, with HD radio and Android Auto, 7-inch touchscreen display. No notable options.
- Sport: Starts at $23,400. Notable standard features over SE: 17-inch alloy wheels, unique front fascia, unique exterior cladding, mirror-mounted turn signal indicators, LED daytime running lights, dual exhaust, power driver seat, unique interior trim. Notable options: Premium Package: Blind Spot Detection with rear cross traffic alert and lane change assist, chrome exterior door handle, proximity key with push-button start, sport partial-leather seats, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, dual automatic temperature control ($1,900); Tech Package: Power sunroof, 8-inch display with navigation, premium speakers with subwoofer and amplifier 4.2-inch multi-info display, auto-dimming rearview mirror ($2,450+Premium Package).
- Eco: Starts at $23,725. Notable standard features over SE: 1.6-liter turbo I4, 7-speed dual clutch transmission, LED daytime running lights, power driver seat, side-mirror turn signal indicators, unique interior trim. No notable options.
- Hybrid SE: Starts at $26,000. Notable standard features over SE: 2.0-liter hybrid I4, proximity keyless entry with push-button start, automatic headlight control, unique LCD trip computer, dual automatic temperature control. No notable options.
- Limited: Starts at $27,350. Notable standard features over Sport: Heated leather front and rear seats, power front seats, dual automatic temperature control, Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross-traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist, LED tail lights, automatic-dimming rearview mirror, proximity keyless entry with push-button start, power sunroof. Notable options: Tech Package for Limited: Panoramic sunroof, HID headlights, 4.2-inch multi-info display, 8-inch touchscreen with navigation system, premium audio system, memory for driver seat and exterior mirrors, vented front seats, heated steering wheel ($3,100); Ultimate Package: Automatic stop Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Automatic High Beam Assist, Rear Parking Sensors, Smart Cruise control with stop/start assist, electronic parking brake ($1,750+Tech Package).
- Sport 2.0T: Starts at $28,925. Notable standard features over Limited: 2.0-liter turbo I4, rack-mounted electric power steering, sport-tuned suspension, 18” aluminum wheels, HID headlights, LED tail lights, rear diffuser, quad exhaust, unique steering wheel with paddle shifters, aluminum pedals, sport leather seats, unique interior trim. No notable options.
- Hybrid Limited: Starts at $30,100. Notable standard features over Hybrid SE: 17-inch alloy wheels, HID headlights, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, leather heated and ventilated seats, power front seats, memory driver’s seat and exterior mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, blind spot detection. Notable options: Ultimate package: Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Automatic High Beam Assist, rear parking sensors, Panoramic sunroof, smart cruise control with stop/start function, electronic parking brake, 10-speaker Infinity premium sound system, 8-touchscreen with navigation, HD radio ($4,500).
- Limited 2.0T. Starts at $34,075. Notable standard features over Sport 2.0T: panoramic sunroof, Smart Cruise Control with stop/start feature, electric park brake, Lane Departure Warning, automatic emergency braking, Automatic High Beam Assist, Lane Departure Warning, rear park sensors, 8-inch touchscreen with navigation system, Infinity 10-speaker premium audio system, power passenger seat, memory for driver’s seat and exterior mirrors, heated rear seat, vented front seats, heated steering wheel. No notable options.
We recently test drove a Sport 2.0T and thought it just as good as the more expensive alternatives in this class, offering a lot of power, decent fuel economy, 8-inch touchscreen and more aggressive body kit. With everything you’d actually want you’re still under $30,000.
MSRP: $21,750-$34,075 Top Speed: ~130MPH (estimated)
Acceleration: ~7-8s to 60 (estimated)
MPG: 40 city / 44 hwy / 34 combined [Hybrid SE]
Engines: 1.6L Turbo, 2.0L Hybrid I4, 2.0L Turbo I4, 2.4L I4
Max Horsepower/Torque: 245 hp/260 lb-ft [2.0L Turbo I4]
Curb Weight: ~3,250-3,560 IIHS Safety Rating: Top Safety Pick Plus
Transmissions: 6-speed automatic, 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front Engine, FWD
Photo credit: Hyundai