Wednesday, April 23, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

2014 Hyundai Sonata — making Beethoven jealous

2014 Hyundai Sonata 011914 014

Photos by Larry Weitzman

By
February 12, 2014 | Leave Comment

Now in its fourth year of production, this sixth generation Sonata is still making some of the sweetest music that Hyundai has ever created as a result of its continued improvement to an already benchmark design. Hyundai claims there have been more than 50 major sub-systems that are new or redesigned.

By now the design philosophy called Fluidic Sculpture has become a bit more common and its theme can be seen in other Hyundai products like the current generation Elantra, recently tested by the Road Beat. It remains flowing and beautiful with complex (character) lines that create a sense of smooth, cohesive motion. While the best view might be from the side, the front  view demonstrates muscle and power, especially in white, which shows off its nuances best.

Power comes from a 2.4-liter, 16-valve dual overhead cam inline four-cylinder engine that pumps up 190 hp at 6,300 rpm with peak torque of 179 pound-feet arriving at 4,250 rpm. That muscle is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic cog swapper that has a manual mode. While horsepower is only 6 behind the class leader for normally aspirated midsize four bangers, all of the class number ranges from 170-196 hp and peak torque numbers range from 170 to 186 pounds.

With near-class-leading numbers, the Sonata has some real scoot, with an average 0-60 mph time of 7.79 seconds. Its passing performance is equally adept, with a simulated 50-70 mph passing maneuver requiring just 4.25 seconds and the same run up a 6 percent grade taking 6.64 seconds. Muscle cars like a 300 hp, 6.5L V-8 1959 Pontiac Bonneville didn’t perform that well. A Bonneville required about 8.2 seconds to 60 mph.

But while the Bonneville would be lucky to return 10-12 mpg on premium gas, this Sonata consistently averaged 27-28 mpg overall on regular. And if you were cruising down the highway at 70 mph, the Pontiac might get 16-18 mpg, the Sonata will average about 41 mpg. With its 18.5-gallon fuel tank try running it dry without stopping (over 700 miles). No, it is not a hybrid (it does have a remarkably low coefficient of drag of 0.28), but it will consistently return 40-plus mpg on a level highway. And it will do it in whisper quiet surroundings or in a simulated concert hall, listening to your favorite symphony, in my case I am partial to Beethoven’s 5th, 6th   and 7th.  The engine spins a low 1,950 rpm at that speed. The EPA says you should expect 24/35/28 mpg in its city/highway/combined cycle of fuel economy testing.

Throttle response is remarkably strong and the tranny shifts smoother than warm butter, but there is a very minor complaint and that is with respect to the tranny’s programming. At low speeds or during deceleration, the tranny will either downshift or stay in a lower gear, not allowing the car to free wheel as easily. It creates too much engine braking. It effectively makes the Shiftronic portion of the tranny superfluous as it will not upshift when asked or it will downshift into a lower gear even though you have manually placed the tranny in fifth or sixth gear. If you like driving to achieve maximum fuel economy, it does not allow the using of all the energy stored in the car. It feels like it is slightly applying the brakes when coasting to a stop before it is necessary. While the downshifts are imperceptible, it probably cost a half mile per gallon if you are hypermiling, but it would have no effect on highway fuel economy.

One of the more noticeable improvements for 2014 is driver selectable steering mode that provides not only three levels of power steering assistance, but also adjusts on-center feel and steering build-up in the twisties.  While it does render improved feel for the electric power rack, don’t expect it to be a Porsche, but it is good. Turn-in is crisp, the rack is quick and the turning circle is a tight 36 feet. When you combine that with state-of-the-art four-wheel independent suspension (it has stabilizer bars at both ends) and a wide track of almost 63 inches, the Sonata handles well (The 1959 Bonneville was the first year of the “Wide-Track” Pontiacs and it couldn’t hold a Sonata’s lug nut in the corners). My Limited model came with beautiful 17X6.5-inch alloys shod with 215/55 all-season tires and it can flat out corner with attitude. I can only imagine how it would perform in the SE version with one inch wider 18-inch wheels and wider lower profile 225/45 rubber (those are an option). This Sonata will surprise you when the road bends. Bring it on.

Ride quality borders on luxurious. It is supple without any float. Control is about perfect and traversing small expansion joints or a big dipper, it is quiet and extremely smooth. And you don’t hear a lot going on from the suspension while it quells road imperfections. That is a quiet ride. With its clean design, wind and road noise are non-existent.

Braking by four-wheel (ventilated in front), 1-foot discs with ABS and EBD is powerful, stopping in Sonata in just 41 feet from 40 mph. The pedal is equally firm, strong and linear. Other safety features including a plethora of airbags, a blind spot detection system, vehicle stability management system and hill start assist control all working together to help with your well being while in transit.

Inside the Sonata Limited is a sophisticated and luxurious interior. Leather seating surfaces are standard and the power front driver’s seat is sublime. Ditto for the front passenger. In the rear is copious seating for three with an abundance of legroom and even with the slick styling, headroom is more than adequate. It is a real five-passenger sedan.

Door paneling , the instrument panel and the rest of the appointments have a solid feel with extremely high quality. Instrumentation includes a large analog speedo, tach and ancillary gauges along with a trip computer which gives you average as well as instant mpg, except the instant mpg is graphic and not digital. How’s that for nit-picking.

The trunk is huge with over 16 cubic feet of capacity. In fact, the less than 190-inch-long Sonata is classified as a large car with its combined cabin and trunk volume exceeding 120 cubic feet. No other midsize car can claim that even though some are more than three inches linger overall.

Pricing for a Sonata GLS starts at $21,450 while the luxuriously appointed Limited price of admission is $27,000. The only option package for the Limited is a Tech package which gives you HID lights, a full sunroof, Nav and more. Carpeted floor mats will cost you an additional $110. Destination from its Montgomery, Ala., assembly plant is $795.

Specifications

Price $21,450 to about $30,000

Engine

Four-cylinder inline 16-valve 190 hp @ 6,300 rpm

179 lb.-ft. of torque at 179 rpm

Transmission

Six-speed torque converter automatic with a semi-manual mode

Configuration

Transverse mounted front engine with front-wheel drive

Dimensions

Wheelbase 110.0 inches

Length 189.8 inches

Width 72.2 inches

Height 57.9 inches

Track (f/r) 62.6/62.6 inches

Cabin volume 103.8 cubic feet

Trunk volume 16.4 cubic feet

Fuel capacity 18.5 gallons

Weight 3,245-3,428 pounds

Steering lock to lock2.94 turns

Turning circle 35.8 feet

Co-efficient of drag 0.28

Performance

0-60 mph 7.79 seconds

50-70 mph 4.25 seconds

50-70 uphill 6.64 seconds

Top speed: Beyond sanity

Fuel economy: EPA rated at 24/35/28 city/highway/combined. Expect 27-28 mpg in suburban driving and 40 plus mpg on a level highway at 70 mph.

 

Larry Weitzman

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

.

News

Downtown group coordinates painting, awnings

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A1

 
More mountain lion sightings reported

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1, 8 Comments

 
Supervisor Nutting trial begins

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1, 73 Comments | Gallery

Sanford murder case to jury

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Herard over the back fence: Try fishing at Wakamatsu

By Bob Billingsley | From Page: B1

Gearing tax questions to correct office saves time

By Treasurer-Tax Collector | From Page: A3

 
.

Opinion

My turn: More than a buzzword

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A4, 24 Comments

 
Building restored

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

 
Outstanding dog

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

.

Letters

‘Parents, be afraid’ letter

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 23 Comments

 
Ukranian situation

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

Misquote

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 9 Comments

 
Altshuler framing

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 9 Comments

National Day of Prayer

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

 
.

Sports

Pedal power at the forefront next month

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Outside with Charlie: Transitioning

By Charlie Ferris | From Page: A6

Pitching the ‘Root’ cause of Trojans’ victory

By Mike Bush | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Sports Scene: April 22, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7

Roundup: April 22, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7

 
.

Prospecting

4-H’ers star at showcase

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
At a glance: Look for fireballs

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2, 1 Comment

Authors to share their stories

By Pat Lakey | From Page: B2, 2 Comments

 
Church to host human trafficking conference

By Pollock Pines | From Page: B3

Grow For It! Flower of Easter

By Barbara Schuchart | From Page: B5

 
.

Essentials

Crime Log: April 1-3

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

 
Weather stats 4-22-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

Building permits 4/7-11/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

 
.

Obituaries

Bobby Lloyd Bridges

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Harry Frank Harper

By Contributor | From Page: A2, 6 Comments

Marion “Wayne” Griswold

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
.

Real Estate

.

Comics

New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Flying McCoys

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Tundra

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Thursday, April 24, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Horoscope, Wednesday, April 23, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Working It Out

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Shoe

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Sudoku

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Rubes

By Contributor | From Page: A8