It’s turning into a big year for the folks at Hyundai. Not only is the Korean carmaker set to start selling its next-generation Genesis luxury sedan, but it’s also getting ready to roll out an all-new version of the Sonata line.
Long an also-ran in the midsize segment, the outgoing Sonata was a real game-changer for Hyundai, showing that the maker could build more than just base econo-boxes. It was surprisingly well-equipped for the segment, still reasonably affordable – and it introduced the maker’s distinctive Fluidic Sculpture design language.
We got to see the updated styling approach, Fluidic Sculpture 2.0, with the new 2015 Hyundai Genesis, and the basic language carries over to the 2015 Hyundai Sonata, starting with the more distinctive grille, but also translating into a design that is a far bit more subdued – mature, if you prefer – than the over-the-top creases and curves of the outgoing midsize sedan.
The new Sonata, meanwhile, is longer and wider than the previous model, makes significant use of high-strength steel to improve its strength and rigidity, and offers a still-larger and more lavishly appointed cabin.
“The Sonata has been playing a key role in Hyundai Motor’s rapid growth in the global market, as well as leading the development of the Korean auto industry. We are confident that the all-new Sonata will change the landscape of the global midsize sedan market,” said Choong Ho Kim, the maker’s president and CEO, during a ceremony in Seoul today.
(Hyundai finds religion with new 2015 Genesis sedan. Click Herefor more.)
The 2015 Hyundai Sonata grows 1.4 inches longer and 1.2 inches wider than the outgoing model, and that helps deliver a more roomy cabin – which also incorporates some significant updates, such as a new panoramic sunroof, a revised steering wheel and instrument panel updates, and even a heated rear seat.
There are plenty of high-tech features, including an updated infotainment system, as well as safety systems that now include Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning System and Advanced Smart Cruise Control. A driver’s side knee airbag is new. And the Sonata will be offered with a hands-free “Smart Trunk.”
Some of the biggest changes, however, are expected to be out of sight, but not out of mind. Reviewers routinely fault Hyundai for suspension and steering issues. Before wrapping up his contract in December, former Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik told TheDetroitBureau.com that getting ride and handling right this time has been one of the most critical steps in the three-year development process behind the 2015 Sonata.
(Hyundai Motor America CEO unexpectedly leaving company. Click Herefor the full story.)
To that effect, the maker says the new steering column is stiffer, and the 2015 Sonata adopts a new Motor Driven Power Steering System that Hyundai claims is more responsive to road conditions and driver input.
But bringing down NVH has been another target, Hyundai claiming to have significantly reduced interior noise levels with the new Sonata sedan.
Today’s debut focused on the Korean version of the line. Home market customers will be offered three different powertrain options: a 2.0-liter inline-four making 166 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque), a 2.4-liter GDi turning out 190 hp and 182 lb-ft, and a 2.0-liter LPi engine rated at 149 hp and 143 lb-ft. Transmission options include both a six-speed manual and six-speed automatic.
We should learn more about U.S. powertrain options – and other features – when the 2015 Hyundai Sonata makes its American debut next month at the New York Auto Show.
(Hyundai forced to restate mileage on new Sonata. Click Herefor the news.)
Hyundai has sold about 7 million Sonatas since the nameplate was introduced in 1985, but demand really took off with the launch of the outgoing model, with its distinctive styling, in 2009. The 2015 Sonata will have to continue that momentum. But it’s going up against a tough line-up of competitors ranging from the top-selling Toyota Camry to the popular Ford Fusion — as well as sibling Korean maker Kia’s latest Optima.
“Hyundai Motor has been pursuing qualitative growth, providing innovative experiences and values to our customers, and the all-new Sonata will be at the center of these efforts,” said Hyundai CEO Kim.