It seems like Hyundai is in a sort of automotive golden age where it just can’t put a foot wrong. The Genesis sedan and Coupe, and Tucson have been well received in their respective marketplaces, but the ultra competitive mid-size sedan segment is a different kind of monster.
The Sonata was going to need some big chops to even be considered against stalwarts like the Camry and Accord. Upon climbing in the Sonata, the first thought was that there was no way this was a sub-$30K vehicle. The Sonata’s interior easily outclasses most of the competition.
On the road, the Sonata is a comfortable, if somewhat disconnected, ride. The steering just felt too vague and too light, especially when looking at competition like the Suzuki Kizashi and Mazda6. The other big gripe was with the transmission. A six-speed automatic is great, but it isn’t so good if those six gears won’t cooperate with each other. Stepping on the throttle resulted in an annoying wait, and then a jerk as the transmission sorts itself out. The steering and transmission just didn’t have the level of refinement that was expected from Hyundai lately. The Sonata has huge potential in a highly competitive marketplace. The arrival of turbocharged and hybrid models is only going to help that. But those will remain relatively niche vehicles. The bread-and-butter model is going to be the naturally-aspirated, gas-only Sonata, and with a bit of improvement, Hyundai has another game changer on its hands.
The new Sonata may be an out-of-the-park homerun for car buyers in general, but it’s more like a ground rule double for enthusiasts. The car is totally competent, even when you turn up the wick a little, but it doesn’t really want me to share in the fun that’s going on under tire.
And, while the 2.4-liter four is a nice motor versus the standards set by Camry and Accord, it isn’t quite ballsy enough to offer real depth of character.
- Outstanding interior for this price point
- Exterior styling stands out against the competition
- Optional extras turn the Sonata into a near-luxury car
- Transmission could use some refinement
- 2.4-liter engine is good, but we want the turbo already!
- Steering feel and suspension tuning create an uninvolving experience