Hyundai got to the United States in 1986 as a Korean automaker of very inexpensive cars. Unfortunately, it was too common that when you saw a Hyundai, it was either on the side of the road or on the back of a wrecker.
In fact, I would not allow a Hyundai dealer on my radio show until 2007. Fast-forward to today, and Hyundai has transformed itself completely into one of the best car companies anywhere worldwide.
Now comes the all-new 2015 Hyundai Sonata, a car that’s clearly been working out at the gym. This new sedan is larger, wider and taller and is now officially a large car. In fact, it is larger than Camry, Accord, Altima, and Passat.
When my review car was delivered to me, I jumped in it to drive it around the block real quick, which I don’t normally do. I hit the road, stomped on, and was pleased that Hyundai sent me the turbo edition. I mean, it had to have a turbocharger with acceleration like I was experiencing. When I got back and started studying the window sticker, imagine my shock to see this car has the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder under the hood. It is rated at 185-horses, but feels like well over 250. It comes with a 6-speed automatic, and if you opt for the turbo version, you get a 7-speed.
At first glance, the Sonata Limited looks much like a $72,000 Mercedes CLS. It has a swooping roofline like the CLS and you have to look twice to make sure this isn’t a coupe. From the front, you see a dramatic grill and LED running lights. From behind, you see dual chrome exhaust and restyled LED taillights. Perhaps the most notable view is from the side. A thin strip of chrome surrounds the bottom and top of the windows and connects at the outside mirror, then a wider strip of chrome runs at the bottom of the car between the wheel wells. The chrome adds a look of elegance and luxury. The designer of this car was stolen from BMW, and that is evident in the exterior styling.
As much as I like the exterior, it is the interior that will sell this car. When I opened the door the first time, I was taken aback by the Sonata Limited’s cabin. The leather seats are inviting, and the two-tone colors on the door panels jump out at you. Subtle wood grain adorns the dash but does not overpower. There is also a fair amount of stainless steel around the center stack, including a handy-dandy compartment above the gearshift that houses two 12-volt plugs and a USB port. There is also a combination armrest and glove box between the two front seats. The back seat room is very large, and headroom abounds throughout the cabin.
There is contrasting stitching on the seats, the dash, and the leather wrapped steering wheel, further adding to the feel of pure luxury inside the Sonata. The dash is laid out about as well as any car I have ever been in. Everything makes sense, and is designed to make it easy for the driver. Very pleasant chimes welcome you when you hit the pushbutton start, and exit chimes tell you goodbye when you hit the start button again. Everything runs from an 8” color screen that is super easy to operate. Steering wheel controls are easy to reach and make sense.
The Limited is not the most expensive Sonata, that is the Sport, but the Limited is the luxury version and comes with a ton of standard equipment. For the base price of $26,525, you get some terrific features like rearview camera, leather heated front and rear seats, blind spot monitoring system, Drive Mode Select so you can choose eco, sport, or normal for your driving pleasure.
You also get a hands-free smart trunk opener, which opens the trunk if you stand behind the car for more than three seconds. Also for free you get power front seats, automatic temperature controlled air conditioning, rear window shades, Bluetooth, and Hyundai’s Blue Link system.
Let me spend a minute on the Blue Link System, it is a not well-known gem of a system. Connect your smart phone to the Blue Link and you can unlock your car, remotely start it, flash the lights, and get diagnostic reports. But wait, there’s MORE! If you have a young driver, you can set up a geo-fence, curfew times, and speed alerts that notify you if your teen goes outside the parameters you set up. You also can access emergency roadside assistance, make a service appointment, and the system will notify emergency services if there is an accident. It is a slick system for sure.
My press vehicle has the Tech Package, which gives you a power panoramic moon roof, navigation system, the Infinity sound system, cooled front seats, and a heated steering wheel. That package is a good value at $3500 retail. It also has the $1550 Ultimate Package, which includes adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, electronic parking brake, rear parking assist, and one of my favorite features, auto-hold. When engaged, auto-hold allows you to take your foot off the brake when at a complete stop, and disengages when you touch the gas pedal.
Sonata has a very large trunk with fold down rear seats, it drives and handles like a dream, and you can feel the structural rigidity when you hit a bump or head into a sharp turn. The interior quietness of this car is amazing, something you notice from the moment you put it into drive.
Gas mileage is rated at 24 in town, but I am getting 26 with no effort. I am achieving the 35 on the highway as well. With the car full of gas, it shows to have a range of 565 miles.
I didn’t expect to be blown away by this car. I figured I would like it since I liked the last generation Sonata, but I sure didn’t expect I would go gaga over it like I have. You’ll have to excuse my gushing review, but the folks at the factory in Montgomery, Alabama outdid themselves with this one. Best of all, Hyundai underpriced this car when compared to competitors.
It should be noted that my test car was a pre-production car. Usually if you are going to see any issues, it will be on one of these cars that was built before they actually started making them for the public. It will ultimately be destroyed.
What I liked most: Exterior, interior, and the price for what you get.
What I would change: The 17” wheels work OK, 18’s would be even better.
MSRP: Base price $26,525 as equipped $32,860.
Fuel Economy: 24 City/35 highway/28 combined.
Odometer reading when tested: 2463 miles.
Weight: 3252 Pounds.
Length-Width-Height: 191.1” long/73.4” wide/58.1” High
Fuel Tank Capacity: 18.5 gallons.
Towing Capacity: N/A
2015 Sonata in a few words: An outstanding car and outstanding value.
Warranty: 5-year/60,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, roadside assistance for 5-years, and unlimited mileage.
Car Pro Rating: 5+ out of 5 Stars.
Manufacturers website: https://www.hyundaiusa.com/sonata/comparison.aspx
Dealers: We have great Hyundai dealers in DFW, Houston, Cleveland, Fresno, San Antonio, and two dealers in Los Angeles.