Hyundai Motor Co. is adding a small-displacement, turbocharged engine to the re-engineered 2015 Sonata lineup to bolster the sedan’s fuel economy credentials in the crowded mid-sized segment.
The new Sonata Eco will be powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged, four-cylinder engine paired to a new seven-speed dual clutch transmission designed and built by Hyundai, the company said Thursday.
Hyundai says the engine generates 177 hp and 195 ft.-lbs. of torque. Hyundai estimates fuel economy ratings of 28 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined. That’s a 3 mpg improvement in combined fuel economy over the 2.4-liter four-cylinder powering the entry-level 2015 Sonata SE.
Production of the Sonata Eco will begin later this summer at Hyundai’s plant in Montgomery, Ala.
Pricing for the Sonata Eco will start at $24,085, including delivery, a $2,125 premium compared to the Sonata SE’s $21,960 starting price. The Eco model has the same standard equipment as the SE, plus a rearview backup camera, Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system, a five-inch color touchscreen, 10-way power driver’s seat and some exterior trim enhancements.
The Sonata Eco is Hyundai’s answer to specialized trims and options offered on some competing mid-sized sedans that offer extra fuel economy compared to entry-level models but are less expensive than hybrid mid-sized sedan variants.
Some Mazda6 sedans, for example, come equipped with an optional electric capacitor that helps boost fuel economy by 2 mpg to 32 mpg combined by powering auxiliary car systems with electricity captured by braking. Volkswagen’s Passat TDI turbo diesel gets a 35 mpg combined rating.
Hyundai is counting on the 2015 Sonata to help it regain some of the momentum and market share the brand has lost in the last two years.
Hyundai sold 297,027 vehicles in the first five months of 2014, flat from last year while market share slipped to 4.4 percent from 4.6 percent in the same period.
Sales of the Sonata have dropped 3 percent this year.