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2016 Hyundai Sonata: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2016

Although the Hyundai Sonata hasn't always been a class leader, the outgoing model -- which was released for the 2011 model year -- represented a huge transformation for the midsize sedan. Offering improved styling, better engines, a roomier interior and more technology, the Sonata finally rivaled class mainstays such as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

Last year, the Sonata was fully redesigned with an intent to hold its newfound position near the head of the midsize-sedan segment. Only this time, it grew up -- and now the 2016 Hyundai Sonata offers a larger interior, a more comfortable ride and a lot more technology than its predecessor. We're impressed with the changes -- and we think the 2016 Sonata deserves a place on any midsize-sedan shopper's list.

What's New for 2016?

The Sonata mainly gains standard features for 2016, including a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a backup camera and automatic headlights. The Sonata also gains optional automatic forward-collision braking.

What We Like

Smooth ride; handsome exterior; roomy interior; large trunk; competitive pricing; surprisingly refined

What We Don't

Dull driving experience; doesn't stand out; substantial horsepower cut for sporty Turbo engine

How Much?

$22,600-$34,900

Fuel Economy

The 2016 Sonata offers four engines. Base models use a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that makes 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque; it returns 25 miles per gallon in the city and 37 mpg on the highway with the standard 6-speed automatic. Shoppers looking for more power can upgrade to a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which makes 245 hp and 260 lb-ft. It gets 23 mpg city/32 mpg hwy.

For drivers who are especially concerned with fuel economy, Hyundai offers two options. There's the Sonata Eco, which uses a 177-hp 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, returning an impressive 28 mpg city/38 mpg hwy. There's also the 159-hp Sonata Hybrid, which gets 36 mpg city/40 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The Sonata is offered in six trim levels: the base-level SE, midlevel Sport and Sport 2.0T, upscale Limited and the fuel-efficiency-focused Eco and Hybrid.

The base-level Sonata SE ($22,600) features Bluetooth, LED running lights, 16-in alloy wheels, full power accessories including keyless entry, cruise control, an iPod/USB interface, air conditioning, a new 7-in touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, automatic headlights and a backup camera.

If you step up to the Sport ($24,200 for the 2.4-liter; $29,800 for the 2.0T), you'll get a power driver's seat, LED running lights, larger alloy wheels (17 inches for the 2.4-liter and 18 inches for the 2.0T) and dual exhausts. The Sport 2.0T also boasts a few other features, such as accent stitching, paddle shifters and xenon headlights. The Eco ($24,200) offers roughly the same equipment as the Sport, minus the larger alloys and the dual exhaust. It also uses the fuel-efficient 1.6-liter turbocharged engine.

Drivers who choose the Sonata Hybrid ($27,000) still get a hybrid powerplant that's good for 36 mpg city/40 mpg hwy, along with automatic headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless access with push-button starting, HD Radio and heated front seats.

Last up is the Limited ($28,200 for the 2.4-liter; $34,900 for the 2.0T), which offers leather upholstery, heated rear seats, rear-window sunshades, an improved audio system, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, a larger center touchscreen, an auto-dimming mirror and a power passenger seat.

In terms of options, the Sonata offers a long list of features, ranging from xenon headlights and a panoramic sunroof to adaptive cruise control, grippy front seats for improved cornering, a navigation system with an 8-in touchscreen, an Infinity sound system and safety features such as park assist, forward-collision warning with automatic braking and lane-departure warning.

Safety

Like most midsize sedans, the 2016 Hyundai Sonata includes standard side airbags, side-curtain airbags, traction control, stability control and daytime running lights. Optional safety features include forward-collision warning with newly available automatic braking, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, park assist, a backup camera, a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert, which helps drivers back out of parking spots.

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash testing, the 2016 Sonata earned a perfect 5-star overall rating. It also garnered the coveted Top Safety Pick+ score from the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Behind the Wheel

On the road, the Sonata clearly emphasizes comfort over sport. That's even true in the Sport models, which still suffer from numb steering and more body roll than we'd like to see. In other words, the Sport models are more for show than actual enjoyment -- a fact that's especially true now that the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine lost around 30 hp compared to the outgoing model.

For those who aren't interested in driving enjoyment, the Sonata has a lot to offer. We find its ride to be a bit smoother than most midsize sedans, almost more like a luxury car than a mainstream model. The interior is quite roomy, whether you're in front or in back. And the center control stack has a modern look and feel, using larger buttons and boasting a cleaner look than the old version.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Ford Fusion -- The Ford Fusion remains one of our favorite midsize sedans thanks to an impressive array of technology, excellent styling and a wide range of available engines.

2016 Honda Accord -- Still a midsize-sedan all-star, the Accord is among the class leaders thanks to its solid reputation for durability, its excellent equipment and its roomy interior.

2016 Mazda6 -- If performance is your thing (and even if it isn't), the Mazda6 is worth a look. Offering impressive features per dollar, the latest Mazda6 boasts an excellent interior, handsome bodywork and strong fuel economy.

Used Hyundai Azera -- If you like the Sonata's design and layout but want even more luxury, you should consider the brand's high-end Azera sedan. Larger and smoother than the Sonata, it's more expensive to buy new -- but a good deal on the used market.

Autotrader's Advice

For us, the Sonata to get is the 2.4-liter SE model -- especially with new standard features for 2016. While we previously recommended a higher trim, we now prefer the SE thanks to its standard backup camera, 7-in touchscreen, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. Yes, there are some nice optional features that require a higher trim level -- but for shoppers on a budget, the SE is the right choice.

Find a Hyundai Sonata for sale

RELATED INVENTORY
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Used 2016 Hyundai Sonata SE
Used 2016 Hyundai Sonata
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Used 2016 Hyundai Sonata SE
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Used 2016 Hyundai Sonata SE
Used 2016 Hyundai Sonata
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Used 2016 Hyundai Sonata SE
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Hyundai Sonata: New Car Review - Autotrader