The 2015 Hyundai Sonata has stepped up their game in the highly competitive mid-size segment and is taking dead aim at the perennial leaders with their latest rendition of Sonata.
The all-new 2015 Sonata starts with a more refined look that Hyundai has developed using their Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language. The new Sonata offers a stiffer and more responsive body structure for a better ride, provides a quieter cabin that is loaded with comfort, convenience and technology features – and lots of room inside, in fact leading the segment with 106.1 cubic feet of passenger room.
It is still Sonata at first glance, but a second look reveals a larger, more refined grille with a wide air intake. The body lines are a bit softer with crisp horizontal rocker panels that hint at the chassis’ increased stability while the tightened signature Sonata beltline suggests the sedan’s strength. The coupe-like roofline remains even with more interior room. The rear face of Sonata emphasizes the width and suggests that this sedan is ready to perform with its solid look. Aerodynamics are improved with this more refined appearance. The new Sonata boasts a drag coefficient of just 0.27, which Hyundai says is lower than any non-hybrid in the mid-size sedan segment.
Creating a quieter cabin was obviously a priority as we noted quickly during our drive the marked absence of outside road noise or internal vibration or rattle as compared to prior generations. Hyundai says they accomplished that through reducing openings in the bulkhead and increased use of sound deadening materials throughout the cabin. Sound absorption materials were configured into the aerodynamic underbody tray to reduce noise from the road. Even the engine noises were tuned to reduce noise transference to the cabin.
To enhance ride and handling, Hyundai has used advanced high-strength steel for more than 50 percent of the Sonata platform, delivering 41 percent stiffer torsional rigidity and 35 percent greater bending strength.
The front suspension uses MacPherson struts with gas charged Mando Dual Flow Damper shock absorbers. A revised independent multilink rear suspension with coil springs design is integrated also with Mando Dual Flow Damper shock absorbers to enhance responsiveness, handling and stability while reducing impact harshness. Dual lower suspension arms replace the old single-arm design and distribute lateral forces more effectively without sacrificing handling. Performance-like steering is accomplished with the column-mounted, rack and pinion, power-assisted steering that is responsive to engine RPM’s.
Some of the technology features normally found in more expensive sedans that are available in the new 2015 Sonata are things like High Beam Assist that allows the driver to keep their eyes on the road and let the system adjust them as needed in response to road visibility, LED daytime running lights, Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with full stop capability that seamlessly functions down to zero mph, Smart trunk for hands-free opening of the trunk via the key fob as the owner approaches the vehicle, segment-exclusive sunshades for the rear passengers and a height-adjustable passenger seat to enhance their cabin comfort.
A full suite of active safety features normally found in more expensive vehicles are available on Sonata. They include Forward Collision Warning, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and a Lane Departure Warning System.
Sonata line up, powertrain and pricing
The 2015 Sonata comes in four trim levels. They are SE (MSRP $21,150), Sport (MSRP $23,175) and the Limited (MSRP $26,525). Three trim levels are all powered by a revised (for 2015) version of the 2.4L Direct Injection four-cylinder engine that is mated to a 6-speed automatic with Shifttronic transmission and Drive Mode Select. Fuel economy ratings for all three are 24/35 mpg city/highway with an expected average of 28 mpg.
The fourth trim level is the 2.0T (MSRP $ 28,575) which is powered by the 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that delivers 240 horsepower with 260 lb.-ft. of torque. It is mated also to the 6-speed automatic with Shifttronic transmission and Drive Mode Select. With more horsepower, you get more performance, but you lose a bit in the fuel economy with the 2.0T coming in at 23/32 mpg city/highway with an average of 26 mpg.
The Drive Mode Select system for the 2015 Sonata gives the driver a choice of driving experiences with commensurate variability in fuel economy. The ranges are ECO, NORMAL and SPORT. Our experience was that the ECO does well enough for around town driving, but mixed highway and town driving is served best by NORMAL. For those of us who like a more responsive powertrain, SPORT does a very nice job in the new Sonata, adjusting the throttle, shifting points and steering to give a much sportier drive experience.
Sonata Limited as tested
Our recent ride and drive test Sonata for a week was the 2015 Limited model Shale Gray Metallic with a premium looking Black/Brown interior. It was fully equipped with all of the available packages and still cost just $32,510 – including delivery.
The base MSRP of our test Limited was $26,525 and for that it came with the standard 2.4L Direct Injection 4-cyliinder engine mated to the, also standard, 6-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic and Drive Mode Select.
The 2015 Sonata comes loaded with standard features
Standard features across all Sonata trim lines include Vehicle Stability Management VSM, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Traction Control, LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL), Tire Pressure Monitoring (TPM), Drive Mode Select, Keyless Entry, height adjustable passenger seat, tilt and telescoping steering wheel with controls and a rear lip spoiler. Also included are LED front map reading lights, power windows, three 12-volt outlets, 8-way driver seat, 60/40 split rear seating with center armrest and cup holders, rear view camera and Hill-start Assist.
Other standard features added to the Limited included: 17-inch Alloy Wheels, Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Rear-cross Traffic Alert and lane Change Assist, rocker panel extensions with chrome moldings, chrome-tipped dual exhaust, LED taillights, heated side mirrors with turn signal indicators, chrome exterior door handles with puddle lights, Hands-free Smart Trunk Auto Open, Push-button Start, Instrument cluster hood and door insert accent stitching, woodgrain appearing interior trims, leather seating surfaces, 6-way power passenger seat, heated front and rear seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, dual automatic temperature control with floor console-mounted rear vents, rear side window sunshades and metal door sill plates.
Just two packages complete the Sonata Limited
The Tech Package ($3,500) added the panoramic sun roof, high gloss window surround, HID Xenon headlights, 4.2-inch color LCD trip computer, 8-inch screen navigation system with lane guidance and Voice Command, Apple Eyes Free Siri integration, SiriusXM with Travel Link, HD Radio, Infinity 400-watt premium sound system with 10 speakers, Integrated Memory System driver seat, ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel and the Hyundai Blue Link Telematics system (Gen 2).
Building on the Tech Package, the Ultimate Package ($1,550) equipped our test Sonata with Smart Cruise Control with start/stop capability, Electronic Parking Brake with automatic vehicle hold, larger (12.6-inch) front brakes, Automatic High Beam Assist and Rear Parking Assist. Delivery was $810.
We were impressed with this more mature Sonata. With it’s slightly toned down exterior styling, it picks up the pace on the inside with up-to-date technology, quality materials and good fit and finish. It drives well, has more than adequate power with good fuel economy, rides comfortably and seats five with room to spare – including all of their gear in the trunk.
The 2015 Sonata comes with a 5-year/60,000-mile fully transferable new vehicle limited warranty, a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty and five-years of Hyundai Roadside Assistance.
The 2015 Hyundai has also been awarded the coveted IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) Top Safety Pick+ rating when equipped with the optional Forward Collision Warning system which was included on our test Sonata Limited.
If you are in the market for a well built and well equipped mid-size family sedan that is very reasonably priced with segment leading warranty and safety rating, the 2015 Sonata needs to be on your list.