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First Drive: 2018 Hyundai Sonata

Midcycle refresh adds new technology and updated exterior.

by on Aug.02, 2017

Looking to bolster sales of the slow-selling sedan, the 2018 Sonata got a midcycle refresh.

The Sonata is arguably one of the most significant cars built in the early 21st century since it definitively signaled that the South Korean auto industry had arrived for good on the international stage.

Moreover, the Sonata has succeeded in becoming a top seller in the always tough market for midsize sedans even as consumers were moving in ever greater numbers towards crossovers and compact sports utility vehicles.

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So the introduction of the revised 2018 Sonata is a big deal because it shows that new technology once found only on luxury models is quickly being absorbed into less expensive cars and that Hyundai has mastered the art of making quick changes that enhance vehicles both inside the cabin and out on the road.

As good as the earlier versions of Sonata might have been the suspension always seemed to need some improvement. But the suspension of the 2018 Hyundai Sonata definitely shows a mastery of the road that is both comfortable and sporty at the same time.

(Hyundai struggles as new vehicle market changes. For the story, Click Here.)

In addition, the steering on 2018 Sonata has been re-tuned and improved thanks to improvements in stiffness of system’s torsion bar so it gives the driver a better feel for the road and curves in mountainous California terrain in which we got to test the vehicle.

The 2018 Sonata features an exterior update to the front fascia as well as new-look taillights.

With the improvements to the suspension and steering, the overall, the ride and handling is most impressive and should help Hyundai convince some buyers the like the way the car drives and convince help convince they really don’t need that crossover or sport utility vehicle that they might have eying recently.

On the inside, the 2018 Sonata has been de-cluttered. The design of the new instrument panel is cleaner and easier to use in keeping with a bias towards functionality that starts with Hyundai and Kia’s top designer, who has clearly left a distinctive mark on both companies.

Items such as the piano-key liked buttons dedicated the audio and heating controls bring a touch of luxury to the Sonata’s interior. Even the gauges seem easier to read and ample storage spaces abound. I also liked the look and the feel on the Sonata’s steering wheel and the visibility from the driver’s seat and the passenger seat where I also got to spend time is also very good.

The exterior design of the existing Sonata has won plenty of plaudits. But Hyundai has redesigned the front fascia with an impressive new grille and an entirely new rear with slim taillights and an enlarged insignia that helps cover the trunk release.

(Click Here for a first look at the upcoming 2018 Hyundai Kona.)

The new Sonata enjoys a host of technological upgrades, including access to Amazon Echo.

The Sonata comes is available in SE, Eco, SEL, Sport and Limited. The Eco version can be ordered with seven-speed transmission mated to a 1.6-liter engine while the Sport and Limited versions also can be ordered with a 2.0-liter turbo engine with an eight-speed transmission producing 245 horsepower and 260 foot-pounds of torque.

The turbo, which we tested, has ample power for passing and other of highway maneuvers as well as the ability to hold its own in all kinds of terrain. The base 2.4-liter engine with the six-speed transmission produces 185 horsepower and 178 foot-pounds of torque.

The Sonata traditionally has come with an impressive list of features for a middle-market car and the 2018 Sonata carries on the tradition. The safety equipment includes seven standard airbags and a battery of safety systems such as a tire safety monitor, electric stability and electronic brake force distribution.

Hyundai also has made driver assistance features such as blind spot detection with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert standard on the 2018 Sonata. A new Lane Departure Warning system with an enhanced Lane Keep Assist function available on the 2018 Sonata

The 2018 Sonata features a standard seven-inch color display audio touch screen with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Driver and passenger alike can keep them smart phones charged without a plug using the available s standard wireless charging pad. Sonata now adds a second-row USB charge port

The Hyundai’s Blue Link system now talks to Amazon Echo allows drivers you to control your car inside your home, or wherever the Amazon device is located.

(Hyundai rushes revised Sonata to market. Click Here for the story.)

The Hyundai Sonata has always been considered an impressive vehicle and an impressive value. The thorough going changes the South Korean automaker has made for 2018 have only made it even better and more fun to drive.

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