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Hyundai Sonata: New Looks, More Refined Ride

By Steve Wheeler, August 11th, 2018

As sedan sales slump to the more popular crossover vehicles, Hyundai is hoping its refreshed Sonata will build on the success of the previous generation, which was a big winner for the Korean automaker.

Manufacturer photo: The redesigned 2018 Hyundai Sonata enters the market with a new look from the front, side and rear thanks to a "cascading grill," a more assertive profile and an entirely new rear; showcasing a clean and handsome approach with re-imagined, slim taillights
Manufacturer photo: The redesigned 2018 Hyundai Sonata enters the market with a new look from the front, side and rear thanks to a "cascading grill," a more assertive profile and an entirely new rear; showcasing a clean and handsome approach with re-imagined, slim taillights

The new midsize Sonata gets a bold new exterior, an available 8-speed automatic transmission, and more safety and technology features for 2018.

If you ask me, the Sonata was already one of the best-looking midsize sedans on the market, but a new cascading grille and more refined rear end have improved the Sonata's look from front to back. LED daytime running lights and available articulating LED headlamps are another classy touch.

The Sonata comes in SE, Eco, SEL, Limited, and Sport trims. Our test car this week was the Limited, priced at $27,400, which gives the Sonata a lot of bang for the buck.

Hyundai gives buyers several powertrains to choose from. Three four-cylinder engine choices are available, including a 2.4-liter four cylinder, a 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder, and a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder. The SE, SEL, Limited, and Sport trims get the 2.4-liter engine, while the 1.6-liter turbo four goes in the Eco model. The 2.0-liter turbos are available in Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T models. Available transmissions include a six-speed automatic, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, and an eight-speed automatic.

Manufacturer photo: The redesigned 2018 Hyundai Sonata enters the market with a new look from the front, side and rear thanks to a "cascading grill," a more assertive profile and an entirely new rear; showcasing a clean and handsome approach with re-imagined, slim taillights

The 2.4-liter engine in my test Sonata develops 185 horsepower and 178 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine doesn't make the Sonata quick, but makes it adequate for everyday driving conditions.

Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T models get the 2.0-liter turbo four, which kicks out 245 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. The Eco model gets the smaller turbo engine, producing 178 horses and 195 lb.-ft. of torque.

I enjoyed my time with the Sonata Limited with its refined, roomy, and quiet cabin. Officially, headroom in front is 40.4 inches and in the rear it is 38 inches. Legroom in the back seat is 35.6 inches. Those numbers proved fine for my 6-foot-1-inch frame.

On a road trip, the heated and ventilated leather seats were comfortable. The steering wheel tilted and telescoped, making it easy to find just the right driving position. Noise, vibration, and harshness are well controlled in the Sonata.

The dashboard layout in the Sonata is one of the best on the market today. The 8-inch touchscreen had a split screen, and navigation graphics were crystal clear. Two rows of piano-style buttons made quick, easy work of making adjustments of vehicle systems. At the bottom of the center stack, a pair of 12-volt jacks flanked USB and AUX ports in a super convenient layout. A Qi wireless charging system was below.

Manufacturer photo: The redesigned 2018 Hyundai Sonata enters the market with a new look from the front, side and rear thanks to a "cascading grill," a more assertive profile and an entirely new rear; showcasing a clean and handsome approach with re-imagined, slim taillights

The Sonata felt nimble, with solid handling on the road. Steering was precise and on-center. When it comes to safety, the Sonata boasts seven standard airbags and a host of sophisticated safety systems like blind spot monitors, rearview cameras, and rear cross-traffic alerts. Automatic emergency braking is included with adaptive cruise control.

Finally, the trunk in the Sonata is fairly large at 16.3 cubic feet. Hyundai installed a neat hidden pushbutton trunk release inside the big "H" logo on the rear deck lid. I'd wager that half of all new Sonata buyers will have to dig out the owner's manual the first time they open the trunk. I did.

My test Sonata was rated at 25 miles per gallon in city driving, 35 mpg on the highway, and 28 mpg combined. And with its 18.5-gallon fuel tank, the 2018 Sonata can take you a whopping 648 miles down the road without stopping for gas.

Specifications

Base price $27,400 (as tested: $31,310)
Curb weight 3,311 lbs.
Displacement 2.4-liter
Engine type 16-valve 4-cylinder
Epa mileage rating 25 mpg city, 35 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 18.5 gal.
Horsepower (net) 185 at 6000 rpm
Overall length 191.1 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 178 at 4000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger midsize FWD sedan
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