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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    First Drive: 2015 Hyundai Sonata

      Hyundai's Midsize Becomes More Mature


    Let us go back in time to October 2013 and my review of the 2013 Hyundai Sonata SE 2.0T. This is how I ended the review,

    “The current Sonata started a revolution in the midsize sedan and the fact it's still selling so well means the next-generation model has a tough act to follow.”

    Well the Korean automaker revealed the next act of the Sonata at the New York Auto Show back in April and it seemed that something was amiss. It was named Sonata, had the Hyundai badges, and was powered by a selection of four-cylinder engines. But it didn’t look like a Sonata. The new model had lost that stylistic edge that the previous one had. Not a good sign considering that most people correlate the Sonata with the Hyundai brand. Was Hyundai going backwards? This past week, I had the chance to check out the 2015 Sonata lineup to see if any of those fears I had were true.

    The 2015 Sonata features Hyundai’s latest design language called Fludic Sculpture 2.0. The new language is an evolution and provides a more mature look for Hyundai’s midsize model. The front end features a wider grille, reshaped headlights, and a new bumper. The side profile features a toned-down version of the coupe roofline and distinctive character line running from the front fender to the rear. Hyundai designers also increased the window space along the side to improve the feeling of interior space. The back has a reshaped trunk lid and taillights. New for this generation is the introduction of a Sport model which adds a more aggressive front grille and bumper; side skirts, eighteen-inch alloys, and quad exhaust pipes.

    I’m not sure toning down the Sonata’s look is a good decision. When the last-generation Sonata debuted, it stood out in the plain and bland midsize class. Now with the new one, it kind of blends in with everyone else. Sure, you can tell there are design cues that come from the previous model and the Sport models does add some aggression. I just think Hyundai is going a little bit backwards here.

    Moving inside, the 2015 Sonata feels much more spacious and high-quality than the last-generation. The waterfall center stack and dual-cockpit front seat layout has been put out to pasture. In its place is a wider center stack which not only improves the feeling of spaciousness, it also improves the control layout. Material quality has also seen a noticeable improvement with the lineup getting soft-touch materials and different trim pieces dependent on the model (Limited: Wood trim, Sport: Aluminum and faux Carbon Fiber). Back-seat passengers will see and feel a noticeable improvement in head and legroom.

    2015 Hyundai Sonata 10

    Equipment is generous across the lineup with all Sonatas getting alloy wheels ranging from sixteen to eighteen-inches, full power accessories, remote keyless entry, premium cloth upholstery, and 60/40 split-fold rear seats. For your entrainment needs, the base Sonata gets a standard radio with iPod/USB/AUX inputs, SiriusXM satellite radio, and Bluetooth. Next up is a five-inch touchscreen radio, followed by an eight-inch touchscreen with the latest version of the automaker’s infotainment system. Coming soon to the Sonata will be Apple CarPlay and Android Car integration.

    On the powertrain front, the 2015 Sonata has three different engines to choose from. The base is the 2.4L Theta II GDI four-cylinder engine. Standard on the SE, Limited, and Sport models, the 2.4 makes 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque (slightly down from the 190 horsepower and 179 pound-feet from the previous model). Next is the turbocharged 2.0L Theta II GDI four-cylinder with (down from 274 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque). The reason for the decrease in power is due to both engines getting Electronic Intake Continuously Variable Valve Timing (E-CVVT) and the turbo engine getting a smaller turbocharger to improve responsiveness and drivability. Both engines come with a six-speed automatic transmission.

    New for the 2015 Sonata is the turbocharged 1.6L inline-four which is standard on the new Eco model. The 1.6L makes 177 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. To get all of the power to the road, Hyundai fitted a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

    The suspension setup is mainly the same with MacPherson struts up front and a multilink system in the rear. Sport models gain aggressively tuned dampers and springs. For steering, Hyundai employs two different steering systems. Most Sonatas use a column-mounted electric power-assist system, while the Sport 2.0T gets a rack-mounted setup which is said to improve responsiveness.

    Alright, enough information about the 2015 Sonata. Time to take it for a spin.

    See The Next Page For Drive Impressions.


    Before I dive into my impressions, I should say I didn’t get the chance to take a spin in the Sonata Eco. I hope to rectify that when I get a Sonata in for review in the coming months.

    First up was the Sonata Limited with the 2.4L engine. The 2.4L gets up to speed quickly when driving in the city limits, but begins to lose some steam as you climb higher in speed. I wasn’t sure if the power band dropped off at a certain point or if the gearing was tuned more for economy. As for the engine itself, it was very refined with minimal NVH levels. The automatic transmission goes about its business without making itself noticed at all. Ride quality is improved with a smooth ride and making imperfections seem like they don’t exist. Body monitions are kept in check when taken around corners. Steering is somewhat numb, but provides good weight. In other words, its pretty much par for the course in the midsize sedan class.

    2015 Hyundai Sonata 8

    Then I hopped into the Sonata Sport 2.0T. The 2.0T in the 2015 Sonata doesn’t quite feel as fast as the one in 2013 Sonata I drove last year. What has been improved is acceleration when leaving a stop. In the old Sonata, it felt like the turbocharger took a few seconds to spool up before delivering that punch. In the 2015 model with the smaller turbocharger, the response is improved and makes it feel a bit more punchy. Like in the standard Sonata, the automatic transmission does a fine job without bringing any attention to itself. Ride and handling is pretty much the same as the standard model which is surprising considering this is the Sport model. Steering oddly feels the same as the standard Sonata, despite a different steering system. Something tells me that I need to spend some more time with the Sport to see if there is really a difference,

    As for pricing, the 2015 Sonata lineup starts at $21,150 for the base SE model. Compared to the outgoing Sonata, the new model costs about $300 less. But don’t expect the removal of features. The base SE gets such items as LED daytime running lights, a driver knee airbag, blind spot mirror for the driver, and a rear lip spoiler as standard equipment. From there, the Sonata lineup climbs to $33,525 for the Sport 2.0T with the Ultimate Package.

    While the 2015 Hyundai Sonata has lost some of the edginess that made the previous-generation a standout in the midsize class, the 2015 model shows that Hyundai wants to move up and provide a vehicle that is seemingly well-rounded. The 2015 Sonata should be able to do something that the last-generation model started, bringing more buyers into Hyundai showrooms.

    Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Refreshments, and Lunch For This First Drive Event

    Year: 2015

    Make: Hyundai

    Model: Sonata

    Engines:

    • 2.4L DOHC D-CVVT Four-Cylinder (SE, Sport, Limited)
    • 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC D-CVVT Four-Cylinder (Sport 2.0T)
    • 1.6L Turbocharged DOHC D-CVVT Four-Cylinder (Eco)

    Driveline:

    • Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic (2.4 and 2.0T)
    • Front-Wheel Drive, Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic (Eco)

    Horsepower @ RPM:

    • 185 @ 6,000 (2.4)
    • 245 @ 6,000 (2.0T)
    • 177 @ 5,500 (Eco)

    Torque @ RPM:

    • 178 @ 4,000 (2.4)
    • 260 @ 1,350 – 4,000 (2.0T)
    • 195 @ 1,500 - 4,500 (Eco)

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined

    • 25/37/29 (SE 2.4)
    • 24/35/28 (Sport and Limited 2.4)
    • 23/32/26 (Sport 2.0T)
    • 28/38/32 (Eco)

    Curb Weight:

    • 3,252 – 3,466 lbs (Models equipped with the 2.4)
    • 3,505 – 3,616 lbs (Sport 2.0T)
    • 3,270 – 3,298 lbs (Eco)

    Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, Alabama

    Pricing:

    • SE: $21,960 - $23,160
    • Sport: $23,985 - $27,435
    • Eco: $24,085 - $28,185
    • Limited: $27,335 - $32,385
    • Sport 2.0T: $29,385 - $34,355

    (Note: All prices include $810 destination charge.)

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.


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    FAILURE, That is my initial response to seeing this car. They blanded it up on the design front and so nothing to catch my eye and say wow that stands out compared to Camry. Inside might have nicer materials, but WOW, BLAND UGLY!

     

    Again, the inside and outside both screamed Camry Bland. I have to say that with the engine changes and this blandness to blend in this car will sell to the Hyundia repeat customer, but they have failed for conquest customers.

     

    Nice write up, informed me enough and showed why this car will not surpass the ugly bland Camry.

    • Downvote 2

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    nice impression.

     

    My review is in the reader review in the forums.  This car did nothing for me.  Its mid to bottom of pack.  I'd tell anyone to skip over this turd.  I didn't drive the turbo though.  This weekend I am going to try to get into a 15 Legacy, they are on the lots now.  If i wanted a Hyundai I would skip to the Azera, which Hyundai is considering killing in the US market.  If i were them, i would push the snot out of them now, but incentivize them heavily.  

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    For family sedans, it's all about form following function and pricing.  Bland has not held back the market leaders in this segment. If the new roofline improves room in back and the feeling of spaciousness, it's a good move.  I like the cleaned up front end more than the last one.  The Kia Optima is supposed to be redone for 2016, and it will probably remain the more stylish, sportier offering.

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    Optima would have already been my choice over the Sonata.  This redo just confirms it for me.  Hopefully they don't kill the looks of the Optima for its refresh.  I'd take a Mazda6 or 200 over either of them but I prefer not to drive what everybody else is driving (says the guy with the Cruze).

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    This may be Hyundai's "new Malibu". The last gen made such a mark, and so popular, with looks and numbers to match, but not perfect...then the new one comes out and is more refined under the skin, but looks and has retrograde touches.

     

    Will not be as big of an "uh oh" hit as the 2013+ Malibu, because it is a Hyundai, but interesting to see. Bland and drab mixed with "eh" Hyundai driving dynamics won't win as many fans, as easily.

    • Upvote 1

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    This may be Hyundai's "new Malibu". The last gen made such a mark, and so popular, with looks and numbers to match, but not perfect...then the new one comes out and is more refined under the skin, but looks and has retrograde touches.

     

    Will not be as big of an "uh oh" hit as the 2013+ Malibu, because it is a Hyundai, but interesting to see. Bland and drab mixed with "eh" Hyundai driving dynamics won't win as many fans, as easily.

     

     

    Pardon me while I slip into negative mode.  I really do not mean to sound negative.  But Americans have been addicted to mediocrity so long this thing ought to be winning the sales staff record bonuses on the sales floor. 

    Edited by A Horse With No Name

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    Blander styling aside this is one very nice driving car that is improved in most ways. My close friend just purchased a new 2015 red Limited with tan leather and the 185 Hp 2.4. It is a solid improvement in most ways to the previous model starting with NVH which are all improved noticeably. The 2.4 is more polished and the reduction of 5 Hp is not at all noticed in the 0-60 dash which takes 7.8 seconds and if anything this improved engine feels a touch more responsive than before. Real world mileage is also better. Rated for 24/35 this car actually easily achieves it's 35 highway rating and we have seen 36-36.5 many times on the open road going 75 MPH! The interior see's more rear seat legroom and interior ambiance and quality are much better than the dull monotone look of the 2011-2014 models. The dash and layout are also much improved. You also get a ton of equipment for the coin unlike in a Camry LE or SE and the radio, touch screen and bluetooth paring are far superior compared to the rental Camry SE 2014.5 we had several months back. We just wish they didn't tone down the exterior as much but if the 2015 mediocre Camry is anything to go by this car should win against it in most ways.

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    I really wish some one could point to marketing that says these bland boring lemming cars sell because of  X, Y and Z reasons. I just do not see why someone would want to buy such a boring auto.

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    I really wish some one could point to marketing that says these bland boring lemming cars sell because of  X, Y and Z reasons. I just do not see why someone would want to buy such a boring auto.

    99% of drivers just want something cheap, economical and reliable..they don't care about styling.   

    Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar

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    I really wish some one could point to marketing that says these bland boring lemming cars sell because of  X, Y and Z reasons. I just do not see why someone would want to buy such a boring auto.

    99% of drivers just want something cheap, economical and reliable..they don't care about styling.   

     

     

    Definition of a Lemming. So Sad So Bad.

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    I really wish some one could point to marketing that says these bland boring lemming cars sell because of  X, Y and Z reasons. I just do not see why someone would want to buy such a boring auto.

    99% of drivers just want something cheap, economical and reliable..they don't care about styling.   

     

     

    Definition of a Lemming. So Sad So Bad.

     

    Just because someone doesn't care about cars doesn't mean that their a mindless lemming, it just means they have different priorities in life.

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    Almost all mid-size sedans are boring-looking.  I like the new Sonata exterior styling better than the slightly overdone last model.  The interior looks exceptionally dull, but I have yet to sit in one.

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    Almost all mid-size sedans are boring-looking.  I like the new Sonata exterior styling better than the slightly overdone last model.  The interior looks exceptionally dull, but I have yet to sit in one.

     

    Its a little boring, but I found it to be easier to understand when looking for a control and nicely built.

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