The Hyundai Sonata has always been an attractive alternative to cars like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, but sales of the Korean midsizer (and most sedans for that matter) have kind of plateaued.
Engine: 2.4L four-cylinder
Output: 185 hp, 178 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 6-speed auto/8-speed auto/7-speed DCT
US Fuel Economy (MPG): 25 city, 35 hwy, 28 combined
CAN Fuel Economy Ll/100 km): TBD
US Price: Starts at $22,935, $33,335 fully loaded
CAN Price: TBD
That’s probably due to the popularity of crossovers, but Hyundai isn’t yet giving up on its sedan. The brand has refreshed the Sonata with a new look, under the hood tweaks, and a bunch of new equipment.
New Look, More Pop
The car gets some new sheetmetal on the hood, trunk, and front fenders. In addition, the front and rear bumpers, grille, and lights have also been updated. Hyundai says these changes were implemented so that the vehicle makes more of a visual impact than before, and that’s certainly been achieved here. It definitely has some of the flair that the sixth-generation car had that made it so popular and polarizing.
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In addition to those changes, the car is offered with a wide variety of wheels, from 16 to 18 inches in size, depending on the trim model. More trim packages now come with standard LED lights, but in a strange move, Hyundai has removed the standard panoramic sunroof for a more conventional unit. The brand’s reasoning is that it improves fuel economy by making the car lighter, but it was a really standout feature in past models, so it’s shame it’s gone now. One really useful new feature is a hidden trunk release that’s integrated in the H badge on the rear. It’s a clever and functional design touch that minimizes visual distractions in the back.
The interior gets a similar tweaking — it’s nothing too radical, but it’s enough to make it feel fresh and new. There’s a new center console design and the steering wheel has lost a spoke in the name of modern design. There’s also an available heated steering wheel, which is a nice touch for those in colder climates.
ALSO SEE: 2018 Toyota Camry Review
The car gets a new infotainment system with an upgraded processor that helps to make it more responsive. The extra digital horsepower enables a 3D bird’s eye view in the navigation system, something that was a long time coming. The car also comes standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. U.S. buyers also get three years of free access to Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system, which provides access to emergency services and also allows certain remote functions through a smartphone or watch app. Drivers also get three years of free map updates, and the system can also talk to Google Home or Amazon Alexa setups, so the car can act as an extension of a driver’s connected home. The Sonata has also a new extra USB port for rear seat passengers.
Same Engines, New Changes Under the Hood
Under the hood, the car gets only limited changes. The same lineup of engines are available and they’re all four-cylinder units. The most common choice will be the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that we tested. It’s a carryover and still makes 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque. It’s also still mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the front wheels. It’s powerful enough for daily commutes and will get about 28 mpg combined, so it’s a good setup.
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If you want more power, a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine is available that’s good for 245 hp. That engine is mated to a new eight-speed automatic. In the past, the 2.0-liter turbo units could be had with sporty trim, but Hyundai is now offering that appearance package to buyers of the 2.4-liter models as well. Finally, if all you want is good mileage, then buyers can opt for a 1.6-liter turbo that’s paired to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. Canadian shoppers will not be able to find the 1.6-liter models in their showrooms.
There are nine different builds of the Sonata, which covers a lot of ground for buyers. They range from about $22,000 to $33,000, meaning there’s likely a Sonata in your budget range.
Although the powertrains haven’t changed much, the steering and suspension have been revised. The steering has been recalibrated and feels a bit more direct, especially in terms of on-center feel. This important change of the steering is due to a 12 percent stiffer torsion bar in the steering setup.
The rear suspension has been tweaked as well with new bushing and bigger trailing arms, which is designed to improve performance when hauling heavier loads, like a few adults and all their stuff. The new bushings also lead to improved responsiveness and help the car feel very comfortable on the road.
Overall, the personality of the Hyundai hasn’t changed. It’s responsive and friendly, rather than sporty and exciting, although it does look quite handsome.
The noise isolation is good and you’ll find few complaints about the cabin’s build quality. There are also different drive modes that really change the steering effort, transmission logic, and throttle response.
Finally, there are a few updates to the driver assistance features, which starts with making the blind spot detection feature standard and incorporating rear cross-traffic alert and lane change assist into that system. Additionally, the lane departure warning system now includes the lane keep assist.
The Verdict: 2018 Hyundai Sonata Review
Hyundai has always been about value and that isn’t changing with the redesigned Sonata. It’s available with a trio of solid engines, and there are a ton of trim packages and features offered as well. And if you’re the type of buyer who isn’t yet sold on the whole crossover craze, you’ll probably be able to find what you’re looking for in the new Sonata.