Hyundai’s mid-size Sonata Limited sedan has a sportier look, key mechanical changes and a more user-friendly experience for 2018. The car sports a new aesthetic from the front, side and rear. Its large “cascading” grille, new hood, narrower headlights, more assertive hatch-like profile and new rear with narrower taillights and new trunk may give the impression that this is a sportier model than it really is.
The front-drive Sonata Limited I tested is one of the top-of-the-line trim levels. There are more than half a dozen versions, including plug-in and hybrid models. Sonatas range in price from $22,050 to $32,450. The least costly has 178 turbocharged horsepower, while the top version has a 245 horsepower turbo engine. My test four-door Sonata was an approximately $27,600 non-turbo model with a 2.4-liter 185-horsepower four-cylinder. Estimated fuel economy for the 2.4-liter model is 25 MPG in the city and 35 on highways. An 18.5-gallon tank swallows regular-grade fuel.
Comfort and Convenience
The Hyundai Sonata Limited is well-equipped for the price. Items as leather seating, heated and ventilated front seats, power tilt-and-slide sunroof, push-button start, automatic trunk opening, and dual-automatic climate control come standard. Hyundai also includes an AM/FM/CD radio and a 7-inch color touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
If you purchase the $2,900 Ultimate Package, you get several more features. Besides all the additional safety features you get, the Ultimate Package provides Automatic High Beam Assist and rear parking sensors, for a start. You also get a heated steering wheel, an upgrade to an 8-inch touchscreen system, and a 400-watt Infinity Premium Audio System with Clari-Fi technology. The package also provides wireless charging for compatible smartphones.
My test car did include the Ultimate Package. To that end, safety options included Automatic Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection, Lane Keep Assist, and Smart Cruise Control with stop/start capability. On top of the safety equipment, the heated wheel and seats sure made driving much more comfortable in zero-degree Chicago weather.
All doors, which have storage pockets, open wide to the quiet interior, which has an upgraded appearance. The front seats offer adequate side support, but aren’t bolstered for seriously spirited driving. The split 60/40 rear seat backs fold forward without groping for seat releases and sit flat for a larger cargo area. Hyundai ensured the gauges were clear at a glance, and there’s also a digital speedometer. Cupholders are conveniently situated on the front console, while those in the rear are in the fold-down armrest. The Sonata Limited’s hood glides open on twin struts while the trunk has ordinary hinges.
The naturally-aspirated 2.4-liter engine proved well up to the task of shuffling the Sonata Limited along. It was reasonably quick in town and provided decent 65-75 m.p.h. highway passing times. The tachometer only showed a lazy 2,000 r.p.m. at 70 miles per hour.
My test car had a responsive six-speed automatic transmission with a good manual shift feature via a console transmission lever. While that’s plenty for this engine, the top-spec 245-horsepower Sonata 2.0T Limited has a new eight-speed automatic. Handling is helped by a vehicle stability management system and traction control. When circumstances demand, the brakes stop the car quickly, assisted by electronic brake force distribution and brake assist.
The new Sonata has a refined chassis for surer handling and a more supple ride. Albert Biermann, whom Hyundai conscripted from illustrious BMW M, re-calibrated the steering and changed the suspension to improve handling. Hyundai increased the torsion bar stiffness with the steering system to improve steering response and feel. They may have been too successful, as the steering is a bit on the heavy side. New, thicker trailing arms can better handle heavy suspension loads in the corners. New bushings work with new suspension arms to allow for a more compliant ride and better response to steering input.
Still, despite some BMW engineering credentials, this is no sports sedan. It isn’t supposed to be. Rather, it’s a thoroughly pleasant mid-size car with lots of room, especially in the rear-seat area. It also has a conveniently large trunk with a low, wide opening. With some options, the Sonata Limited’s price, including destination, rises to $31,310. With all the technology on board, that’s quite reasonable value. The new Hyundai Sonata has a more solid feel than its predecessor, which seems to be typical of Hyundai models as upgraded ones arrive each new year.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited
|Price as Tested:||$31,310|
|Engine:||2.4-liter DOHC inline-4 w/ Dual-CVVT|
|Horsepower:||185 hp @ 6,000 RPM|
|Torque:||178 lbs.-ft. @ 4,000 RPM|
|Transmission:||6-speed automatic w/ Shiftronic manual shift mode|
|Drivetrain:||Transversely-mounted front-engine, FWD|
|Suspension:||Front: MacPherson strut w/ coil springs, Mando Dual Flow Dampers (DFD) and 23-mm stabilizer bar
Rear: Multi-link w/ coil springs, Mando Dual Flow Dampers (DFD) and 17-mm stabilizer bar
|Brakes:||Power-assisted four-wheel discs w/ ABS, EBD, ESC and TPMS|
|Tires:||Kumho Solus TA31 P215/55 R17 94V all-season|
|Fuel capacity:||18.5 gallons|
|Fuel economy (EPA):||25 City/35 Highway/28 Combined MPG|
|Passenger Volume:||106.1 cubic feet|
|Cargo Volume:||16.3 cubic feet|
|Turning Circle:||35.8 feet|
|Curb Weight:||3,311 pounds|