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Hyundai Sonata: Playing Up to the Competition

December 2014, by Tariq Kamal - Also by this author

Much has changed since the 2009-MY, when the sixth-generation Hyundai Sonata debuted with enough style and drivability to finally entrench the mid-size sedan as a worthy competitor to the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima.

But the Sonata has lost much of its mojo as redesigns of those models and new entries from Ford, Mazda, Volkswagen and Hyundai’s cousin, Kia, crowded into the segment.

Enter the 2015 Sonata, an all-new, U.S.-built vehicle largely based on 2013’s HCD-14 concept with styling and engineering cues from the upscale (and recently redesigned) Hyundai Genesis. With good looks, a fresh crop of engines and a plethora of standard and optional equipment, the new sedan is worth a long look from fleet buyers.

The new base engine is a 2.4-liter inline four that delivers 185 horsepower (hp) at 178 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque. Sport and Limited models feature a 2.0-liter turbo I-4 with 245 hp (30 fewer horsies than the outgoing 2.0) and 260 lb.-ft. of torque.

Specs for the 2015 Hyundai Sonata.
Specs for the 2015 Hyundai Sonata.

The mileage-conscious Sonata Eco comes equipped with a unique seven-speed transmission (mated to a 1.6-liter turbo) that delivers 177 hp at 195 lb.-ft. and 38 miles per gallon (mpg) on the highway — a slim improvement over the base engine’s 37 highway gallons.

The cabin was redesigned from the inside out. The prior generation’s chrome-trimmed center stack and rough plastic surfaces gave way to a simple, elegant, semiluxurious look and feel. Limited models are decorated with imitation wood trim and an upscale, two-tone design scheme; the Sport 2.0T features a unique steering wheel and instrument cluster.

Sport and Sport 2.0T editions also add performance-inspired design cues to the new exterior, which features Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language and a drag coefficient of 0.27. The 2014 Sonata’s buzz-saw façade and blocky hood rails were replaced by a bigger but decidedly understated grille and a single, clean shoulder line that extends backward from the headlights.

The base SE comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, power windows, mirrors and locks, cruise control and a six-speaker sound system with Bluetooth and iPod connectivity. Sport and Eco models include 17-inch wheels, automatic headlights, power driver’s seat and more. Limited and 2.0T trim adds all that and a slew of upgrades.

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata is in showrooms now with a starting MSRP of $21,150.

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