Hyundai Sonata — A more sophisticated appearance

By David Finkelstein

After a very successful run with the outgoing version of the front-wheel-drive Hyundai Sonata sedan, the company elected to completely re-engineer this popular five passenger automobile for 2015. The car's outer body design was respectfully dialed back somewhat and now has a more straight forward look to it.

Clearly, the outgoing model set all-new precedents within the auto industry globally. This was based on its revolutionary footprint when it was first offered more than five years ago. To share a bit of background with you, Korean based Hyundai Motors has been selling vehicles in the United States for close to 30 years, first showing up in dealerships 1985.

This all new version of Sonata is classified as the 7th generation. It remains Hyundai's second best selling product, behind their number one selling compact Elantra. According to a J. D. Power and Associates survey, Hyundai is the number one brand with “quality” in the non-premium automotive segment. The brand loyalty among repeat buyers and consumers of various ages remains one of the highest, year after year as well. The new model is also a top safety pick, according to the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety.

Sonata is considered by Hyundai's marketing associates as a car having “class above,” when focusing on a solid value, notable standard safety features and the latest in onboard technologies throughout. Sonata's interior carries this theme forward with an expressive well thought out modern design with premium materials. Controls, gauges and switches are positioned in a user friendly manor. Three audio systems are offered, including an 8-inch center dash touch/navigation screen.

Hyundai's BlueLink in car telematics is also a nice feature that offers a suite of consumer friendly additions with an emphasize towards making your daily drive more pleasurable.

The new model is slightly wider in it's overall dimensions, when placed up against the outgoing version. It also has increased head and leg room as well as a bigger cabin overall with class leading dimensions. The car's trunk has plenty of cargo carrying capabilities.

Some automotive critics may be a bit puzzled in trying to wrap their thoughts around the fact that the car's exterior styling is now somewhat more conservative. However, lets be totally clear, Hyundai elected to build on the previous generation's strengths for the 2015 model. The new model is quite unique, when placed up against the car it replaces.

It will be offered in the following trim levels; ECO, SE, Limited, Sport, and the Sport 2.0 Turbo. With the thought of making the car easer to order, the factory offers it in 12 build combinations, 9 exterior colors and 4 interior themes.

The car is positioned in the mid-size automotive segment with the likes of the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Volkswagen Passat, Kia Optima, Chrysler 200, Ford Fusion, Mazda6 and the Chevrolet Malibu.

The newest Sonata's underside suspension is all new. This further translates to more confident road feel to the driver as well as improved braking and pedal feel. Overall, the new version is manufactured with over 50 percent high strength steel, which not only helps to make the car safer but also makes the body shell stiffer for a quieter interior cabin. As expected, Hyundai also uses additional engineering advances with the objective to keep road noises from entering the passenger cabin.

The vehicle's underside is fitted with special cladding for covering up chassis components, which makes the Sonata more aerodynamic while driving at interstate speeds. This “air mapping/routing trick" was first developed in the racing circuit and is now being adopted within the consumer automotive segment. Improved fuel mileage is one of the other objectives when developing a car to have more wind resistant body design.

As we peek under the car's hood, Hyundai is offering the redone Sonata with four powertrains. The carryover 2.4-liter/four cylinder remains the standard engine. However, it was revamped a bit with its end horsepower output reduced slightly to 185. EPA numbers show 28-city/35-highway with the 2.4. The same logic applies with the 2.0-liter turbo four cylinder engine. Its horsepower was dialed back around 20. Its new HP output is 245. The fuel numbers with the 2.0-liter indicate 26-city and 32-highway MPG. The factory suggests that this horsepower reduction helps with the overall drivability of the car as well as with EPA numbers.

The car also comes standard with a 6-speed automatic transmission as did the outgoing model. Moving forward, Hyundai will still be making available the Hybrid build combination of the 2015 Sonata. Keep in mind that the Hybrid won't get the new body style until 2016. All Hybrid versions will be manufactured in Korea.

All new for 2015 is Hyundai's optional 1.6-liter turbo/four cylinder engine which is matched with a 7-speed duel clutch automatic transmission. This setup is only available on the ECO model which is basically the same 1.6-liter turbo Hyundai has been using in their Veloster sports car. Worth bringing to your attention is that premium grade fuel is not required with the turbo engines they offer.

The base MSRP is $21,150 not including freight and shipping charges of $810. It's built at Hyundai's world class plant located in Montgomery, Ala.  All versions include Hyundai's 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty.