For the Hyundai Sonata’s mid-cycle refresh Hyundai decided to give the 2018 Sonata a major makeover. When the fifth-generation Sonata arrived for the 2015 model year it debuted with styling that wasn’t quite as exciting as the model before it, so to fix that Hyundai went back to the design studio. With the all-new aggressively styled 2018 Camry and Honda’s complete redo of the 2018 Accord, the there was no time better than now for Hyundai to give its midsize sedan a nip and tuck. Did it work?
Midsize sedan sales continue to shrink, so rather than just sit by and let the Sonata languish, Hyundai gave the 2018 Sonata a major mid-cycle refresh with a bolder exterior. At the front the biggest change is the new cascading grille, which will soon be applied to other models in Hyundai’s lineup. The new front fascia is more in your face than before, which should help it stand out in the typically conservative segment.
At the rear there are new taillights and a restyled bumper, which just like the front is more interesting to look at than before. Larger alloy wheels also add a nice touch.
A few options under the hood
The base Sonata is powered by a 2.4L naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine with 185 horsepower and 170 lb-ft. of torque, that’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. If you want something sportier there’s a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder with 245 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque that gets a new eight-speed automatic. For buyers that want a little better fuel efficiency, there’s the Sonata Eco with its turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder with 178 horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque. The Sonata Eco also gets a unique seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The 2.4L is rated at 25/36 mpg, while the 2.0L is rated at 23/32 mpg. Hyundai hasn’t announced the fuel economy specs for the 2018 Sonata Eco.
Comfy on the road, but a little sport is there
On the road the Sonata is a competent midsize sedan, but not quite as aggressive as its new exterior might suggest. Hyundai gave me the keys to the 2018 Sonata Limited 2.0T, which as its name suggests, it comes standard with the turbocharged 2.0L engine. Around town there’s enough power to get the 3,500 pound sedan moving. There are also four driving modes to satisfy your mood: Sport, Comfort, Eco and Smart.
Driving around town any mode will do, but if you want a little sportier experience select the Sport mode. It tightens up the steering and improves the throttle response. In Sport mode the steering is nicely weighted and the transmission takes action much quicker than in the other modes.
One of the biggest interiors in its class
With 106.1 cubic feet of space inside, the Sonata’s interior is bigger than the 2018 Camry and the 2017.5 Nissan Altima. It also has more cargo room than both sedans with 16.3 cubic feet of room in the trunk for all your stuff.
The 2018 Sonata’s interior is not only spacious, but also comfortable and packed with features. The top-spec Limited 2.0T comes standard with heated and ventilated leather seats, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an Infinity 400-watt audio system, wireless charging for your phone, and Smart Cruise control that can bring the car to a complete stop.
Should you buy it?
Pricing for the 2018 Hyundai Sonata starts at $22,935 for the base SE, the Sonata Eco is listed at $23,535, while the top spec Limited 2.0T is priced at $33,335. With its improved styling, more features and slightly tweaked chassis, the 2018 Sonata is a strong refresh to the midsize sedan.
It remains to be seen if buyers will buy the 2018 Sonata over one of Hyundai’s crossovers. But either way we should give props to Hyundai for injecting a extra dose of style into the Sonata mix.