As sedan sales decline, Hyundai is hoping the refreshed 2018 Sonata will build on the success of the previous generation, which was a big winner for the Korean automaker. The new mid-size Sonata gets a bold new exterior, an available 8-speed automatic transmission and more safety and technology features for 2018.
If you ask me, the Sonata was already one of the best-looking mid-size sedans on the market, but a new cascading grille and more refined rear end have improved the Sonata’s look from front to back. LED daytime running lights and available articulating LED headlamps are another classy touch.
The Sonata comes in SE, Eco, SEL, Limited and Sport trims. Our test car this week was the Limited, which had a MSRP of $27,400, which gives the Sonata a lot of bang for the buck.
Hyundai gives buyers several powertrains to choose from. Three 4-cylinder engine choices are available, a 2.4-liter Inline-4, , a 1.6-liter Turbo-4, and a 2.0-liter Turbo-4. The SE, SEL, Limited and Sport trims get the 2.4-liter engine, while the 1.6-liter turbo four goes in the Eco model. The 2.0-liter turbos are available in Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T models. Available transmissions include a 6-speed automatic, a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic and an 8-speed automatic.
The 2.4-liter engine that will be in most Sonatas, including my test Sonata, develops 185 horsepower and 178 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine doesn’t make the Sonata quick, but makes it adequate for everyday driving conditions.
Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T models get the 2.0-liter turbo four, which kicks out 245 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is mated to a new 8-speed automatic transmission. The Eco model gets the smaller turbo engine, producing 178 horses and 195 Lb.-ft. of torque.
I really enjoyed my time with the Sonata Limited. The cabin was refined, roomy and quiet. Officially, headroom in front is 40.4 inches and in the rear seat it is 38 inches. Legroom in the back seat is 35.6 inches. Those numbers proved fine for my 6-foot-1 frame.
On a road trip to Alexandria, the heated and ventilated leather seats were comfortable. The steering wheel tilted and telescoped, making it easy to find just the right driving position. Noise, vibration and harshness are well-controlled in the Sonata.
The dashboard layout in the Sonata is one of the best on the market today. The 8-inch touchscreen had a split screen, and navigation graphics were crystal clear. Two rows of piano-style buttons made quick, easy work of making adjustments. At the bottom of the center stack, a pair of 12v jacks flanked USB and AUX ports in a super convenient layout. A Qi wireless charging system was below.
The Sonata felt nimble, with solid handling on the road. Steering was precise and on-center. When it comes to safety, the Sonata gets seven standard airbags and a host of sophisticated safety systems like blind spot monitors, rearview cameras and rear cross-traffic alerts. Automatic emergency braking is included with adaptive cruise control.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the 2018 Sonata five stars in every safety test except the rollover test, in which it won four stars. The Sonata is also a “Top Safety Pick” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, winning the agency’s top score of “good” in every crash test. The IIHS also gives the Sonata a “superior” rating for front crash prevention.
Finally, the trunk in the Sonata is fairly large at 16.3 cubic feet. Hyundai installed a neat hidden pushbutton trunk release inside the big “H” logo on the rear deck lid. I’d wager that half of all Sonata buyers will have to dig out the owner’s manual the first time they open the trunk. I did, and I drive hundreds of cars a year.
My test Sonata was rated at 25 miles per gallon in city driving, 35 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg combined. And with its 18.5-gallon fuel tank, the 2018 Sonata can take you a whopping 648 miles down the road without stopping for gas.
2018 Hyundai Sonata
$27,400 ($31,310 with options & freight)
EPA mileage estimates:
25 mpg city/35 mpg highway/28 mpg combined
Estimated highway range: