Hyundai Motor America has had a presence here in the U.S. for the past 29 years, with the Excel representing their initial product launch in 1986. The Hyundai Sonata made its U.S. debut two years later in 1988. The Hyundai Sonata now enters its seventh generation celebrating the beginning of Hyundai?s 30th year on our shores. Sales have risen from 14,144 units in 1998 through three basic iterations, coded EF, NF and YF to 203,648 in 2013 with sales actually being higher in 2011 with 215,593 and 2012 with 212,576.
Sonata?s buyer profile has changed dramatically over the years with buyers being younger, more with college educations, higher average household incomes, and with a higher ethnic diversity. The Hyundai Sonata itself has changed dramatically as well, resulting in six generations of continual
refinement and evolution, along with a revolutionary Improvement in style, safety and driving performance.
This latest Hyundai Sonata epitomizes the essence of what consumers expect, with exterior and interior styling that reflects Hyundai?s new design
philosophy, focusing on dynamicism, yet with a refined luxuriousness and collision protection assured by superior body strength while delivering a premium driving experience, precise handling and quietness. The 2015 Hyundai Sonata has also grown in stature ? it is taller, wider and longer than before, with class-leading aerodynamics (Cd=0.27).
The 2015 Hyundai Sonata offers two Theta II four-cylinder engines: the base 2.4-liter, GDI that produces 185 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 178 pound feet of torque at 4,000 rpm; and a performance oriented 2.0-liter twin-scroll Turbo GDI that delivers245 horses at 6,000 rpm along with 260 pound feet of torque in a range from 1,350-4,000 rpm. Both engines gear power to the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic (the 2.0-liter turbo?s transmission also comes with paddle shifters. A third engine variant is also available ? a 1.6-liter Eco Twin-scroll turbo GDI 4-cylinder that mates to a 7 speed EcoShift DCT transmission with Shiftronic. The 1.6-liter motor makes 177 horsepower and 195 pound feet of torque. Mileage estimates for the three engines are respectively: 25/37 ? 23/32 ? and 28/38 City/Hwy mpg.
Trim levels for the new Hyundai Sonata include: SE which replaces GLS; Sport which replaces SE; Limited; Sport 2.0T, Sport 2.0T with the Ultimate Package; and Eco. The Sport trim with the 2.4-liter engine is expected to be the volume model Sonata along with the Limited. Option packages include: Popular Equipment Package; Sport Premium Package; Technology Package; Ultimate Package and Eco Plus. There are nine available exterior colors and four interior color themes for SE, Sport, Limited and Eco, with only Black and Gray available for the Sport 2.0T. 2015 Sonata pricing begins at $21,150 (SE) for a $300 price reduction from 2014 with a $300 added feature content. Sport models start at $23,175, Limited at $26,525, Sport 2.0T at $28,575, and Eco at $23,275. Add $810. Destination and Handling for all.
The 2015 Hyundai Sonata displays a sleek overall form that leads off with Hyundai?s winged hexagonal grille that flows into a sloped, sculpted hood and sharply raked windscreen carrying over a gently curved cabin roof into a slanted rear window and short deck with an integrated spoiler lip. In profile, the fast, arching C-pillar creates a sporty coupe-like persona despite its four doors, and the car sits low with pronounced wheel wells hugging the wheels and tires. There is a strong side character line, which Hyundai refers to as a Sabre line that?s reflected and complemented by precise rocker detailing.
There were no base model Sonatas at the national media introduction, but I was able to experience a projected volume model in the form of a Sonata Limited with the 2.4-liter engine and 6-speed automatic, as well as a Sonata Sport powered by the 2.0T with the paddle shifter Shiftronic automatic. The Limited sported a Quartz White metallic exterior finish, complemented by a Beige interior. The base price was set at $26,525, with the final tally coming to $32,385 after adding the Tech and Ultimate Packages, and Inland Freight and Handling charges. The Sonata Sport 2.0T wore a Venetian Red exterior coat and came with a Gray interior. The base sticker read $28,575 with the final count and amount coming to $34,335 after factoring in the Ultimate Package and freight and Handling fee.
SUMMARY: Our Hyundai Sonata press experience began with a guided tour of the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Plant in Montgomery, Alabama where the Sonata is built. Journalists were then paired up to drive a new Sonata off the assembly line and out into real world driving scenarios, which included city driving, freeways and challenging back country roads.
Oddly enough, the 2.4-liter engine seemed to generate more noise when prodded with gusto, than the 2.0T turbocharged motor, when it seemed that the opposite should be the case. In any event, neither was really objectionable. The turbo motor delivered a higher performance level than the 2.4 liter, but both performed satisfactorily in terms of acceleration. Both vehicle?s transmissions shifted smoothly, while the paddle shifters were more enjoyable for manually changing gears than the lever. Both provided user-selectable Drive Modes that delivered varying levels of vehicle performance: Efficient; well-balanced; and Dynamic, governed by Eco; Normal; and Sport respectively.
The seventh generation Hyundai Sonata, regardless of trim level or propulsion chosen comes with a host of new safety features including: a Driver Knee Airbag, Rear Parking Sensors, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Auto High Beam Assist, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Individual Tire Pressure Monitoring.
Convenience features offered include: Smart Cruise Control with Stop/Start, Electronic Park Brake with auto vehicle hold, Driver memory seat, Rear side window sunshades, heated steering wheel, 60/40 split folding rear seat and Hands-free Smart Trunk.
Interior amenities include: Power front seats and 4-way driver lumbar Ventilated front seats, Heated front and rear seats, accent stitching, 4.2? color multi-info display and interior lights. There are also available audio and Navigation features including various entertainment and connectivity links.
Hyundai tops the majority of its competitors including Camry L, Accord LX, Altima 2.5 and Fusion S in terms of price advantage and feature content by an average of $1,178,75 while also offering a superior Basic Warranty, Powertrain Warranty and Roadside Assistance program.
Bottom-line, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata lineup truly raises the bar in terms of design, performance and feature content in the mid-size sedan segment.
[wptabs style=”wpui-light” effect=”slide” mode=”horizontal”]
[wptabtitle] SPECIFICATIONS: 2015 Hyundai Sonata Limited [/wptabtitle]
|Price as Tested:||$32,385.|
|Engine Type and Size:||2.4-liter, Theta II DOHC, GDI inline four-cylinder with Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing.|
|Horsepower (bhp):||185 @ 6,000 rpm|
|Torque (ft./ lbs.):||178 @ 4,000 rpm|
|Transmission:||Six-speed electronic automatic with OD lock-up torque converter, shift lock and Shiftronic? manual shift mode.|
|Drive Train:||Transversely mounted front engine / Front-Wheel Drive.|
|Suspension:||Front – MacPherson strut with gas-charged Mando Dual Flow Damper (DFD) shock absorbers and 23-mm stabilizer bar (2.4L/1.6T)
Rear – Independent multi-link design with coil springs, gas-charged Mando Dual Flow Damper (DFD) shock absorbers and stabilizer bar (17-mm for 2.4L/1.6T)
|Brakes:||Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) with Dual diagonal, split circuit with proportioning valves, 4-wheel, 4-channel and 4-sensor with ABS, EBD and ESC.|
|Tires:||Hankook Kinergy P215/55 R17 mounted on 7-“V”?-spoke silver painted alloy wheels.|
|Length Overall:||191.1 inches|
|Curb Weight:||3,252-3,466 lbs.|
|Fuel Capacity:||18.5 gallons|
|EPA Mileage Estimates:||24 mpg city / 35 mpg highway|
|0 – 60 mph:||Not tested.|
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.