2018 Hyundai Sonata: Tweaks enhance mid-size sedan’s segment position

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The Hyundai Sonata is a top-rated mid-size sedan that provides excellent value by offering attractive exterior and interior styling, comfortable cabin, pleasant ride, and many standard amenities – including the best warranty.

Hyundai could have left its impressive Sonata untouched for 2018, but that is not the case. Instead, Hyundai has raised the bar even higher. The Sonata now features more expressive exterior styling, updated interior cues, a revised suspension and steering system for improved ride quality, standard blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and lane change assist.

Sonata really is tough to beat. Pricing begins at $22,050 and that includes automatic headlamps, heated power side mirrors, full power accessories, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, 7-inch color touchscreen display, 6-speaker audio, Bluetooth phone connectivity, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, rearview camera, 60/40-split folding rear seat and more.

Sonata also provides plenty of trim levels and engines to choose from. There are seven trim levels (SE, Eco, SEL, Sport, Limited, Sport 2.0T, Limited 2.0T) and three different four-cylinder engines offered.

Powering SE, SEL, Sport and Limited models is a 185-horsepower naturally-aspirated 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. The 2.4-liter responds adequately to accelerator pedal inputs and is mated to a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode. Fuel economy ratings for the 2.4-liter are 25/36 mpg city/highway (SE only) and 25/35 mpg (SEL, Sport and Limited models).

If you are interested in better fuel efficiency, the Sonata Eco features a 178-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to a 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. This combination is good for 28/37 mpg city/highway.

For those more interested in power output, the Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T are powered by a 245-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Mated to the 2.0T is a new 8-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy ratings for this combination is 23/32 mpg city/highway. The Sport and Sport 2.0T models feature sportier exterior and interior styling cues but no hardware or suspension tuning revisions to deliver greater agility than non-Sport trims.

I do like that all Sonata models for 2018 include steering system revisions to improve steering feel and responsiveness, and thicker rear suspension arms and new rear bushings to help manage heavier loads and improve overall ride quality.

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata delivers a very refined and pleasing ride. Sonata’s cabin is spacious and comfortable. While there is plenty of leg room up front and in the rear, taller folks may find the rear seat lacking in headroom due to Sonata’s sloping roof line.

Sonata’s cargo area is huge, offering 16.3 cu.-ft. of space for packages and gear. Longer items can be accommodated by folding down the standard 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks.

Depending on which trim level you choose, features like lane keep assist, smart cruise control with stop/start capability, rear parking sensors, automatic high beams, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, wireless phone charging, 8-inch color touchscreen with navigation and an Infinity premium 8-speaker audio system are available.

All of those available features listed in the previous paragraph are standard in the top-of-the-line Sonata Limited 2.0T model which carries a modest $32,450 sticker price.

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