When the 6th generation Hyundai Sonata launched in 2011, it cemented the Korean automaker as a serious player in the mainstream marketplace. No longer was Hyundai the brand you bought because you couldn't afford anything else. It was the brand you bought because you wanted more features and content for your money, and a product that was pretty much on par with what most buyers expected from Honda and Toyota. Of course the styling of the 6th generation Sonata made a big statement, but as many predicted it would not age well. With this new 7th generation Sonata not only has Hyundai updated the sheet-metal but is also offering a new Eco model with a 1.6L turbo and 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.

From Hyundai's Press Release

"Sonata Eco enhances the sophisticated design and confidence-inspiring driving dynamics of the 2015 Sonata with even more impressive fuel economy," said John Shon, manager, product planning. "This innovative powertrain improves fuel efficiency without sacrificing the driving experience."

The 2015 Sonata Eco is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged Gamma four-cylinder engine producing an estimated 177 horsepower and 195 lb. ft. of torque. Sonata Eco is the first Hyundai product to utilize a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which no other mid-size sedan offers. This innovative powertrain helps Sonata Eco deliver an estimated 28 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. The estimated 32 mpg combined rating is more than a 10 percent improvement over a 2015 Sonata SE powered by the 2.4-liter Theta II engine.

2015 Sonata Eco comes standard with all the features of Sonata SE plus a chrome grille, side mirror-mounted turn signal indicators, automatic headlights, a 10-way power driver seat with lumbar support, stitching on the instrument cluster hood, chrome interior door handles, 5-inch color touchscreen audio, a rearview backup camera and Blue Link® telematics system.

The only available option is the $4,100 Technology Package that includes:

- Blind Spot Detection System (BSD) with Rear-cross Traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist

- Chrome exterior door handles with welcome light

- Hands-free Smart Trunk Auto Open

- Proximity key entry with push-button start

- Leather seating surfaces

- Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob

- Heated front seats

- Dual automatic temperature control

- 4.2-inch color LCD Multi-Info Display

- 8-inch navigation system featuring voice command technology, HD Radio

Technology, improved touch sensitivity, navigation and map split display, navigation with junction view lane guidance, Apple Eyes Free Siri integration, Wi-Fi client for downloading apps

- Dimension premium audio

- SiriusXM Travel Link®, which provides access to traffic information, sports scores, weather, stock prices, fuel prices and local movie times, with 3-month complimentary subscription.

- Auto-dimming mirror with HomeLink and compass

- Auto up/down front passenger window

The mid-size sedan wars are really about two things, quality and MPG. Even though Hyundai's competition was caught a little off-guard in 2011, they have certainly caught up and fielded some great options. The 7th generation Sonata has toned-down the styling but still manages an up-scale flair taking cues from the Genesis sedan. While none of us have driven the new Sonata yet, I'm going to make a prediction and say Hyundai has another hit with this one.

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