2019 Hyundai Sonata

Performance


#3 out of 11 in Midsize Cars

MSRP
$22,650
U.S. News Best Price Program

2019 Hyundai Sonata Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.3

The 2019 Hyundai Sonata handles well for a midsize sedan, and it delivers the kind of comfortable, relaxed driving experience that many people want in their everyday car. However, the Sonata's engine options are less potent than rival powertrains, and they get below-average fuel economy.

  • The standard 185-hp 2.4-liter I-4 should be plenty for most because it also has 178 lb-ft of torque on tap. You do need to rev it out more, though, because it makes peak torque higher up in the rev range compared to turbocharged engine choices. Like the newer eight-speed, the carryover six-speed automatic is mostly invisible, performing responsively and shifting smoothly." -- Motor Trend (2018)
  • "In contrast, the Sonata Limited 2.0T provided quick, on-demand acceleration. Hesitation was unnoticeable, power was plenty, and the eight-speed automatic provided smooth shifts. The 2.0T models are the way to go for those wanting a more spirited driving experience. Coincidentally, the price of fun isn't a drag." -- New York Daily News (2018)
  • "The Sonata also drives confidently, with a smooth ride quality and precise control that avoids that floaty big-sedan feel out on the highway." -- Edmunds (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The Sonata comes standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 185 horsepower. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. This engine feels a bit like trying to talk with a mouthful of peanut butter – things just don't happen as easily as they should. The Sonata is left feeling weak in many situations as a result.

There are two other engine options if you don’t want the base four-cylinder. One is a 178-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission in the Sonata Eco. The other available engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 245 horsepower and is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The 2.0-liter turbo-four is the most energetic powertrain, but it's still not as playful as some rivals' engine options.

With its base engine, the Sonata earns an EPA-estimated 25 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. Many rivals get better gas mileage. The Eco trim delivers the best fuel economy of any Sonata powertrain, earning 28 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. The 245-horsepower turbo-four is the least efficient of the three, earning 23/32 mpg city/highway.

  • We're not fond of the Sonata's tepid 2.4-liter four-cylinder base engine. It doesn't have the same punch and efficiency of the Accord's 1.5-liter turbocharged engine or the Camry's 2.5-liter engine. Thankfully, the Sonata Eco model features a stronger 1.6-liter turbocharged engine and a quick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. At the top of the range is the Limited with its more powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. It's strong, but the resulting acceleration isn't as good as what you get from other manufacturers' optional premium engines." -- Edmunds
  • Our test car's 185 horsepower engine did OK puttering around at lower speeds, but the four-cylinder feels under-powered in most other situations. Passing on two-lane back roads requires plenty of upfront planning. The six-speed transmission isn't much help as it prefers to be in top gear for best economy. The unit does, however, provide smooth shifts thorough the range." -- Left Lane News (2018)
  • Gone for 2018 is the six-speed transmission from the turbocharged 2.0-liter models, replaced by the all-new eight-speed that adds ratio range at both top and bottom. … Even with that power, don't count on racy launches, as there's plenty of lag. Once the turbo is spooled up, the engine has moxie." -- Autoblog (2018)

Handling and Braking

The Sonata doesn't exactly feel sporty, but it remains composed on winding roads and is easy to drive in any situation. It also maneuvers well and delivers a smooth ride over most road surfaces. Front-wheel drive comes standard; all-wheel drive is not available.

  • "It's easy to drive the Sonata in any condition, and it doesn't require the driver to adapt to any quirks or shortcomings. The turning circle is small enough that multipoint turns are a rarity and maneuvering in tight quarters is stress-free." -- Edmunds
  • "The car feels substantial and planted to the ground, but not in an overweight and heavy kind of way. The changes Hyundai made to the Sonata's suspension are a clear improvement. Steering was also a pleasant surprise. The overall feel is a bit muted, but the Sonata's new steering rack is precise with good weight. The Sonata handles itself well up until about 7/10th; after that the Sonata's handling characteristics will remind you that it's a mid-size sedan designed for commuting, not canyon carving. And that's just fine as most people don't expect a performance vehicle when shopping for a front-wheel drive sedan." -- Left Lane News (2018)
  • "Thanks to the updated suspension, the ride is smooth, and it soaks up bumps and imperfections better than the prerefresh Sonata. The chassis handled the twisty bits of the route with minimal body roll. No, the Sonata isn't a sports car, but the way it drives is much improved. The steering system is nicely weighted and doesn't feel overly heavy, even in Sport mode." -- Motor Trend (2018)
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2019 Hyundai Sonata

MSRP: $22,650 - $32,250

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