By on August 2, 2017

2014 Dodge Avenger R/T - Image: FCAEvery midsize car on sale in the United States reported declining year-over-year volume in July 2017. Every car except the Dodge Avenger, which came back from the dead with 10 reported sales after a nine-month hiatus. 2014 was the Avenger’s last model year.

But forget that sales stat quirk — Pentastar Avenger Blacktop Edition, be still my soul. Every other midsize nameplate generated fewer sales in July 2017 than July 2016, with losses piling up fastest at Ford and Hyundai, with the Fusion and Sonata, respectively.

Between major Fusion and Sonata losses and decreased volume everywhere else, U.S. midsize car volume fell by a fifth in July 2017 — a 36,000-unit decline. (Read More…)

By on August 1, 2017

2011-2015-2018 Hyundai Sonatas - Images: HyundaiAfter the forgotten third-generation car, the odd and bulbous fourth-generation car, and the dull fifth-generation car, the sixth Hyundai Sonata was unveiled at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show. It was surprising, even shocking, that Hyundai so dramatically transformed its staid midsize car into a radical “fluidic sculpture” sedan.

In the United States, after averaging 132,000 sales over the previous half-decade, the Hyundai Sonata exploded. By 2012, Hyundai sold more than 230,000 copies, and the Sonata averaged 215,000 U.S. sales between 2010 and 2014, a 63-percent increase compared with the previous half-decade average.

The momentum was not sustained. The seventh-generation Hyundai Sonata debuted in the United States at 2014’s New York International Auto Show. Where did the fun go? Where was the drama, the cat-like headlamps, the desire to stand out from the pack?

“We went from a very striking design, to a very beautiful car, but it just didn’t turn heads like the car before it did,” Hyundai Motor America’s vice president of product planning, Mike O’Brien, tells Automotive News. (Read More…)

By on July 25, 2017

2018 Hyundai Sonata sunroof - Image: Hyundai“It’s getting hot in here, so take off all your roofs.” — Not Nelly, 2002

Citing weight reduction and consequent improvements in fuel economy, Hyundai Motor America has removed the panoramic sunroof from every Sonata model for the 2018 model year.

Is the move away from vast sunroofs, spanning the breadth and length of the roof, back to conventional sunroofs truly going to result in measurable real-world fuel savings? No. Even a major engineering change such as the Sonata 2.0T’s new eight-speed automatic doesn’t translate to meaningful fuel efficiency gains: the combined EPA fuel economy for the 2018 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T remains the same as it was in 2017 at 26 miles per gallon.

Nor is the reduction of high-mounted panoramic sunroof’s weight and the subsequent lowering of the Sonata’s center of gravity going to be a major boon to the everyday handling of a mainstream midsize sedan.

Maybe the 2018 Sonata’s handling improves, unnoticeably. Perhaps the Sonata becomes more fuel efficient, insignificantly. But the real reason Hyundai has removed the panoramic sunroof from the 2018 Sonata? Blame Vitamin D. (Read More…)

By on July 18, 2017

2018 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0T, Image: Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars

As Tim Cain put it so succinctly earlier this afternoon, the seventh-generation Hyundai Sonata’s exterior design, coming on the heels of the quite edgy 2011-2014 model, didn’t set American’s hearts aflame.

Even as standard content increased and the model’s value proposition burned just as brightly as before, its distinctively watered-down design turned off buyers. Well, Hyundai wants its apology heard loud and clear. For 2018, the Sonata atones for the previous generation’s sins by showing up with something to look at.

Namely, a brand new face. Oh, and how about that rear end, now with less ovals? While fore-and-aft facelifts are the hallmark of a mid-cycle design refresh, the 2018 Sonata’s changes aren’t just skin deep. (Read More…)

By on July 18, 2017

2018 Hyundai Sonata - Image: HyundaiLaunched for the 2015 model year, the seventh Hyundai Sonata was not the avant-garde successor to the 2011-2014 Sonata for which many hoped. The new Sonata, while objectively better in virtually every way, was missing a key ingredient.

For 2018, Hyundai has thoroughly refreshed the seventh-generation Sonata, hoping that a far more aggressive front fascia will draw more eyes. Hyundai went much further than the superficial, however, by stiffening the Sonata’s structure, upgrading to an eight-speed automatic, and including more safety equipment as standard fit.

Yet while Toyota and Honda believe their new Camry and new Accord can ignite the midsize sedan segment in a bid to wage war against a crossover onslaught, Hyundai’s goals for the refreshed 2018 Sonata are far more modest. Much more modest. Más modesto. (Read More…)

By on June 7, 2017

2017 Toyota Camry SE - Image: Toyota“Stepping up to a midsize is basically a no-brainer for buyers at this point,” CarsDirect’s senior price analyst Alex Bernstein tells TTAC.

With demand for midsize sedans drying up, deals on aging models are warming up.

Now in its sixth model year, the 2017 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T S — the entry-level Passat — is available in June for a 36-month lease at $189 per month and $1,999 due at signing.

The 2017 Honda Accord, a new version of which is due later this year, is also available in June in basic LX trim on the same terms.

Meanwhile, the mid-grade 2017 Toyota Camry SE 2.5, set to be replaced in the coming months by an all-new model, is likewise available in June for $189 per month with $1,999 down over 36 months.

“This is about as cheap as lease deals have ever been on these midsize sedans,” Bernstein says. But it actually gets even cheaper, marginally cheaper, according to CarsDirect’s examination of 500 lease deals. (Read More…)

By on April 12, 2017

2018 Hyundai Sonata range – Image: Hyundai

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. (Read More…)

By on April 7, 2017

2014 Hyundai Sonata

Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. have announced plans to recall 1.3 million vehicles in the United States and South Korea for engine defects that could result in stalling. While no automaker wants to face the possibility of a recall, Hyundai Motor Group is already facing a sales slump in both North America and Asia.

Having to waste millions on a recall that further brings the company’s ability to regulate quality into question is the last thing it needs. Last month, Hyundai recalled roughly one million cars seat for a faulty fastener that occasionally caused seat belts to detach in a crash.  (Read More…)

By on March 8, 2017

2018 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T, Image: Hyundai

If public backlash against the sixth-generation Sonata, mainly in its home country, caused Hyundai to pour cold water all over the midsize sedan’s edgy design, consider the 2018 Sonata a reaction to its toned-down predecessor.

The refreshed 2018 Sonata unveiled in Seoul, South Korea, today aims to shelter the popular midsize from accusations of “safe” or “boring” styling. While the sedan’s flanks are easily recognized, the previous model’s this-won’t-offend-anyone front fascia has given way to a wholly new design. (Read More…)

By on January 18, 2017

Hyundai Sonata Rental with broken rear window, Image: © 2017 Jack Baruth

I closed the driver’s door and the back window of the 2017 Hyundai Sonata simply fell into the passenger compartment, a thousand little pieces sprinkled over my luggage, my spare pair of shoes, my son’s child seat. It was about 10:45 on a Saturday night. Danger Girl, my son, and I were nearly 400 miles away from home. It was 26 degrees outside. And we were about 40 miles from the nearest town with more than one stoplight.

Did I mention that the car in question was a rental?

(Read More…)

By on October 20, 2016

2016 Hyundai Sonata, Image: Hyundai Motor America

The only thing missing is an ejection seat.

Panoramic sunroofs are a great way to add upmarket flair to a solidly mid-range vehicle, bringing occupants closer to the outside world and making joyriding antics a breeze. However, drivers would normally prefer some say over when those large glass panels open. They’d also like to keep them attached to the car. (Read More…)

By on March 7, 2016

2016 Hyundai Sonata, Image: Hyundai Motor America

A year and a half ago, I drove the new-for-2015 Hyundai Sonata in the “Limited” trim. I thought it was a solid, if not particularly exciting, choice in the increasingly unimportant family-sedan market. During that same press trip, Hyundai gave me a chance to drive the “Sport” and “Eco” trims of the Sonata, but there was no base-model inventory on hand. That wasn’t by accident, and it’s also not unusual. Offering up a no-options car to journosaurs who are continually spoiled by first-class flights and metallic-looking chocolates in the form of the “Ruf” logo is a great way to wind up as the target of a Burgess wobble.

Imagine my joy, then, when I stepped off my (coach-class) flight in Portland last month and found a Sonata SE waiting for me. My itinerary, which was centered around The 1 Show but which would also include a 140-mile freeway jaunt to Salem, OR and back, promised to be just the ticket for a truly independent evaluation, TTAC-rental style. After all, some cars are pretty decent in all of their various and varied variants, while others can’t cut the mustard without the big motor and upscale options. Where does the Sonata SE fall on this spectrum?

(Read More…)

By on December 14, 2015

2015-subaru-wrx-023

Three hybrid powertrains and three performance powertrains bookended Wards Auto’s top 10 engines, which was released last week.

The list included repeat winners such as the Ram 1500 Ecodiesel 3-liter six, Subaru’s turbo flat-four and Nissan’s veteran VQ 3.5-liter V-6. Appearing for the first time was BMW’s replacement for its N55 turbocharged, 3-liter straight six as well as General Motor’s LGX V-6 — which appears in several Cadillac models and in the new Chevrolet Camaro — with cylinder deactivation.

Volvo’s twin-charged 2-liter four and Ford’s famous flat-plane crank V-8 from the Shelby GT350 made the list for the first time in 2016. Volkswagen’s engines were excluded from consideration this year because of the company’s admission that its diesel engine cheated through emissions tests.

(Read More…)

By on September 25, 2015

2011 Hyundai Sonata

Hyundai, looking down the barrel of a class-action lawsuit, has finally agreed to recall 2011 and 2012 model year Sonatas for engine issues resulting from metallic debris.

According to Automotive News, the issue affects Sonatas equipped with both naturally aspirated 2.4-liter and turbocharged 2.0-liter engines due to debris not being properly removed from crankshafts when they were manufactured.

Hyundai will also extend powertrain warranties on the engine sub-assembly for affected models.

(Read More…)

By on January 15, 2015

IMG_6725-550x366

We’ve seen this scenario play out before: an auto maker follows up a successful model with a next-generation version that is a stylistic dud. Hyundai is facing this problem with their new Sonata, which hasn’t followed up the success of the prior generation, known for the bold design statement it made upon its introduction in 2010.

(Read More…)

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