Ace of Base: 2019 Hyundai Sonata SE

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Over the years, the Hyundai Sonata has gone through more changes than the White House duty roster. Technically, there have been seven generations of the sedan, six of which have been sold on our shores. Even during those generations, frequent and extensive styling tweaks have been the norm. Hyundai takes the mid-cycle refresh very seriously. Click through to see what I mean.

For 2019, a year in which most shoppers rush past sedans to look at tall crossovers, the Sonata remains on the High Value list. They’re probably getting ready to introduce fresh styling as we speak.

As for previous efforts, take a look at these three machines spanning just five model years (1998 to 2002). It might not be an exaggeration to say the last time a car’s appearance changed so dramatically was back when Detroit used to roll out a new model every year.

But back to present day. The base Sonata is called the SE and, in typical Hyundai form, there are no option packages to be added at this level. Bundles appear further up the food chain. Here in the cheap seats, drivers will find themselves in command of a 2.4-liter four-banger making 185 horsepower. The EPA estimates a heady 35 mpg on the highway cycle.

Plenty of standard equipment crops up for the $22,300 price of admission. Air conditioning is present, as one might expect, as is a tilt/telescope steering wheel peppered with audio and cruise control buttons. Blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert systems are a surprise at this price point.

The Sonata’s infotainment system offers plenty of tech goodies, including a raft of USB ports to go along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on its 7-inch touchscreen. Hyundai talks up a “metalgrain” appearance to the interior accents, a styling decision which at least avoids a funereal atmosphere that infects some other base cars.

No fewer than seven different paint shades are available on the base model, ranging from utilitarian Machine Gray to snazzy Lakeside Blue. No el-cheapo steel wheels here; 16-inch alloys are wrapped up in 205-sectioned, 65-series rubber.

While we generally don’t mention rebates in the Ace of Base series, it is worth noting that some markets qualify for $2,000 worth of retail bonus cash, effectively reducing the sticker price by 10 percent. It’s a rare occasion these days to find a car with stretch-em-out legroom and scads of infotainment and safety technology for twenty grand.

[Images: Hyundai]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments and feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and priced in American Dollars. Your dealer may sell for less.

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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6 of 35 comments
  • Oberkanone Oberkanone on Dec 12, 2018

    You could buy one of these for $17K and change with the regular rebates ( no BS Uber, College, Military, etc) last month. Possibly the best value in new vehicles IMO. Great warranty and resale be dammed you will still be a winner for total cost of ownership at 5 years and 10 years.

  • Car Ramrod Car Ramrod on Dec 12, 2018

    "Here in the cheap seats" quite literally. I've rented a 2016 SE and a 2017 sport, and in each of them the seats destroyed my back for the rest of the day after covering about 300 miles. Easily the least comfortable vehicle I can remember driving.

    • See 3 previous
    • MiataReallyIsTheAnswer MiataReallyIsTheAnswer on Dec 13, 2018

      @gtem Wasn't the 2012 model the one that got panned and hastily revised?

  • Doug brockman hardly. Their goals remain to punish us by mandating unsafe unreliable unaffordable battery powered cars
  • Lorenzo It looks like the curves are out and the boxy look is back. There's an upright windscreen, a decided lack of view obstructing swoop in the rear side panels, and you can even see out of the back window. Is Lexus borrowing from the G-Class Mercedes, or the Range Rover?
  • Lorenzo Didn't those guys actually test drive cars? I was told that one drove like an old lady, another like a maniac, and the third like a nervous middle aged commuter who needs to get to work on time and can't afford big repair bills, and they got together to pass judgement within their individual expertise. No?
  • Lorenzo Aw, I don't care what they call the models, as long as they don't use those dots over the O's.
  • The Oracle GM just seems hapless lately