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.

Unlike the 2014-2017 model, the new Sonata’s grille follows a trend set by its smaller stablemates, opening wide and filling the center of its face. While the existing Sonata Hybrid already ventured in this direction, the 2018 update brings a cleaner, more cohesive look. Sport models see a mesh-filled grill, with others making do with familiar chrome bars.

Completing the front-end makeover are vertically stacked LED running lights and a sculpted hood. Out back, the Sonata’s taillights continue the diagonal motif established by the smaller Elantra.

2018 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T, Image: Hyundai

Midsize cars are having an especially hard time as of late, and the automaker can’t afford to rest on its laurels while its rivals fight over remaining buyers. Hyundai saw Sonata sales peak in 2012.

Hyundai hasn’t taken this opportunity to boost its competitiveness in the infotainment screen size race. (Not that it lagged the competition by an appreciable degree.) For 2018, the Sonata maintains a standard 7-inch touchscreen, while those with extra bills in their pocket can plunk an 8-inch unit into the redesigned center stack.

Rear seat users gain a USB charging port, while front seat occupants can now enjoy the plug-free bliss of wireless charging. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity rounds out the convenience upgrades. On the safety front, buyers can cocoon themselves in more technology than before, with Lane Keep Assist now available.

While engine choices carry over from last year, an eight-speed automatic now comes standard in Sport 2.0T models. That model also brings a helping of black trim and dark chrome moldings, in addition to the aforementioned grille mesh. Other non-hybrid models retain the tried-and-true six-speed automatic.

Because the Sonata unveiled in Seoul is bound for the Korean market, we’ll have to wait until next month’s New York Auto Show to hear any North American specifics.

[Images: Hyundai Motor]

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21 Comments on “2018 Hyundai Sonata Revealed in Seoul, Hopes to Stimulate Midsize Sales...”

  • avatar

    Grille looks better than a lot I’ve seen lately.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Less stodgy and generic than before, but if I was set on a Sonata I’d just get the Optima. Same powertrains and I prefer the Kia’s interior and exterior by quite a margin.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      30 mile fetch,
      I’m with you on most Kia vs Hyundai design.

      I have read that Kia and Hyundai are given considerable latitude with their own designs.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        They share drivetrains and suspensions, but virtually no body or interior parts. Maybe some wiring.

        And each brand offers a few unique models and/or trim levels that the other doesn’t have.

    • 0 avatar

      Except the current Optima doesn’t hold water to its predecessor when it comes to sheetmetal (does have the better interior) – the previous Optima’s sheetmetal with the current Optima’s interior would have been near perfect.

      The one model where the Hyundai has the better design is the Tucson (albeit the Sportage has the nicer interior), and would probably call it a tie between the Cadenza and the new Grandeur (which it doesn’t seem like we’d be getting as the new Azera).

    • 0 avatar

      I bought the Sonata for 2 key reasons:

      1. The Kia Shifter. You can’t put it in “Manual” mode because the shifter “T” actually goes into the footwell region, which kinda defeats the purpose.

      Sure most people never use manual, but choosing not to and “not being able to” are big deals.

      The sonata uses a manual-style small shifter which doesn’t get in the way.

      2. The air inlets seem goofy on the kia. Maybe a little thing, but its hard to get the air control you want.

      3. Everyone I mentioned the kia to said I’m too old for a kia (I’m 30). Kia seems to be a 20-25 year olds car, although I’m sure some people will disagree.

  • avatar

    Now if they only upped the horsepower back to the levels it used to be in 2014.

  • avatar

    It looks like a bad copy of Ford Fusion.
    A step backwards in design IMHO.

    • 0 avatar

      Eh, Hyundai was doing the hexagonal grill and elongated, swept back headlights before Ford; and besides, one could say that the pre-facelift look has more in common with the Fusion.

      This refreshed design could’ve used some more tweaks, but an improvement over the prior fascia which was just bland.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Looks fine, but I wouldn’t call it a ‘wholly new design’.

  • avatar

    Maybe it’s the picture and seeing it on the street will be different but the headlight gives it the impression this is a bigger Elantra. The innovative exterior design seems to be slowing down to a more evolutionary pace. Perfectly understandable and not meant to be a criticism, just a personal observation.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Judging from the photos I believe there is room to improve the frontend aesthetics. A little more softening would not go astray.

    • 0 avatar

      The sport model looks like a bigger Elantra.

      The second picture looks like a smaller Genesis G80. Which isn’t great for the new brand, unless Genesis doesn’t exist as a separate brand in Korea.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    It looks very bland to me.

  • avatar

    Cross hatch grill looks cool.. but overall, they are playing it safe here. Even the wheels are.. eh.. ok.

  • avatar

    Seems like lots of people are raving about it, but I don’t like it.

    The front just doesn’t fit the car.

    I do like the tail lights, but seriously isn’t “S O N A T A” late 90s, early 2000s?

  • avatar

    I don’t get it. Hyundai gave us a Sonata with terrific swoopy styling and the ability to hold its own with anything in the class…only to turn around a couple years later and nix the edgy styling, inside and out, to create the current car, which looks like one of those “generic” cars photoshopped together for auto-insurance ads. And now they’ve done one worse and grafted onto that a gaping maw that approaches Toyota levels of styling hideousness. WHAT ARE YOU DOING, HYUNDAI? Honestly, just bring back the swoopy one, it will look newer than the current model or this “new” model.

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