When Hyundai Motor Co. introduced the Sonata in 2009, it hoped the new sedan would give it a substantive stake in the midsize car market. And it did … for a while.
However, sales of midsize sedans have been sliding during the last two years, and the Sonata’s totals even moreso. Sales of the Sonata fell 1.7% last year and have dropped 31% in the first two months of 2017 in the U.S.
So to stem the tide, Hyundai rolled out a midcycle styling update hoping to light a fire under consumers, especially as competitors, particularly the Toyota Camry, are unveiling new-look models.
The Sonata was redesigned with a curvier look in 2014 and not only were critical reviews tepid, but also clearly that feeling spread to potential buyers.
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Hyundai’s new iteration of the Sonata features a sportier look with a curvy hood and a bigger grille. Hyundai’s next-generation Sonata will take design cues from this redesigned version, according to executives.
Hyundai is working on next-generation cars with “a different flair” for marketing from 2019, Luc Donckerwolke, senior vice president for design, previously told Reuters.
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However, the future is now when it comes to auto sales, and Hyundai spent big cash to give the Sonata its extensive exterior makeover, rather than a simple update, which is often what automakers do in a similar position — reshaping sheet metal is very expensive.
However, as the competition in the segment has ratcheted up, so has the number of these near-ground up refreshes. General Motors felt it could not sit idle as the world changed around the Chevrolet Malibu and it ordered the remake that is selling so well now.
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The aforementioned Camry is the beneficiary of the move and its even happening in other segments. Honda recently just gave the new compact Civic a redo. Typically, redesigns come every three or four years, but clearly, the future really is now.