Since the current Hyundai Sonata went on sale -- and was named one of our 2011 All-Stars -- the midsize sedan segment has changed dramatically. To keep pace with its rivals, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata receives a thorough re-think that debuts at the 2014 New York auto show.
The immediately obvious change is that the 2015 Hyundai Sonata now adheres to the company's Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language. The nose is still rounded, with swept-back headlights and a creased hood, but the grille is now hexagonal and the fascia's lines more angular. A chrome trim strip runs from the back of the headlights, along the fenders, and meets with the rest of the chrome window trim. The car's basic silhouette is familiar, but Hyundai says the daylight opening is larger, and the sloping rear window helps contribute to a slippery 0.27 drag coefficient.
In fact, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata has grown in every direction, with interior space up 2.3 cubic feet to a total of 106.1. Trunk space actually falls slightly, from 16.4 to 16.3 cubic feet, but as a result of the increased passenger room, the new Sonata fits into the EPA's large-car class. All its rivals, including the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, are classed as midsize cars and offer less cargo room.
Stiffer Chassis, Updated PowertrainsThe 2015 Hyundai Sonata rides on a new platform that the company says is stiffer and, as an added benefit, safer in crash tests. Fifty percent of the chassis is made from high-strength steels, increasing its stiffness by 41 percent compared to today's Sonata. The rear suspension now has twin lower control arms, which Hyundai says improves ride and handling, and keeps the car more planted when braking. Stiffer bushings and new subframe bracing are claimed to improve steering feel -- addressing a big letdown in the current car.
Under the hood, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata continues to offer a 2.4-liter inline-four engine as the base powertrain on SE, Limited, and Sport models. It is rated for 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque, which is a reduction of 5 hp and 1 lb-ft because the engineering team retuned the engine for more low-end torque. Hyundai reasons that most Sonata customers spend lots of time at low RPMs, and thus would benefit from low-end grunt that an extra five peak horsepower.
The Sport 2.0T model gets, as the name suggests, a revised version of Hyundai's 2.0-liter turbo-four engine. It, too, has been revised for more mid-range power and boasts peaks of 245 hp and 260 lb-ft, down 274 hp and 269 lb-ft in the current car. Both engines pair with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Sport 2.0T also receives other bespoke updates to make it feel like a truly sporty variant. Underhood, the car gets unique suspension tuning and larger front brake discs, along with a revised electric power steering system said to further improve steering feedback and realism. Visual changes include a D-shaped steering wheel, paddle shifters, unique rear fascia with quad exhaust tips, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a special instrument cluster with racing 6-o'clock needle orientation.
Gadgets GaloreBig changes for the interior include new vent shapes on the center stack, and a new assortment of horizontally grouped physical buttons. Hyundai says everything from the height of the optional touchscreen to the feel of the steering wheel was tested for optimum usability and feel. The center stack is even angled toward the driver for slightly easier access while driving. Smaller openings in the firewall, extra sound insulation under the carpet, and special exhaust tuning is said to keep cabin noise down and only allow sounds that are “pleasing to the ear.”
The optional touchscreen navigation system features Apple CarPlay integration, which allows drivers to connect an Apple iPhone to the 2015 Hyundai Sonata. This turns the entire touchscreen into a virtual representation of the iPhone's home screen, allowing drivers to access all their phone's functions. The Sonata also supports the Siri Eyes Free mode that lets them “speak” to the iPhone's virtual assistant. On all Sonatas, Bluetooth, satellite radio, and USB and auxilliary inputs are standard. Entertainment options include a 400-watt Infinity sound system and the company's OnStar-like Blue Link telematics.
New safety gear includes features previously reserved for far more expensive models. The 2015 Hyundai Sonata features blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, forward collision warning, and a new lane change assist feature that warns if a car in the adjacent lane is closing too quickly for the driver to safely change lanes. Other new options include automatic high beams, a Smart Cruise Control feature that can automatically slow the car to a stop in heavy traffic, a heated steering, rear-window sunshades, and a “smart trunk” that automatically pops open if the owner stands behind the trunk for more than three seconds with the key in his or her pocket. The feature is also offered on the 2015 Hyundai Genesis luxury sedan.
All these changes should help the 2015 Hyundai Sonata keep up with -- and maybe even surpass -- its rivals in the hotly contested midsize sedan segment. The Sonata is currently sixth place in year-to-date midsize sales, but this thorough revamp could be enough to propel it back toward the top. The 2015 Hyundai Sonata goes on sale this summer.
Our colleagues at Jean Knows Cars shot this video of the 2015 Hyundai Sonata's unveiling ceremony.