Latest round of updates for the sedan add incremental improvements just about everywhere

At this point, I think it’s safe to classify the Hyundai Sonata as a rock solid standby in the affordable mid-size commuter sedan segment. The nameplate has been in use since 1985, with its current seventh-generation first introduced in 2014. To keep it going strong, Hyundai just announced a newly refreshed iteration for the 2018 model year at this year’s New York International Auto Show, and it’s bringing revised styling, new features, better technology, and updated hardware. All in all, it’s a rather standard mid-cycle facelift for the seventh-gen, but still quite significant in its impact.

In fact, that’s what Hyundai was aiming for all along, especially when it came to the exterior styling. The fresh look incorporates what the automaker calls a cascading grille design up front, plus a “more assertive profile,” and a redesigned rear end outfitted with a new, svelte taillight design.

We think it looks pretty good, moving the aesthetic ahead in a refined, attractive way. Not only does it look nice, but Hyundai also managed to dig under the skin to make it handle better, not to mention make it a little quicker and a bit more efficient as well.

Looking for details? Read on.

Continue reading to learn more about the new Hyundai Sonata.

Why It Matters

2017 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle High Resolution Exterior
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Making A Better Penalty Box – 2018 Hyundai Sonata Actually Looks Pretty Nice High Resolution Exterior
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Note: 2017 Hyundai Sonata pictured on the left, 2018 Hyundai Sonata pictured on the right.

Compared to the model that came before it, the 2018 Sonata looks sleeker, curvier, and little more premium. The styling elements seem to draw from other brands in higher segments – the front grille, for example, reminds me of Audi’s Singleframe intakes, dominating the nose in one horizontally slated opening. That said, it’s still a nice piece of design, and there are plenty of cues to justify it as a somewhat distinctive aesthetic.

Making A Better Penalty Box – 2018 Hyundai Sonata Actually Looks Pretty Nice High Resolution Exterior
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Making A Better Penalty Box – 2018 Hyundai Sonata Actually Looks Pretty Nice High Resolution Exterior
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Making A Better Penalty Box – 2018 Hyundai Sonata Actually Looks Pretty Nice High Resolution Exterior
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Making A Better Penalty Box – 2018 Hyundai Sonata Actually Looks Pretty Nice High Resolution Exterior
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Complementing the new body panels are new wheel designs, with sizing ranging from 16 inches, to 18 inches in diameter. Up front, you’ll find new LED daytime running lights fitted to adaptive headlights, which also come with LEDs. These headlight units will actively bend the light they project around corners as you turn, enhancing safety. The Hyundai badges were also made larger, and there are chrome accents front to back.

Under the body panels is an improved chassis offering a more comfortable ride and sharper handling. Helping to accomplish these goals are stiffer anti-sway bars, as well as larger trailing arms for the rear suspension. The steering was also tweaked for better response and improved feel.

Making A Better Penalty Box – 2018 Hyundai Sonata Actually Looks Pretty Nice High Resolution Drivetrain Exterior
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The drivetrain lineup now includes an eight-speed automatic transmission, which is mated to the 245-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, broadening the gear ratio range.

The drivetrain lineup now includes an eight-speed automatic transmission, which is mated to the 245-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, broadening the gear ratio range. This has the combined effect of making the car accelerate more quickly, and making it more efficient when cruising. Michelin provides the tire compounds.

Inside the cabin is a new center stack and instrument panel, with an updated gauge dial design, a new three-spoke steering wheel, and piano key buttons for the audio system and HVAC system. Standard spec includes a 7.0-inch display touchscreen, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both supported. There are more USB ports for rear passengers, as well as a Bird’s Eye View feature for the nav system, plus live traffic info that doesn’t require a subscription. The Sonata also includes the latest safety tech, like blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert, while Blue Link is included to integrate with your Amazon Echo. Options include a Qi inductive charger for mobile devices.

Making A Better Penalty Box – 2018 Hyundai Sonata Actually Looks Pretty Nice High Resolution Interior Exterior
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Making A Better Penalty Box – 2018 Hyundai Sonata Actually Looks Pretty Nice High Resolution Interior Exterior
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Inside the cabin is a new center stack and instrument panel, with an updated gauge dial design, a new three-spoke steering wheel, and piano key buttons for the audio system and HVAC system.

It’s a nice bit of kit, and while it won’t blow your socks off when it comes to performance, the enhancements for the 2018 model year do make for an enticing package for anyone looking for comfort and value in a mid-size four-door.

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Press Release

The redesigned 2018 Sonata enters the market with a new look from the front, side and rear thanks to a “cascading grill,” a more assertive profile and an entirely new rear; showcasing a clean and handsome approach with reimagined, slim taillights.

“It’s all about making an impact,” said Chris Chapman, chief designer, Hyundai North American Design Center. “We wanted to deliver an exciting expressive car to our customers and show the world how passionate Hyundai is about design and craftsmanship. The objective was to make an impact, this design provides the visual excitement and unique identity our customers associate with Sonata.”

Created at Hyundai’s California Design Studio with American aesthetic tastes in mind, the new Sonata is bold, daring and beautiful. The 2018 Sonata made its North American debut today at the New York International Auto Show.

Making A Better Penalty Box – 2018 Hyundai Sonata Actually Looks Pretty Nice High Resolution Exterior
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ELEVATED ELEGANCE
Supplementing the bodywork, the 2018 Sonata now lights the way with LED daytime running lights. When night falls, available LED headlamps with dynamic bending light illuminate the path and add to Sonata’s already radiant posture. The same standout style continues in the rear with sharp taillight design and enlarged Hyundai badge, which now cleverly houses the trunk release button. Chrome accents surround the daylight opening (DLO) and fresh wheel designs cap off its new look.

Inside, the renewed center stack and instrument panel echo the exterior’s catching new looks. The trend carries down to gauge dial design and a strong three-spoke steering wheel. Piano key buttons for audio and HVAC controls give a premium look and touch.

“The moment the pen left the drafting paper I knew we had something special in this re-imagined Sonata,” says Chapman, “Dynamic lines, strong graphics, and our new signature cascading grille come together in an athletic way.”

Making A Better Penalty Box – 2018 Hyundai Sonata Actually Looks Pretty Nice High Resolution Exterior
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BEAUTY BENEATH THE SKIN
The new Sonata has a refined chassis with improved ride and handling. To achieve this feat, talented engineers increased the torsion bar stiffness within the steering system by 12 percent, which improves steering response and feel in all conditions. They then enhanced that improvement further with new steering calibration, focusing on responsiveness and on-center steering feel. Previous ratings for ride, handling and NVH showed customers were quite satisfied, so engineers just reset an already high bar.

In addition to these steering changes, the Sonata received an updated rear suspension. The trailing arms are 21 percent thicker, making them stiffer and better able to manage heavy suspension loads. New bushings work with the new suspension arms to allow for more ride compliance and yet quicken response time to control all other wheel motions. The result is a communicative, nimble and comfortable sedan.

For the top-of-the-line powertrain, there’s even more. The 245 horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine now includes an eight-speed automatic transmission, which adds ratio range at both the top and bottom of output speeds. The eight-speed allows for extra thrust off-the-line and a quieter, more fuel-efficient dash down the interstate. The 2.0-liter turbo models roll on 18-inch wheels, now with Michelin tires.

Making A Better Penalty Box – 2018 Hyundai Sonata Actually Looks Pretty Nice High Resolution Interior Exterior
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COMPELLING COMFORT AND SAFETY
The 2018 Sonata features a standard seven-inch color display audio touchscreen with both Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto® integration. Speaking of smartphones, driver and passenger alike can keep them charged without a plug using the available Qi standard wireless charging pad. Sonata now adds a second row USB charge port, a nod to today’s connected rear-seat passengers. Available navigation systems now come with a bird’s eye view feature as well as traffic flow and incident data, without ever having to pay a subscription for the service.

The Sonata offers more safety features in 2018. In addition to seven standard airbags (dual front, side, and curtain, as well as driver’s knee) and a battery of safety systems (VSM, ESC, TCS, ABS, EBD, BA, and TPMS) comes Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA). The Sonata is the only Midsize car sold with this safety technology as standard equipment. Despite drivers spending a tiny amount of time in reverse, one-quarter of all accidents happen when someone is backing up. BSD with RCTA gives drivers peace of mind that the road behind them is clear. Furthermore, there’s also a new Lane Departure Warning system with an enhanced Lane Keep Assist function available.

Making A Better Penalty Box – 2018 Hyundai Sonata Actually Looks Pretty Nice High Resolution Drivetrain Exterior
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BETTER BLUE LINK
As our cars become a mobile extension of the connected world, Blue Link continues to add more features to integrate your life. Blue Link now talks to Amazon Echo™, allowing you to control your car inside your home, or wherever the Amazon device is located.

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