Say hello to the 2015 Hyundai Sonata – the Korean automaker’s all-new midsize sedan. From its front grille to tailpipes, this car is completely different inside and out for the upcoming model year. Hyundai invited me to spend a day behind the wheel of its latest cash cow along the rolling hills of Montgomery, Alabama in the shadows of its massive assembly plant perched just off I-65.
With six trim levels and three engines to sample, the testing was extensive. The drive route included plenty of twisty roads, some interstate jaunts, and a few in-town treks to get a feel of how the new Sonata handles. Hyundai has spread out its trim packaging from spartan to sporty to luxurious. The trim levels include SE, Sport, Limited, Sport 2.0T, Sport 2.0T w/ Ultimate Package, and Eco. The three engines are spread evenly throughout the trim levels and include the turbocharged, 1.6-liter I-4; the carry-over, 2.4-liter I-4; and the turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4.
But before I dive into all the nitty-gritty details of the new Sonata in full Driven Review, click past the jump for a sneak peak at what the new car is all about.
- The new exterior is much different than the outgoing Sonata. The 2015 is much more angular, with crisp lines and purposeful accents placed in smart places. I particularly like the double accent lines running from under the side windows forward to the headlights with the lower accent line coming from just above the door handles and meeting the underside of the headlights. It frames the new lights rather well.
- The lower fascia has taken on a sort of Cheshire Cat appearance. A strip of LED daytime running lights accent each end of the ‘smile.’ Sport models get a satin chrome grille and quad exhaust pipes to distinguish it apart.
- Inside the Sonata is an interior that takes after the 2015 Genesis — and that’s not a bad thing. To the casual observer, it almost looks identical. Like the outside, the angles continue within. The wedge-shaped center stack is enjoys a thoughtful layout of buttons and dials for HVAC and radio controls. Three infotainment system faces are offered, two of which are touch screen.
- Sport models get a flat-bottomed steering wheel with accent stitching to match the seat stitching. Chrome pedals and satin chrome accents add attitude. The turbocharged, 2.0-liter I-4 is exclusive to the Sport and comes mated with the standard six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Acceleration and handling performance is quite respectable, considering this is still a front-wheel-drive sedan.
- Limited models get wood trim accents, a steering wheel like that of the Genesis, and an eight-inch color infotainment screen. A 10-speaker, 400-watt Infinity sound system is also available. Rear seat legroom is tremendous for a mid-size sedan (it’s actually so large inside it’s classified as a full-size sedan by the EPA) Rear air vents keep the three rear passengers happy while heated seats keep the front passengers toasty.
- Safety features are found in spades within the 2015 Sonata. A driver knee airbag, rear parking sensors with backup camera, lane departure warning, forward collision warning with full-stop capabilities, auto high beam assist, and a strengthened high-strength steel structure helps keep passengers secure.
- Pricing for the 2015 Sonata has dropped by $300 over last year’s model. That means the base car retails for $21,960, including the $810 freight charge. The base Sport (2.4-liter) starts at $23,985 while the Limited starts at $27,335. The Eco model with its fuel-sipping, turbocharged 1.6-liter I-4 starts at $24,085.
Overall, the new 2015 Hyundai Sonata represents an evolutionary step forward in the areas of design, interior refinement, greater fuel economy, price, and market reach. Hyundai’s success as a company largely rides of the success of the Sonata, as the car represents 27 percent of its business. Only time will tell if Hyundai has a hit, but from what I saw during my time behind the wheel, things are looking pretty good.