The Hyundai Sonata is a midsize car and the longest continuously produced model by this Korean manufacturer. It was introduced to the U.S. market in 1988. The front-wheel drive Hyundai Sonata has gone from an “also ran” product to one of the top models in the segment.
2015 to Present: Hyundai Sonata
Hyundai released the current generation Sonata in 2015. As before, the Sonata offers a hybrid version, but that model did not see an update until the 2016 model year when a plug-in hybrid model also joined the Sonata lineup.
The Sonata is offered in six trim levels: SE, Sport, Eco, Limited, Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T.
The SE, Sport and Limited editions are powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine making 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. This engine comes paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Sonata Eco is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 178 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This engine is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T trims come with a six-speed automatic transmission and are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.
The Hyundai Sonata advances the brand’s latest interpretation of its fluidic sculpture design language. The current iteration eased some of the exaggerated lines that have marked this model since 2011. Still, the current Sonata offers a look that is sporty and elegant with its pronounced trapezoidal grille, wraparound headlamps, distinctive lighting treatments and creased lines.
Multiple character lines run along the profile, beginning at the beltline, running across the door handles and along the bottom of the doors. Strong shoulders, large wheel wells and alloy wheels provide a more upscale presentation. At the rear, the Sonata provides a trunk lip spoiler, wraparound tail lamps with distinctive LED lights and two to four exhaust finishers.
Open the door and the Hyundai Sonata delivers a cabin that is well-lit, roomy and comfortable. Indeed, the EPA categorizes this model as a large sedan, based on its interior space.
Standard equipment includes a tilt-and-telescopic steering column, power accessories, air conditioning, steering wheel-mounted cruise and secondary driver controls, a six-speaker audio system, a 12-volt outlet, a USB port and an auxiliary input. Cloth seats and a 60-40 split-folding rear seat are included.
Upgrades are many and depend on the packages or trim levels selected. Leather seats, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, navigation, Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system and a nine-speaker Infinity audio system are available.
Chief competitors for the Hyundai Sonata include the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Malibu. Other models in this segment to consider include the Kia Optima, Subaru Legacy, Volkswagen Passat and Mazda6. Buyers might also consider the Hyundai Azera, a slightly larger sedan with more standard features and a V6 engine.
Earlier Hyundai Sonata Models
The fifth-generation Hyundai Sonata was produced from 2004 to 2010. Initially, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine was standard and paired with a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. Hyundai also offered a 2.7-liter V6 engine and paired it with a four-speed automatic transmission. Beginning with the 2006 model year, Hyundai replaced the V6 engine option with a larger 3.3-liter V6 and paired it with a five-speed automatic transmission. By 2009, both engines were paired with five-speed automatic transmissions.
The sixth-generation Hyundai Sonata was produced from the 2011 to 2014 model year. When it debuted, the 2011 Sonata introduced the first generation of Hyundai’s fluidic sculpture design language. Initially all models were powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. A six-speed manual transmission was standard on the base model, while all other models came paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Beginning in 2012, Hyundai added a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine to the options list and paired it with a six-speed automatic transmission. The manual transmission was dropped for the 2013 model year, with all models receiving the six-speed automatic as standard equipment.
All 2011-2014 Sonatas come standard with keyless entry, cruise control, heated sideview mirrors, satellite radio and Bluetooth. Common options include navigation, proximity key with push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats and a rearview camera.