With the rush to hybrids, plug-ins, and full on EVs, here’s something a little more basic in its approach to lowering fuel consumption: the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco. No battery packs here. Just a small engine, and some modern transmission technology.

A 1.6 liter turbocharged four cylinder occupies the engine bay, replacing the Sonata’s standard 2.4 liter naturally aspirated four. And, a 7 speed dual clutch doles out power, replacing the 6 speed automatic. Now these may seem like changes more toward performance, but really, they aren’t. The extra gear, and quicker shifts, just mean you’ll reach top gear faster, ensuring maximized efficiency.

And the smaller engine, despite the turbo, rates 178 horsepower. Short of the 2.4 by seven. These 16 inch wheels are your only size option. No complaints here, just simply the facts. The Sonata’s great interior remains the same in Eco trim. It’s well equipped, and outdoes most rivals in comfort. Outside, there’s also little different, just a tell-tale “eco” badge.

Luckily, the dynamics of the car don’t change much either. Off the line, it’s a tad quicker, even though the engine and transmission don’t always seem in sync, but things settle down fairly quickly. The ride is smooth, and makes cruising in the right lane a relaxing affair.

Passing power isn’t quite there, though the DCT can drop gears quick enough to make you think it is.

Efficiency is the name of the game. And a combined rating of 32 MPG beats a regular Sonata by 3. We had no problem achieving that, but squeezing out any spirited driving from the Sonata Eco comes at the cost of fuel economy. 

For those who want the full Sonata experience, and better fuel economy, the Eco is on sale now, starting around $24,000.


  • Engine: 1.6 liter
  • Horsepower: 178
  • Price: Starting around $24,000