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2018 Hyundai Sonata Road Test Review

2018 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Road Test

Beauty beneath the skin

When the 2018 redesigned Hyundai Sonata 2.0T arrived on the doorstep of Road & Travel Magazine (RTM) headquarters in Los Angeles, to say the least we were thrilled. Having witnessed its metamorphosis since its inception nearly a decade ago, we were excited to see what Hyundai had in store for yet another ultra modern redesign update placing it squarely in the face of its mid-class competitors. In fact, so impressed were the editors of RTM along its journey, the Hyundai Sonata was named International Car of the Year in 2011 with its then redesign, reshaping sedans and leading the charge to make sedans cool to own; no longer your grandmother's car.

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.0T did not disappoint. Here's a rundown of what's new.

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.” And at RTM, an impact was made!

Created at Hyundai’s California Design Studio with American aesthetic tastes in mind, the new Sonata is bold, daring and beautiful.

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.”

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.

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. 

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.

Our test model came fully equipped with all the creature comforts the Sonata had to offer. In addition, it received a 'five star' safety rating from the government. Fuel economy fluctuates, of course, depending on how one drives, but our 2018 test model averaged 26MPG across the board, which pans out to about $1400 per year. Again, depending on how much and how far one drives. For those who use their car for work, such as a realtor or insurance adjuster, or say Uber or Lyft, expect to spend more.

In fact, I've noticed a significant increase in the number of Sonata's used by Uber and Lyft drivers. Though a mid-class sedan, its style inside and out provides the look of luxury, which most certainly generates a tip increase.

The Sonata test model priced out at $33,460 with all its goodies. The all-new 2018 Sonata provides owners with a sense of pride and personal best. As one new owner shared, "Owning this car makes me feel like everything in my life is brand new!" And that's the bottom line for RTM and the ICOTY Awards, how our cars make us feel!

SONATA EARNS 2018 TOP SAFETY PICK
The all-new 2018 Hyundai Sonata has earned the highest safety rating by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) with a Top Safety Pick+ rating when equipped with optional Automatic Emergency Braking and LED headlights with Dynamic Bending Lights on vehicles built after September 2017, along with the recently announced Hyundai Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport

To qualify for the Top Safety Pick award, vehicles must have good ratings in five IIHS crashworthiness tests — small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints, an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention and an acceptable or good headlight rating. For the Top Safety Pick+ designation, vehicles must also gain an acceptable or good rating in passenger-side small overlap front tests and improved headlight rating. Features which helped these vehicles garner these recognitions included (but were not limited to) optional front-crash prevention, specific headlights and excellent performances in IIHS track tests at various speeds.

For more info, go to Hyundai Motor America.

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