“Hyundai has done it again, delivering a very attractive car, full of features and at an attractive price…”

Hyundai is a company that pushes the envelope in terms of styling, vehicle content, engine choices and value, making others carmakers take notice.

The last generation Hyundai Sonata, released in 2011, is a perfect example. The “Fluidic Sculpture ” design language really set the pace for the mid-size class of cars. The competitors that followed, like the Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, all took styling chances after that Sonata was introduced. The same too for the engine development, including smaller turbocharged 4-cylinder engines and fuel saving direct injection technology; compared with the competition all this technology was ahead of the curve. Now, just a few years later, the Sonata gets another refresh, making this car more compelling than ever.

Looks

As dynamic as the Fluidic Sculpture design was, it didn’t age well. Cars that are heavily styled can date quickly. With this in mind, Hyundai has backed away from the fluid approach to a more sculpted design that shares some styling cues from the top-of-range Hyundai Genesis. The front features a squarer grille opening, edgier bumper and front chin-spoiler. The base model is fitted with the 2.4L 4-cylinder engine has 16-inch or 17-inch alloy wheels with LED daytime running lights, halogen headlamps or HID lights on the limited trim. The performance oriented 2.0 Turbo Sport model, seen here, comes with a two-toned front spoiler, 18-inch wheels, standard HID headlamps, quad exhaust tips and a lower diffuser on the rear bumper. The top trim levels of both the 2.4L and 2.0 Sport have a blacked-out section of the front grille which signifies the car comes with adaptive cruise control and a forward collision warning system.

Inside

As with the outside, the interior has been given a total refresh, no basic tweaking here. The same, more muted design is at work here too, now the all-new centre console is wider and flatter than the last car. This makes the car feel more open and airy, the brushed aluminum surround is bright and the way the buttons and dials are fitted is second to none. Fit and finish is one area that Hyundai does as well, if not better than most. Even on the base $23,999 GL model the Sonata comes with standard heated front seats, backup camera, Bluetooth, 5-inch radio/backup screen, satellite radio and USB connectivity. The $26,299 GLS adds a power driver’s seat, heated leather steering wheel and heated rear seats, and these are just the two entry-level cars. All cars now come with additional 2.5cm of rear legroom and a very useful trunk that is expandable, thanks to a 60/40 split rear seat.

Drive

Both the 2.4L 4-cylinder engine and the 2.0L turbo have been carried over from the last model but they have been modified to produce better torque delivery and fuel economy. Hyundai has dropped the horsepower output from 198hp to 185hp in the 2.4L and limited the torque to 178hp. The 2.0L turbo also receives a horsepower drop from 274hp to 245hp and the torque drops from 268 lb.-ft to 160 lb.-ft. Hyundai claims that the torque is lower in the RPM range and the fuel consumption is improved. The experience behind the wheel of the turbo is still very invigorating but not as hectic as the last model, it delivers a more usable driving experience. Power is smooth and refined; the turbo feels like a V6 without the accompanying fuel bill.

Verdict

Hyundai has done it again, delivering a very attractive car, full of features and at an attractive price. 2.4L models range from $23,999 to $32,999 in the top Limited trim. This model has most of the features found in the top 2.0L turbo but without the added power. The base 2.0L turbo starts at $30,999 and the top Ultimate model, seen here, is $34,799. Both the Limited and Ultimate get the forward collision warning system and lane departure safety features, plus they also get adaptive cruise control. For 2015, the Sonata is a big step foreword in design, the added safety features will be attractive as is the constant pushing-of-the-envelope from Hyundai is welcome.

Contact: zack [dot] spencer [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

The Lowdown

Power: 2.4L 185hp or 2.0L Turbo with 245hp

Fill-up: 9.8L/6.7L/100km (city/highway)

Sticker price: $23.999-$34,799

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