2019 Hyundai Sonata Driving Impressions

Relaxing, comfortable ride quality heads the list of Sonata merits. Every version yields an absorbent, well-balanced ride. Base-model cars and Eco models with smaller wheels provide a slightly softer experience.

No Sonata is sporty, including Sport models. Their suspension and steering tuning is identical to lower-rung Sonatas. The Sonata Limited is more firmly tuned, but only with the 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine. That Limited can jostle passengers a bit more on certain flawed pavement surfaces.

Electric power steering subdues the worst trouble spots without seeming too artificial. Its steering grows heavier, with stronger on-center road feel.

Hyundai’s 185-horsepower engine is just powerful enough to provide a moderately engaging experience. Performance is helped by the 6-speed transmission, which shifts swiftly and decisively.

Stepping up to the Limited’s turbo-4 quickens the pace, though not dramatically. The Eco edition benefits from impressively flexible engine power, but its 7-speed dual-clutch transmission isn’t as smooth as the 6-speed automatic.

In Hybrid models, the strong powertrain integrates smoothly with the conventional automatic transmission. Unlike some hybrids with a continuously variable transmission, Hyundai’s 6-speed imparts a traditional, connected driving feel.

Hybrids have no trouble keeping up with traffic. Determining when the gas engine turns on and off isn’t easy. On the highway, it can be shut off, in “sail” mode, for improved efficiency.

Fuel economy is average or better with each powertrain. Most efficient of the gasoline-only Sonatas is the SE, EPA-rated at 26/35 mpg City/Highway, or 29 mpg Combined. In higher trim levels, the estimate dips to 25/33/28 mpg.

With its 1.6-liter turbo-4 and dual-clutch transmission, the Eco is EPA-rated at 28/37 mpg City/Highway, or 31 mpg Combined. The Limited’s turbo is EPA-rated at 23/32/26 mpg.

Hyundai’s Hybrid is EPA-rated at 39/44/41 mpg (40/46/42 mpg for SE) .The Plug-in Hybrid is estimated at 39 mpg Combined when running on the gas-engine alone, with an efficiency rating of 99 MPGe.

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