The 2014 Hyundai Sonata SE 2.0 Turbo sedan is the car we’re driving this week, which happens to be the most performance oriented Sonata in Hyundai’s mid-size lineup. Thanks to an exhaust driven turbocharger for added stimulus, Sonata SE 2.0 “T” is one of the better cars we’ve driven in this overly crowded mid-size class, the latter where manufacturers either make or break a brand based on consumer acceptance.
Further, if car designers fail to meet consumer expectations, which continually escalate, the success or lack of mid-size sales will influence a brand’s nameplate from subcompact to SUV.
Yes, that’s how critical the “mid-size” segment is to a car builder’s success. Just ask Mitsubishi—where North American struggles in mid-size Lancer sales have caused a complete model re-shuffling for this respected, quality manufacturer.
Sonata, thus, is Hyundai’s direct competition to Honda Accord, Chevy Impala, Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry, Chrysler 200, Mazda 6 and Nissan Altima. Add the numerous other manufacturers that build mid-size vehicles, and consumers are presented with a bevy of choices all intent on getting your signature on the dotted line.
Our tester, meanwhile, came in sporty SE “T for turbo” trim consisting of a multitude of amenities. Built in Montgomery, Alabama, Sonata is a four-door, five-passenger sedan with room for five. The entry model GLS starts at just $21,450 and comes with a six-speed automatic. Powering this model is a non-turbo fuel injected 2.4-liter inline-4 that develops 192 or 190-horsepower depending on single or dual exhaust and delivers 24-mpg city and 35-mpg highway.
On the flip side, “powerful” best describes our tester’s 274-horse, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, which got my attention quickly. Sonata turbo will get up and go with the best of them, and accelerate to 60-mph from a standing start in the high five-second to low six second range. SE’s “sport tuned” stiffer independent suspension results in good steering feedback and subsequent spirited handling.
Although the turbo does rob a little fuel economy, the 21-city and 32-highway numbers are still acceptable for a higher horsepower vehicle. Additionally, the six-speed automatic comes standard with steering wheel “Shiftronic” paddle shifters for more RPM control (and fun).
SE Turbo’s standard features are many, with rear view safety camera, dual zone air, USB, input jacks, 4.3-inch touchscreen Sirius/XM satellite, HD/CD/Bluetooth Stereo system with six-speakers, chrome tip dual exhaust, power trunk, keyless push button start, power driver seat, sport grille, tilt/telescoping, steering wheel controls, electronic stability, traction control, electronic brake assist, six-airbags, daytime running lamps, fog lights, Blue Link “Telematics” system, spoiler and lots more. See your Hyundai dealer for full details on this long list of amenities.
Our tester featured a $2,900 Turbo Premium Equipment Package that includes a power sunroof, blind spot detection, Navigation with eight-inch touch screen, and Dimension Premium stereo upgrade with subwoofer and amplifier. Being that the standard stereo system is quite good, the only thing that attracts my attention in this option group is the blind spot detection system. Other than that, you might want to spend $2,900 on something else.
Thanks to traction hungry Hankook Optimo 18-inch V-rated tires on beautiful Hyper Silver Alloy wheels, you’ll find Sonata Turbo ready for some track day time at your local drive facility. Competent four-wheel ABS disc brakes allow emergency stops in a straight line, time and again. As for government safety crash results, all 2014 Sonatas receive a Five Star rating, which is the best possible.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 110-inches, 3,527 lb. curb weight, 16.4 cu. ft. of cargo space, 18.5 gallon fuel tank and a 35.8 ft. turning diameter.
Sonata SE Turbo ($25,750 base) may not be for everyone, and that’s why the 2.4-liter normally aspirated engine models may be the better buy. Notable is Consumer Reports magazine’s recommendation of the 2014 Sonata 2.4-liter non-turbo models, which scored high on recent tests.
In summary and regardless of model choice, the American-built 2014 Hyundai Sonatas offer an attractive entry price, industry leading 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and lots of happy end user comments.
It doesn’t get much better than this when making comparisons.
Likes: Entry price, fuel mileage, looks, interior room, turbo power
Dislikes: Road noise, sport suspension may be too firm for some.
(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist who writes weekly for BestRide.com, More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications.)