By Mike Hanley on April 16, 2014
Competes with: Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry
Looks like: Hyundai is taking an evolutionary styling approach with the updated Sonata
Drivetrain: 185-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder or 245-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with six-speed automatic transmission; front-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Summer 2014
Family sedan shoppers already have a number of relatively new cars to consider like the Ford Fusion and Honda Accord, and later this year there'll be a new version of Hyundai's Sonata. It's offered with a choice of two four-cylinder engines, including a performance-oriented turbocharged unit, and is available with a host of convenience features from an automatically opening trunk lid to Apple's CarPlay entertainment interface. It's available in SE, Limited, Sport and Sport 2.0T trim levels and will be built in Alabama.
The Sonata's new exterior styling is an evolution of the prior-generation's. Familiar design cues include a trapezoidal grille and chrome accent trim along the sides of the hood. However, where the prior car emphasized sleek lines, the new Sonata is more muscular thanks in part to an upright nose. The new sedan slips through the air nonetheless with a drag coefficient of 0.27.
SE models have LED daytime running lights, 16-inch alloy wheels and a lip spoiler. Limited models add rocker panel extensions and dual exhaust outlets. Sport trim levels get unique grille and front bumper styling as well as chrome side molding while the turbocharged Sport 2.0T gets quad exhaust tips, 18-inch alloy wheels and unique rear bumper styling. High-intensity-discharge headlights are available.
The new Sonata's interior is a big departure from the prior generation's with a blocky center control panel instead of the old Sonata's flowing styling. The control panel is angled toward the driver to make the buttons easier to reach and the center screen is at the same height as the instrument cluster for easier readability, according to Hyundai. The Sport 2.0T model gets a flat- bottom steering wheel with shift paddles for driver-initiated gear changes and a unique instrument cluster.
Standard features include a stereo with iPod connectivity and an MP3 jack, satellite radio and Bluetooth connectivity. The available navigation system features an 8-inch touch-screen with split-screen functionality; a recording feature for satellite radio broadcasts; SiriusXM Travel Link for traffic, sports, weather, movie and gas price information; Pandora internet radio; Siri Eyes Free support for iPhone; and Apple CarPlay. Compatible with the iPhone 5, 5s and 5c, CarPlay brings the user interface of the iPhone to the Sonata's dashboard, allowing drivers to make calls, use the Maps app, play music and access messages.
Hyundai's latest Blue Link system is also available. The system provides Google-powered destination search, app-based remote start and climate control, and vehicle service scheduling. Other available features include a trunk lid that opens automatically when the key fob is detected for 3 seconds, sunshades for the rear side windows, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel.
The base engine is a 185-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder, and a 245-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder comes in the Sport 2.0T trim level. Both engines make less peak power than their predecessors but have improved responsiveness at lower engine rpm, according to Hyundai. A six- speed automatic is the only transmission offered.
The 2015 Sonata uses a new multilink rear suspension with dual lower arms that's designed to improve ride quality and braking stability. Sport 2.0T versions get a sport suspension and larger front brake discs.
Standard features include seven airbags, antilock brakes, an electronic stability system and traction control. Available features include forward collision warning, a blind spot warning system, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, automatic high-beam headlights and adaptive cruise control that can bring the car to a complete stop if necessary.
Senior Editor Mike Hanley is a father of three boys; he reviews new cars, admires classic cars and has embraced the minivan lifestyle. Email Mike