2017 NYIAS: 2018 Hyundai Sonata Borrows the New Elantra's Face As Buyers Flee

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

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.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

Timothy Cain
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  • Jfbar167 Jfbar167 on Apr 13, 2017

    Man, my OCD is going CRAZY with those HVAC vents. They are ALL different shapes. Nice front grill design though compared to the current one. Not a fan of the "new" taillights though

  • Raevoxx Raevoxx on Apr 17, 2017

    I considered "stepping up" to a Sonata Sport (2.4) when I was shopping my Elantra. But at the time, they hadn't started discounting the cars that much, and i was sticking to a sub-20k budget (a condo isn't going to buy itself!) More to the point, I wasn't totally sold on the design. Even my husband commented that it didn't look interesting enough, and didn't seem like the car "fit" me. I especially didn't care for the back end. Taillight design was better on the previous generation. So overall, I think the Sonata is handsome enough, but I consider the Optima to have the far better sheetmetal of the two. Too bad I don't really like Kia interior design, and that's why I ruled the Forte/Forte5 out in the early stages of my car hunting. The UVO infotainment gets an honorable mention, though. I like the look of this refreshed Sonata, and at first I didn't really like the 2018 Elantra GT but the front design language has since grown on me. As a side note, I'm going to give my Elantra some Avante treatment this summer by swapping out the front LEDs to the KDM DRL/foglamp combo. Unless I can convince the local Hyundai service bay to reprogram the ECU so that they don't dim when the headlights turn on.

  • Aja8888 Folks, this car is big enough to live in. Dual deal: house and car for $7 large.
  • Astigmatism I don't think tax credits will put me in this league, but if I could swing it, I would 1000% go for a restomod EV Grand Wagoneer: https://www.thedrive.com/news/you-can-buy-an-electric-80s-jeep-grand-wagoneer-for-295000
  • FreedMike I like the looks of the Z, but I'd take the Mustang. V8s are a disappearing breed.
  • Picard234 I can just smell the clove cigarettes and the "oregano" from the interior. Absolutely no dice at any price.
  • Dartdude The Europeans don't understand the American market. That is why they are small players here. Chrysler Group is going to die pretty soon under their control. Europeans have a sense of superiority over Americans that is why the Mercedes merger didn't work out and almost killed Chrysler. Bringing European managers aren't going to help. Just like F1 they want our money. We need Elon Musk to buy out Chrysler, Dodge and Ram from Stellantis.