It’s not often I come across a car that has me shaking my head. But I must confess that the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0T has me a bit baffled.
No, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this front-wheel-drive sedan. Like all Hyundais, it’s value oriented. It is also quite roomy for a mid-size automobile, feels solid, has better than average driving dynamics for its class, rides well and has all the available features of a full-blown luxury car.
So, what’s the problem? Well, consider all of this:
With its turbocharged 2-liter, 4-cylinder engine, it is the most powerful member of the Sonata family, generating 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.
Yet, it is less quick than the least powerful sibling, which features a turbocharged 1.6 liter, 4-cylinder engine that produces a mere 178 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, and it’s even a tad slower than the models with the standard engine, a naturally aspirated 4-cylinder powerplant that produces 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque.
According to testers at the automotive web site edmunds.com, the 1.6T is fastest from 0 to 60 mph at 7.5 seconds, the 2.4-liter engine is second at 8.2 seconds and the 2.0T is last to finish at 8.3 seconds.
Okay, you are thinking, maybe the 2.0T is the most fuel efficient engine. Nope. the 1.6T returns an estimated 32 mpg on average, the 2.4-liter engine returns an average 29 or 30 mpg, depending on equipment, and the 2.0T returns 25 or 26 mpg, depending on equipment. Me? I averaged 26 mpg in a week of varied driving conditions.
How about towing? Perhaps that is where the extra power comes in handy. Nope again. None of the Sonata models is recommended for towing.
How about price. Could it be the least expensive? Wrong again. The 2.4 models start at $21,750, the 1.6T sedan starts at $23,725 and the Sport 2.0T starts at $28,925, although admittedly it comes fully equipped at that price. It is less expensive than only the 2.0T Limited, which comes with all the bells and whistles for $34,075.
If you are wondering what’s up with those performance figures, I can offer a couple of possibilities.
Probably the most important is the transmission. The 1.6T has a 7-speed dual-clutch shifter with steering wheel-mounted paddles, while the other two have 6-speed automatic shifters with manual controls. Gear ratios among the models are different, too.
The second is weight. The Sport 2.0T is approximately 110 to 275 pounds pounds heavier than all of the other models except for the 2.OT Limited, which actually weighs about 100 pounds more than the Sport.
So, there you have it. I guess this could simply be a case of less is more and we’ll leave it at that.
What all that statistical analysis fails to explain are some of the finer points that make the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0T an enjoyable family sedan.
The 4-cylinder engine is quite smooth, the transmission shifts smoothly, too, and the turbocharger brings on the power with a sense of urgency, spoiled only slightly by that old bugaboo, the steering-wheel-yanking torque steer.
Also, the Sport model has better, although certainly not overtly sporty, driving dynamics. The independent suspension is a bit beefier than the non-sport models, the electrically assisted rack-and-pinion steering responds well to driver inputs and the anti-lock brakes, vented discs up front and solid discs at the rear wheels, can bring the Sonata quickly to a halt when required.
Special features that give the Sonata Sport an upscale ambience include Blue Link telematics system, leather upholstery, heated front seats, power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, 6-speaker sound system with 7-inch color touchscreen display, satellite radio capability, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, auto on/off headlights, keyless entry and ignition, and hands-free trunk opening.
Safety features are in abundance, too. Included, in addition to a full complement of seat belts and airbags, are blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert, rear-view camera, and the antilock brakes with traction control, stability control, electronic brake force distribution and emergency brake assist.
If you are looking for a Hyundai with a sporty air, you won’t go wrong with the Sport 2.0T. But I would suggest you also try out the Sonata Eco. You just may find it to be an agreeable surprise.
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