The 2016 Hyundai Sonata is a stylish front-wheel-drive midsize sedan with generous room for five. Now in its seventh generation, the Sonata provides ample amenities at an affordable price point.
The Hyundai Sonata is a midsize car that’s offered in six trim levels: SE, Sport, Eco, Limited, Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T. The related Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is covered in a separate review.
For 2016, a 7-inch touch screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is now standard on all trims except the Limited 2.0T, which comes with an 8-inch screen. Other updates include improvements to the suspension system and the addition of a rearview camera and automatic headlights as standard equipment.
When Hyundai introduced the redesigned Sonata five years ago, its sharp lines and remarkable body sculpting shook up a segment once dominated by bland designs. Last year the Sonata received another redesign, and its lines have been relaxed somewhat. Still, this Hyundai remains a standout.
The front fascia is marked by a trapezoidal grille that’s hemmed in by sleek, oversized headlamp assemblies. The lower portion of the grille is offset by deep embrasures housing the available LED fog lamps.
The Sonata’s profile is marked by a flowing roofline, an even beltline and distinct body sculpting. Alloy wheels and rocker-panel trim further accentuate this stylish sedan. From the rear, the Sonata features a trunk lip spoiler, oversized taillights and available chrome dual exhaust ports.
A favorite Sonata feature is the optional automatic trunk opener. With the key fob on your person, simply approach the rear of the sedan and a sensor will detect your presence and automatically open the trunk.
The Sonata’s cabin is roomy, offering comfortable accommodations for five adults.
Cloth seats are standard, and leather is available. Up front you’ll find a pair of supportive bucket seats, while a split-folding bench seat is in the rear. The rear seat doesn’t fold completely flat, but it expands storage space from the trunk. At 16.3 cubic feet, the Sonata’s trunk is roomier than that of most models in this class.
The Sonata’s dashboard is uncluttered, clean and covered in soft-touch materials. All controls are sensibly placed. The instrument panel features a pair of analog displays for the tachometer and speedometer with a digital readout between the two.
The center stack is ordered from top to bottom with a CD player, an audio display, climate and audio controls and an oversized storage compartment at the base of the stack. The transmission shifter, a pair of cup holders and a covered armrest that doubles as a storage compartment can be found between the seats. All four doors include drink holders and storage compartments.
Standard features include power accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. Our test Sport model included the Value Edition package which adds sport seats, heated front seats, a power tilt-and-slide sunroof and leather touches on the steering wheel and shifter knob.
If you prefer to move up in amenities, take a look at the slightly larger Hyundai Azera, which offers a V6 engine and a longer list of standard equipment.
Most midsize cars have moved away from V6 engines, and the 2016 Sonata is no different. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is standard with the SE, Sport and Limited editions. This engine makes 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque, and it’s paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
A turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is standard with the Sonata Eco. It produces 178 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, and is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine powers both the Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T models. It delivers 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque and is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The base Sonata gets an EPA-estimated 25/38 mpg city/highway, while the Sonata Eco offers the best fuel economy estimates in the lineup with 28/38 mpg.
As tested, the Sonata Sport with the standard engine meets the basic criteria for this segment: It is efficient and tame. This model is engineered to optimize fuel economy, and it does so extremely well.
Press down on the gas pedal and the engine kicks in, moving the sedan to highway speed at a steady gait. Torque steer, the bane of some front-wheel drive models, is not an issue here as the Sonata tracks straight under hard acceleration. Twisting roads remind you the Sonata isn’t a sports car, and slower passage is required to keep the sedan under control.
The top-end editions benefit from a sport suspension, while all models include three drive modes: Standard, Eco and Sport. Choose Sport mode for improved engine throttle mapping and crisper steering.
Hyundai equips every 2016 Sonata with a bevy of technology features, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, as well as a touch-screen audio system and USB and Bluetooth connectivity.
A six-speaker audio system with HD radio and satellite radio is standard. Buyers can also upgrade to a nine-speaker 400-watt Infinity audio system with subwoofers.
The standard infotainment system is user-friendly, with a 7-inch touch screen and attendant buttons at the ready.
Most buyers should find the standard equipment package sufficient, although opting for the navigation package brings in a slightly larger 8-inch screen and is advisable for people who don’t want to tap their smartphones for directions.
Year-over-year safety improvements from Hyundai have paid off for the 2016 Sonata, which received a Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The 2016 Sonata achieved the IIHS’s highest score of Good in all five crashworthiness categories. The IIHS also recognized the Sonata for its available crash avoidance systems, giving the car a Superior rating for front crash prevention.
The 2016 Sonata earned a perfect five-star rating for its overall performance in crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
All 2016 Sonatas are equipped with a rearview camera, a suite of seven air bags and stability and traction control. Package and trim level upgrades bring in driver assistance features like lane departure warning, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.
The 2016 Hyundai Sonata has long presented a superior value proposition, although competing manufacturers have learned how to do the same. Still, the Sonata’s Value Edition package proves the automaker hasn’t forgotten how to put together a compelling bargain.
Budget-minded shoppers should look closely at what the Sport trim equipped with the Value Edition package provides. It includes most of the amenities customers want at a price point well below the competition’s. The only thing it lacks is a navigation system, but with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration included, you can easily access your smartphone for directions.
The midsize car class is filled with worthy competitors, including the 2016 Honda Accord, Kia Optima and Toyota Camry. Consumers are the winners here, as each model provides a long list of standard and available features.
As popular as the previous-generation Sonata was, some shoppers were put off by its edgy design. Hyundai has relaxed those edges last year to deliver a premium, mainstream sedan. The 2016 Sonata also offers excellent interior room and a host of available upgrades.
The Hyundai Sonata gives shoppers every reason to keep a sedan on their list even as the market continues to shift to crossovers. Choose your trim and packages wisely, and you’ll match what some high-end models provide, but at a far lower cost.