The 2018 Hyundai Sonata isn’t exactly new, all-new, or any of that stuff. It has gone through a mid-cycle redesign and freshening here and there and, cleverly, Hyundai has consolidated a number of the available options into rejiggered trim levels. This is a very smart move on Hyundai’s part. Sure, their cars will not be remembered as being for the ages like Ferrari Berlinetta Lussos and Citroen Chapron Decapotables, but the Korean car manufacturer does really grok what customers want, and knows how to give it to them.
Interior & Exterior Treatments
The 2018 Hyundai Sonata gets distinctive new exterior styling with a front “cascading grille,” plus a new look for the rear. There’s more prominent branding and they moved the license plate location in the bumper. The hood gets new sheet metal, and the front fenders are new as well. Hyundai also redesigned the alloy wheels and reworked the lighting with LED headlights and taillights.
On the inside, the center stack and instrument panel have been reworked for better “visual dimension” and for a premium feel. Other changes to the cabin include a three-spoke steering wheel for a more sporty look, and piano-key buttons (whatever those are) for the audio and HVAC controls. There’s a standard seven-inch color display for the audio system that is notably shown front and center.
Performance & Handling
Already noted for its ride and handling, the Sonata has been seen to by Hyundai’s chassis engineers for further refinement. The rear suspension receives 21 percent thicker trailing arms, for example. Hyundai says this is to better manage heavy suspension loads, but I have a tendency to think corporate got feedback from dealer repair shops concerning the lifespan of the trailing arms and decided to beef them up. There are also new bushings for better ride compliance and quicker suspension response times. The steering’s torsion bar stiffness has been improved by 12 percent to increase responsiveness; the steering has a better on-center feel Hyundai says.
The top-of-the-line 2.0L turbo engine is now attached a new eight-speed automatic transmission. The new box adds a ratio range at both the top and bottom for better performance and efficiency. And all 2.0L turbo Sonatas now come with 18-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin tires.
Additional Equipment & Availability
Every 2018 Sonata gets a big bowl of alphabet soup of standard safety equipment. You get Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), rearview backup camera (RBC), Belt Dimension Stress Management (BDSM), and Lane Keep Assist (LKA) and such. Okay, I made one of those up.
Did you know the Sonata is, by and large, an all-American affair? No, I didn’t realize that either. The things originate from Hyundai’s California Design Studio and are assembled in Hyundai’s Montgomery, Alabama plant. The 2018 Sonata arrives in dealer showrooms this summer, and here’s a handy chart showing the prices and drivetrain configurations for each model:
2.4L GDI 4-cyl
6-Speed Automatic with SHIFTRONIC®
1.6L Turbo GDI 4-cyl
7-Speed EcoShift® Dual Clutch Transmission