February 18, 2014
2014 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Limited. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Simon Hill
You don’t win hard-fought battles by resting on your laurels, so with Hyundai’s current-generation Sonata entering its fifth year in the über-competitive mid-size family sedan market it’s no surprise that the Korean automaker is expected to replace it with a seventh-generation model for 2015. In the meantime, however, in order to keep things interesting and up to date, Hyundai has given the current car some notable tweaks and revisions for 2014. Not all of the updates and additional goodies apply to the lower-trim cars, but that wasn’t a problem for me because Hyundai set me up for a week behind the wheel of a top-of-the line 2.0T Limited model with navigation.
Externally, the changes to the Sonata are subtle to the point of being almost undetectable. At the front the grille has been revised to make it bolder and more fluid (from what I can see this translates to “the crease lines flowing in from the hood have been toned down”), and HID headlights have been added for 2.0T Limited models. At the back there are new LED taillights for all trim levels, and a reshaped rear bumper with a diffuser-style fascia insert (this echoes the bumper on the Sonata Hybrid, and is said to be more aerodynamic than the previous bumper). At the corners there are new 17-inch and 18-inch wheel designs, and certainly the 18-inch wheels on my test car were smart and modern looking.
Technical changes for 2014 include improved NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) reduction measures, with additional foam in the A- and B-pillars, new sound-deadening carpet and, Hyundai tells us, an additional dynamic damper (there was no technical explanation provided for this, but dynamic dampers are typically used to reduce unwanted movement of suspension and drivetrain components when the car encounters irregularities in the road).
All trim levels get Hyundai’s DSSM (driver selectable steering mode) for 2014, which allows you to change the weighting of the electric steering with the press of a button. Personally I find this to be a bit of a “set and forget” feature that most drivers will likely just leave in “Normal” mode, but I certainly don’t mind having the option of making the steering a little more “weighty” (read “Sport-y”) when desired (there’s also a “Comfort” mode that renders the steering light and vague feeling for those who prefer things numb).
Test Drive: 2014 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Limited. Click image to enlarge
Another change for 2014 that’s restricted to the 2.0T models is a new sport-tuned exhaust, and I noticed this feature right away, commenting in my driving notes that the engine has a “nice sporty burble at low speed, and maintains its composure when pushed.” I should point out here that the 2.0L turbocharged engine is a thoroughly pleasant powerplant, producing 270 peak horsepower at 6,000 rpm, and a healthy 269 lb-ft of torque all the way from 1,650 to 4,500 rpm. It grunts around town perfectly happily at low revs, and winds out to redline without fuss when you really want to get going, launching the Sonata from 0-100 km/h in about seven seconds.
To make it that much more fun to wind the engine out, the 2.0T also gets paddle shifters. These work competently enough, with reasonably quick shifts, but they fall short of being truly sporty because the transmission doesn’t perform rev-matched downshifts (and sure, I know that’s a bit like complaining that your townhouse kitchen reno doesn’t include a wood-burning pizza oven, but still, it would be nice, yes?). You also won’t find any all-wheel drive options with the Sonata – unlike some of its competitors, this is strictly a front-wheel driver.