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Hyundai Sonata

S0720937

Base Price: $21,150
Price as Tested: $31,700

Although the brand has moved noticeably up market over the years, it’s still all about value, and the redesigned 2015 Hyundai Sonata is one more chapter in that story. Crowded with overachievers, the midsize sedan segment is a tough place to get noticed, but the Sonata manages to standout with its handsome styling and dollar-stretching price tag.

Gaining entry to the Sonata nameplate comes at a very reasonable $21,150 for the SE, before tacking on the $810 delivery charge. Five more trim levels round out the Sonata stable: $23,175 Sport, $23,275 Eco, $26,525 Limited, $28,575 Sport 2.0T and $33,525 Limited 2.0T. My test Sonata was a decked-out Limited ringing the register at $31,700.

Racking up points in the value category is an impressive list of standard features. Even the base SE boasts full-power accessories, S0810954remote keyless entry, three power outlets, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, rearview camera, seven airbags, and a six-speaker audio system with CD player, iPod interface and available satellite radio. By the time you get to the Limited, the standard equipment is really piling up to include Blind Spot Detection System, side mirror-mounted turn-signal indicators, heated leather seats, dual-zone automatic climate control and a seven-speaker audio system with 5-inch color touchscreen.

Adding the extra $5,000 or so to my test Sonata’s bottom line were such goodies as a power panoramic sunroof, Xenon headlights, Navi system with 8-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, an infinity-infused surround-sound audio system, heated steering wheel, cooling front seats, smart cruise control, Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning. A $31,700 bottom line may sound like a lot, but it’s more than reasonable when you distill down all the gear it represents.

41077_1_1Sonata’s update includes a somewhat expanded passenger space. Rear-seat occupants, in particular, have a little more legroom. There’s is sufficient interior room for the EPA to categorize Sonata as a “large” sedan. Moreover, it has more trunk space than many key competitors, such as Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion.

Quiet and comfortable, the cabin also benefits from better materials than previous Sonatas. Interior styling is pleasant and subtle. Uncluttered, the center stack is conveniently arranged with user-friendly controls for key systems. Even its available navigation system is easy to operate without scanning the owner’s manual. Hyundai paid a little extra attention to the size, shape and feel of the steering wheel. Not only does it feel good in a driver’s hands, its beefiness conveys a sense of security.

Except for the Sport 2.0T, Limited 2.0T and the Eco, Sonata employs a 185-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine to turn its front wheels. This is roughly the same amount of get-up-and-go as the rivals named above. Sending the 2.0T versions on their way is a 245-horsepower 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This engine upgrade accounts for the bulk of the extra cost of the 2.0T over the Limited model. Both engines funnel output through a six-speed, driver-shiftable automatic transmission.

Finally, the Eco draws its go from a 177-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with a seven-speedS0770945 automatic transmission. This powertrain is the primary difference between the Sport and Eco trims.

As you might expect, the Eco delivers the best fuel economy with an EPA-estimated 32 mpg in combined city/highway driving. This compares to the 2.4L’s 28 mpg and the 2.0L’s 26 mpg.

I was quite satisfied with the 2.4L in my test Sonata. It was responsive in heavier city driving and had plenty of passing acceleration when highway cruising. I’ve driven the 2.0T as well, and its extra oomph is well worth the additional cash outlay.

You don’t just need to be watching your budget to appreciate Sonata with its blend of curb appeal, quiet passenger environment and solid fuel economy. It can run with the best of the midsize segment.