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2015 Hyundai Sonata: A Refined Entry In A Crowded Segment

Meet The 2015 Hyundai Sonata

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.

  • 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