Later this summer, the redesigned 2015 Hyundai Sonata lineup will be expanded to add a new and more affordable alternative to the Sonata Hybrid that may better serve the needs of those who spend more time on the open road than motoring in the city. Starting at $24,085 -- $100 more than a 2015 Sonata SE, the new Sonata Eco has estimated 28/38 city/highway EPA numbers compared to the SE's 25/35 mpg figures. Its 32 mpg combined rating also is 10 percent better than the base Sonata's 28 mpg.
As one might expect, the secret to the Sonata Eco's frugality lies in its drivetrain. Motivation comes from a 1.6-liter direct-injected turbocharged version of Hyundai's Gamma II 4-cylinder engine. It develops 177 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque compared to the SE's naturally aspirated 2.4-liter Theta II four that makes 185 horses but only 178 lb-ft of peak twist. Gear-changing duties are handled by a new 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission in place of the SE's 6-speed Shiftronic unit. Introduced on the Sonata Eco, Hyundai's new transmission also is the first 7-speed DCT to appear in any midsize sedan. According to John Shon, manager, product planning, the combo serves up improved fuel efficiency without sacrificing anything in the way of driving experience.
Beyond delivering significantly better fuel economy in all modes, the Eco's modest price premium nets all of the SE's standard features while adding a bespoke chrome grille, side mirror-mounted turn signal indicators, automatic headlamps, 10-way power driver seat with lumbar support, 5.0-inch color touchscreen audio system, rearview backup camera, Blue Link telematics and unique interior accent trim.
For those who simply must have it all, the Sonata Eco offers just one comprehensive option. Priced at a heady $4,100, the Technology Package adds a leather interior, voice-activated navigation with an 8.0-inch screen, Dimension premium audio, three months of SiriusXM Travel Link, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, 4.2-inch Multi-Info Display, push-button start, hands-free Smart Trunk Auto Open, Blind Spot Detection System with Rear-cross Traffic Alert , Lane Change Assist and more.
Like its Sonata siblings, the new 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco will be produced at the automaker's manufacturing facility in Montgomery, Alabama. As for the mileage-maxing member of the family, Hyundai has yet to confirm pricing on the 2015 Sonata Hybrid. However, we're told it won't stray far from 2014 levels that start at $26,810 for the standard Sonata Hybrid and $31,560 for the upline Limited model.
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