Hyundai released a refreshed version of their Sonata sedan at the 2017 New York Auto show earlier in the year. The 2018 Hyundai Sonata has a comprehensive facelift that may tempt one to see it as a new generation model. The sedan has shed its previous conservative look for a more aggressive stance. The current, 7th generation was introduced in 2015 but it lacked the character of its predecessor as the automaker then decided to go the conservative way against its rivals that were adopting more aggressiveness. As a result, sales of the model plummeted hence the need to give it a comprehensive refresh to give it fresh life in the market.
2018 Hyundai Sonata Exterior
Hyundai designers have finally done what they ought to have done in 2015. The sedan now looks more interesting. The new revisions begin at the front fascia where the model now flaunts a cascading grille that will soon be featured on all Hyundai models. The automaker wants to make this grille its signature feature just like a twin kidney is synonymous with BMW and a spindle grille is for Lexus. The front bumper looks more sculpted; the bumper integrates LED DRLs in place of the previous circular fog lights. The headlights cluster feature full LEDs in higher trims. The Sport, as well as the 2.0 T trims, adds mesh pattern on the cascading grille rather than horizontal stripes on lower trims.
At the rear, the model features wider taillights that sport a new LED lighting pattern. The rear bumper has also been revised. It now integrates the license plate recess which has been shifted from the center of the trunk-lid in outgoing models. The 2.0 T now features a single exhaust tip, rather than quad units on the outgoing model. The Hyundai logo hides the trunk-lid-release button. There is also a huge Sonata badge across the rear. Lower models will ride on 16- or 17-inch wheels while top trims will use 18-inch rollers.
Inside, the changes are minimal. The few new changes include a redesign of the model’s automatic shift knob; the HVAC buttons have also been revised. The model retains the 7.0-inch infotainment system; however, the vents that flank it on both sides have been revised.
Every trim will feature as standard, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Qi wireless charging, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring. The lane-departure warning function is now integrated with the lane-keep assist. The automaker has also updated the car’s Blue Link connectivity suite to be compatible with Google Home and Amazon Echo. Higher trims will have a navigation package that features a 360-degree camera. The rear seats come with their own USB ports.
The changes are meant to make the model look more family-friendly. Other than the above changes, the rest of the features carry over unchanged. The new model is all about the visual upgrade as opposed to anything else.
Engine and performance
Hyundai has not made major changes under the hood. The engines carry over unchanged. The base models will still be powered by a 2.4 L, 4-cylinder engine that makes 185 horses and 178lb-ft of torque. The ECO trim is still powered by a turbocharged 1.6 L mill that produces 178 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. The top 2.0 T trim is powered by a turbocharged 2.0 L mill that churns out 245 horses and 260 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the other two engines which are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, this engine will use an 8-speed system that offers better responsiveness and efficiency.
Hyundai has also improved the driving experience. Engineers recalibrated the steering for a better immediate response. The anti-roll-bar is now 12% stiffer. The rear suspension has also been beefed up for a more comfortable ride.
Price and release date
Hyundai did not announce official prices for the sedan during the launch. The models will likely hit dealerships this summer. As for the price, I expect the automaker to maintain the current model’s prices to remain competitive. Currently, the base model has a starting price of $ 22,785 while the top trim fetches in excess of $35,000.
Hyundai hopes the upgrade will improve its competitiveness against its major rivals including the Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion and Kia Optima.