2015 Hyundai Sonata Long-Term Road Test - Wrap-Up

2015 Hyundai Sonata Long-Term Road Test

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Read the 2015 Hyundai Sonata's introduction to our long-term fleet.

See all of the 2015 Hyundai Sonata's long-term updates.

What We Got
Hyundai had a tough job when it came to designing a follow-up to the widely praised Sonata sedan sold from 2010-'14. That car injected a little style into a class that was known mostly for anonymous designs. It got the Sonata mentioned in the same sentences as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, and we had a great experience with our long-termer.

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata took a more conservative approach when it came to its styling, but the rest of the car was solid. We gave the new 2015 model an "A" rating after an initial road test, so we decided to see how it would hold up over a year of hard use.

We passed on the two turbocharged engine options and settled on the volume seller. The Sonata Sport comes equipped with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. We added the Premium package that included a blind-spot monitor, leather seats with cloth inserts, dual-zone climate control and hands-free entry. We also added the Tech package that included an 8-inch navigation system, Dimension audio and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

All in, our 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport rang up at $27,560, which put it right in the heart of the midsize family sedan segment. Here's what we found.

Performance

  • "In Sport Mode, the changes are subtle but preferable. The Sonata's throttle sensitivity and suspension tuning don't change, but its steering gets a bit heavier and, most importantly, the transmission holds gears longer or, as the owner's manual says, 'Up-shifting is delayed.'" — Scott Oldham


  • "I like the responsiveness of the throttle, and the six-speed automatic does a good job of getting the most of its 185 horsepower. That said, this is not a fast car by any means. Thankfully, it's not dreadfully slow either. You can make passes on the highway in a reasonable amount of time and if you want to gutter ball someone at a light, it will do that, too." — Ed Hellwig

MPG

  • "I don't know if it was the late summer heat, but our shoes were a little more lead-y than usual in October. For the month we averaged 23.3 mpg and, this should go without saying, we didn't set any new distance or mileage records for the month. We're still 2 mpg shy of the EPA rating, but we've got a little more time with our Sonata to see if it can do better." — Kurt Niebuhr


  • "Since the Sonata joined our fleet in December, we've covered 300-plus miles on a single tank 25 times. Three of those times we covered 400 miles or more. Over those 25 tanks, the Sonata is averaging 27.6 mpg, very near the EPA combined rating." — Dan Frio

Comfort

  • "I'm comfortable in the Sonata both literally and figuratively. I like the shape of its seat. I like the feel of its upholstery. I like the placement of its controls and its sporty seating position. Nothing about the Sonata is trying too hard to be cool or edgy or relevant, but it isn't boring or unadventurous either. This ain't no pod." — Scott Oldham


  • 2016 Hyundai Sonata Sport

  • "I'm glad to report the initial indications are good. The seat not only feels well designed in the first few miles, it still feels that way two hours later. Any new car seat should be comfortable to some degree, but designing a seat for a mainstream sedan that appeals to everybody often leads to a design that's average across the board." — Ed Hellwig

Cargo Space

2016 Hyundai Sonata Sport

  • "I like the thought that was put into small-item storage in the 2015 Hyundai Sonata. For instance, the front bin, where the USB port and your music device reside, has a handy security door to keep things hidden when you're not in the car." — Mike Monticello


  • "Loading items such as suitcases into the Sonata's 16.3-cubic-foot trunk is helped out by a wide opening. The only downside I've noticed is that if you're packing in a lot of stuff high, you have to pay some attention to where the trunk lid hinges lower down (when you close the lid). This is true for most sedans, but the Sonata's 'gooseneck' hinges seem to be positioned a couple of inches more inward than, say, the ones in our last big-trunk sedan, the Volkswagen Passat. Other than that, our Sonata is at the ready for carrying our stuff." — Brent Romans

Interior

2016 Hyundai Sonata Sport

  • "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." — Scott Oldham


  • "Where does it come up short? Legroom. With 35.6 inches of rear legroom, the Sonata comes up around 3 inches short of the Accord and the Camry and half-an-inch short to the Altima. So why does it still feel roomy? It's tall and wide. When it comes to headroom, the Sonata nearly matches the Camry (38 vs. 38.1 inches) and beats the Accord and Altima by at least half an inch." — Ed Hellwig

Audio and Technology

2016 Hyundai Sonata Sport

  • "This system and setting won't win awards for frequency response or EQ curve, and you'll hear the same music pretty differently on even a decent home stereo or theater system. But you will get some of that punch and rumble, which again can be fun with the right tracks. I enjoyed feeding some newer hip-hop and old classics through this setting." — Dan Frio


  • "The screen has high-resolution graphics that result in crisp fonts, detailed maps and a useful view from the rearview camera. It responds quickly to your touch inputs and has hard buttons below the screen for shortcuts to the main system operations such as radio, media and navigation." — Brent Romans

Maintenance

  • "It seemed strange to me that a tire rotation was not listed in the owner's manual. An oil change and tire rotation is performed at most, if not all, scheduled maintenance intervals for other cars. I used the Edmunds Car Maintenance Guide and queried the list of services to be performed on a 2015 Hyundai Sonata at 7,500 miles. Sure enough, a tire rotation was listed." — Cameron Rogers


  • 2016 Hyundai Sonata Sport

  • "The shop's owner was a little surprised I was actually bringing our Sonata in. Presumably they don't get many calls for alignments on new vehicles. He first suggested that a front-tire rotation might help remedy the pull. Sometimes the tires have an inherent tendency (just from the way they are made) to direct the car to the left or right instead of staying straight, he said. Swapping the front tires can help fix it. But he also said his technician would put the Sonata on their alignment machine and check it out. It turned out that the Sonata's alignment was not correct. In particular, the toe of both rear wheels was not in the specified range. The shop speculated that this rear steering effect was causing the veering to the right." — Brent Romans

Miscellaneous

  • "Even after 20,000 miles, it still feels just as well-sorted. No squeaks or rattles, and the suspension still feels dialed in. Usually by the time the odometer has passed 20,000 miles, cars get a little soft around the edges, yet this one still has that same sharpness. I've liked this car from Day One, and nothing this past year has soured my feelings on it." — Ed Hellwig


  • "It's about $2,500 cheaper than I expected it to be. I had a rough idea where Sonata pricing started (+/- $21,000) and that the Sport starts a little above that. But I guessed that this car as equipped had a sticker price of $30,000 or just under that. It doesn't. It stickers at $27,560. That's an impressive price for this level of quiet, stuff and comfort. Very compelling. Add in the big warranty and you've got a package that's hard to beat. If a family member or close friend was in the market in this segment, this would be among my top recommendations." — Mike Magrath

Maintenance & Repairs

Regular Maintenance:
The owner's manual calls for service every 7,500 miles, so the Sonata went in twice for regular maintenance. There was a separate issue with the car's alignment that prompted a visit to a local tire shop. There was also a dealer visit early on to diagnose an illuminated airbag light.

The owner's manual was unclear on what was called for in the first service, and though the 15,000-mile service went much smoother, it was far more costly. The total for all maintenance came to $258.43.

Service Campaigns:
Soon after the Sonata arrived, the airbag warning light came on. It turned out that a sensor had disconnected itself. While fixing that issue, the dealer performed a software update for the infotainment system.

During the 15,000-mile service, the dealer dealt with two open recalls. First, it updated the airbag control software. Secondly, it replaced the passenger seatbelt buckle cover.

Fuel Economy and Resale Value

Observed Fuel Economy:
The 2015 Hyundai Sonata sport is rated at 28 mpg combined (24 city/35 highway).

Over 12 months and 20,000 miles, we averaged 26.1 mpg, significantly off the 28 mpg combined EPA rating. Our best tank averaged 35.7 mpg and our worst was 16.2 mpg, although that was on a very short 78-mile tank. Our best range was 501.6 miles on a single tank.

Resale and Depreciation:
The MSRP for our 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport was $27,560. The Edmunds TMV® Calculator valued the Sonata at $17,745 based on a private-party sale, a substantial 36 percent depreciation. That's far higher than the 21 percent for the 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS we tested.

Summing Up

Pros: Comfortable, well-designed interior; quiet cabin on the road; plenty of power from four-cylinder engine; solid, well-timed shifts from six-speed automatic transmission; seats remain comfortable over the long haul; long range between fill-ups; no rattles or notable wear after 20,000 miles.

Cons: Didn't deliver EPA fuel economy estimates; less rear legroom than competitors; higher-than-average depreciation.

Bottom Line: After putting more than 20,000 miles on our 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport, we still think it's one of the best sedans in the midsize segment. If your primary concern is fuel efficiency, there are better cars out there, but this Sonata delivers a top-notch experience in every other respect.

 
Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs: $168.44 (over 12 months)
Additional Maintenance Costs: $89.99
Warranty Repairs: Reattach airbag sensor wiring harness; replace passenger seatbelt cover
Non-Warranty Repairs: Fix alignmnent
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 2
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 1
Days Out of Service: None
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None
 
Best Fuel Economy: 35.7 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 16.2 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 26.1 mpg
 
True Market Value at service end: $17,745 (private-party sale)
Depreciation: $17,365 (36% of original MSRP)
Final Odometer Reading: 20,570 miles

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.


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