2014 Honda Accord vs. 2015 Hyundai Sonata

The Sonata is Refreshed and Ready for Battle

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2014 Honda Accord vs. 2015 Hyundai Sonata

Fifteen years ago the thought of putting a Honda Accord and Hyundai Sonata in the same comparison test was almost laughable. But when the sixth generation, Sonata appeared, people took notice that Hyundai was serious about building vehicles that consumers wanted.

Fast forward six years and it’s time for a new generation Sonata to emerge. More of a heavy refresh than a ground-up redesign, Hyundai has worked hard to address the previous Sonata’s weaknesses. To see if the manufacturer succeeded, we brought along the recently redesigned 2014 Honda Accord for comparison. A perennial best-seller in the mid-size sedan market, the Accord is one of the key players in the family sedan segment in which all other cars are measured.

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Separated at Birth?

Sonata vs Accord 1It’s obvious a specific formula is emerging for how to build the perfect family car. Just look at the specs between these two cars. They both are powered by 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines making 185 HP, both ride on the same size 215/55R17 tires, the two car’s curb weights are separated by 6 lbs. and the overall vehicle lengths are separate by a quarter inch.

The one area that differs is with the transmission. Whereas Hyundai continues to soldier on with a six-speed automatic for all Sonata models, Honda has ditched a multi-gear transmission on four-cylinder Accords and replaced it with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

See Also: 2013 Honda Accord Sport Review – Video

For those who disparage the thought of the Accord gaining a CVT, rest assured, this may well be the best CVT on the market. It’s smooth, flawless and never lets the engine drone. In daily, regular use it mimics a conventional automatic so well that you probably won’t ever notice the difference.

CVT’s Efficiency Shines Through

AccordExterior5

The six-speed in the Sonata is equally flawless in its operation. It fades into the background and never disrupts daily driving, but the downside is fuel economy. The Sonata 2.4-liter is officially rated at 24 mpg in the city and 35 on the highway compared the Accord four-cylinder’s ratings of 27 MPG city and 36 MPG highway. During our evaluation period, both cars lived up to the published ratings with the Accord edging out the Sonata by achieving an average of 31.6 MPG compared to 30.2 MPG.

SonataExterior1To manage these frugal levels of fuel economy, neither car is very powerful. Like the transmissions, the engines fade away from conscious thought when driving; exactly what is expected in this segment. The Sonata holds the edge when it comes to quietness inside the cabin, better isolating occupants from outside intrusions.

Quieter vs Easier to Operate

SonataExterior3

On the other hand, the Accord is easier to drive. It’s predictable, manageable and requires little effort to maneuver behind the wheel.  The Sonata’s ride quality and suspension behavior are much improved over last year’s model, but still feels too rough for daily driving. It’s like Hyundai is trying too hard to make the Sonata feel upscale, at the expense of ride comfort.

Like the vehicle’s specifications, styling of the Accord and Sonata are a lot closer now. Gone is the overly curvy, heavily detailed look of the fifth generation Sonata. Replacing it is far more conservative sheet metal that resembles the new 2015 Hyundai Genesis sedan and should age better over time.

Styling vs. Space

SonataInterior4

The Sonata’s new sheet metal is also functional to aide in ingress and egress for rear seat passengers. Legroom in the pack is up over an inch for the 2015 Sonata, but it still falls short by nearly three inches to the 38.5 inches offered in the Accord. Even with a bit less headroom, the rear seat of the Accord is by far the more comfortable place to be for adult passengers.

AccordInterior3.jpgWhile on the topic of comfort, the Accord also trumps the Sonata when it comes to the front seats. They are much more comfortable and real world headroom is ample in the Accord whereas it’s a bit tight inside the Sonata. As well, some of our staff found their right knee rubs against a hard plastic corner in the Sonata.

Stylish and Modern

SonataInterior3.jpgLike the exterior, the Hyundai’s interior has gone the conservative route for 2015. Modern and elegant, we like how well laid out and contemporary the new Sonata’s interior has become. All controls are simple to use. The Sonata also comes with a few features missing in the Accord like heated and cooled front buckets, a heated steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof and a larger trunk.

On the downside, we did find that there are too many hard plastics for our liking inside the Sonata though and there’s a glaringly obvious trim piece on the center stack that doesn’t line up properly.

Compare Specs

2014 Honda Accord
vs
2015 Hyundai Sonata
Vehicle 2014 Honda Accord Advantage 2015 Hyundai Sonata
Engine 2.4 L Four-Cylinder - 2.4 L Four-Cylinder
Horsepower 185 hp - 185 hp
Max. Torque 181 lb-ft Accord 178 lb-ft
Fuel Economy 27 MPG city / 36 MPG hwy Accord 24 MPG city / 35 MPG hwy
Observed MPG 31.6 mpg Accord 30.2 mpg
Weight 3,365 lbs. - 3,371 lbs.
Front Legroom 42.5” Sonata 45.5”
Rear Legroom 38.5” Accord 35.6”
Rear Cargo Capacity 15.8 cu. ft. Sonata 16.3 cu. ft.
Starting Price $22,745 Sonata $21,960
As Tested Price $30,835 Accord $32,385

Simple and Easy to Use

AccordExterior7

The Accord isn’t exactly a pillar of class-busting style, but like the Sonata, it’s ergonomically laid out and we appreciate the dual display screens that let us see both audio information and the navigation map at the same time. Inoffensive and dull, the Accord may be boring inside, but it’s user friendly and comfortable for all passengers.

The two biggest complaints when operating the Accord have to do with the steering wheel blocking the view of the upper speedometer and the audio display screen not displaying all the information we would like when motoring down the road.

See Also: 2015 Hyundai Sonata Review – Video

Although the Sonata begins at a base price of $21,960 after destination charges and the Accord has an entry fee of $22,745, our test vehicles arrived very well optioned. The Honda Accord EX-L with Navi tipped the scales at $30,835 while the Hyundai Sonata Limited we had on hand came in at $32,385.

SonatavsAccord5

The Verdict

More expensive, less efficient and not as comfortable to be in, the Sonata still falls short of the Honda Accord. But the gap between them is so small now, purchasing one or another will ultimately come down personal choice, taste and priorities. For our money, the choice is still the Honda Accord, but as the saying goes, individual results may vary.

  • Tim

    Why would you ever choose a Hyundai over a Honda? Hyundais are disposable Bic pens and Hondas last. Period.

  • disqus_RqTjyz8mwT

    There’s a lot of good points in this article. A lot of Honda love built in too. The Sonata is a superior car (J.D. Power, etc). Many will like Honda for its Honda-ness, yet remember it’s the warranty that helps it lose points for buyers. There’s things the Accord doesn’t even offer. They don’t have a 1.6 Eco model 7-speed DCT version like Hyundai, they also don’t have a bonafide telematics system that could even touch Hyundai. Blue link has expanded and will support iOS and Android, being an expandable platform. All Honda can do is imitate some more. The Hyundai Sonata has more features for more buyers wants and needs. Honda just caters to the same-old only updated crowd (seems like the best value yet isn’t). Do yourself a favor buyers, try it all and add up all the buying decision ratios and you’ll walk away with a Sonata.

  • bd

    Except for when Hondas had imploding transmissions, not to mention shrapnel exploding airbags (and cracked dashboards).

  • Jay

    The 2015 Sonata was nominated for North American Car of the Year along with the new Genesis…the only car Honda had nominated was the Fit. Drive a Sonata, you will love it. If you still believe Hyundais are disposable then wake up and realize that you dont live in the early 2000’s.

  • Mark G

    the bad thing bout the genesis is that it has a Hyundai name plate, most people wont wanna pay that much for a Hyundai….the name plate is very important, kinda like paying $200 for Payless shoes

  • Mark G

    sorry but there is more to a car than features, the reason they packed the sanata with features and a huge warranty is to get people to buy it, because of the brands reputation and stigma. I have driven both cars in top trim and the sanota feels cheaper and doesn’t drive nearly as good as the accord.

  • Mark G

    when you start comparing Honda defects and issures to Hyunadais the hyundais list will be much longer, so thats never a good idea.

  • Matt

    You do realise the Accord is not brand new right? Any car that has been redesigned automatically gets nominated for the 2015 North American car of the year. Hence the Sonata being nominated, and the Accord, being released back in 2013, not being nominated.

    And, not to say all new Hyundai’s are this bad – my dad, who has a 2010 Santa Fe Limited Awd (v6), has put more money into this thing than he has any vehicle before it. (So much for Hyundai’s fantastic warranty – you know, the one that doesn’t cover miss firing cylinders, rust that started @ years 2 of age, an electrical failure, and a starter motor (when the car had less than 50 thousand kilometres on it.)

    Meanwhile – my mom drivers a problem-free 2010 Civic EX-L Coupe. Prior to the Civic owned 2 Accords that combined lasting her 21.5 years – both with over 300k on them.

    The point? Hyundai may slowly be catching up, but their vehicles are far from bullet proof, and their customer service and warranty need revising to ensure returning customers – something my father will never be.

  • matt

    Haha, you think because J.D Power awards the Sonata with better initial quality that the Sonata is a better car? (Seeing that’s about the only place they rank the Sonata better.) Let’s try looking at their 3-year quality studies and see who comes out on top? Why not have a look at consumer reports and see which car has the better record for reliability? Or looking at Consumer Reports, Motor Trend, and the various other sources that mark the Accord superior to the Sonata?

    While the Sonata may offer a few extra ‘features’, some people would rather the car that offers the manual transmission, and the car that drives far better – not only more comfortably but more enjoyably. Or the car that is, by a great margin epically when it comes to the larger engines – faster. Heck, the 4 banger accord with the manual is almost as fast as the 15′ Sonata’s turbo 4.

    Your sonata may offer a few more luxuries – but there is far more to a car than luxuries. Quality, comfort, and FUN all play a part. And that is why the Accord destroys the Sonata sales – let alone most of these comparisons.

  • roundthings

    I would buy a Malibu over the Sonata. I can see no reason to buy a Sonata. Hyundai’s have always been over-rated and just admired because of the design. Underneath there is nothing special about them at all and now that the design is back to earth it’s interesting how the reviews are suddenly back down to earth

  • BL157

    Is Mark G’s misspelling of Hyundai and Sonata some sort of put-down?

  • roundthings

    Same with the Elantra. Looks don’t hide the fact that it’s the same unimpressive car underneath

  • nobulltits

    Um, Matt, you are totally incorrect about the Hyundai warranty. Those things ARE covered, and completely. Hyundai isn’t “slowly” catching up, they’ve caught up. And in many cases they have surpassed.

  • Robertson Glassford

    After looking at and driving the new Sonata, I didn’t much like it. (a 2.4L Limited model). Quite dull to drive, dull interior styling, lots of nasty hard black plastic throughout the cabin. I’ve mentioned on other posts how I much prefer the cabin on my 2005 Elantra. (great colors, soft touch materials everywhere)

    Having said that … no offense to the article’s author, but I see repeating of the same old auto-mag cliches about both Honda and Hyundai: ” …the thought of putting a Honda Accord and Hyundai Sonata in the same comparison test was almost laughable. But when the sixth generation, Sonata appeared, people took notice that Hyundai was serious..”

    The fifth generation Sonata was an excellent car (maybe the best of the series) that sold very well, and was available with a potent V6. Even the one before it wasn’t all that bad. And a direct comparison with the Accord was misleading, because as paying customers know (at least here in Canada), the Accord’s much-ballyhooed “great value” exists mainly in theory – in reality, it gets frightfully expensive quickly, delivers less than promised, and, because it’s a decent and well-regarded car, there’s few deals to be had. (Good re-sale is a plus, however)

    Pick a few options, and that price will easily sail north of $40,000 CDN once taxes are added in. If you get under 40K with tan leather and the V6, you’ve done well – but chances are, even in the 35-40K range, you’ll be getting the one with a smattering of options and the famously severe blacker-than-black interior.

  • I purchased the 2015 Sonata Limited last month after test driving the Sonata, Accord, Malibu and Fusion. As an average middle-age driver, flashiness, 0-60 times and cornering ability don’t mean much to me anymore. All I do is drive around the Midwest on sales calls.
    Driving 30K to 40K miles a year, the Sonata’s 100,000 drivetrain warranty was important. Also, the interior is laid out logically with large buttons for my aging eyes. The Sonata was the quietest of the 4. That’s important when you spend a lot of time on the road, talking on the phone as you drive.

    I still have not explored all the technology (The operations manuals consume the entire glovebox! I had to move them to the trunk.), but there are some really nice features..like automatic cruise control that keeps your car an exact distance behind the car in front, even when everyone slows to a crawl in congested stretches. Also, I like the ability to change the steering heft, suspension feel, and acceleration curve simply by toggling through settings while driving. The car now has 3,800 miles and I actually get dressed in a hurry each morning to get out and drive. BTW..the 600 Watt/12 Speaker Infinity sound system and large 8″ (for aging eyes) Navigation/Radio screen is a beauty and never suffers from “sun glare” like my last car did.

    My wife drives a Honda Odyssey. To me, Hondas are for the same people who buy I-Phones and MacBooks. They really don’t get more, but there is this certain culture that’s hard to explain. For instance, Honda dealers expect their customers to dutifully come in and spend lots of money for regular auto inspections, and the Honda owners willingly comply. My wife has spent thousands of dollars on inspections and maintenance for a car that is supposedly top-shelf quality. That doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe it’s because of my Sales & Marketing experience, but it’s obvious to me that like Apple, Honda has a good scam going. She goes to the Apple store and buys over-priced accessories..with HER money of course! 🙂 -Allen in Chicago

  • Phil

    i dont understand why so many people and car journalists show this empathy towards hyundai … ”its not the best, or in other words, its not great but we wanna love it anyways …” loll …both in my opinion and in this article is the Accord is the win.. and its a clear cut win IMO, the accord is a better all around vehicle AND much better looking in and out … but somehow we’d have to feel sorry about the little hyundai that tries so hard as if we were tired of the same old boring story that hondas are better … but thats just a fact! .. aside from reliability and resale value, honda are just better engineered from the chassis to its engines… no close call here …

  • chavitz

    If an India maker or Chinese automaker pays some money, then someone will make a comparison report between Porsche and Indian car with similar ending word” it is not a great car but we wanna love it anyway”. That is simple

  • Mark G

    Nope, just a good old fashioned typographical error….lol

  • PaulCherubini

    Article is way off base. The base model Sonata with 16″ wheels has a SOFTER ride than the Accord…it eats rough pavement for lunch. Plus it delivers a quieter ride than the Accord. And the Sonata’s seats are plenty comfortable – definately larger and better padded than a Camry’s. An Accord will leave you fatigued on long drives just like a Camry will due to its overly firm suspension, considerable road noise, short and modestly padded seats. Another comfort advantage of the Sonata is that it has a colder air conditioner coupled to a more powerful fan.

  • Auto Motive

    We test drove both and then the Kia Optima SX Turbo back in 2011 and we bought it. The car is has been exceptionable in every respect with a list of luxury options, 34.7 mpg at 70 mph with cruise on long trips and combined driving returning 27.8 mpg. Changing the Nexen rubber for a set of Perelli P7s made the biggest difference in handling rough roads. Every review on the Optima has been positive and the only complaint is the head room if your over 6 ft. The new models have been remedied except for the tires. Back then the fully optioned car cost up $31k but received a $2500 discount for the new model. Love the car and the warranty is the best in the industry.

  • Dustin

    The Honda cost less, according to the article.

    I’ve had a wide variety of cars, but my wife hasn’t. She’s driving the same accord she bought in 1997. It has a ridiculous amount of mileage on it. It’s seen the inside of a dealer one time in the last 18 years. Dealers are notoriously expensive places to maintain your car… so don’t bother with them!

    If you’re suggesting that Hondas require more maintenance than other cars, you are simply mistaken. They do remind you when to rotate your tires and change your oil, but my CR-Z tells me to change that oil every 12k miles! It’s much cheaper to keep on the road than my last Ford was.

  • Dustin

    I would say that Hyundai’s value appears to be just on the cusp of Honda level, which means it’s an excellent vehicle. Basically it’s so close that you might as well pick the car you just feel better about.

    Malibu can’t claim that, given their terrible quality record that actually has a bodycount.

  • Dustin

    Better yet, just take a drive and count how many ten year old Hondas you see, and compare to the ten year old Hyundais.

  • roundthings

    Hyundai is not near Honda’s level and i still would take a Malibu over a Sonata

  • Dustin

    I hope you enjoy your Malibu! Agree to disagree, but these cars are basically appliances. All of them should be pretty good if you take decent care of them.

  • roundthings

    Oh, I own a Mazda 3. You’re right, though, there are really no clunkers out there anymore

  • OtisDriftwood1935

    Can’t vouch for the propensity of Honda owners to flock to the dealer for service. I have a 2007 Honda Ridgeline with 72K miles and the only trip I made to the dealer was for A/T service, coolant & power steering flush and rear brake pads. Total of $498 in 8 years. I did all other services myself.

  • Cowboy

    You can take a horse to the water, but…

  • trapatoni

    i dont know about you guys in the states or canada,but i drive a 09 sonata deisel here in ireland that with 160,000k on the clock is in mint condition and drives like new,the only thing replaced on this car was a egr unit and a brake light switch,the latter being a recall, it was also recalled for rust treatment at 5 yrs old on the rear springs and job done free of charge,im a taxi driver so this is my office and this car is constantly admired by my passengers,with the trim level on this car [full leather,diesel automatic]you would pay a lot of money here for that on a german brand and you might be buying less reliability,regards,trapatoni,from paddys green shamrock shore,

  • Ninja250

    We have two Sonatas and a Honda CR-Z in the family stable. My better half’s 2006 Sonata has 110,000 miles with zero defects in 8 years of ownership (not counting several recalls for things that were not “broken”). I just finished replacing the ’06 brake pads and installing some nifty cross drilled and slotted rotors on all four wheels for an Amazon price of $179 (beat that dealer service!). My 2011 Sonata SE has 78,000 mostly highway miles, also with no mechanical problems, but several factory recalls for things that weren’t broken, just like the 2006. My daily driver is the 2011 Honda CR-Z (40k miles) with the manual transmission – probably my favorite car after the 1993 MR2 I used to own. Economy-wise, the ’06 Sonata does around 26/32 city/highway. My ’11 Sonata does 29/35 and the CR-Z runs routinely at 38/42. Biggest complaint, that applies to nearly all modern cars, is the lack of a tuning knob on the 2011 Sonata. The CR-Z sort of gets around this (sort of) by letting you press the volume knob to “change” it to tuning mode. In my opinion, all of these cars are close to perfect conveyances. I believe Hyundai has better engineering. Case in point, Hyundai has left openings in the underbody air deflector so you can change the oil and filter. On the Honda CR-Z you must remove the panel by removing 8 fasteners of 3 different styles (some breakable plastic). Come on Honda, have you never heard of Dzus Fasteners? On the plus side, the CR-Z’s oil monitoring system doesn’t suggest changes until around 12,000 miles – which is good considering that the required full synthetic 0W-20 oil is not cheap.

    Bottom line, both Honda and Hundai make superb cars. I expect all of them to easily reach 200-250k miles before replacement is needed. At that point I don’t know whose brand will be my first choice, but I am hoping that Mr. Musk has a Tesla at a mid $30K price point because I am ready to go electric, at least for my daily driver.

  • On Track

    So this is an article about how Hyundai is catching up to Honda, and you felt it time to talk about your Kia. What is is about Kia drivers that makes them want to jump up and down screaming: Me Too!! Me Too!! I sold cars in the 1990’s and we had a Hyundai’s ticket to put the less financially capable in and they were such crap I couldn’t believe it. I guess large South Korean government subsidies will help you get your quality up, I wouldn’t buy one or drive one but that is my take.

  • Danny

    Hyundai has made HUGE strides in quality in the past dozen years or so (hear that, GM?) Their cars to me sound more tinny than Honda, but that is a matter of opinion. I actually like the look of Kia Optima better than the Sonata. If Kia and Hyundai didn’t have the 100,000 warranty, their sales would drop……..how much I do not know. I had a 2003 Accord I got 192,000 out of and replaced last year. I drove the Sonata and the Accord and the Mazda 6. It seemed the best value was the Honda…………so I got it………

  • Auto Motive

    You must be living in the 20th century. We are in a global economy and regardless of what brand you buy its no longer American vs them. The Kia is being built in the USA and created thousands of jobs. Your rants on subsidies is ridiculous since Kia is owned by Hyundai which is a multi billion dollar gorilla. I can understand you sold cars in the 90s so you don’t have much of a education, your old, and probably don’t understand anything I said. Go back under your rock.

  • ballerMD

    Did this guy dare say that someone is “imitating” Hyundai? LOL Hyundai is the king of imitation. No wait, imitation isn’t even strong enough. Copycat is a better word. They basically copied the heck out of Toyota and Honda to get where they are today. The way I see it, they and all their die hard fanboys should be thanking Toyota and Honda for the success they’ve had to date.

    BTW, the new Accord destroys the Sonata, and the sales speak for themselves. The Accord outsold the Camry the past two months and continues to soldier on as one of the top two selling cars in the US. This despite few rebates or fleet sales. Can Hyundai say that? The Sonata can’t even say it’s less expensive anymore.

    Anyways, I’ll give it to Hyundai, I like the look of the updated Sonata and it does come with some cool features that can’t be had in an Accord like the panoramic roof, but I’d go with the Accord and the traditional sunroof any day because overall, it’s just a better car.

  • ballerMD

    Hmmm I guess those leaky brakes on that Hyundai Sonata are “no problemo” for you. Or how about those really serious engine problems that are costing owners $5,900 to replace an engine at only 85K miles. Heck, is the car even worth that much at 85K? LOL And you know how the warranty game goes… So what Hyundai has a 100K warranty. They’ll just make up an excuse to tell you the problem isn’t covered. LOL

  • turnipweed

    Had a 2006 V6 Sonata, bought new for $16500. The car was jet-smooth, powerful, handled well, and had the best brakes I have ever used. Sold it at 97,000 miles. We never spent a penny on that car except 1 set of tires, 1 battery, and 2 light bulbs. We have a 4cyl Optima and love it too, but we still miss that powerful Sonata. I’m hearing the new ones are super reliable too, but I’m getting away from low sporty cars. Will probably get an SUV or something that keeps my butt more than 12″ from the asphalt.

  • turnipweed

    Driven a new Sonata have you?

  • RonnieT

    I guess if you enjoy your car having the handling of an old mini-van in the corners it certainly is the car for you. I would rather have the handling to avoid dangerous situation when they arise and still remain in control.

    My wife had a new Hyundai. I particularly enjoy the way the soft suspension bottoms out frequently on rough roads. It must do wonders for the front end.

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  • PaulCherubini

    Seat bottoms of Sonata are longer than Camry’s for better thigh support on long drives. Toyota cut down the size to save money and weight. Sonata A/C puts out air in the high 30’s, Camry’s AC puts out air in the low 40’s. Stick a thermometer sensor probe in the center dash vent to measure temperature. Sonata came out on top in a cars.com 10 car comparison: http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2014/11/whats-the-best-midsize-sedan-for-27000.html

  • Andrew L. Johnson III

    Hyundai improves the steering and handling of the Sonata and then cuts 29 hp out of the Turbo motor of the 2.0T. Stupid! I am happy Kia did not do the same thing to the Optima SX.

  • Cc

    I am more concerned with longevity. The Honda accord series from the late 90’s prior to 1999 were amazing, but since then their longevity has declined. Obviously, that’s not part of the discussion in the article, but their transmissions are seriously awful. Honda transmission smooth? Ha! When I talk to mechanics, they all say, accords are decent cars, but a sonata has fewer repairs and more longevity. If Honda would only fix their transmissions, but I still hear about tranny problems in new accords. I think accord interiors are designed well, the frames preserve well, and the cars handles well, but who cares when they also have crap transmissions.

  • requiempoet

    I know I’m really late to the party, but I agree. I also don’t know understand why they rolled out the Equus.

  • Mark G

    Car of the year doesnt mean best car, It means that its the most improved car over its previous generation.