Saturday, 21 April 2018

[CAR REVIEW] 2018 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Sport




Intro
A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of test driving the 2018 Hyundai Sonata Sport in Marina Blue. I have not driven a Hyundai in a while, and during this time, they have improved massively in terms of comfort, style, and built quality. I was very excited to see how the new Sonata stacks up against its competitors.

Exterior
The 2018 Hyundai Sonata looks sharp and stylish. The new cascading grille design is aggressive and distinctive, but I am not a fan of the contours around the lower grills which house the led fog lights. The rest of the car looks much more elegant and balanced, which kind of reminded me of an Audi (they did hire Peter Schreyer who was widely known for his design contributions to the Audi TT). I especially liked the rear LED lights and the 18-inch rims that is packaged with the Sport trim.

Overall, the 2018 Sonata looks aggressive in the front, and elegant in the back. The look grew on me more and more towards the end of the test drive.





Interior
Not only did the exterior of the 2018 Sonata got a facelift, Hyundai also redesigned its interior. On the plus side, it is spacious, and offers huge legrooms for the rear passengers. Unlike many sedans, the middle of rear floor is not raised, making it very comfortable to sit three people in the back. The leather front seats are comfortable, and the white stitchings give the car a premium feel. In the Sport trim, the front seats are both heated and vented, and the rear seats can also be heated. There are USB charging ports and a wireless charging pad in the front and a dedicated USB charger in the back.



Soft-touch materials are used throughout. However, the mid sections of the side door panels and the front dash are made of hard plastics. This is a design choice that I do not understand as it cheapens the otherwise premium feel of the car. I also think the layout of the buttons in the center console looks a little bit dated.


On the other hand, the 2018 Sonata offers one of the best visibility from inside a car. The C pillars are not exaggerated like some competitions, and coupled with a huge panoramic sunroof, the interior space feels much bigger than it already is. The view from the rear passenger seats is simply spectacular especially on a sunny day.


Infotainment
To me the infotainment system is what sets Hyundai apart from the competitors. The 8.0”center display is large and bright with an anti-reflective matte finish. It is equipped with a touch screen which significantly speeds up tasks like entering an address. I also like the fact that most functions can still be accessed through dedicated buttons and dials and not everything is relying on the touch screen, like the Tesla. The implementation of the navigation is quite intuitive, though I am not sure about some of the route choices when navigating in Vancouver.


The controls on the steering wheel are nicely laid out and easy to use. You can control most things without taking your hands off the wheel. There is a LCD screen in between the rpm and speed dials on the dashboard. It displays the most relevant information at any given point, such as showing the light switch position when you turn on the light. You can also choose to have it display information like fuel consumption, turn by turn navigation, and driver assist settings, etc.



Our test car has a 400 watts 9-speaker audio system with Clari-Fi music restoration technology. Coupled with a quiet interior, the end result is a fantastic audio experience.

The Sonata is equipped with Android Auto and Apple Carplay. It also features BlueLink. When subscribed, it allows the customer to remote start, stop, lock, unlock, or to find the vehicle all through an app on your smartphone.

In my opinion, the infotainment system of the 2018 Hyundai Sonata is definitely one step ahead of the competitors.

Safety and Driver Assistance
The 2018 Sonata earned a 5-star NHTSA rating. It is equipped with Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear-Cross Traffic Alert, and Rear View Camera in all trims. GLS with Tech package and above also get Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, and Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection.


I find the Lane Keep Assist very similar to the Mazda. If you take your hands off the steering wheel for longer than a few seconds, the car would remind you to put your hands back on with a warning sound. These half automated safety feature should be used as a back-up and not to be relied on 100 percent. Hyundai does a good job of reminding you that.

If you are looking for a safe car for your family that offers plenty of active/passive safety features, the 2018 Hyundai Sonata is a solid choice.

Driving
The test car we drove was equipped with the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo. It produces 245 hp of power and 260 lb-ft of torque. With its new 8 speed automatic transmission, our 2018 Hyundai Sonata went from 0-100km in roughly 7.2 seconds. Although not as fast as the Honda Accord 2.0T, it is more than enough for a midsize sedan.

The suspension system handles the road bumps nicely, and the longer wheelbase definitely helped in that regard. The steering is quite nimble for a large sudden, but could still use some fine tuning.

There are four drive modes you can choose from for the Sonata: sport, comfort, eco, and smart. I prefer the smart mode as the sport mode tends to hold gears for too long and the smart mode does a very good job of switching between different modes based on the driving conditions.

The official fuel consumption ratings for the 2.0T Sport is 9.1L/100km for combined usage. We managed to achieve 10.4L/100km for our mostly city driving test drive.

Space and Cargo Storage
This is another area where the 2018 Hyundai Sonata shines. The 16.3 cubic-foot of cargo space is absolutely huge. It is so deep and wide that we managed to fit more things in the trunk than Angela’s Audi Q5. The rear seats can fold 60/40 and there are plenty of storage space throughout the cabin. I find it interesting that the bottle holders by the door have this warning sign to remind you not to leave open-lid cups in them in case of spillage.


Hyundai has an interesting way of implementing a hands-free trunk popper. If you stand near the rear of the car for a few seconds with the key in your pocket, it activates. I would much prefer a foot activated solution as there are times when I stand close to the rear of the car to take a photo, the trunk would just pop open.

Serviceability
The other place where Hyundai left plenty of space in the Sonata is the engine compartment. Everything is nicely labeled, and there is plenty of room for you to reach serviceable parts. I have never seen an air filter holder that is the easier to access. Hyundai really makes it easy for people who like to get hands on with their cars.




Verdict
Hyundai has really impressed me with the 2018 Sonata. It offers great interior and cargo space, top crash-test ratings, ample safety and entertainment technologies, comfortable ride characteristics, and a reasonable price tag (especially the lower trims). I may not like some of the aesthetic design choices, but the 2018 Sonata is still a good looking car. For people who are considering a spacious car for the family, I would highly recommend the Hyundai Sonata.

Test Vehicle
2018 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Sport
MSRP
36,999 (does not include taxes or delivery and destination)
Color
Marina Blue

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