2015 Hyundai Sonata: Winded and Wheezy on Mountain Climbs
June 25, 2015
The Whitney Portal Road in Lone Pine, Calif., which climbs to an elevation of 8,400 feet along a twisting road, was a great test for our 2015 Hyundai Sonata. The sedan handled the hairpin corners with confidence and the brakes never faded, keeping us from going through the guardrail and down into oblivion.
But one part of the package was missing: power.
I put the six-speed automatic transmission in manual mode, shifted all the way down to second gear, but the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine still felt completely winded. And when I parked at the portal and shut it down, the air was filled with the alarming smell of hot metal.
I've made this climb in many other cars and was never so aware of the lack of power. To be fair, there were four guys in the car, and the hot temperatures and thin air would cut the performance of many cars.
Two of the Sonata's competitors, the 2015 Toyota Camry and the 2015 Honda Accord, share similar horsepower ratings (the Camry comes in with 8 fewer hp and the Accord ties its four-cylinder engine to a CVT). I'm interested to see how those cars would handle the same climb.
I'd say that 95 percent of the time, the Sonata's 185 horses would be adequate. And if I had to choose between power and fuel economy, I'd opt to save gas. But if I traveled into the mountains often, this probably wouldn't be my choice.
Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 8,950 miles