Whether you loved it or hated it, the sixth-generation Hyundai Sonata that debuted at 2009’s Los Angeles auto show captured your attention.
In fact, that 2010-2014 Hyundai Sonata changed the way many automakers approached the midsize sedan segment, and it changed the way many buyers perceived the midsize sedan segment.
The 2015 Hyundai Sonata did not capture your attention. Sure, Hyundai built a better car with the seventh-generation Sonata, but Hyundai played it safe.
Now, at the 2017 New York International Auto Show, Hyundai reveals a refreshed seventh-generation Sonata. On a mission to capture the attention of midsize car buyers before they flee sedans in search of more flexible Tucsons and Santa Fe Sports, the 2018 Hyundai Sonata adopts the conservatively handsome Hyundai Elantra’s face.
Sonata sales tumbled to a six-year U.S. sales low in calendar year 2016. Through the first-quarter of 2017, Sonata volume is off last year’s disappointing pace by 38 percent.
Don’t blame the segment’s decline alone. Midsize car sales aren’t fading nearly that fast.
For 2018, Hyundai promises a better car. This is more than just a cascading grille slapped on to the face of a 2017 Sonata. Hyundai says ride and handling will be improved because “talented engineers increased the torsion bar stiffness within the steering system by 12 percent.”
Thank goodness Hyundai used the talented engineers. Untalented engineers would only have produced an 11-percent difference.
Overall, the steering is recalibrated for superior responsiveness and on-center feel.
The rear suspension is altered, too, with thicker trailing arms and new bushings for more nimble handling, Hyundai says.
Underhood, Hyundai increased the power in the optional 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. Horsepower rises to 245, and the 2.0T is now linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
In the safety department, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert will be standard across the 2018 Sonata range.
Entering its fourth model year, the updated Sonata will have a real fight on its hands. The best-selling Toyota Camry is all-new for 2018. We also expect to soon see new versions of the Camry’s top-selling rivals, the Nissan Altima and Honda Accord.