Just a decade or two ago, Hyundai was struggling to make a long-lasting impression in the automotive world. While they were brilliant at making affordable vehicles to simply ferry you from point A to point B, they were developing a reputation that left something to be desired. The build quality just wasn’t there and the reliability was nowhere near that of their German and Japanese equivalents. Realizing the need for more quality products, Hyundai decided to step up their game and build quality vehicles to compete with the best the rest of the world had to offer.
One of Hyundai’s top models has always been the Sonata. This midsize sedan goes up against some fierce competition, including the Ford Fusion, the Honda Accord and the popular Toyota Camry. To keep it up to date the 2018 Hyundai Sonata received a facelift, making it sharper, newer and better in every measurable way compared to its predecessor.
While this isn’t a fully redesigned, brand new Sonata for 2018, it might as well be one. The most obvious change takes place at the front end with the brand-new nose the car carries. It’s similar in design to the one found on the Tucson and the Veloster, but for 2018 Sonata, the front end sits a lot lower. The headlights are long and swept-back, extending into the start of the side panel. The bumper has been restyled too, and it houses sharp-looking vents as well as a shrunken air dam. The LED daytime running lights add a lot of flare to the car as well. All in all, the intriguing front end uses calculated angles, accent lines and great proportions to deliver a sleek and modern look.
The sides of the 2018 Hyundai Sonata are smooth and flowing, with just two creases creating separation and breaking up the flat surfaces visually. One extends at the top of the doors, above the door handles and below the waistline, and the other sits at the base of the doors. The rear end ties the front and sides in nicely with a simple yet elegant design. While it doesn’t have a diffuser, rear spoiler or anything flashy, the smooth curves instead provide a refined look.
The cabin of the 2018 Hyundai Sonata has come an incredibly long way from Hyundais of old. If you step in expecting mediocre materials and poor build quality, you’ll be in for a massive surprise. The general feel is that of quality and refinement. If you were to blindfold someone and tell them to compare the build quality between the Sonata and any other competitive mid-sized sedan, they wouldn’t be able to tell you which is which. Hyundai really has come a long way in the quality department!
The dash showcases a simple and intuitive design and houses the big infotainment screen up top. The ergonomic controls are logically placed and the design of the buttons gives off a minimalistic look. Most importantly, the materials are superb and what little plastics there are, are soft and pleasant to the touch. The 2018 Sonata’s cabin is a pleasant place to spend time during long drives.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE
The 2018 Hyundai Sonata comes with three distinct engine choices. The 1.6L and 2.4L four cylinder engines produces 178hp and 185hp respectively, but we had the opportunity to test out the top of the line Sonata 2.0t, equipped with a 2.0L turbocharged four cylinder engine outputting a powerful 245hp and 260ft-lb of torque.
Power is sent to the front wheels via a brand-new eight-speed automatic transmission, offering faster and smoother transitions than the previous model year. The transmission is a great choice for the character of the engine allowing for responsive gear changes that are seamless. Because peak power is available at only 1,350 rpm, the acceleration in any gear is powerful and effortless. While the 2018 Sonata may not be advertised as a performance sedan, you will be pleasantly surprised by its peppy quickness.
The 2018 Hyundai Sonata 2.0t feature larger 18-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin tires for more grip to cope with the added power. Dynamically, Hyundai has done a great job sorting out the chassis. Under steer is kept within reasonable limits and it’s neutral throughout the corners with superb turn-in, allowing drivers to actually steer it with the throttle and use left-foot braking to change the balance, something not a lot of FWD cars can accomplish.
The overall driving feel of the 2018 Sonata, is smooth and reassuring, with great steering feedback, performance handling in turns and strong accelerations when needed. The Sonata delivers a pleasant ride with performance-ready results upon demand.
If you’re in the market for a mid-size sedan and are having trouble deciding amongst the many options, it’s a great idea to start your test drives with a 2018 Hyundai Sonata to have a solid baseline for comparison. Starting at only $24,799, Hyundai offers great value for money along with the new found quality materials and build.