Driven

Everyday: 2015 Hyundai Sonata

Our first wheel-time in the new Hyundai Sonata came in August, when Hyundai invited us down to Lincoln Center. If you’re an avid reader, you will remember that our initial impression was positive, but the 35 mile route didn’t give us enough time to get the whole picture. We also spent the bulk of our time in the Sport 2.0T and 1.6L Eco models. Hyundai made up on both accounts by sending us a 2.4L Limited Sonata for the week.

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Inside you notice that the Sonata has grown up. Our tester, in Quartz White Pearl over Beige, felt nearly as spacious as the previous generation Genesis. That’s not surprising though, since it has grown over an inch in both length and width. Thus, front and rear seat room is comfortable for everyone except, of course, if you find yourself wedged between two other passengers in the rear. As with reviewing most Hyundai products, the features list is rather long. Our tester, the fully-equipped Ultimate Package, did not disappoint with its up-market technology, safety, and comfort amenities. Adaptive cruise, heated and cooled driver seat, heated rear seats, panoramic moonroof and navigation have all trickled down from the Equus and Genesis lines into Hyundai’s most popular sedan.

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The one thing that Hyundai has yet to grasp in the 2.4L models is driver engagement. The Sport 2.0T is graced with the steering rack from the new Genesis, with the motor connected to the rack. Our tester, like all other Sonatas, has the electric motor mounted on the column. The steering is vague and doesn’t offer much feel. This Sonata also sticks with its 6 speed automatic and the fuel efficiency bears witness to that fact. The 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque from that aforementioned 2.4L mill aren’t going to set any speed records either. But Hyundai’s tuning efforts have moved the power band back in the rev range. That means more mid-range power than before, making the Sonata a great commuter car; one that is quiet and comfortable.

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Our week coincided with a trip into New York City. Arguably one of the most frustrating, yet most interesting places to drive in the world, the Sonata performed flawlessly. First, the navigation system’s ability to stay on track and re-route as necessary deep inside the concrete jungle should not go unnoticed. The GPS system and POI search never lost their cool when we lost ours. The suspension swallowed potholes and road imperfections that could have impeded a perfect ride quality. As we noted in our first drive, the Sonata is a quiet car. Not just mechanically quiet, Hyundai was able to isolate the cabin of the new Sonata from the harsh sounds of Manhattan motoring.

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With more usable power and a refined experience, there really isn’t an off-putting thing about the 2015 Sonata. But the new Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design feels more anonymous that before. This generation bears more than a passing resemblance to the new Subaru Legacy, and even the Ford Fusion from some angles. Thankfully, the most iconic of the Sonata’s design cues are retained to prove its identity. While the Sonata has extended an olive branch to the “enthusiasts” with its Sport 2.0T model, this 2.4L Limited is far more relevant to Hyundai’s audience. The new Sonata has matured. It’s gotten bigger, growing into itself. The features and equipment are all still as good or better than anything else in its class. After a week with the Sonata Limited, we were left with an impression of just how livable this new model is.

-Scott Villeneuve

2015 Hyundai Sonata Limited
$26,525
Tech Package $3,500
Ultimate Package $1,500
Destination Charges $810
As Tested MSRP $32,385

Related:
First Drive: 2015 Hyundai Sonata
First Drive: 2015 Hyundai Genesis

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