2015 Hyundai Sonata: A Hyundai I'd Like to Own
By Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on September 11, 2015
I drove our 2015 Hyundai Sonata to San Francisco over Labor Day weekend and came away more impressed with the car than ever. Like Mr. Reed, I would buy one if I were shopping in this segment. No hesitation. After years of steady improvement, the Sonata is finally at the front of the pack. It's classy, capable and confident.
The new Genesis sedan is the first Hyundai in history that I'd be genuinely pleased to own, and I'm here to tell you that this Sonata is officially the second.
I took these photos in Clarion Alley, which is a must-see in the Mission according to me. That's not a roundabout way of saying our Sonata is a work of art, but I do think Hyundai nailed the styling this time. It's crisp and assertive, and a welcome change from the melting-candle look of the previous model.
I especially like the angular, LED-accented front fascia. I saw a number of new Sonatas in the rearview during the trip, and the word sophisticated kept occurring to me. That never happened before.
I've already complimented the Sonata's displays, but it bears repeating. From the fun font to the sharp resolution, this is precisely what a touchscreen from the land of Samsung and LG should look like. Overall, there's a "digital native" vibe inside this car that sets it apart from, say, the Mazda6 and Camry, which feel to me like analog devices with retrofitted technology. Also, I never know what the date is, so Hyundai gets bonus Sadlier Points for putting it front and center.
I did not, in fact, drive the Sonata to Scotland, although that's what this vista reminds me of. It's actually the San Luis Reservoir off Route 152, which connects Interstates 5 and 101. The access road was pretty rough, but I didn't hear a single rattle or squeak in the Hyundai's cabin. My wife's 2013 GTI with 20,000 miles would have sounded like it was about to fall apart.
There's that front-end styling I was talking about. I mean, that's a good-looking car. It's just a fact.
Okay, I found something I don't like. The turn-signal stalk feels decidedly flimsy. If you go in thinking that Hyundais are cheap cars, this stalk will confirm your bias. I expect Hyundai will correct this before long, but in the meantime, it's a bummer.
Oh, and I don't particularly like the 2.4-liter engine, either. It's only got sufficient power when you ride it hard past 4,000 rpm, and it sounds strained until you ease off. As many of us have discovered, it's an underachiever at the pump, too. I got 30.2 mpg in 850 mostly highway miles, well short of the EPA's 35-mpg highway rating.
And yet, my infatuation persists. This is a wonderful car for $27,560 as tested. It's luxury-sedan stable at high speeds, seriously roomy without driving like a boat, and packed with features I want at a price I can get down with. If the next Sonata improves as much as this one, everyone else might be playing for second.
Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor @ 15,234 miles