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Published on Mon, Oct 25, 2010

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Hyundai Sonata Turbo
The turbocharged Hyundai Sonata 2.0T

2011 HYUNDAI SONATA 2.0T & HYBRID BLUE DRIVE By Reed Berry Do you enjoy wine? Sometimes wines from the same vintner can have obvious similarities despite distinctively different characteristics that give each its own unique flavor. The same can be said for cars, I guess, as I think about the two newest additions to the Hyundai product line for 2011: Sonata 2.0T and Sonata Hybrid. Both are part of Hyundai’s eco-efficient ‘Blue Drive’ product strategy designed to pack maximum performance into their vehicles while striving for, and apparently achieving, best-in-class fuel economy. Hyundai may be onto something here as, while some automakers are still experiencing sluggish sales and slow growth, Sonata is in demand and Hyundai sales are brisk. As I look at the newest members of the 2011 Sonata family, the similarities are quite obvious. The sleek, attractive ‘fluidic sculpture’ body design, the spacious interior that is both functional and luxurious – hey, even the scenery looks familiar. That is because, just as I did earlier this year when I first drove the 2011 Sonata, I am road testing these cars on the streets, highways and rural back roads of San Diego County. While the cars may look alike, it’s what you can’t see that makes these vehicles quite different. If you feel the need for speed, the sporty 274-horsepower 2.0T should satisfy, whereas if you prefer a solid performer that is even more eco-friendly, the Hybrid Blue Drive system may be more to your liking.

Hyundai Sonata Turbo

2011 HYUNDAI SONATA 2.0T Twin-scroll turbocharger…gasoline direct-injection engine…nearly 300 horsepower. Sounds like the description of an ultra-expensive performance car, but these are actually features incorporated into the new Sonata 2.0T. Designed to deliver impressive performance and fuel efficiency from a four-cylinder engine, the Sonata 2.0T runs on regular fuel. As I sit in the driver’s seat, the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters serve as an indication that I am in for a serious drive. Obviously, a turbocharged vehicle can provide quite a rush so I am eager to see what this Sonata can do. Hopefully there will be some steak behind all the PR sizzle that brought me here. It’s almost hard to believe that this model has a highway fuel economy rating of 34 mpg. We’re talking a 2.0-liter turbocharged 274-horsepower engine here, not to mention 269 lb-ft of torque across a broad range (1,800 rpm – 4,500 rpm) that, according to Hyundai, is designed to give this 4-cylinder more power than many V6 engines. The enthusiastic engine has been cleverly paired with a very efficient six-speed automatic transmission that seems to shift quite smoothly. A six-speed transmission results in impressive acceleration, performance and fuel economy. Interestingly, there is no dipstick in this car because the gearbox is filled with transmission fluid that is good for the life of the car. The transmission does have a SHIFTRONIC shift mode for those who prefer to shift manually, however, it just doesn’t take the place of an honest-to-goodness manual transmission which, quite frankly, I would prefer to have in a turbocharged sport sedan. Handling is fairly responsive and, while I have a good feel of the road, tighter steering could have enhanced the car’s sport characteristics. Overall, the car is quite impressive. The use of ultra-high-strength steel results in a solid, confident vehicle and the big 18-inch wheels certainly add to the car’s great looks.

Hyundai Sonata Turbo
Even with the turbo, the Sonata 2.0T manages 34 mpg on the highway

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicles: 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T EPA Fuel Economy Estimates (City/Highway): 2.0T (Six-speed automatic): Manual: 22 / 33 Engine type: 2.0T: DOHC CVVT 2.0-liter Theta II turbocharged gasoline direct injection Horsepower: 2.0T: 274 @ 6,000 rpm Torque: 2.0T: 269 @ 1,800 – 4,500 rpm Transmission type: 2.0T: Six-speed electronic automatic, OD lock-up torque converter; SHIFTRONIC manual shift mode, paddle shifters Steering: 2.0T: Rack-and-pinion, power-assisted Suspension: Front: MacPherson strut, hydraulic twin-tube shock absorbers, stabilizer bar Rear: Independent multi-link, hydraulic twin tube shock absorbers, stabilizer bar (Stiffer coil springs and hydraulic monotube shocks on SE model) Brakes: Front: Power-assisted 11.8-inch ventilated disc Rear: Power-assisted 11.2-inch ventilated disc Wheels: 2.0: 18-inch wheels Overall length: 189.8 inches Overall width: 72.2 inches Overall height: 2.0T: 57.9 inches Curb Weight: 2.0T: 3,338 – 3,452 lbs Notch 2: Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

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