2018 Hyundai Sonata

2018 Hyundai Sonata Review

Restyled and upgraded, the 2018 Hyundai Sonata is still a top midsize sedan.
4 star edmunds overall rating
4 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Jonathan Elfalan
Edmunds Editor

The current-generation Sonata is already one of Edmunds' highest-rated midsize sedans, so the updates it receives for 2018 will only help fortify its position alongside the all-new Toyota Camry and Honda Accord at the top of the class.

While we feel the new models will pose some stiff competition, it's understandable why Hyundai hasn't fully overhauled the Sonata. The cabin is still very comfortable and spacious by today's measures, and it looks even more upscale with the design changes to the center console and transition to a three-spoke steering wheel. The Sonata's smooth ride quality and large trunk (16.3 cubic feet) also make it pleasantly practical for both weekend and daily duty.

The Sonata also has highly flexible configurations — seven trim levels to be exact — ranging from a value-driven SE to a fully loaded Limited 2.0T that comes with just about every convenience you can imagine. We aren't huge fans of the base four-cylinder engine that comes in the SE, and would recommend any of the turbocharged engine options, but rest assured even the SE trim packs in a generous number of features. You really can't go wrong.

Notably, we picked the 2018 Hyundai Sonata as one of Edmunds' Best Midsize Sedans for this year.



what's new

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata had been restyled inside and out and receives updates to its suspension and steering aimed at improving ride quality, response and feel. All models now come standard with blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and lane change assist; upgraded headlights are now LED instead of HID/xenon; and the optional panoramic sunroof has been shrunk to normal size in the interest of weight savings and increased fuel economy. On 2.0T models, a new eight-speed automatic transmission replaces the previous six-speed.


we recommend

You could go many routes configuring the Hyundai Sonata depending on your preferences. One approach is to splurge on the fully loaded Limited 2.0T model with all the fixings, affording you creature comforts such as heated and ventilated seats, an 8-inch touchscreen navigation system and a comprehensive suite of advanced driver aids. However, we feel the value pick is the Eco model, which comes with plenty of standard equipment and is powered by Hyundai's torquey and efficient turbocharged 1.6-liter engine and a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission.




trim levels & features

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata is a midsize sedan available in SE, Eco, SEL, Sport, Limited, Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T trim levels. There are three four-cylinder engines available: a base 2.4-liter (185 hp, 178 lb-ft) paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that powers the SE, SEL, Sport and Limited trims; a turbocharged 2.0-liter (245 hp, 260 lb-ft) that features a new eight-speed automatic powering the two aptly named 2.0T trims; and a turbocharged 1.6-liter (178 hp, 195 lb-ft) with a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic that's specific to the Eco trim.

The SE, which was a step up from the base trim last year, is the new entry-level trim, yet it still undercuts the segment with the exception of the Chevy Malibu. Its list of standard equipment includes automatic headlights, power-folding front mirrors, power windows and door locks, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a 7-inch touchscreen display, a six-speaker sound system with Bluetooth and USB/auxiliary jacks, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, a rearview camera, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. The price jump to the Eco model is just $600, which comes identically equipped save for the engine.

The next trim up is the SEL, which is a new addition to the Sonata line and an attractive trim if you don't mind the base engine. It adds larger 17-inch wheels, keyless entry and ignition, LED daytime running lights, hands-free smart trunk access, heated side mirrors, a 10-way power-adjustable driver seat, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 4.2-inch color trip computer, satellite and HD radio, and a rear USB port. Also included is Hyundai's subscription-based Blue Link telematics system with three years of complimentary service. You can also add advanced driver aids such as adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assist with the optional Tech package.

Following the SEL is the Sport trim, which isn't available with the SEL's Tech package but does come with unique Sport styling front and rear, including a front grille, rear diffuser, chrome rocker panels and a chrome-tipped dual exhaust. Inside, you get a power sunroof, which is smaller and lighter than last year's panoramic unit, a flat-bottom steering wheel with paddle shifters, a leather-wrapped shift knob, leather sport seats with cloth inserts, and Sport-specific interior trim.

You don't get any of the Sport-specific items stepping up to the Limited trim, though the sunroof remains and you gain dynamic LED headlights, LED taillights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, full leather seats, a six-way power passenger seat, driver-seat memory settings, front-seat ventilation, dual climate control and woodgrain appearance trim. You also have the option of upgrading to the Ultimate package, which adds helpful driver aids such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-start capability, automatic high beams, an electronic parking brake with auto hold, and rear parking sensors. It also adds comfort items such as a heated steering wheel, rear side window shades, an 8-inch touchscreen navigation system, wireless smartphone charging, a premium audio system, HD real-time traffic, a trial subscription to SiriusXM Travel link (weather data, fuel prices, sports, etc.), and a three-year subscription to Blue Link multimedia/map updates.

The Sport 2.0T model is configured very similarly to the regular Sport trim, but it includes the more powerful engine and the eight-speed transmission, as well as a sport-tuned suspension, sport-tuned steering, larger front brakes and 18-inch wheels.

Topping out the Sonata line is the Limited 2.0T model, which includes everything from the Sport 2.0T model and everything else that is standard and available on all other models. Yes, you get everything with this model.



The SE, which was a step up from the base trim last year, is the new entry-level trim, yet it still undercuts the segment with the exception of the Chevy Malibu. Its list of standard equipment includes automatic headlights, power-folding front mirrors, power windows and door locks, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a 7-inch touchscreen display, a six-speaker sound system with Bluetooth and USB/auxiliary jacks, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, a rearview camera, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. The price jump to the Eco model is just $600, which comes identically equipped save for the engine.

The next trim up is the SEL, which is a new addition to the Sonata line and an attractive trim if you don't mind the base engine. It adds larger 17-inch wheels, keyless entry and ignition, LED daytime running lights, hands-free smart trunk access, heated side mirrors, a 10-way power-adjustable driver seat, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 4.2-inch color trip computer, satellite and HD radio, and a rear USB port. Also included is Hyundai's subscription-based Blue Link telematics system with three years of complimentary service. You can also add advanced driver aids such as adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assist with the optional Tech package.

Following the SEL is the Sport trim, which isn't available with the SEL's Tech package but does come with unique Sport styling front and rear, including a front grille, rear diffuser, chrome rocker panels and a chrome-tipped dual exhaust. Inside, you get a power sunroof, which is smaller and lighter than last year's panoramic unit, a flat-bottom steering wheel with paddle shifters, a leather-wrapped shift knob, leather sport seats with cloth inserts, and Sport-specific interior trim.

You don't get any of the Sport-specific items stepping up to the Limited trim, though the sunroof remains and you gain dynamic LED headlights, LED taillights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, full leather seats, a six-way power passenger seat, driver-seat memory settings, front-seat ventilation, dual climate control and woodgrain appearance trim. You also have the option of upgrading to the Ultimate package, which adds helpful driver aids such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-start capability, automatic high beams, an electronic parking brake with auto hold, and rear parking sensors. It also adds comfort items such as a heated steering wheel, rear side window shades, an 8-inch touchscreen navigation system, wireless smartphone charging, a premium audio system, HD real-time traffic, a trial subscription to SiriusXM Travel link (weather data, fuel prices, sports, etc.), and a three-year subscription to Blue Link multimedia/map updates.

The Sport 2.0T model is configured very similarly to the regular Sport trim, but it includes the more powerful engine and the eight-speed transmission, as well as a sport-tuned suspension, sport-tuned steering, larger front brakes and 18-inch wheels.

Topping out the Sonata line is the Limited 2.0T model, which includes everything from the Sport 2.0T model and everything else that is standard and available on all other models. Yes, you get everything with this model.

trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of a (turbocharged 2.0L inline-4 | 8-speed automatic | FWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.0 / 5.0

Driving

4.0 / 5.0

Acceleration4.0 / 5.0
Braking3.5 / 5.0
Steering3.5 / 5.0
Handling4.0 / 5.0
Drivability4.0 / 5.0

Comfort

4.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort4.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort4.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration3.0 / 5.0
Climate control4.0 / 5.0

Interior

4.0 / 5.0

Ease of use4.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out4.0 / 5.0
Driving position4.0 / 5.0
Roominess4.0 / 5.0
Visibility3.5 / 5.0
Quality3.5 / 5.0

Utility

3.5 / 5.0

Small-item storage3.5 / 5.0
Cargo space4.0 / 5.0

Technology

3.5 / 5.0

Audio & navigation3.5 / 5.0
Smartphone integration3.0 / 5.0
Voice control3.0 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
Power in the top-of-the-line 2.0-liter turbo engine is plentiful for a midsize family sedan, and the driving dynamics are spirited but not sporty. On the whole, it drives in a manner that the typical buyer will find satisfactory, but it doesn't change the game in any way.

acceleration

edmunds rating
In everyday driving, the 2.0-liter turbo engine is pleasantly responsive and smooth. It's also plenty quick. In our testing it hit 60 mph in 7.4 seconds, which is about half a second quicker than its chief rivals.

braking

edmunds rating
The pedal is reassuringly firm and easy to modulate in routine driving. Under heavy braking, there is some noticeable nosedive but the car remains very controllable. In our panic-brake test, it came to a stop from 60 mph in 118 feet, which is a pretty good result for midsize sedans in this class.

steering

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The amount of steering effort is appropriate throughout the speed range — suitably light at parking-lot speeds and weighting up nicely on the highway. There's not a lot of feedback to the driver, favoring isolation over involvement.

handling

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Though it doesn't exactly encourage sporty driving, the Sonata is surprisingly capable on a challenging twisty road. The well-managed body roll certainly instills confidence. And despite its low-rolling-resistance tires, there's not much screeching when cornering aggressively.

drivability

edmunds rating
It's easy to drive the Sonata in any condition, and it doesn't require the driver to adapt to any quirks or shortcomings. The turning circle is small enough that multipoint turns are a rarity and maneuvering in tight quarters is stress-free. Its transmission behaves as expected.

comfort

edmunds rating
The newly updated suspension is a big improvement over past Sonatas. There's the right dose of compliance to smooth out road imperfections yet body roll isn't excessive — a good balance of comfort and control. The front seats deliver long-haul comfort and very effective ventilation.

seat comfort

edmunds rating
The front seats are supportive and well-cushioned for long-distance comfort. There's a good range of lumbar adjustments and the ventilated seats do an excellent job of keeping you cool. The rear seats are flatter in shape but still comfortable for the average-size adult.

ride comfort

edmunds rating
Given how well the Sonata handles, the ride quality doesn't suffer. Small to moderate bumps and undulations are smoothed over gracefully with no residual motions afterward. This improvement in damping is a definite step in the right direction for Hyundai.

noise & vibration

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Wind noise is limited to a little bit of white noise by the mirrors at highway speeds, but it's really only noticeable if you turn off the stereo. Road noise is comparable to other cars in this class in its intensity.

climate control

edmunds rating
The layout of controls is simple and effective. Once you set the dual-zone automatic climate control, there's little need for subsequent adjustments. The ventilated front seats are particularly effective.

interior

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The cabin does the basics well, from accommodating various driver shapes to facilitating easy entry and exit. The placement of displays and controls is intuitive and easy to use. Even though this cabin isn't all-new, it still asks for fewer sacrifices than some newer sedans.

ease of use

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All of the controls are logically placed and easy to operate. Rather than rely solely on a touchscreen, the Sonata has physical buttons that are well-suited to accessing the information you need in an efficient manner.

getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
The big door openings and sensible ride height make getting in and out of the Sonata a breeze, even in tight spots. The sloping rear roofline does require rear passengers to stoop a little to clear it, but it's no worse than in other cars in the segment.

driving position

edmunds rating
The wide range of adjustability, especially with the telescoping steering wheel, allows short and tall drivers to quickly find their optimal position. Unlike some of its competition, we never felt as if we had to compromise to get comfortable.

roominess

edmunds rating
The Sonata conveys a spacious and airy feeling, with a decent amount of physical space in the front seats. The rear seats are also roomy, but the rear roof pillar does cut down the view a bit, yet it's far less confining than some other sedans.

visibility

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Forward visibility is about average, as is the view out the back. A standard backup camera takes the guesswork out of backing into a space. The high-mounted touchscreen helps to keep your eyes on the road.

quality

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The interior materials aren't quite as nice as some other sedans, but everything has a good sturdy feel about them. We never noticed any creaks or squeaks while driving, and all features functioned as they should.

utility

edmunds rating
There's little to complain about when it comes to the Sonata's everyday usability, which is aided by solid cargo capacity and no shortage of in-cabin storage options. It's as good as or better than what you'd get with the typical car in this class.

small-item storage

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The smart placement and sensible sizing of bins and pockets mean there are plenty of places to store your personal items. A grippy wireless charging pad is another example of smart design.

cargo space

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The Sonata's 16.3-cubic-foot capacity beats rivals by a small margin. Remote seatback releases make for easier loading of large items. Its hands-free trunk opener is a nice touch, but we wish it would open completely. The trunk release is hidden in the badge; we had to consult the manual to find it.

technology

edmunds rating
While its infotainment isn't cutting-edge, the execution is sound and well thought through. The premium audio system might leave audiophiles wanting. It's decent but not exceptional. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard features, a nice attribute that's not universal in the segment.

audio & navigation

edmunds rating
The on-screen buttons are well spaced out for easier and less distracting to use while on the move. Graphics are sharp and the system is fairly quick to respond. The Infinity audio system is good, but we expect more performance from a premium feature like this one.

smartphone integration

edmunds rating
With Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard equipment throughout the Sonata lineup, you'll have a familiar interface and more advanced music and texting features than Hyundai's system. It's not all that unusual, but it's worth noting that Toyota does not offer them.

voice control

edmunds rating
Voice control for the navigation and phone systems is accurate and easy to use. Apple CarPlay remains our preferred voice-controlled system because it more readily accommodates natural speech and has more features that benefit from it.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.