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.
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.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport (2.4L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | FWD).
NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Hyundai Sonata has received some revisions, including new steering calibration and suspension components, refreshed styling inside and out, and a new available eight-speed automatic transmission for specific higher trim models. Despite these updates, many of our previous findings remain broadly applicable to this year's Hyundai Sonata.
noise & vibration
ease of use
getting in/getting out
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.