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First Drive: 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T

V6 performance, I4 economy?

by on Jul.13, 2010

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T will launch from 0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds.

Hyundai has had a way of defying expectations.  In its early years in the U.S. market it undercut the Japanese on price.  And then, when it seemed that price alone wasn’t enough, it took steps to correct its quality problems, backing that up with the industry’s best warranty.  Known for its cheap-and-cheerful small cars, the Korean carmaker swatted a home run with its first-ever luxury model, the Genesis sedan, winning the coveted North American Car of the Year trophy, in the process.

Hyundai served up another ace – to mix our sports metaphors – when it launched the sixth-generation Sonata sedan for 2010.  Roomy, affordable and arguably the best-looking model in the midsize segment, it delivered another surprise by offering buyers only a peppy, fuel-efficient inline-four engine.  No V6s now or later, Hyundai officials declared.

But they did hint that a couple other powertrain offerings were on the horizon, and got to check both of them out during a trip to South Korea and a visit to the maker’s Namyang Proving Grounds.  We’ll have a review of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid – the maker’s first gas-electric offering – next week.  But let’s start with a look at the 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T.

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The Sonata turbo delivers a one-word answer to the nagging question: does a maker need to offer a V6 for a midsize sedan.  “No.”  Make that “N-O. “  With 274 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, the 2.0T blows off just about anything you can think of in its class, whether turbocharged or naturally aspirated.  And yet, with a forecasted 22 mpg City, 34 Highway, it’s right up there with the best-in-class for mileage, as well.