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Which to buy: 2015 Mazda6 Touring or Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0T

Both of these cars are mid-sized sedans that lean towards sporty. Which is the better buy for your preferences?


Earlier this year Torque News tested a $25,310 Mazda6 Touring with a stick shift. This week we are testing the $29,510 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0T. Both of these cars want buyers to see them as a sporty version of the 4-door mid-sized family car. The Camry, Chrysler 200 and Accord are available as V6 versions of these cars, but at about a 10% premium in price. After driving the Camry XSE V6 and both the Mazda6 and Hyundai Sonata 2.0T, it is clear that the Camry is a step above these two. However, comparing the Mazda6, and Hyundai Sonata is more than fair.

Driving the 2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T
My Hyundai Sonata 2.0T came with power adjustable heated leather seats, 18” alloy wheels, and the usual amenities. It also had the optional 245 hp 4-cylinder turbocharged engine and a 6-speed automatic. In addition to its “Sport-tuned” suspension, the car has a sport mode. After only a few miles, it became clear that this car is something special. Hyundai has nailed the sweet spot with this particular setup. The steering, suspension, and the drivetrain indeed do provide a sporty driving experience. What I love about the setup is that it is all you need and not an ounce more.

Around town, this Sonata Sport 2.0T has all the engine you can really use and not be ticketed. It is a great example of how a good 2.0-liter turbo can work. Lag is minimal. Far less than any Volkswagen, BMW, or Audi turbo I have driven. The automatic transmission is a great pair with the engine. You almost never wish for more power. In fact, if you try to push this car after about 7/10ths of its capability it all starts to unravel. This is NOT a sports sedan. The engine pulls the wheel with torque steer if you try to use all 245 ponies. The suspension gets a little un-nerved after you go beyond “spirited” driving. And I love this car for this. I do not need or want more than this in an everyday car. Whenever I am in a true sports sedan like a Lexus IS350, I feel constrained by the world. I want everyone to get the heck out of my way and let me fly. As soon as they do I either see blue lights, or I have to dial back my passion for driving. The Sonata 2.0T gives you exactly the right amount of performance in a great feeling package.

Driving the 2015 Mazda6 Touring

Although my week long test was in a stick shift Mazda6, I have driven the automatic as well. I prefer the Auto for a car with this mission. Option up your Mazda6 with the same leather and automatic as the Sonata and the price is very close if not the same for all practical purposes. The Mazda6 has a 4-cylinder normally aspirated (non-turbo) engine, but it is a gem. It has 184 hp, which is class average, but it is smooth, silent and just oozes quality. In a stoplight race, the Hyundai would pull this car. Do you really care? If you do, buy the least expensive Chrysler 200S V6 you can find and beat both of these like a boss. The Mazda6 dances around town. It handles so well you forget that it is front-drive unless you do something unusual. The Hyundai feels front drive.

Practical Considerations Mazda6 Vs Hyundai Sonata
The Hyundai Sonata is bigger than the Mazda6. The seating area and interior feels a class size larger, almost like a Toyota Avalon. It is big and airy, and the back seat is so large it almost seems wasteful. If you have tall teens or transport adults (perhaps clients) in the backseat, stop right here. The Sonata is your choice. The Mazda6 is plenty big enough for kids in back and four adults going out to dinner. Both have huge trunks.

The Hyundai Sonata makes me cheer because even though it is a turbo it uses regular unleaded. Hyundai deserves a high-five for this. However, it uses more gas than the Mazda6. A lot more. In similar driving, I got about 26 MPG in the Hyundai and about 32 MPG in the Mazda. If fuel economy is your main priority, the Mazda6 is your better buy. The EPA confirms my findings rating the Sonata at 26 MPG combined and the Mazda6 at 29 MPG combined.

I am pleased to report that both of these vehicles have the highest possible IIHS safety rating, the Top Safety Pick. Each also earns the higher “+” rating if you buy the optional forward crash prevention. I strongly recommend you do, but it may not be available from dealer stock. Both have identical crash ratings and did acceptable on the tough small frontal overlap test.

Both of these cars are a joy to drive as long as you drive like an adult. You can have fun, but these are not supposed to be rear-drive sports sedans. On the upside, they are not priced as such. If you drive in a spirited, but mature way, these cars shine. You feel like a hero, and also smart, for not having bought more car than you can practically use. If space and acceleration are your two top priorities the Hyundai beckons. If fuel economy and handling are your two main goals, look no further than the Mazda6. Whichever way you go you will be driving a car that brings a lot of satisfaction for very few dollars.

Related Stories:
Full Review 2015 Mazda6 Touring
What's Right and Wrong with the 2015 Hyundai Sonata

Photo by John Goreham


Arun (not verified)    December 17, 2014 - 7:51AM

Both sound like all around good cars. Personally I tend to lean toward the one that makes me feel like a better version of myself when thrown into the mix of traffic. Be it city or highway I'm known by family and close friends as one that enhances the whole experience of travel.
It has always been my premise that I should be no more unsafe in a vehicle than I am on my own feet. For this I have to be nimble rather than fast, stable without feeling glued down etc. I'm the one that truly enjoys driving despite inconveniences or gridlock. I try to always find creative and fun stuff to do when behind the wheel w/o being obvious, just noticeable in a positive way. Too many people exhibit body lingo that says ' just lets get this drudgery over with soon' and they are the ones with a death grip on the wheel.
I go with the Sonata for these personal reasons as well as a preference for a spirited turbo. You have to know how to engage in a turbo without sacrificing mileage. I do however prefer driving a multi speed manual stick shift if this Hyundai was available as such. Yes, the overall look in and out are also important.

karl (not verified)    December 19, 2014 - 3:33PM

camry have never been step above any other car in the midsize class, it has always been the bottom of the class When looking at it's sales numbers it has been insulting intelligence of average american can buyer for many years...7

cc (not verified)    December 22, 2014 - 9:48PM

The Camry you refer to is a V6...not exactly apples to apples considering the Hyundai and Mazda models here are 4 cylinders.

Eric Stauff (not verified)    December 26, 2014 - 7:43PM

I own a Mazda 6 so perhaps I am biased but also have worked in the automotive business for years. I have found the Mazda 6 to be Dollar for Dollar, the most car for the money in its class. I once worked for Hyundai and have driven the Turbo...while highway acceleration is much greater with the Turbo Engine, however not practical for usable everyday power. I think the small amount of turbo lag in the car makes it fall very short when compared to the Mazda's responsive 2.5 liter engine. Driving the Mazda 6 around town and on curvy back roads makes it a much more enjoyable car to drive. The sport mode in the Grand Touring's Technology package, while adding every other option available through Mazda, will still keep you at an MSRP well under $35K. While equipped with high end technology normally found in cars that cost as much as $60K...Mix that with a MUCH lower cost of ownership than the Turbo Sonata and you have a no brainer here. Mazda rarely has recalls and are one of the top ranked brands for Reliability. Ranked much higher than Hyundai on Consumer Reports Most Reliable Brands...They also have been ranked #1 by the EPA 2 years in a row for best average fuel economy in the United States...Drive a Hyundai Sonata Turbo and then drive a 2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring with Technology Package and the answer will be very clear...

Eric Stauff (not verified)    December 27, 2014 - 12:35PM

In reply to by John Goreham

Very interesting twist. However will show you that not only does Hyundai fall short in fuel economy but Mazda actually does better than they advertise in real world road tests. While most brands average LESS than they advertise, Mazda has proven to under promise and over deliver. Hyundai claims 23-City-32 highway-26 combined with the 2.0 Turbo. When you look at the 2015 Mazda 6 iTouring with manual transmission the numbers rated from the factory are 25 city-37 highway-29 combined, but the actual numbers during their road test achieved an average combined fuel economy of 36 miles per gallon, much higher than the manufacturers number of just 29. Hyundai and Kia just dished out hundreds of millions of dollars because their fuel economy numbers did not add up. Now if you look at Tesla up front price and the 5 year cost of ownership, you will see that we would not be comparing apples to apples, so why bother getting into that. Now if you look at performance...Are you actually getting more out of the Turbo engine? When both cars were tested by Edmunds and I am sure numbers vary test to test but they actually got the Mazda 6 from 0-60 in just 7.6 seconds ( my personal best with my auto is just under 7 seconds ) while the 2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.0 Turbo they claim did 0-60 in 8.3 seconds! Needless to say no matter what test you look at the Mazda 6 is plenty fast enough for what it is (until the 2.5 Skyactiv Turbo comes out). Mix that with Near Exotic styling (2013 World Design of the year top 3 finalist) Top 3 Brand in Reliability (Consumer Reports Most Reliable new vehicles 2014) Lowest 5 year Cost of Ownership 2 years in a row (Best overall Brand 2013/2014). I give the overall edge to the Mazda 6 not only against the Sonata but against anything in its class for under $50K!

Orlando (not verified)    January 23, 2015 - 7:08AM

In reply to by Eric Stauff (not verified)

Yes, I have the Mazda 2015 HTC. And it's awesome. Auto wipers, projector moving headlights, other vehicles can't compare in it's class. I own the 2013 camry se, and wow..what a difference in quality. .however, I am about the step up my fame with the 2015 Hyundai Genesis

Augusto Pinochet (not verified)    November 7, 2015 - 8:17AM

I think you should compare the basic sonata, because has a 2.4 184hp engine. Sonata will give you 38mpg. I love Mazda and specially, because is a true Japanese car way better than a Toyota camry or Nissan Altima. But Hyundai is a good rival, very good quality and ride plus it cost less than those. Yesterday my friend bought one out the door 2016 $19,000. He can not believe the quality of the ride and all the techology.

Gaius Gracchus (not verified)    January 11, 2016 - 1:07AM

It surprises me no one talks about ride quality or how quiet the car is. These are things that matter a lot to our family.
The Camry was an option for us, but the grille on the newer versions is absurd. Like putting lipstick on a pig.

orlando (not verified)    January 11, 2016 - 10:49AM

Both are good. I have mazda gas mileage ever, the blue link option is nice in the hyundai. ..if you choose that option