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.