2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco
Out Bubbling Coke
By Ron Amadon
DAMASCUS, MD. – The Hyundai Sonata was born the same year that Coca-Cola introduced “New Coke.” It has proven to be light years more successful.
Sonata is celebrating its 30th birthday having made its debut in 1985 in Korea. Since then it has sold more than 7.3 million copies worldwide and Coke has turned its attention to Super Milk. The first model was rear wheel drive and exceeded one million sales in Korea – the first time a single model had ever done that. The second generation in 1988 switched to front wheel drive and that was when Sonata made its U.S. debut.
The 2015 model marks the seventh generation of the popular sedan with the Eco model the subject of this weekend’s road test.
It is powered by a 1.6-liter turbo four producing 177 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque and is the first to utilize the new seven speed dual clutch transmission. The EPA said the combination is good for a combined 32 mpg, but I ended the week with 29 mpg. The Eco comes with all the standard features of the SE model including a 10-way power driver seat with lumbar support, stitching on the instrument cluster hood, and rear view backup camera.
The test car came with a $4,100 “Technology Package” that included Blind Spot Detection System with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist, an eight inch screen with navi, voice command, Apple Eyes Free Siri integration, and Wi-Fi for downloading apps among other things.
Yet where the Eco fits in Hyundai’s future lineup seems unclear, given that it unveiled the 2016 hybrid Sonata at the Detroit Auto Show. This one offers a 2.0-liter four with a six speed automatic and a 38KW electric motor and clutch. The net power is 193 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and a combined EPA rating of 42 mpg. It will go on sale this summer.
Coming later will be the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid that Hyundai claims will allow electric only operation at up to 75 miles per hour. A lithium polymer battery pack helps it achieve a range of up to 24 miles in all-electric mode. Go beyond that and the gas engine kicks in thus eliminating range jitters. It too will get the 2.0-liter 4 but initially will be available in only ten states.
The plug-in gets a bigger electric motor than the hybrid and beefed up battery pack that is roughly five times larger than the hybrid. Hyundai claims the system can be recharged in 2.5 hours with a 240 volt charger, or five hours on regular household current.
We now return you to our original program.
The Eco offers 16.3 cubic feet of trunk storage that should be able to haul home lots of groceries and other goodies. The 60/40 rear seats fold down if you skipped a shopping excursion for several soccer matches.
Moving forward there was ample room for adults and kids all around and the generous leg room for rear seat passengers should be noted. Taller adults might find rear headroom a bit lacking.
The Eco would be a good companion on a long trip with a fine audio system, easy to configure audio and navi controls, and generally quiet interior.
Now as anyone knows, the term Eco and the term acceleration normally don’t go together any more than the Yankees front office and Alex Rodriguez’ home run bonus.
With only a small amount of turbo lag, the Eco has more than enough energy for all its assigned tasks and a 0-60 run of about eight seconds – that is in line with other Sonata’s with the larger 2.4 liter four. That is, if you keep it out of the fun sapping Eco mode.
Handling was okay on country roads and off ramps, but this set of wheels is aimed squarely at those who value a compliant ride over mother-in-law frightening exits from the interstate.
With $125 floor mats and $810 delivery charges, the test Eco carried an MSRP of $28,310. With that easy to take price, Hyundai’s long list of standard features, five star safety rating and generous warranty, it is easy to recommend the Sonata for those looking for a comfy four door sedan.