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2015 Hyundai Sonata: Raising Bar in Midsize Segment

By Arv Voss, August 16th, 2014

With the all-new-for-2015 model, Sonata enters its seventh generation just as Hyundai begins to celebrate its 30th year in the U.S.

This Sonata epitomizes the essence of what consumers expect, with exterior and interior styling that reflects Hyundai's new design philosophy, which focuses on dynamics yet with a refined luxuriousness.

The 2015 Sonata has also grown in stature: it is taller, wider, and longer than before, yet even with its increased size, it retains class-leading aerodynamics (Cd=0.27).

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata is available with two Theta II four-cylinder engines: the base 2.4-liter, GDI that produces 185 horsepower and 178 lb.-ft. of torque powers SE, Limited, and Sport models; a performance-oriented 2.0-liter twin-scroll Turbo GDI that delivers 245 horses with 260 lb.-ft. of torque in a range from 1,350-4,000 rpm powers Sport 2.0T models.

Both engines gear power to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic (the 2.0-liter turbo's transmission also comes with paddle shifters). A third engine variant is also available in the Sonata Eco model: Hyundai's 1.6-liter Eco twin-scroll turbo GDI four-cylinder that mates to a seven-speed EcoShift DCT transmission with Shiftronic. This engine makes 177 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. Mileage estimates for the three engines are 25 city/37 highway mpg for the 2.4L; 23/32 mpg for the 2.0L; and 28/38 mpg for the 1.6L.

Hyundai expects the Sport trim with the 2.4-liter engine to be its volume model, followed by the Limited. Sonata pricing begins at $21,150 (SE) for a $300 reduction under 2014 pricing, yet is has $300 added feature content. Sport models start at $23,175; Limited at $26,525; Sport 2.0T at $28,575; and Eco at $23,275. Add $810 destination and handling for all models.

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata features new rear suspension, revised front suspension, and improved steering response, all combining to promise better handling capability and vehicle stability.

The Sonata displays a sleek shape leading with Hyundai's winged hexagonal grille that flows into a sloped, sculpted hood and sharply raked windscreen and then carries over a gently curved cabin roof into a slanted rear window and short deck with an integrated spoiler lip. In profile, the fast, arching C-pillar creates a sporty coupe-like persona despite its four doors, and the car sits low with pronounced wheelwells hugging the wheels and tires. Its profile features a strong side character line, which Hyundai refers to as a Sabre line, that's reflected and complemented by precise rocker detailing.

I drove the Sonata Limited with the 2.4-liter engine and six-speed automatic, as well as a Sonata Sport powered by the 2.0T with the paddle shifter Shiftronic automatic.

The 2.4-liter engine seemed to generate more noise when prodded with gusto than the 2.0T turbocharged powerplant, though the noise was not really objectionable.

The turbo delivered a higher performance level than the 2.4-liter model, but both performed satisfactorily in terms of acceleration. Transmissions shifted smoothly, while the paddle shifters were certainly enjoyable for manually changing gears. Both provided user-selectable drive modes that delivered varying levels of vehicle performance ranging from efficient, well-balanced, and dynamic, governed by choosing Eco, Normal, and Sport, respectively.

All 2015 Hyundai Sonata models come with a host of new safety features including a driver knee airbag, rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, auto high beam assist, blind spot detection, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, and individual tire pressure monitoring.

Available convenience features include smart cruise control with stop/start, electronic park brake with auto vehicle hold, driver memory seat, rear side window sunshades, heated steering wheel, 60/40 split folding rear seat and hands-free smart trunk.

Interior amenities include power front seats and four-way driver lumbar ventilated front seats, heated front and rear seats, accent stitching, 4.2-inch color multi-info display and interior lights. There are also available audio and navigation features including various entertainment and connectivity links.

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata lineup raises the bar in the midsize sedan segment for design, performance and feature content.

Specifications

Base price $26,525 (as tested: $32,385)
Curb weight 3,252 lbs.
Displacement 2.4-liter
Epa mileage rating 25 mpg city, 37 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 18.5 gal.
Horsepower (net) 185 at 6000 rpm
Motor type 16-valve 4-cylinder w/GDI
Overall length 191.1 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 178 at 4000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger FWD midsize sedan
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