Hyundai continues to build and improve upon its products for the important U.S. car market with the redesign of its popular midsize family sedan, the Sonata, which gets a significant update for 2018.
As before, the Sonata will come in regular gasoline-only models, and in gasoline-electric hybrid versions. The 2018 hybrids have not been introduced yet, and no pricing or other information has been released.
Prices for the gasoline models begin at $22,050 (plus $885 freight) for the base SE 2.4-liter model with a six-speed automatic transmission, and range as high as $32,450 for the top-of-the-line Limited 2.0T version with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an eight-speed automatic.
Next up the line from the base model is the high-fuel-economy Eco model ($22,650) with a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a seven-speed, dual-clutch EcoShift automatic gearbox.
There are three more models with the base 2.4-liter normally aspirated four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic. They are the SEL ($23,700), Sport ($25,200), and Limited ($27,400), which we tested for this report.
The Sport 2.0T model ($27,600) is the only other model that comes with the top engine, the 2.0-liter turbo four, which in both models is rated at 245 horsepower and 260 foot-pounds of torque.
Our Sonata Limited with the base 2.4-liter engine had 185 horsepower and 178 foot-pounds of torque.
The new exterior styling is bolder than before, turning this into more of a sport-luxury sedan in its appearance, rather than the sedate family sedan of the past. The key element up front is the large cascading grille, and there is a new sculpted hood, front fenders and trunk.
Vertical LED daytime running lights are new up front, along with LED headlights (with available “bending light”), and new 16-, 17- and 18-inch alloy wheel designs. The 18-inch wheels come standard on the 2.0T versions, while the Limited 2.4 has the 17-inch wheels.
Cabin enhancements include a revised center stack and instrument panel, a sporty three-spoke steering wheel, and piano-key style buttons for the audio and climate controls.
Standard on all trim levels is a seven-inch color touch screen audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. Models equipped with Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics come with three years of complimentary Connected Care and Remote services, including the ability to control many of the features using the Amazon Echo and Google Home virtual assistants.
The optional navigation system includes a bird’s-eye-view camera feature and real-time traffic-flow data. Included is three years of complimentary Guidance Package services, which include updates to the navigation database.
Besides providing USB charging ports for front and rear passengers, the Sonata offers optional wireless charging for compatible smartphones.
Among high-tech safety features standard on all trim levels are Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. The available Lane Departure Warning system now includes enhanced Lane Keep Assist.
The 2018 Sonata has received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s 2017 Top Safety Pick-Plus rating for crash safety, when equipped with the optional front crash prevention (automatic braking) and dynamic bending headlights. The dynamic headlights were included on our Limited tester.
Leather seats, steering wheel and shifter are also standard on the Limited model.
An Ultimate Package ($2,900) brought more safety and convenience features on our vehicle, including the front Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection; Lane Keep Assist; Smart Cruise Control with stop/start technology; Infinity premium audio with HERE HD real-time traffic updates; SiriusXM satellite radio with Travel Link; wireless smartphone charging; heated steering wheel; and rear side window shades.
Other safety features included electronic stability control with traction control, front seat-mounted side air bags, front and rear outboard side-curtain air bags, driver’s knee air bag, and tire-pressure monitoring.
Considering all that is included even at the base price, plus the styling and interior features that make this newest Sonata look more like a Mercedes than an affordable family car, this vehicle rings up as quite a bargain.
One of the roomiest sedans on the market, the new Sonata has 106.1 cubic feet of passenger space. It qualifies as a large car under EPA guidelines. There’s a decent amount of trunk space, as well -- 16.3 cubic feet.
Underneath is a new, enhanced four-wheel independent suspension, which gives it a smooth ride along with precise steering and road handling. Coil springs are used on all four corners.
Roadhandling is improved over the previous generation, and we were able to carry four adults in comfort during our test week, and even a fifth passenger in the middle of the rear seat for short runs, with no complaints. Knee and legroom were sufficient front and rear.
The 2.4-liter engine is more than adequate for typical everyday driving and road trips, but the optional 2.0-liter turbo engine would have been more fun.
Overall, we had no complaints with the 2018 Sonata Limited. The only other extra on our tester were the carpeted floor mats ($125). That brought the total sticker price to $31,310, including freight and the Ultimate Package.
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2018 Hyundai Sonata
The package: Midsize, four-door, four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive, five-passenger, family sedan.
Highlights: Hyundai’s popular midsize sedan gets a makeover for 2018, with new exterior elements including the signature Hyundai cascading grille, new interior features including dashboard, and a choice of three gasoline engines. (An updated hybrid version will be added later in the model year.)
Negatives: No V-6 engine upgrade offered for extra power.
Engine: 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder, normally aspirated; 1.6-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder (Eco model); 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (2.0T Sport and 2.0T Limited versions).
Transmission: Six-speed automatic (2.4 engine); seven-speed EcoShift dual-clutch automatic (1.6T engine); eight-speed automatic (2.0T engine).
Power/torque: 185 HP/178 foot-pounds (2.4); 178 HP./195 foot-pounds (1.6); 245 HP./260 foot-pounds (2.0).
Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock, with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.
Electronic stability control: Standard, including traction control.
Side air bags: Front seat-mounted; roof-mounted side-curtain, both rows.
Overall length: 191.1 inches.
Trunk capacity: 16.3 cubic feet.
Curb weight (range): 3,250-3,483 pounds.
Fuel capacity/type: 18.5 gallons/unleaded regular.
EPA fuel economy: 25 mpg city/36 highway/29 combined (base 2.4); 28/37/31 (Eco/1.6); 23/32/26 (2.0T).
Major competitors: Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu, Toyota Camry, Toyota Avalon, Mazda6, Kia Optima, Buick Regal, Volkswagen Passat, Subaru Legacy, Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, Nissan Maxima.
Base price range: $22,050-$32,450, plus $885 freight.
Price as tested: $31,310, including freight and options (Limited 2.4-liter model).
On the Road rating: 8.7 (of a possible 10).
Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.