2015 Hyundai Sonata: A Refined Entry In A Crowded Segment

Hyundai is keeping busy with product updates. Fewer than four months after we attended the press launch for its 2015 Genesis Sedan, Hyundai is at it again with an all-new Sonata. The company invited us to Montgomery, Alabama to experience the Sonata first-hand. Now, you might be wondering why Hyundai chose Montgomery, out of all the places to launch an update to its bread-and-butter sedan. But the answer is easy: Hyundai manufactures the new Sonata and Elantra in Alabama, so it was a great time for journalists to tour the factory and drive its cars right off of the assembly line.

The new Sonata has very big shoes to fill, as the sixth-gen YF Sonata marked the most dramatic styling direction change in Hyundai history. While the fifth-gen NF Sonata was engineered as a perfect focus group car, the YF went in another direction, featuring a bolder design and optional turbocharged power. That was a first in a segment that typically relies on larger-displacement V6s at the top-end.

This time around, Hyundai aims to refine the Sonata with more comfort, quietness, smoothness and a taste of the technology available in its luxury brethren. Since Hyundai promised that the new Sonata will be one of the first vehicles to support Apple Car Play, we couldn’t resist spending some time with it.

Hyundai employs its fluidic sculpture 2.0 design language, which first debuted in 2013 on the Santa Fe Sport and was further refined with the 2015 Genesis sedan, giving the Sonata its familiar corporate face. A large upside-down trapezoid grille imparts a familiar yet distinct face. Standard LED daytime running lights adorn the lower front fascia at the expense of driving/fog lights and look more premium to my eyes.

The side profile loses the upsweeping line that integrated the door handle on the previous-gen Sonata. Instead, Hyundai softens the side profile a little with a simple straight line. The Sport and Limited trims receive added chrome rocker panels that I find excessive and cheesy, with chrome door handles to match.

Around back, you’ll find LED tail lights on the Limited and Sport 2.0t trims that look quite nice lit up. All Sonata trim levels receive a small trunk lip spoiler that remind me of 90s vehicle design, which I'm not a big fan of.

Overall, the new Sonata has distinct looks, but remains conservative compared to its previous generation. Hyundai might be onto something there, though. Personally, when I first saw the 2013 Ford Fusion, I thought it was a stunning vehicle that made a bold styling statement. I thought the old Sonata was a good-looking car too. But after seeing enough of them, I don’t find the boldness of the Fusion or the aggressiveness of that old Sonata as attractive anymore. And I still find the cleaner Peter Schreyer-designed Kia Optima nice to look at, even though it's been around since 2011. To me, clean and conservative ages better than bold and aggressive.

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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