Long-Term Update: 2012 Hyundai Sonata SE 2.0T


Our buddy has been keeping the long term Sonata busy in the last 4 months. Since our last update, the car has received tinted windows to make the harsh desert sun more bearable. The only other shop time to report in the 5000 mostly commuter miles is a fresh oil change.  One thing our engineer friend noted was that not all Hyundai dealers are aware of the turbo engine’s maintenance requirements.  Some forum posts said dealers were using 5W-20 (Hyundai recommends 5W-40 for best performance, but 5W-30 is also noted as acceptable), others weren’t aware of the proper oil change interval.

Even with some hard driving in urban sprawl, the spunky little 2.0 liter turbo rewards a heavy foot with a routine 29MPG. Early tests indicate that the mileage figures may be even better with premium fuel, although Hyundai says the engine will run just fine on regular.  However, if the tires are underinflated, all bets are off.  Just being a few PSI down (not enough to illuminate any warnings from the Tire Pressure Monitoring System) was enough to drop mileage to about 26MPG.  We hope Sonata owners will keep a good eye on their tire pressures, considering that 10% better fuel economy is worth a little bit of time and air.

The car enjoys stretching its legs out on the open road, too. It was the vehicle of choice for two roundtrips from Vegas to the SoCal region in the fall, and it pleasantly surprised everyone. The engine managed to hit a high of 36.4MPG, and that tank even included some local driving as well. This would not have been surprising for a Civic or Elantra, but remember that this Sonata has 274hp under the hood. The extra power made for a relaxed drive over both Cajon and Baker Pass – the transmission stayed in top gear over both passes when using cruise control.

Despite being pleased with the Sonata, our friend still wonders if it was the right car for him. After all, a reasonable daily commute, access to a second vehicle for road trips, and a large garage made him the perfect candidate for a Chevy Volt, a car that he still yearns for. While it’s human nature to lust after something you don’t have, we still think he made the right choice. The Sonata was a steal, and a Volt would have cost 50% more. Plus, having a Ford truck parked next to a Chevy sedan in the driveway is just blasphemous, don’t you think?