2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco Road Test

Slow and steady may just win the midsize sedan race.

What It Is
A midsize sedan that delivers great gas mileage.
Best Thing
Sips fuel and offers a quiet, comfortable ride.
Worst Thing
Acceleration was rather slow.
Snap Judgment
The 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco may not be the quickest around town, but it has plenty of great offerings to make up for it.


The Hyundai Sonata was redesigned for the 2015 model year, and while the styling may be less aggressive than its predecessor, there is one thing that the new model year offers that the previous didn’t: the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco.

There aren't too many models in the midsize sedan segment that offer the same engine and powertrain as the Sonata Eco. The only models that can come close to the same offering are the Volkswagen Passat TDI turbodiesel and Passat TSI, and the Ford Fusion. However, with the same engine as the Hyundai Veloster Turbo, there is definitely some power behind the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco. And while the automaker focused more on efficiency when tuning the engine for the new model, we expect it to still pack a punch.

Read on to learn more about the new 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco.

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What We Drove

Our 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco comes powered by a 1.6-liter turbo gas direct injection (GDI) four-cylinder paired with a seven-speed EcoShift dual-clutch transmission and pumps out 178 horsepower with 195 lb.-ft. of torque. While the base price for the Sonata Eco is $23,275, our model arrives at a grand total of $28,310 after the $4,100 Tech Package, $125 carpeted floor mats, and the $810 destination charge.

Standard features include a rear lip spoiler, projector headlights with automatic light control, driver blind spot monitor, power driver seat, Bluetooth, Blue Link Connected Care, while the Tech Package adds on rear cross traffic alert, keyless entry and ignition, leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, Navigation, and more. Safety features include impact-reducing front seats, seatbelt pretensioners, ABS with brake assist, LED daytime running lights, and a rearview camera.

In government crash test ratings, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata managed to earn a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score from the NHTSA, earning five stars in all categories, except for Rollover, where it earned four stars. The Sonata also earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick designation, earning a Good score across the board, and an Acceptable on the difficult small overlap front crash test.

The Commute

As far as a commute is concerned, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco is the next best thing from a hybrid. It sips fuel with its EPA-estimated 28/38/32 mpg city/highway/combined, but we only averaged around 29 mpg during the week we tested. Driving style plays a huge factor when trying to conserve fuel, and with a lead foot, that can be difficult.

The layout of the center stack is clean and modern, with a five-inch touchscreen surrounded by buttons and knobs that are easy for the driver to reach. However, thanks to steering wheel-mounted controls, that isn't always necessary. The seat heaters were one of the nicer touches during the long commute from Orange County to Los Angeles, especially in the brisk mornings, and pairing our phone via Bluetooth was simple and straightforward, and we were ready to go in no time.

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The Grocery Run

With its 16.3 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk, it's easy to load up on groceries for the week for the entire family, and even have some room to spare. But if you're like us who only shop once a month, you may find a need to fold the rear seats down for some extra room. The 60/40 split seats are easy to maneuver, depending on your needs.

Passengers will also find an abundance of room, whether in the front or rear seats. Legroom in the rear seats offers enough for even the tallest of passengers to sit comfortably, although headroom might be tight mainly in the rear for those over six feet.

Thanks to the backup camera, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert, weaving in and out of a parking lot is easy. And while the turning radius may not be the sharpest, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco is nimble enough to get into some pretty tight spaces.

The Weekend Fun

When you have an Eco model, it sounds like it wouldn't be any fun to drive on an open stretch of highway. However, once you really put your foot down, the Hyundai Sonata Eco really steps up to the plate with an aggressive noise and decent acceleration. As long as you don't baby that gas pedal to save fuel, you really get a sense for the car's personality.

We aren't a huge fan of the handling, as the steering isn't as tight as we would like it, and it tends to pull to the left when heading straight down the road. Braking is strong, and the car slowed for those unexpected stops in plenty of time. The suspension is perhaps one of the finer features of the Sonata Eco, as it is buttery smooth and feels like we just glide over road imperfections. The cabin is quiet, even at highway speeds, which helps give the car a more premium feel.

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Summary

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco may not be as powerful as other trims in the Sonata lineup like the Sport 2.0T or Limited 2.0T, but it offers just enough performance to keep the driver happy. Unlike other offerings in the midsize sedan segment, the Sonata Eco boasts high fuel efficiency for a non-hybrid vehicle, rivaled only by the Mazda6 i-Eloop and Volkswagen Passat TDI.

But even those models come at a higher price tag when similarly optioned, giving the Hyundai a little bit of an edge. While we didn't have any outright complaints about this model, we would have liked the steering to be a bit tighter. Thanks to its high safety ratings, great fuel economy, and affordability, we'd definitely recommend this car to anyone looking in the midsize sedan segment.

Spec Box

Price-as-tested: $28,310
Fuel Economy
EPA City: 28
EPA Highway: 38
EPA Combined: 32
Estimated Combined Range: 592 miles
Cargo Space: 16.3 cubic feet
Child Seat Fitment, Second Row: Excellent
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: N/A

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