Tuesday, December 21, 2010

First Drive: 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0 Turbo

I wouldn't consider myself a turbo expert by any means but I have driven a few of them during my six year tenure of selling cars. I remember the first car I drove that had a turbo - I was working as a lot boy when I was 18 and took a car that was sold to get some gas. I was on a hill and it was a manual tranny so I was rolling back and I gave the regular amount of gas I gave the other cars and let out the clutch at the usual speed. This time however I peeled out and was surprised with a lot more acceleration than I was used to. I got back to the lot and saw the "T" on the back and realized it was a new turbo version of the car.

Turbo vehicles are great way to get extra power with the least impact on your MPG. The Sonata makes that statement even more true. The "regular" Sonata achieves 22 city / 35 highway miles per gallon while the turbo version is rated at 22 city / 33 highway. That is only 2 mph difference on the highway! This is truly an amazing car. It also qualifies as a ULEV so it polutes a lot less than most cars.

The first thing I notice when getting into any new 2011 Sonata at any trim level is the quality feel of the materials. They feel and look like belong in the next tier up of vehicles. The Sonata limited 2.0t I drove today was no different. The "piano" black accents, the leather wrapped steering wheel, and the "ice" blue gauges give the Sonata a very premium feel. The voice activated navigation controls, map settings, destinations, route preferences, xm/fm radio frequencies, and can find any point of interest you would like "find the nearest Japanese restaurant" is a buddy's favorite!

Driving the Turbo Sonata is out of this world too! The motorized power steering give an effortless feel for parking and makes maneuvering at slow speeds a breeze but then when speed is increased the program tightens up the feel giving it a more sporty feel and response. The car is quiet and the suspension is perfect - not too firm and not too soft. What you would expect this car to be like. It is not an Lancer Evolution by any means but is sporty none the less. It did great in the snow with the traction control kicking in at the right times to get me out of the un-plowed parking lots!

The real masterpiece is the tuning of the engine, which shares the blueprints with the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and the Hyundai Genesis Coupe. With any turbo set up there will always be what is called "turbo lag". It means the time that it takes for the turbo to spool up and give the engine more air which makes more power. In the Sonata it is virtually seamless power. It almost feels like a naturally aspirated (non-turbo or supercharger) V6. The 2.0t produces 274 hp which is more than most of the competitors v6's like Camry and Accord. The 6 speed transmission handles the power nicely and the Electronic Stability Control manages the power to the wheels without too much interruption. 

All this for a price increase of $1200 of an SE or Limited model respectively. The car looks good, drives good, and is priced good. The 10 year / 100,000 mile powertrain warranty, 5 year / 60,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty, and the 5 year / unlimited mile roadside assistance program make the Sonata light years ahead of the compeition in value as well. you can't buy a premium, or non-premium vehicle for anywhere close to this. 

It is on my list of favorite vehicles. It seems to be on everyone's list too as we can't keep them in stock. We have two left! Give me a call with any questions - 801-623-1392 

- Joe

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