By Cars.com EditorsAugust 1, 2014
About the video
The previous-generation Hyundai Sonata went a long way in raising the esteem of the Korean automaker, holding its own against the likes of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Can the 2015 redesign continue that momentum?
(upbeat music) (tires screeching) Hyundai is an automaker that's been on the rise for many years now. And one of the reasons is the mid-size Sonata Sedan.
The previous generation of that sedan is what really put it in the game against the Camrys and Accords of the world. And now for 2015 there is a redesign that takes it up another notch, maybe two. Let's take a look. Perhaps the biggest change to the exterior of the Sonata is the grill. The previous generation had a very aggressive wave to it that looked good, impressive initially and Hyundai and lots of other people believe it did not age well, I happen to agree. So now you see what is becoming the kind of family grill shape also seen on the redesigned Hyundai Genesis Sedan. This one happens to have a black chrome finish because this is the limited trim level, it's one of the higher trim levels. You'll also notice this black panel here that is for the radar. Because this car is equipped with optional adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning. That's one of the many active safety features that is available as an option on this car. One thing you'll notice if the grill has changed the most on this car, the thing that has stayed the same is this chrome strip that leads all the way back from the headlight. Something that looked pretty distinctive in the previous generation, still does. There's also a really nifty little feature here on the limited wear. When you get close to the door with the key fob in your pocket, it lights up, kind of as a welcome. Around back you'll notice led tail lights, which are very effective, I like how they look, but I'm a little disappointed that they come only on the higher trim levels. A company like Hyundai is known for giving more for less. Now you'll notice if I stand back here with the key in my pocket the trunk opens automatically, that's called smart trunk. The idea is other manufacturers have the feature where you sweep your leg, it's the hokey pokey dance. Hyundai said, well, why not just have it. So if you're standing back here for a few seconds with the key it'll open and it does give you that beep warning, so you know that this is a no loitering zone if you don't mean to open the trunk. Incidentally, with over 16 cubic feet of volume in the trunk, this is one of the bigger trunks in the class. Hyundai is known for giving more for less and the place that does it the most in the 2015 Sonata is here in the back seat. I have the driver's seat in my driving position all the way back and at my height, six feet tall, I have plenty of room, it's cavernous. Now what makes it even better in this loaded vehicle is for one thing, big panoramic moonroof makes it feel even more open. We've got heated seats, two positions, controlled here and being a limited it also has the sunshades for keeping the kids cool. The driving experience in the previous generation Sonata certainly was good enough for most consumers, but the more demanding drivers found that the ride quality wasn't quite as refined as it should be. Steering, same sort of a story. Here on the 2015 they have improved that quite a bit. I find the ride quality has improved. The steering, though better than the previous version, it's still not the strongest suit. The engine has actually been changed a little bit. It's 185 horsepower in this version, which is actually down a little bit so they could bring the torque peak to a lower RPM. What that means is you've got a more robust response when you accelerate from a stop and that's definitely good to have. Now we don't know for sure how the 2.0T version of this car performs because it has, aside from the 245 horsepower turbocharged engine, it has a firmer suspension and a different power assist system on the steering. So the feel could be completely different. We look forward to checking that out pretty soon. As cars become more aerodynamic and most of them are, visibility can become more of an issue because the pillars are farther out in front of you. So I have to say in the previous generation Sonata and this one, the pillars are a little thick. They can get in into your line of sight. And the view out the back can be compromised a bit too, partly because the trunk line is so high. Fortunately, a backup camera is standard on all, but the base trim level. Generally speaking, the interior is very nicely done. Quality has improved. I'm not crazy about the imitation wood trim, doesn't look real to me, but a lot of the other surfaces are good. You've got an actual fabric woven headliner and same material on the visors, which you actually do touch. Other touch points are soft and comfortable. This being a limited has leather upholstery, the Sport 2.0T also has leather upholstery. One of the interesting things that Hyundai has done is they've made the passenger seat height adjustable even in the lower trim levels because they find that passengers wanna be able to adjust the height as well. Now as usual Hyundai really pours on the features, at least in this limited trim level. You've got heated side mirrors, you've got blind spot warning, you've got lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, a heated steering wheel, heated and cooled seats, 12 volt outlets here and actually two of them, a USB Jack, an auxiliary Jack. There's standard Bluetooth streaming audio as well. You've got the panoramic moonroof. You've got Bluelink, which is like GM's On-Star lets you communicate with the outside world, remote start the car, et cetera. HomeLink, adaptive or universal remote control for garage doors, et cetera. There are different drive modes that affect the accelerator and steering response and mileage for that matter, an electronic parking break here and then lots of multimedia options. You can start with a five inch touch screen or go to an eight inch touchscreen like this one that's loaded with features like the ability to add apps. This has Pandora Internet Radio, SoundHound as well, Sirius XM data, which is a subscription service. Bluelink as I mentioned. Pretty well executed overall, nice big screen. It's one of the better systems out there. Oh, here's the hitch. Most of the features I just listed are not standard. So no doubt whatsoever, it's a bigger car, more comfortable car, quieter car, drives well, it's more competitive than ever, and it is still a value. But as the cars get better from Hyundai, the value might not be quite as high as it used to be. You're gonna ave to keep an eye on the price and compare against the competitors in the market. (car engine revving)