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Review: 2015 Cadillac CTS VSport


William Maley

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Cadillac has changed a lot during the past decade and a half. Once considered the brand that old folks would buy for their comfort and plushness, Cadillac has grown into a real competitor for the Germans. To see how the brand became a threat, all you need to do look at the CTS. The first and second-generation CTS models showed real promise as Cadillac got the handling and design characteristics right. But there was always something lacking that kept it a few rungs down, whether it be the interior, drivetrain, or something else. Enter the third-generation CTS and Cadillac appears to have taken the lessons it learned from past models, along with a lot of development work to get to this point. Is it a real threat? We spent some time in the CTS VSport model to find out.

 

In terms of design, the current CTS is toned-down when compared to the last-generation model. There is a fair amount of sharp lines and angles throughout the body, but it doesn’t quite have that shock and awe look that the previous CTS had. Instead, the current CTS’ design is much more fluid and complete. Every panel and line seems to flow and makes the model seem like it was sculpted from a block of steel, not bits and pieces. The only downside to CTS’ design is the rear end as it looks like it was done at the last minute and doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the vehicle.

 

Cadillac has also gotten the details right with the CTS. Little things such as LED lighting, headlights that extend into the front fenders, rear spoiler, and chrome exhaust ports. A set of nineteen-inch wheels adds some aggression for the VSport.

 


2015 Cadillac CTS VSport 9


Step inside the CTS’ interior and it's clear to see that Cadillac finally understands how to craft a luxury interior. The last-generation model featured a modern-looking interior, but it was let down by questionable material choices. Cadillac finally has both in the CTS. The interior is meant to be an intimate experience with the dashboard flowing into the door panels and high window sills. Swaths of leather are paired with real aluminum and wood trim. This might be one of the best interiors in the midsize luxury sedan class.

 

The CTS VSport gets a set of leather seats with extra bolstering to keep you in place when you decide to play. Whenever you decide to stop playing around, you’ll find the seats provide excellent support and comfort for long distances. The back seat may seem small when compared to competitors, but it’s a different story when you sit back there. Even for taller passengers, the rear seat provides more than enough head and legroom.

 

Infotainment duties are handled by CUE (Cadillac User Experience) and it sadly hasn’t gotten any better. The capacitive touch buttons still don’t always recognize a finger press and you’ll need to hit them a few times for a response. The system is slow to respond to simple tasks such as changing a station or bringing up the navigation. I know criticizing CUE is now at the ‘kicking the dead horse level’, but this is a key part of the vehicle. If it doesn’t work smoothly, you’re going to lose people who are interested in the car.

 


2015 Cadillac CTS VSport 7


 

For power, the CTS VSport employs a twin-turbo 3.6L V6 with 420 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The engine is quite a revelation when you first take it out. It feels more like a V8 in how eager the engine is to get up to speed. Cadillac says 90 percent of the torque is available between 2,500 to 5,500 rpm, giving the engine strong power in most driving conditions. It shows as the CTS VSport was eager to get up to speed at a rapid rate. Also, the engine had a lot of power in reserve for times when it was called on. The eight-speed automatic performed fast gear changes.

 

Fuel economy for the CTS VSport is rated at 16 City/24 Highway/18 Combined. I saw an average of 20.1 MPG in mostly city driving.

 

Aside from the twin-turbo engine, the VSport boasts some other goodies. There is a sports-tuned suspension with GM’s Magnetic Ride Control system, electronic limited-slip differential, and a set of performance tires. This combination makes the CTS VSport one of, if not the best handling sedan in the class. Put the vehicle into Sport and it hunkers down onto the road. Body motions are nonexistent when cornering and the steering provides excellent feel and weight. When you’re not horsing around and just doing the daily grind, the CTS is a pleasant and comfortable place. Put the CTS VSport into Comfort and suspension will soften to glide over most bumps. Road and wind noise are kept to levels that are considered to be silent.

 

Cadillac has a real world-beater on their hands with the CTS. In VSport form, the CTS gives all of the midsize luxury sedans a real run for their money in terms of handling and power. The CTS also boasts one of the nicest interiors and unique exteriors in the class. CUE is still a problem for the CTS and Cadillac need to address this system ASAP.

 

But there are still some issues for Cadillac as a whole. Perceptions of the brand still linger and the dealership experience still doesn’t quite match what you might find other luxury automakers.

 

So while the CTS is now at a point where it can be considered best-in-class, the rest of Cadillac needs to catch up.

 

Disclaimer: Cadillac Provided the CTS VSport, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

 

 

Year: 2015
Make: Cadillac
Model: CTS
Trim: VSport
Engine: 3.6L Twin-Turbo V6
Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 420 @ 5,750
Torque @ RPM: 430 @ 3,500 - 4,500
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/24/18
Curb Weight: 3,952 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Lansing, MI
Base Price: $59,340
As Tested Price: $60,435 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

 

Options:
Performance Brake Linings - $100.00


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Awesome right up, I agree with everything you have posted about the CTS. They have a world class car, now the dealerships need to step up to make the rest of the experience world class leading.

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The one thing GM has done totally ass backwards on the CTS is trim level pricing. A midlevel N/A V6 model costs as much as a V-Sport. That's idiotic. I can see the top trim doing that, because then the equivalent V-Sport is $10k higher.

 

Cadillac needs to get their pricing strategy under control. A base CTS V6 shouldn't cost $54,000. Especially now that CT6 pricing has been revealed at just a hair more with standard AWD.

 

Just for reference:

 

ATS base pricing:

2.0T - $36,240 (Standard)

3.6L - $42,335 (Luxury)

 

CTS base pricing:

2.0T - $46,555 (Standard)

3.6L - $54,280 (Luxury)

3.6T - $60,950 (V-Sport Base)

 

CT6 base pricing:

2.0T RWD - $54,490 (Standard)

3.6L AWD - $56,490 (Standard)

3.0T AWD - $65,390 (Luxury)

 

Now why in the world is the CTS 2.0T Standard and V6 Luxury $10,000 to 12,000 more than the exact same ATS trims? Cut that in half and things make a lot more sense. Why does the CT6 2.0T RWD base model even exist? What person spending that kind of money can't finance that additional $2000 for a V6 + AWD? What business case is there for a full size luxury car stripper model?

Edited by cp-the-nerd
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The one thing GM has done totally ass backwards on the CTS is trim level pricing. A midlevel N/A V6 model costs as much as a V-Sport. That's idiotic. I can see the top trim doing that, because then the equivalent V-Sport is $10k higher.

 

Cadillac needs to get their pricing strategy under control. A base CTS V6 shouldn't cost $54,000. Especially now that CT6 pricing has been revealed at just a hair more with standard AWD.

 

Just for reference:

 

ATS base pricing:

2.0T - $36,240 (Standard)

3.6L - $42,335 (Luxury)

 

CTS base pricing:

2.0T - $46,555 (Standard)

3.6L - $54,280 (Luxury)

3.6T - $60,950 (V-Sport Base)

 

CT6 base pricing:

2.0T RWD - $54,490 (Standard)

3.6L AWD - $56,490 (Standard)

3.0T AWD - $65,390 (Luxury)

 

Now why in the world is the CTS 2.0T Standard and V6 Luxury $10,000 to 12,000 more than the exact same ATS trims? Cut that in half and things make a lot more sense. Why does the CT6 2.0T RWD base model even exist? What person spending that kind of money can't finance that additional $2000 for a V6 + AWD? What business case is there for a full size luxury car stripper model?

 

That what something I was going to address in the review, but I thought it would be better as an Afterthoughts piece since I go in a bit deeper. I agree, Cadillac needs to rethink the pricing structure to give the CTS some breathing space.

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Question William. Was this CTS using the updated CUE system that was supposed to be much more responsive and snappy?

 

That's tough to say. It didn't feel more responsive to me during the week I had it.

 

Maybe it's for the 2016 models. It's bummer if they don't have that worked out yet otherwise. Of course, the more sensible solution is physical buttons. All that touchscreen non sense would drive me bonkers.

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The C.U.E. updates are only for 2016+ models.   The update includes large hardware upgrades so it is not backwards compatible with earlier years.

GM should look at if the hardware can plug in and work with older auto's I am sure many people would love to buy a new NAV system for their older auto's. If I could figure out how to put in the current NAV that is in the SRX into my Trailblazer I would as it is a very nice system. 

 

Then again, that is what the 3rd party manufactures are for.

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The CTS pricing is bizarre, and combine that with the overlap of CT6 plus overlap with XTS.  XTS and CT6 have a lot of price overlap too.  So Cadillac has 3 sedans all overlapping in some regard, in a crossover heavy market.  

 

Product planning is not a quick fix, they can't pull 2 more crossovers out of thin air for 2017 model year.  However they can sort out options, trim packages and pricing on their sedans.  I think if they want to be a performance brand they could make the 3.6 V6 base on the CTS and CT6, at least then a $47 CTS has a 335 hp V6 base so there is some performance value there.  Make the turbo V6s mid-level, and you can change the content on trim levels to separate the cars more.

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The CTS pricing is bizarre, and combine that with the overlap of CT6 plus overlap with XTS.  XTS and CT6 have a lot of price overlap too.  So Cadillac has 3 sedans all overlapping in some regard, in a crossover heavy market.  

 

Product planning is not a quick fix, they can't pull 2 more crossovers out of thin air for 2017 model year.  However they can sort out options, trim packages and pricing on their sedans.  I think if they want to be a performance brand they could make the 3.6 V6 base on the CTS and CT6, at least then a $47 CTS has a 335 hp V6 base so there is some performance value there.  Make the turbo V6s mid-level, and you can change the content on trim levels to separate the cars more.

The XTS is on the way out, hence the existence of the CT6 that replaces it. Now, the only pricing gripe I have is with the CT6 2.0L being only $2K cheaper than the 3.6L. Personally I would just dump the 2.0L because I can't fathom anyone choosing a 4 banger when the V6 is only $2K more. 

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But the XTS is still here like 3 more model years.  So there is still an overlap problem for a while, and the XTS has a base V6, the other 2 do not.  It is just weird how they planned their sedans.  

 

But at any rate, a challenge for Cadillac (and other luxury makers) is to get people to buy sedans.  Cadillac makes a good handling, fun to drive sedan, yet no one buys it.  And GM, Ford Toyota, etc are selling $40-50,000 crossovers and SUVs.  The average new car price is like $34k.  So people are out there spending money on vehicles, Cadillac has to convince more people to look at and ATS, or CTS.  I don't think it is as simple as try to steal sales from the German sedan buyers, I think they have to get people to think why pay $45k on some Ford or Chevy crossover when they can get a Cadillac instead.  Some how they need to make sedans cool again, because the crossover is killing the sedan.

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The C.U.E. updates are only for 2016+ models.   The update includes large hardware upgrades so it is not backwards compatible with earlier years.

GM should look at if the hardware can plug in and work with older auto's I am sure many people would love to buy a new NAV system for their older auto's. If I could figure out how to put in the current NAV that is in the SRX into my Trailblazer I would as it is a very nice system. 

 

Then again, that is what the 3rd party manufactures are for.

 

 

 

http://www.radio-upgrade.com

 

http://www.sonicelectronix.com/cat_i466_factory-radio-improvement.html

 

http://www.oemautopartsco.com/collections/ram-navigation

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The CTS pricing is bizarre, and combine that with the overlap of CT6 plus overlap with XTS.  XTS and CT6 have a lot of price overlap too.  So Cadillac has 3 sedans all overlapping in some regard, in a crossover heavy market.  

 

Product planning is not a quick fix, they can't pull 2 more crossovers out of thin air for 2017 model year.  However they can sort out options, trim packages and pricing on their sedans.  I think if they want to be a performance brand they could make the 3.6 V6 base on the CTS and CT6, at least then a $47 CTS has a 335 hp V6 base so there is some performance value there.  Make the turbo V6s mid-level, and you can change the content on trim levels to separate the cars more.

Interesting as you have totally also described MB and BMW with all their crazy cross over of models and packages. So based on this, Cadillac has nailed the German Driving Machine of Luxury.

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The C.U.E. updates are only for 2016+ models.   The update includes large hardware upgrades so it is not backwards compatible with earlier years.

GM should look at if the hardware can plug in and work with older auto's I am sure many people would love to buy a new NAV system for their older auto's. If I could figure out how to put in the current NAV that is in the SRX into my Trailblazer I would as it is a very nice system. 

 

Then again, that is what the 3rd party manufactures are for.

 

 

 

http://www.radio-upgrade.com

 

http://www.sonicelectronix.com/cat_i466_factory-radio-improvement.html

 

http://www.oemautopartsco.com/collections/ram-navigation

 

Thanks for the pointers, sadly they do not offer any 2008 Trailblazer nav upgrades. Will have to see what Car Toys has or keep looking around.

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The CTS pricing is bizarre, and combine that with the overlap of CT6 plus overlap with XTS.  XTS and CT6 have a lot of price overlap too.  So Cadillac has 3 sedans all overlapping in some regard, in a crossover heavy market.  

 

Product planning is not a quick fix, they can't pull 2 more crossovers out of thin air for 2017 model year.  However they can sort out options, trim packages and pricing on their sedans.  I think if they want to be a performance brand they could make the 3.6 V6 base on the CTS and CT6, at least then a $47 CTS has a 335 hp V6 base so there is some performance value there.  Make the turbo V6s mid-level, and you can change the content on trim levels to separate the cars more.

Interesting as you have totally also described MB and BMW with all their crazy cross over of models and packages. So based on this, Cadillac has nailed the German Driving Machine of Luxury.

 

BMW and Mercedes don't put 3 sedans in the same segment.  There is overlap with the 6-series gran coupe and 7-series, but the closest Mercedes comes is E-class and CLS, but one is a sedan, one is coupe-look, and the CLS was V8 only until a couple years ago.  BMW has too many 4-door coupe and SUV coupes that aren't really any different than the main product, but that is like having an ATS sedan, coupe, wagon, convertible.  It is multiple body styles of one product which makes sense. 

 

The German way is take one platform and build several models on it.  Cadillac has Alpha, Epsilon, and Omega sedans all in the $50-60k segment and 1 crossover on a different chassis.    They are sedan heavy in a crossover market, and they don't have convertibles, or sports cars or the low volume halo models that most luxury brands have.  Hard to build an imagine without the hottest body style or an attention grabber product.  If not for the Escalade Cadillac would be dead right now, and luckily for them gas prices are the lowest since 2007 right now, so they can still sell those.  

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This model CTS is a lickable car. Lick the headlights.. I reccommend it highly, as uhh well let's just say it's an informed opinion.

 

I mean, the cars in this segment, for the most part are pretty even on specs and stuffs.

 

I mean in MT's Head2Head with the GS F Sport, they gave the GS credit for feeling just as nimble and they liked the interior a bit more, even though it was massively down on power...but similar in price. Chalk it up to the CTS being a base V Sport versus a loaded GS F.

 

Anyways, I drool over this car, and even better I have a mental model of a poster of it in the back of my head and my desktop wallpaper every so often changes to a very pretty pic of this car.

 

When I decide to finally splurge against my own self-imposed poverty thug life, this is a car that I would love to own.

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All that refinement and power, yet CUE's still worse than a $35 Wal*Mart tablet.

YOU NAILED IT GM!

Well it's no worse than some recently launched Ford/Lincoln models not being upgrade-able to Sync 3.

I don't doubt it. But Cadillac's a few tiers above either brand.

CUE was supposed to be a breath of fresh air, better than all the other horrid systems, yet it's become an all-encompassing punchline for horrid systems everywhere.

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I thought the new system for Android and apple phones would replace CUE next year. So is this the 2017 models sold in 2016 or what?

 

Apply Car Play and Android Auto do not replace the infotainment system, they are add-ons for it. All Cadillacs with NewCUE have both.

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      Engine: 4.0L DOHC 24-Valve V6
      Driveline: Five-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 270 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 278 @ 4,400
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/19/17
      Curb Weight: N/A
      Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan
      Base Price: $44,285
      As Tested Price: $48,877 (Includes $1,120.00 Destination Charge and $730.00 Keep It Wild discount)
      Options:
      Kinentic Dynamic Suspension Suspension System (KDSS) - $1,750.00
      TRD Pro Exhaust - $799.00
      Power Tilt/Slide Moonroof - $730.00
      Running Boards - $345.00
      Cargo Floor Mats & Cargo Mat - $269.00
      Door Edge Guard - $79.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Toyota
      Model: Land Cruiser
      Trim: Heritage Edition
      Engine: 5.7L DOHC 32-Valve VVT-i V8
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 381 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 401 @ 3,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/17/14
      Curb Weight: 5,715 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Toyota, Aichi, Japan
      Base Price: $87,645
      As Tested Price: $89,239 (Includes $1,295.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Glass Breakage Sensor - $299.00
    • By William Maley
      There are some cars I will not turn down the opportunity to spend time with again. A prime example is the Mazda MX-5 Miata, a car that brings a smile to my face. This past fall, I had a chance to spend some time in a soft-top version and to figure out whether I would have this or the RF.
      What has changed since our last visit with Miata? Only a few things such as the addition of Mazda's i-Activsense suite of active safety features (automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-departure warning) as standard; and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the Club and Grand Touring models. I find myself drawn more to the standard Miata than RF because it looks a bit neater. The hardtop makes the Miata look somewhat bulky.  The 17-inch wheels finished in dark silver help set the car off. The addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto makes using the MazdaConnect infotainment system a bit more bearable to use. I found myself using CarPlay more due to its easier interface layout and brighter graphics. Power comes from a 2.0L Skyactiv-G inline-four with 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed manual, while an automatic is optional. As I noted in my review of the RF, the new 2.0 makes a dramatic difference to the Miata's performance. Leaving a stop, the engine freely revs and delivers a smooth rush of power. I think this version is slightly faster than the RF, mostly due to it not having the foldable hardtop. The six-speed manual is still one of the sweetest transmissions I have used. It feels smooth and precise when running through the gears. Handling is still one of the Miata's strong points as it eagerly changes direction and shows little body roll. Steering is sharp and provides the right amount of weight when driven hard. Ride quality is slightly better than the RF I drove last year due to the Grand Touring not having as stiff as a suspension setup. Yes, you will still feel several bumps and imperfections. But not at the rate as you'll experience in the Club. The Miata is one of those few cars I find myself still being impressed with every time I get the chance to drive one. It offers a level of driving fun that very few models can match, along with a price tag that won’t break the bank. If you were to ask which Miata I would choose, it would be the soft top. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the MX-5 Miata, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Mazda
      Model: MX-5 Miata
      Trim: Grand Touring
      Engine: 2.0L Skyactiv-G DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Rear-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 181 @ 7,000
      Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/34/29
      Curb Weight: 2,341 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan
      Base Price: $31,670
      As Tested Price: $32,790 (Includes $920.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Grey Cloth Roof - $200.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      There are some cars I will not turn down the opportunity to spend time with again. A prime example is the Mazda MX-5 Miata, a car that brings a smile to my face. This past fall, I had a chance to spend some time in a soft-top version and to figure out whether I would have this or the RF.
      What has changed since our last visit with Miata? Only a few things such as the addition of Mazda's i-Activsense suite of active safety features (automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-departure warning) as standard; and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the Club and Grand Touring models. I find myself drawn more to the standard Miata than RF because it looks a bit neater. The hardtop makes the Miata look somewhat bulky.  The 17-inch wheels finished in dark silver help set the car off. The addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto makes using the MazdaConnect infotainment system a bit more bearable to use. I found myself using CarPlay more due to its easier interface layout and brighter graphics. Power comes from a 2.0L Skyactiv-G inline-four with 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed manual, while an automatic is optional. As I noted in my review of the RF, the new 2.0 makes a dramatic difference to the Miata's performance. Leaving a stop, the engine freely revs and delivers a smooth rush of power. I think this version is slightly faster than the RF, mostly due to it not having the foldable hardtop. The six-speed manual is still one of the sweetest transmissions I have used. It feels smooth and precise when running through the gears. Handling is still one of the Miata's strong points as it eagerly changes direction and shows little body roll. Steering is sharp and provides the right amount of weight when driven hard. Ride quality is slightly better than the RF I drove last year due to the Grand Touring not having as stiff as a suspension setup. Yes, you will still feel several bumps and imperfections. But not at the rate as you'll experience in the Club. The Miata is one of those few cars I find myself still being impressed with every time I get the chance to drive one. It offers a level of driving fun that very few models can match, along with a price tag that won’t break the bank. If you were to ask which Miata I would choose, it would be the soft top. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the MX-5 Miata, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Mazda
      Model: MX-5 Miata
      Trim: Grand Touring
      Engine: 2.0L Skyactiv-G DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Rear-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 181 @ 7,000
      Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/34/29
      Curb Weight: 2,341 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan
      Base Price: $31,670
      As Tested Price: $32,790 (Includes $920.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Grey Cloth Roof - $200.00
    • By William Maley
      I rarely get the opportunity to drive two different flavors of the same vehicle within a short timeframe. But that's what happened in the fall when I had the chance to drive the new Hyundai Sonata in its standard and hybrid forms. The Sonata has always been a favorite of mine as it offered a lot for a midsize sedan, with a surprising price tag. It has also come very close to being at the top of the class, but falling somewhat short due to one thing or another. This new version has the chance of changing that.
      Very Polarizing Design

      The consensus from several readers on Cheers & Gears and various social media sites on the Sonata's design was of dislike. Many found the design to be a bit much and overdone. I found myself in the minority as I was impressed by the lengths Hyundai went. The flowing lines and raked roofline reminded me of the 2012 Sonata which gave notice to other automakers to step up their game. Little details such as the bars the run along the outer edge of the hood to the headlights to a distinct rear-end treatment make the Sonata stand out.
      If there is an issue I have with the Sonata's design, it is the grille. I find it to be slightly cartoonish due to the large size and shape.
      Simple, Yet Elegant Interior
      If you're worried that the polarizing ideas from the exterior make their way inside, don't. The interior is surprisingly sedate with clean lines and a simple design. Hyundai should be commended for using a lot of soft-touch plastics and leather on various surfaces. It makes the Sonata look and feel more premium than its price tag may suggest.

      Despite the coupe-inspired roofline, the Sonata's interior space is quite spacious. Most no one will have any complaints sitting in the back as there is ample head and legroom. Taller passengers should be aware that the optional panoramic sunroof for the Sonata will take away some headroom. The Sonata Hybrid doesn't worry about that as it doesn't offer the sunroof.
      Tech Galore!
      Both of the Sonatas on test came in the Limited trim which means a bountiful selection of technology. It begins with a 10.2-inch TFT display for the instrument cluster which provides all of the key information needed at a glance. A clever trick is when you engage the turn signal, the respective 'dial' brings up a camera mounted underneath the side view mirrors to provide a blind-spot view. I found this system to be helpful as it gave me an extra set of eyes whenever I needed to change lanes.

      Next up is another 10.25-inch screen housing Hyundai's latest infotainment system. I like the three-window layout on the home screen that you can customize to your needs. Navigating around the system is a breeze with a response touchscreen and capacitive touch buttons sitting on either side. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
      The next two tech features are exclusive to the standard Sonata. First is what Hyundai calls a digital key. Using the BlueLink application on a compatible smartphone, you can use this instead of the key to start the car and drive away. At the time of this writing, this is only available on Android phones. Hyundai did provide a loner Samsung Note smartphone for the week to try this out. I did not have the best experience with this feature at first because I found you need to be pretty close to the vehicle to make a connection. Trying to connect from my room upstairs, just above where the vehicle was parked, the application would throw up a connection error. I found that if I moved to the living room or just outside the front door, the phone was able to make the connection. This sours some of the appeal of this feature. 
      At least using the phone as the vehicle's key does work a bit better. It only takes a few seconds for the phone to make the connection to the vehicle and you can start it up. Although, I found myself wondering wouldn't it be easier and faster to have the key. The only feature that makes any sense to me is the ability to share the key with other people, but lock down certain aspects.
      Second is Smart Park (or smart parkh as made famous by the Super Bowl commercial from last year). Using the key, you can have the Sonata move forward or back out of the parking spot to allow for easier access to get into the vehicle. It's simple to operate, just hold down one of two buttons for a few seconds; the Sonata starts up and goes into the correct gear to move in the desired direction. I can see the appeal in urban areas where space is limited. But in the current pandemic times all of us find ourselves in, this seems to be more of a gimmick.
      Power Selection
      Hyundai offers two engines for the regular Sonata; a naturally aspirated 2.5L four-cylinder or a turbocharged 1.6L four. A more potent turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder is available on the upcoming Sonata N Line. My tester featured the turbo 1.6 which produces 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That puts it in line with some of the base engines found in the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
      I wouldn't call this engine quick, but it handles most driving situations with aplomb. This comes down to most of the torque being situated at the lower end of the rpm band. The only area where you might be wishing for more power is merging onto a freeway or keeping up traffic. The eight-speed automatic does an excellent job of maximizing the engine's output.
      Under the Sonata Hybrid's hood is a system comprised of a 2.0L four-cylinder and electric motor to provide a total output of 192 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The Sonata Hybrid feels just as fast as the standard Sonata around town and on country roads. It does struggle slightly on the highway due to the smaller torque figure. The six-speed automatic doesn't stumble when the change over from electric-only to hybrid mode like I have experienced on other Hyundai/Kia hybrid models.

      Opting for Limited on the Sonata Hybrid brings a solar panel for the roof which acts as a trickle charger for both the 12-volt car battery and 1.6-kWh lithium-ion pack for the hybrid system. Hyundai says that the panel can add an extra two miles of range with adequate sunlight. I can't attest to this claim, but will say the solar panel did add an extra bit of charge to the battery, even on an overcast day.
      Fuel economy for both models are as followed,
      Sonata 1.6T: 27 City/36 Highway/31 Combined Sonata Hybrid: 45 City/51 Highway/47 Combined My week saw an average of 29 mpg in the Sonata and 39 mpg for the Sonata Hybrid.
      Calm and Collected
      Hyundai has done some work on the Sonata's chassis and suspension to make it more rewarding to drive. It shows on a winding road as both versions show little body roll and feel more agile than the outgoing model. Steering feels direct and has a decent amount of weight. I will say the Mazda6 is still the one to beat if driving pleasure is your key goal.
      But the Sonata has an ace up its sleeve. It is also one of the most comfortable cars in the class. Driving over some of the roughest roads in Metro Detroit, the Sonata's suspension soaks up most bumps and imperfections to provide a serene ride. The minimal amount of road and wind noise that comes inside also helps.
      Rising To The Top

      The previous generations of the Sonata were always so close to being at the top of the class. But there always something that held it back whether it was the design, handling, or powertrains. But this new model shows how much Hyundai has put in. There is a nice balance between ride and handling; powertrains are very competent, and the interior is best in the class. Plus, the Sonata still retains Hyundai's trademark of offering a lot for not much money.
      Where most people will stumble on the Sonata is the exterior. It is very much a love or hate it affair. Plus, some of the tech features feel more like a party trick to show to friends than something you'll use. 
      Nevertheless, I think Sonata moves up to the top of the midsize sedan pecking order. 
      But there is one more question to answer. Between the regular and hybrid versions, which one I would drive away with. The answer which surprised me is the hybrid. I found it to be a little bit more well-rounded and deliver some excellent fuel economy figures during my time.
      Alternative:
      Kia K5: Like the idea of the Hyundai Sonata, but not to sure on the design? Then the Kia K5 may be the answer. Based on the same bones as the Sonata, the K5 takes a more evolutionary approach to the design. The basic shape may remind you of the previous-generation Optima, but its the little details such as a new grille and revised rear deck lid that help it stand out. From reviews, the K5 proves to be a bit sportier. We hope to get our hands on this challenger in the near future. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata
      Trim: Limited 1.6T
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31
      Curb Weight: 3,336 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL
      Base Price: $33,300
      As Tested Price: $34,365 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata Hybrid
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four, Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 6,000 (gas); 51 @ 1,800 - 2,300 (electric motor); 192 (total output)
      Torque @ RPM: 139 @ 5,000 (gas); 151 @ 0 - 1,800 (electric motor)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 45/51/47
      Curb Weight: 3,530 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Asan, South Korea
      Base Price: $35,300
      As Tested Price: $36,430 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: 
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00

      View full article
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