The 2015 Hyudnai Sonata is virtually identical in size to the 2014 model, growing only an inch or so in various dimensions, still sharing some of the bones underneath but with a completely new sheet metal skin. The look is more angular, upright, and more taut than before.
In terms of theme, it looks less like a wind rippled sheet draped over a piece of furniture and has a more chiseled deliberate appearance.
Our 2.0T Sport is fully dressed with elements like ten spoke 18” alloy wheels, quad tailpipe outlets and a rear deck spoiler. Up front are LED signature daytime running lights and HID headlamps to go with the larger trapezoidal grille design for 2015.
The only jarring visual is the large flat space in the grille set aside for our tester’s radar based cruise-control and driver aids. They still need to find a better way to integrate these things into a design I think.
The roofline is very much a fastback in plain sight, a sporting silhouette for this class. Smoked chrome trim around the windows, lower rockers and door handles give it an upscale feel as does a full length power opening panoramic sunroof up top.
That sunroof goes along way to making the interior light and bright, which was further enhanced by the light gray leather seats. As optioned, our Sonata has both heated and ventilated front power seats on both sides, and heated rear seats too.
Material quality is significantly improved from the 2014 Sonata. Finishes are in my opinion more tasteful in appearance and sheen, touch points are made with softer materials, and switch gear feels solid and tactile to the touch.
Layout of center-stack controls is simple with all major items of daily use laid out with hard buttons and knobs with the touch-screen as a stand-alone option, not a necessity. The steering wheel of course offers up plenty of controls for infotainment as well as a comprehensive instrument cluster information center.
The design of the interior is not as futuristic and artful as the last-generation, rather has a more traditional and businesslike theme. The dash is more upright and purposeful in the same way as in the Subaru Legacy, a good thing.
Sound from the Infiniti 400-watt audio system is exceptional as is the ease of use with its menus, tuning, and adjustments. Use of the navigation system and connectivity scenarios is also top of the class for learning curve, the only disappointment is that touch-screen controls are painfully slow to react to your inputs.
The cabin is larger than last year with 106 cubic feet of volume, which actually classifies this as a large car by the EPA. The space afforded up front as well as for rear passengers is class topping. Trunk space as expected in this class is also quite impressive
Our Sonata was also equipped with an array of driver-assistance features like lane departure warning, radar cruise control with full stop capability, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alerts. All of these worked quite well, and best of all allow you to have them turned off or on.
Ride at highway speeds is quiet, even over noisy pavement. This is in part due to a stronger body structure for 2015 and enhanced sound deadening.
Chassis improvements for 2015 include larger front disc-brakes and larger diameter anti-roll bars across the model line. A faster steering ratio results in better feedback out on the road as well as less turns lock-to-lock when maneuvering.
The steering feel is sharper too. On the highway it offers up more feel than expected in a family sedan like this, giving decent feedback and confidence when laying it into curves at speed.
Under the hood of ours is the top engine option, a 2.0 liter gasoline direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder with 245 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. It comes standard with a six-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
Power is impressive, with a good deal of it coming on in the middle of the rev range. Stepping on it gives a nice kick in the back from a stop, and turbo lag is at a minimum. The engine also exhibits impressive refinement for a high-performance four-cylinder.
Despite its refinement, the turbocharged four-cylinder doesn’t have the smooth thrum of a V6 engine some competitors offer. EPA fuel economy is 23 mpg city, and as high as 32 mpg highway with a 26 mpg combined cycle rating. In our time with the 2015 Hyundai 2.0T we observed a much lower 23 mpg average.
The standard 2.4 liter engine is however rated as high as 37 mpg highway, and a hybrid model is also available for even more fuel economy. In 2016, Hyundai will offer a Sonata Plug-In Hybrid which may be worth waiting for.
The 2015 Hyundai Sonata is rated by the IIHS as a Top Safety Pick as it achieved Good ratings on all of their tests except the new small overlap crash where it achieve an Acceptable rating.
In the final analysis, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata is worthy of your shopping list if you are cross-shopping a number of sedans. If you already have a positive eye for the Hyundai brand, you will likely find this car appealing.
We give it 4.5 out of 5 stars for the week as it offers up a consistency across the board of metrics we measure.