Starting Price: $22,935 | Price yours

Fuel Economy: 28 mpg combined

NHTSA Overall Safety Rating: 5 Stars

Warranty: 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper, 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain

Similar: Nissan Altima, Honda Accord

Stepping Up in the Face of Tough Competition

The midsize sedan market is smaller than it used to be, but that doesn’t make it small -- nor does it make it any less competitive. The two top-selling midsize sedans, namely the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, are all-new for 2018, further raising the bar for the segment. The current Sonata is a strong seller, but it was time to make some changes to keep up with the Joneses. Enter the 2018 Hyundai Sonata.

While the Sonata isn't all-new for 2018, it has been treated to plenty of improvements. A roomy, comfortable sedan with plenty of safety and convenience features, Hyundai's Sonata already had a solid foundation. Hyundai focused on design, safety, driving dynamics and value to reinforce what buyers already like about the Sonata while appealing to shoppers less familiar with the brand.

There are more standard features on the new Sonata, including blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, plus new available options such as lane-keep assist with driver attention alert, wireless smartphone charging, and the addition of a rear USB port. The base price is only $100 higher than that of the outgoing model and the topline trim levels are about $2,000 lower than in 2017 with more content, further enhancing the Sonata's value.

We sampled the Sonata with two of the midsize sedan's available engines -- the base 2.4-liter and the turbocharged 2.0-liter. The first Sonatas will go on sale with these two engines, followed by the addition of the Sonata Eco with a 1.6-liter turbo four later in summer 2017, and the Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid models, which will go on sale in early 2018.

Here’s a closer look at the significantly refreshed 2018 Hyundai Sonata.

Driving Manners

While the Sonata has consistently been one of the most comfortable sedans on the market, Hyundai was eager to improve the sedan's handling and reduce body roll. The new Sonata uses an updated electric power steering system, plus thicker trailing arms in the rear suspension and new bushings. The suspension changes make a notable difference, and the Sonata responds more quickly when cornering. It isn't as sporty as some other midsize sedans, but is definitely sportier than the previous Sonata.

If you want your Sonata to have even more sporting attitude, consider the optional 2.0-liter turbo engine. It offers 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque -- the same as last year -- but for 2018, is backed by a new 8-speed automatic transmission. The engine/trans duo creates quick acceleration from a stop and plenty of easy-to-access torque. Smart transmission programming also minimizes turbo lag. The 8-speed is responsive, yet the shifts are smooth and unobtrusive. With the 2.0-liter engine, the Sonata receives a different version of electric power steering, which has a more natural feel.

Highway Comfort

Despite the suspension and steering changes, the Sonata is still comfortable on the highway. Its ride is slightly firmer than before, but continues to do an excellent job of absorbing the impact of bumps and road irregularities. And even though the 2.0T would be the driving enthusiast's choice, the standard 2.4-liter has enough power to satisfy most drivers. The carryover engine and 6-speed automatic are a good team, pairing ample acceleration and passing power with decent fuel economy. This transmission works harder on grades, but it shifts smoothly and does a fine job of managing the power.

Drive Modes and Auto Hold

All Sonatas come standard with drive modes, yet there are some differences with the 2.4 and the 2.0T. Both offer Eco, Comfort (the default) and Sport modes. Eco is said to improve fuel economy by changing the transmission and throttle programming. Sport mode makes the transmission and throttle more responsive and also alters steering. The 2.0T adds a Smart driving mode. This alternates between the other three modes, responding to the driver's input. It doesn’t have to "learn" the driver; it simply responds to what the driver wants. 

Auto Hold is an especially handy feature when stopped at a train crossing or when a road is down to one lane for construction. When Auto Hold is on and you step on the brake pedal, the Sonata stays stopped when you take your foot off the pedal. To avoid confusion for the cars behind you, the rear brake lights stay lit as if you're still stepping on the pedal, yet you can rest your foot while waiting for the train to pass. Once the road opens up, you accelerate as usual and get on with your commute.

Enhanced Safety Portfolio

Once an option, blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert with lane-change assist is now standard, as are seven airbags and a rear-view camera. Options include smart cruise control, auto emergency braking, rear parking sensors and lane-keep assist with driver attention alert.

New Lines All Around

In 2015 the Sonata was designed with smoother, more elegant lines and a more mature style. While some buyers found that appealing, it was easy for the Sonata to get lost in the shuffle, especially considering how many other competitors are in the segment. It's easier to get people to appreciate what's great about a car when the styling draws people to dealerships. The Sonata is a car that deserves that attention.

The front end is dominated by Hyundai's cascading grille. Sharper lines and LED running lights give the nose a more assertive attitude and more road presence. The side profile is basically the same as it was before, with the exception of new available wheels. Crisp lines, a new taillight design and available dual exhaust tips freshen the rear end, with a new smooth trunklid as the finishing touch. Note that those who want a panoramic sunroof will have to look for a 2017-or-older Sonata. The previous option is gone, and a conventional tilt-and-slide sunroof is standard on Sport and Limited trims.

Sonata Sport

Offered with either the 2.4-liter or 2.0-liter turbo engine, Sport models receive a unique grille and front fascia, plus a dual exhaust. The interior is different as well, with a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and Sport cloth seats that have leather bolsters and contrast stitching. In the Sport, you can only get the sport-tuned suspension with the 2.0-liter turbo engine.

Infotainment

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are standard, and are accessed through the one USB port that's up front. A second USB port is available for rear passengers. The standard touch screen is a 7-inch unit; an 8-inch screen with navigation is available. Also optional are Qi smartphone charging and an Infinity 8-speaker audio system. 

Interior Edge

The Sonata's controls have consistently been intuitive, but for 2018 they have gotten even easier to use while looking more elegant in the process. The touch screen sits higher, which allows all the controls to sit higher, making them easier to reach. The buttons and knobs are well organized in wider horizontal rows, with the navigation and audio controls just below the screen, and the climate controls falling neatly below. There's enough space between the two rows that the locations are easy to learn, which minimizes the amount of time your eyes are off the road. The knobs and buttons also have a more premium look and feel. The new 3-spoke steering wheel has a more upscale design, and the overall look and feel of the interior is more premium than before. One thing you do lose from the 2017 model is the handy door that covered the area where the USB port and aux jack is, which was an easy way to keep small items like smartphone cords out of view when the car is parked.

Invisible Trunk Release

This may seem like a little thing, but if you take a look at the back of the Sonata, there's no obvious button to open the trunk. To find the trunk release, take a look at the Hyundai logo. Push the area below the ring and above the "H" to open the trunk. You can also use the keyless entry fob or, on SEL-and-higher trim levels, the handsfree smart trunk feature that opens the trunk when the remote is close enough to the back of the car. And once the lid opens, you have access to the largest trunk in the segment.

Fuel Economy

The EPA hasn’t released its fuel-economy ratings on the entire Sonata line, but here's what we know: fuel economy with the 2.4-liter engine in the base model remains unchanged for 2018, at 25 mpg city, 36 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg combined, which is about midpack for the segment. Moving up from the SE trim brings a different wheel and tire package, and the highway and combined fuel economy go down by one mpg. With the 2.0-liter turbo four under the hood, fuel economy improves compared to 2017, going up from 22 city and 31 highway to 23 city and 32 highway; combined fuel economy stays the same: 26 mpg. Hyundai estimates that fuel economy for the Eco model will be 31 mpg combined (28 mpg city, 37 mpg highway).

Sonata Versus the Rest

The Sonata brings together comfort like you would find in a Toyota Camry or Nissan Altima with a trunk that's more spacious than the Volkswagen Passat. Its interior is arguably the most user-friendly in any midsize sedan. The Sonata's starting price of $22,935, only $150 higher than the price of the 2017 Sonata SE, is one of the lowest MSRPs in the segment. (Last year, there was a base-model Sonata, which was dropped for 2018.) It also has an impressive amount of standard equipment.

Inside and Out: 2018 Hyundai Sonata Photo Gallery

2018 Hyundai Sonata Equipment and Sticker Prices

For 2018, Hyundai changed its trim level lineup. It dropped the base trim and added midrange SEL models.

Sonata SE
$22,935 (all prices here include $885 destination charge)
2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine
6-speed automatic transmission
Front-wheel drive
7-inch touchscreen display
6-speaker audio system
Bluetooth and USB smartphone connectivity
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility
Rearview camera
Cloth seating
Tilt/telescoping steering wheel
60/40 split fold-down rear seat
16-inch alloy wheels
Blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert and lane change assist
Heated side mirrors

Sonata Eco
$23,535
1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine
7-speed dual-clutch transmission

Sonata SEL
$24,585
2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine
6-speed automatic transmission
Pushbutton start
4.2-inch color trip computer
10-way power driver's seat
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
Heated front seats
Blue Link connected car system
Second-row USB port
17-inch alloy wheels
Heated side mirrors with turn-signal indicators
Handsfree smart trunk opener
LED daytime running lights
Available Tech Package ($1,000) includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, smart cruise control, electronic parking brake

Sonata Sport
$26,085 (2.4L)
Paddle shifters
Sport instrument cluster
Flat-bottom steering wheel
Sunroof
Sport styling package
Dual exhaust

$28,485 (2.0T)
2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
8-speed automatic transmission
Sport-tuned suspension
Larger front brakes
18-inch alloy wheels

Sonata Limited
$28,285 (2.4L)
Dynamic bending lights
LED headlights and taillights
Leather seats
Driver memory
Ventilated front seats
6-way power passenger seat
Dual automatic climate control
Rear vents
Passenger window auto up/down
Available Ultimate Package ($2,900) includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection; smart cruise control; lane-keep assist; electronic parking brake with auto vehicle hold; navigation with 8-inch touchscreen; 400-watt Infinity audio system with subwoofer; Qi wireless phone charging; heated steering wheel; automatic high beams; rear parking assist; and sunshades for the rear windows.

$33,335 (2.0T)
2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
8-speed automatic transmission
Sport-tuned suspension
Leather Sport seats
Ventilated front seats
Includes the Ultimate Package (see above)

2018 Hyundai Sonata Specs

Engine: 2.4-liter 4-cylinder (SE, SEL, Sport, Limited)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
Horsepower: 185 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 178 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
SE Fuel Economy: 29 mpg combined (25 city, 36 highway)
SEL, Sport, Limited Fuel Economy: 28 mpg combined (25 city, 35 highway)

Engine: 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder (Eco)
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
Horsepower: 178 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 195 lb-ft @ 1,500-4,500 rpm
Estimated Fuel Economy: 31 mpg combined (28 mpg city, 37 mpg highway)

Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder (Sport 2.0T, Limited 2.0T)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
Horsepower: 245 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 1,350-4,000 rpm
Fuel Economy: 26 mpg combined (23 city, 32 highway)

Shared Specs
Base Curb Weight: 3,247 lb
Turning Circle: 35.8 feet
Wheelbase: 110.4 inches
Length: 191.1 inches
Width: 73.4 inches
Height: 58.1 inches
Cargo Volume (Trunk Space): 16.3 cu ft
Final Assembly: United States

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