With the 2018 Hyundai Sonata, the brand’s bread and butter mid-size sedan got a healthy mid-cycle refresh in styling, feature content and in powertrains to keep it fresh in the battle against heavy hitters like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
Upon first glance it has a softer and less angular face with Hyundai’s new cascading grille design that looses the straight lines for a curved hourglass look. The LED daytime running lamps and LED headlamps are also all-new in their design.
At the rear are new LED taillights and a redesigned badge with an integrated trunk release button and revised chrome trims. New wheels designs are also found across the entire lineup of trim grades.
While it received a redesigned center stack with revised switchgear, a new instrument cluster and a new three spoke steering wheel the cabin of the Hyundai Sonata remains largely unchanged from the 2017 model and continues to be the most conservative in its design among peers.
Materials overall tend to be on the more downscale side of the spectrum by comparison to the newest Camry and Accord designs, with flat looking and appearing trims and lots of hard plastics where you tend to rub elbows and grab a hold.
It’s a roomy and comfortable place however and you’ll be entertained by its seven-inch color touchscreen infotainment system with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It is well featured and easy enough to use with decent audio quality to boot. Menus always default to a home screen upon startup however and never stay where you left them when you exited the car, a small annoyance.
We tested a standard engined Sonata with the 2.4 liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine with its 185 horsepower and six-speed automatic transmission. We found the engine definitely offered adequate horsepower and was refined enough for a pleasant driving demeanor at most times.
The transmission was well behaved and offered up crisp and immediate downshifts at the mere suggestion you wanted one, which is always a good thing. The EPA rates it at 25 mpg city, 35 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined. We achieved that 28 mpg combined in our week, right on target.
Handling got an upgrade with a sportier feel in the steering by way of tweaks to the electric steering rack. This comes through mainly with on-center feel. The rear suspension also got new trailing arms and larger bushings that allow for more compliance yet sharper response at the same time.
While not a sport sedan by any measure, the Sonata offered up confident handling around the city darting as well as a stable solid character on the highway.
New driver assistance systems now standard equipment including blind spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert. The lane departure warning system and lane keeping system optioned on ours worked most of the time though the forward automatic braking tended to be a bit over-parental.
Priced at $25,710 our Hyundai Sonata tester offers up a reasonably affordable alternative to its peers in terms of standard equipment and features with the only caveat being that your overall impressions from the somewhat austere cabin reflects that savings.