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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.

  • blackmagnum
    Thanks for the informative review. My next mid-sized sedan will definitely be a Toyota Camry.
    Reply
  • cknobman
    Yuck, dont like the styling at all compared to the previous generation.
    To top it off the performance engine gets gimped.
    Reply
  • tuanies
    14413041 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.

    14414288 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.
    Reply
  • 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....
    Reply
  • tuanies
    14415149 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...
    Reply
  • gbair
    The new steering wheel controls look pretty similar to the '14 Kia Optimas, which I didn't really like.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • tuanies
    14417533 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.

    14418678 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.

    Reply