In 2008, Hyundai was ready to shake the stigma of being a “boring” automaker with competent products lacking noteworthy style or excitement.
|1. The 2.0 L turbocharged four-cylinder makes 274 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque.
2. Only transmission option is a six-speed automatic.
3. Fuel economy is officially rated at 21 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.
4. Pricing starts at $22,145 after destination charges and our 2014 Limited 2.0T model came in at $32,445.
The first step of this plan was the sixth generation Sonata – a car oozing with style and technology that looked like nothing else on the road. Furthermore, Hyundai made the ballsy move of ditching the V6 for this car, replacing it with a turbocharged four pot packing a serious wallop.
But that was over five years ago and things have changed. Most of the competition has since brought out stylish midsize offerings of their own and many have followed Hyundai’s lead by dropping the V6 engine option. The Sonata has now become the old dog of the segment and needs some new tricks to stay competitive before the seventh generation arrives in the next few years.
Cue the 2014 Mild Refresh
Basically, Hyundai has tweaked a few exterior details, revamped sections of the interior and improved NHV throughout the cabin. There is a new grill for the 2014 Hyundai Sonata and upper-level trims, like our Limited test vehicle, finally receive Xenon headlights. These are part of the technology package that also includes new LED taillights that look nice, but seem been-there done-that as they resemble a cross between the Sonata Hybrid’s and Veloster’s LED taillights.
See Also: 2013-2014 Midsize Sedan Comparison
Other items that are part of the technology package include a dual paned panoramic sunroof, Hyundai’s new navigation system and an Infinity sound system. The third generation GPS system did not make many friends at our office. It would keep routing us on bizarre paths to destinations that wouldn’t make the most sense time wise or distance wise. Furthermore, the time of arrival listed when first entering a new destination was overly optimistic. Even driving with the flow of traffic, time would constantly slip away as our arrival time got later and later. And hey, where is the 3D view mode?
Housing the GPS unit and 4.3-inch touchscreen in an all-new center stack for 2014. The new design is more conservative than the old stack and we like the fact that there are now volume and tuning knobs with the touchscreen option. The storage areas below the climate controls look much cleaner than in the previous Sonata and add to an overall more modern feeling interior.
Also new inside the 2014 Sonata are the fully automated temperature controls and a ventilated driver seat standard on the Limited model. Otherwise, the interior remains unchanged. There is still a distinct lack of headroom thanks to front seats that do not lower enough for some of our drivers who found they were staring at the headliner while their hair (or lack thereof) brushed against the roof liner. Back seat space is still on the small side with 37.2 inches of headroom and 34.6 inches of legroom, but a generous 16.4 cubic feet of trunk space.
Same Great Mechanics
Nothing changes under the hood as the same 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 274 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque motivates turbocharged Sonatas. That is more power than the Nissan Altima V6 and just four horsepower shy of Honda’s all-new Earth Dreams V6. The same six-speed automatic transmission also remains and boost from the turbocharger feels instantly available. Hyundai did a great job in making this turbocharged four-cylinder mimic a V6 engine’s power delivery.
For 2014 there is also a new sport-tuned exhaust for turbocharged Sonatas. It adds a bit of rumble at the rear of the car when driving somewhat aggressively. I am all for more sound out of most vehicles but the Sonata doesn’t produce the best tailpipe symphony.
But that is only one side of the Sonata’s dual personalities. Drive with a light throttle and it will return impressive fuel economy. Rated at an official 21 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway, we averaged 27 mpg with snow tires equipped.
Quiet, Smooth Ride
The engine in this car is far smoother than I remember, but that is most likely a result of Hyundai’s extensive efforts in reducing noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) for 2014. Better sound deadening carpets, dynamic dampers and additional foam for both the A and B pillars have all been included to fight NVH.
This all helps create a comfortable, compliant ride that will eat up mile after mile of freeway without any drama. Unchanged since 2009, the Sonata 2.0T’s suspension set-up is still by far one of the best in the entire Hyundai product lineup. It handles bumps very well, never gets upset and even has a slightly sporty side to it. But don’t get us wrong, the Sonata is not overly engaging to drive and not one of the sportier family sedan offerings out there. Part of this can be attributed to the numb, unconnected steering feel, but at least this year Hyundai’s Driver Selectable Steering Mode has been included as standard kit on all models.
Pricing remains roughly the same as last year with the base Sonata beginning at $22,145 after destination charges and our 2014 Sonata Limited 2.0T ringing in at $32,445. As always, this pricing strategy positions the Sonata as a great value offering a lot of power and features for the price. Old as it may be, it is not quite time to write the Sonata 2.0T off as a serious player in the mid-size sedan market yet.