For 2018, Hyundai gives its midsize sedan a facelift and some tightening underneath to boost sales among a midlife sales slump. It also benefits from some newly standard equipment and a new trim level.
Hyundai made a great big splash with its sixth generation Sonata, with its exuberantly creased styling, but dropped the ball somewhat with its conservatively boring seventh generation sedan, introduced in 2015. For 2018, however, Hyundai seeks to set things right with plenty of sculpturing and interesting features, especially around the front fascia, to draw the eye.
Hyundai calls it a “signature cascading grille” and it gives the illusion of undulating waves upon the hood, and the lines are continued through ridges in the grille. And its front fascia overall is sculpted and houses some cool new lighting features. The contouring continues through the flank of the Sonata and ends in a redesigned rear end with sharper taillamps and a badge that hides the trunk release button.
New wheel designs are in store for the 16-, 17- and 18-inch wheels, and two new colors make their debut.
The inside hasn’t benefitted from as many changes. Some of the control knobs and buttons are now a bit more stout and made of higher quality materials, and the automatic transmission shift knob is revised.
Hyundai has also redesigned its instrument cluster and its steering wheel, and rear seaters now have their own USB port to argue over.
Hyundai introduced a new SEL trim level that includes a power driver’s seat, heated front seats. It will be one step up from the base SE trim level.
That brings the Sonata offering to a total of seven: the base SE, SEL, Eco, Sport, Sport 2.0T, Limited, and Limited 2.0T. Each builds upon each other for greater levels of equipment.
New for the year, the Sonata can be equipped with vertically stacked running lights, and LED headlamps that bend the direction that you steer.
Under the Hood
To make the Sonata more athletic, Hyundai engineers fortified suspension components for greater stability and weight management, while steering calibration and response has been sharpened.
The base engine for the Sonata remains the same 185 horsepower inline-four, but the turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant of the 2.0T Limited is now mated to a new eight-speed automatic; it replaces the six-speed auto unit. It should feel peppier upon launch and see greater fuel economy on the open road.
New for 2018, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert is standard for all models; it’s the only midsize sedan that offers it gratis across the lineup. An available Lane Departure Warning system with Lane Keep Assist is new for 2018 as well.
On all Sonatas, a seven-inch color touchscreen is the point from which to manage your infotainment preferences, and Hyundai makes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration standard.
Hyundai’s BlueLink telematics system can now communicate with Amazon Echo and Google Home, allowing you to control certain aspects of your vehicle from inside your home. It’s a nice feature to have when the weather outside is frightful, and you tell Alexa to start your car and set the climate control to 80, so that it will be nice and toasty when you get in.
A wireless charger (Qi) for your devices comes standard. BlueLink Connected Care, Remote and Guidance Packages now come with a free three-year trial, after which it becomes a subscription.
In the navigation system, you now get traffic information without a subscription through the HD radio.