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2016 Hyundai Sonata


Base Price: $22,585
Price as Tested: $29,885

If you are resisting the Siren’s call of crossovers and still on the hunt for a midsize sedan, you’ll want to take a close look at the Hyundai Sonata. Its value story is a real page turner. Packed with goodies, even the entry-level SE comes right out of the box with standard fare like full power accessories, heated outboard mirrors, auto-on/off headlights, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, seven-inch touchscreen, rearview camera, Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics emergency system, Bluetooth connectivity and a six-speaker audio system with USB port. That’s a lot of stuff!

Sure, Sonata must slug it out with such midsize titans as Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Chevy Malibu and Nissan Altima, but it doesn’t shy from the fight. Roomy, comfortable and quiet, it delivers all the qualities the majority of us want in a family sedan, and for hundreds less than most of its competitors.

There are also hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions with starting prices of $26,000 and $34,600 respectively. The hybrid deliversS0770945 a government-estimated 42 mpg in combined city/highway driving. Plug-in hybrids use a different formula for calculating mileage, which won’t be hashed out here. There is also a $23,725 ECO version of the gasoline-engine-powered Sonata with a 178-horsepower 1.6-liter turbo, delivering 32 mpg in combined driving. For the sake of this evaluation, we’ll stick with the mainstream gasoline-engine versions.

Neither of Sonata’s available powerplants will out-propel it over its mentioned competitors, but acceleration is about average for the segment. The 245-horsepower 2-liter turbo in my Sonata Sport 2.0T tester certainly responded readily to goosing the accelerator. It was spry off the line and had plenty of grunt for accelerating into expressway traffic. The other engine, standard in the SE, Sport and Limited grades, is a 185-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder. Both engines funnel their output through a driver-shiftable, six-speed automatic transmission.

Although, because of its spacious cabin, Sonata gets lumped into large sedans by the government, generally the industry considers it midsize and we do, too. Fuel economy for these engines is competitive within the midsize segment. The government estimates the 2.4-liter’s mileage at 25 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined. With the 2-liter turbo, the numbers are somewhat lower at 23 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined.

My Sport 2.0T came with 18-inch wheels, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and a sport-tuned suspension. These don’t exactly catapult it into sports-car territory, but do enhance its sportiness. Steering was responsive and it felt planted when cornering. Overall, its handling is on par with its mainstream competitors.

2016 SonataClimbing into Sonata’s cabin for the first time probably won’t leave you speechless, but it is pleasingly styled. Relatively uncluttered, the instrument panel and center stack contain only the buttons and knobs necessary. Everything is easy to find and operate. Last year’s five-inch touchscreen is gone, replaced with a more user-friendly seven-inch one. The Limited 2.0T retains its eight-inch touchscreen. Front- and rear-seat passengers enjoy plenty of head and legroom. Not only does Sonata have more rear-seat legroom than the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, it has nearly 30% more trunk space. Another upgrade the extra money you will spend on the Sport 2.0T grade gets you is more-fully bolstered front bucket seats for better lateral support.

As you pick your way through the ascending trim levels to reach the Sport 2.0T, standard features added to the SE’s include eight-way power drivers seat, turn signals integrated into the outboard mirrors, leather seating, keyless remote entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, redundant steering wheel-mounted audio controls, blind-spot alert with rear cross-traffic alert and heated front seats.

Push on to the range topping $34,075 Limited 2.0T, and the grocery list of standard gear stretches to include rear parking sensors, lane-departure warning system, pre-collision emergency braking, heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, automatic high-beam on/off and adaptive cruise control.

For the most part, affordable midsize sedans are about utility. There just isn’t anything particularly sexy about them. However, if you are all about value and competent performance, you just might find Sonata very sexy indeed.