2015 Hyundai Sonata Limited, headlight. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Peter Bleakney
And the hits just keep on comin’.
This is a heck of a good time to be in the market for a mid size family sedan, as the selection of competent iron is frankly dizzying. On the flip side, perhaps it’s not such a good time if you’re prone to option anxiety.
With its redesigned 2015 Sonata, Hyundai is gunning for the top of the heap, and as we’d expect from this fast moving Korean automaker, they’re right on the money when it comes to reading the market and delivering the goods.
And what is their crystal ball telling them? Back away from the daring styling. Make the car bigger, more comfortable… more conservative. All that zoom-zoom stuff ain’t payin’ off for the Mazda6, so let’s try to build a better Toyota Camry.
You can’t call this all-new seventh Sonata particularly exciting, engaging or fun to drive, but neither can you say that about the Camry which has been at the top of the US sales charts for years. Competency, comfort, value, quietness and ease of use sell cars in this segment, so Hyundai is sticking to that script.
The new Sonata can be had with a 245 hp 2.0L turbo four, but the volume models will run with an upgraded version of the outgoing Sonata’s 2.4L direct-injection four that actually sacrifices a few ponies (down to 185 horsepower from 190) in the name of better low-end drivability.
While the 2015 Sonata starts at $23,999 for the base GL with six-speed auto, Bluetooth, USB, heated front seats and 16-inch alloys (no change from the 2014 model pricing), tested here is the $32,999 Limited which is aiming for premium car buyers on a budget, such is the comprehensive level of equipment. The Limited is festooned with just about every luxury car gizmo you could hope for. So right off the bat we’re getting slapped in the face with a big whack of value.
More on that later.
Moving on from the dramatic “Fluidic Sculpture 1.0” of the outgoing Sonata, this 2015 model adopts a more formal look with “Fluidic Sculpture 2.0”. It’s handsome but not overly distinctive.
You could say that about the interior too. And while the cabin might not initially “wow” you with its design, the quality is up from before and a lot of thought has gone into ergonomics. There are plenty of large, well marked buttons and honest-to-gawd rotary controllers. This car is dead easy to figure out and very user-friendly.
2015 Hyundai Sonata Limited dashboard, centre stack. Click image to enlarge
Being the Limited model, my tester had a bright eight-inch touchscreen (five-inch is standard) which gets top marks for clarity and ease of use. The more time you spend in here, the more you realize how much effort Hyundai has put into the driver/machine interface. All the controls work with a fluid precision and the touch points are pleasingly premium in their feel. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is particularly nice in the hands.