2015 Hyundai Sonata: I'm Impressed
April 27, 2015
Some cars are just overrated. That's how I always felt about the previous generation Hyundai Sonata, which debuted in 2011. It was okay. Maybe even good. But great? Revolutionary? Special? Not really.
I didn't even think it was particularly attractive. There were better cars in its class, including the Kia Optima (which shared many of its components), the Honda Accord, the Mazda 6, the Ford Fusion and others. We had a long-term 2011 Sonata in our test fleet, which we drove about 20,000 miles. It was reliable transportation and others on our staff became quite enamored with it. I didn't.
Instead, I sat back in amazement as the Sonata was bestowed with praise and sales success. For five years it felt like every auto writer loved it and every midsize sedan buyer wanted one. Which brings me to our long-term 2015 Hyundai Sonata. This is an inspired car.
This time around, the Sonata is real competition in a very competitive class. It not only looks better, inside and out, it feels better, too. And it's not just the broad strokes. This time Hyundai's designers and engineers put some time in the details.
No, it's not a tire-ripping thrill ride. It won't get you privileges with the valet at your local Copacabana. But it's more than a comfortable, reliable, roomy sedan. Much more. This is a car that makes you feel good. Every time I drive it I'm impressed.
The suspension tuning is right on. Where the old Sonata was undersprung and underdamped, this one feels right regardless of speed and road conditions. It never feels harsh or unsettled and it provides one of the best, most comfortable highway rides in the midsize sedan class.
Hyundai has also figured out how to do electric assist steering in its front-wheel-drive applications. Earlier efforts were vague and felt artificial. Back then they dialed in "sticktion" on purpose, one Hyundai engineer told me. They finally decided that was just plain stupid. Nobody likes "sticktion" in their steering and the new Sonata has none.
I also love the new interior. It feels rich and high-quality, but not overdone. Not cartoonish. The seat and driving position are among the best I've ever felt and the design of the dash, console and all other controls and touch points are very much to my liking.
I can also throw endless praise on the Sonata's powertrain and exterior design, which will certainly age better than the look of its predecessor.
Hyundai is rolling. The Santa Fe, Santa Fe Sport and Genesis are all truly exceptional. The new Tucson looks great (I haven't driven it yet.). And now the Sonata is one of my favorites.
Finally, the products are actually as good as the potential and the promise.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 5,701 miles