2015 Hyundai Sonata: A Refined Entry In A Crowded Segment

In The Driver's Seat

Open the door and you’re presented with an interior that bears resemblance to the 2015 Genesis. While the materials aren’t as high-quality, there are plenty of soft-touch surfaces above your waistline and well-dressed plastics in less noticeable areas. You do get the appropriate level of quality for this class of vehicle. And unlike the Kia Optima, there isn’t a more luxurious Sonata with additional interior trappings.

One of my latest gripes about cost-cutting on new cars is the use of nicely dressed door panels adorned with leather or vinyl that are visually pleasing, but hard as a rock to rest your arm on. This became an issue for me when I first drove a new Subaru Forester, and is now one of my tests for interior comfort. I’m glad to report that the 2015 Hyundai Sonata employs a soft-touch material that’s a little squishy and doesn’t cause any pain, which is good news for those who endure long commutes.

The power driver’s seat is well-bolstered with lumbar control. Customers who opt for the Sport 2.0t trim are treated to sport seats with extra side support, so that you stay planted while taking corners aggressively. The Sport 2.0t and Limited seats are comfortable, giving me nothing to complain about. They fit 5’7” and 185lb frame just fine, and I encountered no lower back or shoulder pain associated with my long drive in each vehicle.

Hyundai installs a standard automatic shifter in the center console. It’s a familiar implementation for your typical car buyer, but I find it quite archaic compared to the svelte round knob Chrysler uses in the 200. It might seem like a minor quibble, however, since most shifters are essentially a bunch of wires that communicate with the ECU, and are not directly linked to the transmission, I'd rather see smaller shifters that free up more space for storage compartments and ergonomic infotainment controls. But kudos to Hyundai for slimming the shifter down and employing an electric parking brake to minimize wasted space.

Climate controls on the new Sonata are tried and true buttons and knobs that operate independently from the infotainment system. The control panel has its own display that shows the temperature, fan speed and operating mode. Seat heating and cooling controls are on the climate control panel as well, if you buy them. I found the seat coolers fairly effective in the humid Alabama climate. It was too hot to test the seat heaters for long, but I used them briefly and they get quite warm.

Opt for the tech package on Sport or higher trim levels and you get a 4.2-inch LCD trip computer sandwiched between traditional analog gauges. There are even analog coolant temperature and fuel gauges, too. The LCD's functionality isn’t particularly advanced, but it does tie into the navigation system, show your music source, driver assist status and a couple basic vehicle settings.

The new Sonata's driver's seat is comfortable. The car's controls are laid out well, and we appreciate the use of traditional buttons instead of a cooler-looking capacitive touch interface lacking feedback. Hyundai does an excellent job giving the cabin just enough new tech to get with the times, while maintaining the familiarity of analog response and resisting heavy reliance on an infotainment system display.

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  • blackmagnum
    Thanks for the informative review. My next mid-sized sedan will definitely be a Toyota Camry.
  • cknobman
    Yuck, dont like the styling at all compared to the previous generation.
    To top it off the performance engine gets gimped.
  • tuanies
    749236 said:
    Thanks for the informative review. My next mid-sized sedan will definitely be a Toyota Camry.


    The Mazda 6 is still the best in my eyes, but the infotainment system they use is horrible. Toyota Entune is very dated as well.

    59464 said:
    Yuck, dont like the styling at all compared to the previous generation. To top it off the performance engine gets gimped.


    From what I've heard, the previous gen sold very well in the US but was a flop internationally, hence why they went back to more conventional styling. I don't expect them to sell many turbos this time around, or those that will don't care about raw output numbers.
  • punahou1
    My next car will NOT be connected to the internet or any other cloud based technology. I can see it now - terrorists hack into multiple cars and initiate an acceleration virus....
  • tuanies
    438265 said:
    My next car will NOT be connected to the internet or any other cloud based technology. I can see it now - terrorists hack into multiple cars and initiate an acceleration virus....


    Or compromise Tesla's Autopilot system remotely...
  • gbair
    The new steering wheel controls look pretty similar to the '14 Kia Optimas, which I didn't really like.
  • Kary K
    Not terribly impressed with the Apple solution if it requires USB. I probably won't like the Android solution either. but then I'm fairly happy with the various players being able to connect to a car stereo by BT. Smartphones change too much to buy a car based on what they are currently like.
  • hst101rox
    I wonder when the Sonata will be offered as a plugin hybrid not just hybrid and a lean burn engine not just Atkinson cycle
  • Ninjawithagun
    UGLY! What the hell were the design engineers thinking? Far worse design versus ALL of the previous generation body styles. I don't give a crap about the interior design, if the outside of my car is going to look like that? Hyundai really needs to consider firing the moron senior engineer that allowed this ugliness to go into production. Damn.
  • tuanies
    1791104 said:
    Not terribly impressed with the Apple solution if it requires USB. I probably won't like the Android solution either. but then I'm fairly happy with the various players being able to connect to a car stereo by BT. Smartphones change too much to buy a car based on what they are currently like.


    USB is a must IMO or you'll just have something very demanding draining your phone and pissed off customers wondering why their battery life sucks.

    1748327 said:
    I wonder when the Sonata will be offered as a plugin hybrid not just hybrid and a lean burn engine not just Atkinson cycle


    Its rumored to come soon IIRC.
  • hp79
    Thanks for reminding some idiots out there to use their turn signals. I see at least 2 of 10 people not using turn signals all the time. This is in Portland, Oregon area.
  • zubikov
    This looks like a desperate knock-off from a Ford Fusion. Watch Hyundai market the car with carefully-chosen slightly-better specs than other mid-size sedans. Thankfully I've had a chance to drive many sedans over the years, and I know that Hyundai is always the low end in every category.

    The 2015 Sonata also reminds me of Samsung's just-in-time attempts at copycat smartphones over the years. Can anyone in South Korea think original anymore?
  • tuanies
    47809 said:
    Thanks for reminding some idiots out there to use their turn signals. I see at least 2 of 10 people not using turn signals all the time. This is in Portland, Oregon area.


    I despise driving in downtown Portland. I understand pedestrians have right of way and everything, but does nobody look both ways before diving into the street while texting on their phone?

    285755 said:
    This looks like a desperate knock-off from a Ford Fusion. Watch Hyundai market the car with carefully-chosen slightly-better specs than other mid-size sedans. Thankfully I've had a chance to drive many sedans over the years, and I know that Hyundai is always the low end in every category. The 2015 Sonata also reminds me of Samsung's just-in-time attempts at copycat smartphones over the years. Can anyone in South Korea think original anymore?


    I don't think it looks like the Fusion at all. Hyundai has come a long way and the Sonata is competitive. It's more going after the Camry and Accord. I'd say the Fusion is more on the sporting side and not too big whereas the Camry and Accord have gone nearly full-size like the Sonata. Hell, the Sonata is almost as big as the Azera, which makes the higher end car only suitable for people that want V6 power. Now come to think of it, maybe they detuned the turbo to get more people in Azeras?
  • Zircoben
    In terms of reliability, quality, and resale value, you can't go wrong with a Toyota Camry.
  • hst101rox
    Hey I'm around Portland OR / Vancouver Wa too. Aggravating when someone comes in close in front of you without turn signals. A quick toot of my train horn releases my pressure
  • tuanies
    1636921 said:
    In terms of reliability, quality, and resale value, you can't go wrong with a Toyota Camry.


    A Toyota is always a safe bet if that's what you want. For me, the drive is too dull and boring to ever consider it.

    1748327 said:
    Hey I'm around Portland OR / Vancouver Wa too. Aggravating when someone comes in close in front of you without turn signals. A quick toot of my train horn releases my pressure


    Which reminds me I need to find a set of Hella horns for the Project Mazda 5 and my wife's Leaf.
  • may1
    Why would I buy a car from a Honda-rip-off company
  • Zircoben
    242231 said:
    Why would I buy a car from a Honda-rip-off company


    Hyundais don't even look anything like Hondas. All they are doing is competing, not ripping them off in any sense.
  • Kary K
    396755 said:
    1791104 said:
    Not terribly impressed with the Apple solution if it requires USB. I probably won't like the Android solution either. but then I'm fairly happy with the various players being able to connect to a car stereo by BT. Smartphones change too much to buy a car based on what they are currently like.
    USB is a must IMO or you'll just have something very demanding draining your phone and pissed off customers wondering why their battery life sucks.


    Well, that raises another question--does the car's USB connection offer a 2.1 amp circuit?

    But in any case, for shorter trips I like the ability to just hop into the car and use a BT connection, not even touching my phone.
  • WyomingKnott
    47809 said:
    Thanks for reminding some idiots out there to use their turn signals. I see at least 2 of 10 people not using turn signals all the time. This is in Portland, Oregon area.


    I was once cut off by a no-signal lane changer. I caught up to him at a red light and called out the window "Your right turn signal is out." I meant it as sarcasm.

    He pulled over, checked his turn signal, and it was out. He thanked me. Glad I didn't curse him out for being to lazy to use it instead of my cool, understated sarcasm.
  • Kary K
    1636921 said:
    242231 said:
    Why would I buy a car from a Honda-rip-off company
    Hyundais don't even look anything like Hondas. All they are doing is competing, not ripping them off in any sense.


    Maybe May1 is just confused by the sound-alike name. ;)

    In any case, both companies make good cars, so that would be a reason to buy a Hyundai.
  • hst101rox
    1748327 said:
    Hey I'm around Portland OR / Vancouver Wa too. Aggravating when someone comes in close in front of you without turn signals. A quick toot of my train horn releases my pressure


    Which reminds me I need to find a set of Hella horns for the Project Mazda 5 and my wife's Leaf.

    Hornblasters sells the train horns, requires some space for the air system though. Someone managed to put the horns under the hood of a Smart car. I have the entire Shocker 240 system under the hood of my Civic.. Wanting to buy a used Volt, maybe put the horns and tank under the car just behind the battery and gas tank?
    Anyway it's quite an attention getter