Hyundai announces new Sonata Eco for the hybrid-shy

For the non-hybrid minded, Hyundai is introducing a new Eco model

Though it may border on heresy in eco-minded California, not all car buyers want a hybrid.

Compared with their non-hybrid brethren, these models usually cost more, accelerate slower and give up trunk space to hold the car's batteries.

Hyundai knows this, and announced this week that it would add the Eco model to its redesigned 2015 Sonata lineup. This new variant bridges the price and efficiency gap between the base model that's rolling into dealerships now and the hybrid version that is set to debut next year.

Combined fuel economy on the Eco jumps 10% over the base Sonata, Hyundai's midsize answer to the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. The Eco will get 28 mpg in the city, 38 mpg on the highway, and 32 mpg combined. While those numbers aren't groundbreaking, they're a modest bump up from the base Sonata's rating of 25/37/29 mpg.

The Eco's efficiency is courtesy of a turbocharged 1.6-liter four cylinder engine -- which also sees duty in Hyundai's compact Veloster Turbo -- and a new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Horsepower clocks in at 177, and there's 195 pound-feet of torque.

“This innovative powertrain improves fuel efficiency without sacrificing the driving experience,” John Shon, Hyundai's manager of product planning said in a statement. Despite the Eco tag, the car has just a smidge less horsepower and more torque than the vanilla Sonata.

The Eco's $23,275 starting price is a cool $2,125 more than the base Sonata, though Hyundai points out that the Eco also includes upgrades like a 10-way power driver's seat, backup camera, a 5-inch color touchscreen audio system, and tidbits of chrome sprinkled around the exterior.

The Sonata Eco will go on sale this fall.

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World