Charleston, South Carolina is what we would call a seasoned city in the sense that it has been around for a while but is (hopefully) constantly undergoing a change for the better. The same can be said for the 2018 Hyundai Sonata. Hyundai flew us to the Low Country for a look-see at the refreshed new Sonata, and a first drive with its new smaller, but decidedly sportier younger brother, the Elantra GT Sport.
The 2018 Hyundai Sonata essentially received a mild refresh on the outside, but this slight restyling is more than skin deep. The new Sonata’s most obvious trait is its restyled “cascading grille,” which seemingly bears a resemblance to Audi’s “singleframe” grille, drawn by former Audi chief designer Peter Schreyer. So important to the Hyundai-Kia Motor Group, the company named him as its first non-Korean president.
Schreyer and his team did not stop at the grille, though, and added more details to the new Sonata including an enhanced front and rear fascia, more flowing lines, a reworked hood, revised trunklid, improved taillights and a wider expanse of brightwork around the greenhouse. It’s just the thing to help the 2018 version break away from its more conservative 2015 predecessor.
Dressed up interior.
The interior of the 2018 Hyundai Sonata includes a newly designed instrument panel and centerstack that continues the contemporary vibe seen outside. A new 8.0-inch display with Navigation is part of our 2.0T Limited package, with a three-year subscription for Guidance Package Services, which automatically download updated maps to your system. A high-line Infinity premium audio system along with heated and ventilated seats help to round out the package. A Qi Wireless charging pad can be had for untethered charging of your android (and hopefully soon, Apple) devices.
While driving around Charleston and its surroundings, the rear legroom took us completely by surprise with its expansive space. If we didn’t know better, we would have sworn we were driving a full size sedan.
Blind Spot detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert…according to Hyundai it’s the only mainstream mid-size sedan with this as a standard feature.
Three different powertrains are on tap for the 2018 Hyundai Sonata, ranging from the base SE with a 185-horsepwer 2.4-liter / six-speed automatic combo. It was followed by the 178-horsepower ECO version with its 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and seven-speed EcoShift dual-clutch transmission. At the pinnacle of the Sonata lineup was our 245-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-banger with eight-speed Shiftronic automatic transmission.
We found the 2.0-liter turbo mill to be energetic throughout the range, and really like the new eight-speed automatic slushbox. Switchable from Comfort, ECO and Sport modes, it also offers Smart mode which finds the gearbox’s sweet spot once a solid cruise mode has been established, as on a highway, for instance. It’s at that point that the EPA says the Sonata’s mileage improves from 22 city/ 31 highway to 23 city/ 32 highway. Yeehaw!
The 2018 Hyundai Sonata’s suspension has been beefed up a bit through the recalibrating of the electric rack and pinion system and thickening up of the rear trailing arms. It’s not a track day runner by any stretch but the bottom line is an improved Sonata that is still in the hunt against the revised Accord and Camry.
For how long? That’s for the marketplace to decide.
Story and photos by Mark Elias
2018 Hyundai Sonata
SE 2.4: $22,050
ECO 1.6T: $22,650
SEL 2.4: $23,700
Sport 2.4: $25,200
Limited 2.4: $27,400
Limited Ultimate 2.4: $30,300
Sport 2.0T: $27,600
Limited 2.0T: $32,450
Destination: $ 885
Cylinders: 4 cylinder
Fuel System: Gas Direct Injection
Drive Type FWD
Gearbox: 2.4: 6-speed
Unladen Weight: 3247-3527-pounds
Cargo Volume: 16.3-cubic feet
2.4: 25 city/36 highway/29 avg
1.6: 28 city/37 highway/31 avg
2.0: 23 city/32 highway/26 avg