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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2015 HYUNDAI SONATA REVIEW


2015 Hyundai Sonata  (select to view enlarged photo)
2015 Hyundai Sonata


HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE SONATA VEHICLE
The Sonata remains a highly stylized mid-size sedan that appeals to almost all generations. Chockfull of desirable technology, satisfying performance, and a comfortable price tag, Hyundai pretty much squelches the concept of ‘buyer’s remorse’ with this ride.

I drove a 2015 Hyundai Sonata with the 185-horsepower 2.4-liter Gasoline Direct Injection four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission featuring SHIFTRONIC. Available in three trims – the SE, Sport, and Limited – my Limited test drive came with the following standard features: sunroof; power driver’s seat; leather upholstery; heated front and rear seats; dual climate control; leather-wrapped steering wheel with mounted controls; Bluetooth; Blue Link telematics system; premium 360-watt Dimension audio system with XM Radio and HD Radio; five-inch audio touchscreen; rear side-window sunshades; push-button start; chrome-tipped dual exhaust; seventeen-inch wheels; and fog lights. Total price as described without upgrades comes to $26,525.

What make the Sonata additionally appealing is that it can be had with a sportier 2.0 turbo engine or in a Hybrid – placing it in direct completion with the Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion and Honda Accord. And based on similar value and kudos, I would also pit is against the Mazda6.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: High-quality materials, a driver-centric layout, and endless appreciated assets – like the heated and cooled seats with three temperatures and rear side-window sunshade – elevate the Sonata’s cabin experience, as does the two-tone grey color scheme and smoky wood inlays. Hyundai’s Blue Link is a safety, service and infotainment system with a few highlights being destination search by Google, remote start, and an in-vehicle app for scheduling car care. The navigation system is extremely user-friendly. Space is acceptable for five passengers and workable with child seats. The upgraded panoramic sunroof is a must-have feature, bringing a sleek exterior look and a sense of wide-open space inside. If you’re searching for an even sexier exterior shape, check out the Mazda6.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates the 2015 model as a Top Safety Pick. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives it an overall rating of 5-Stars (the only 4-Star rating is in rollover). Standard safety equipment includes electronic stability control, an advanced airbag system, and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution. There are optional safety technology features like Lane Departure Warning and Rear Parking Assist.

Cost Issues: An entry-level Hyundai Sonata starts at a modest $21,150 with my Limited trim test drive reaching $31,700 with a $3,500 Tech Package (upgraded panoramic sunroof, navigation, upgraded Infinity audio system) and a $1,500 Ultimate Package (safety technology like Land Departure Warning and Rear Parking Assist). A Toyota Camry starts at $22,970 and a Mazda6 at $21,190.

Activity & Performance Ability: A surprisingly responsive four-cylinder, the Sonata feels trained, nimble and up for any handling tasks you have in mind. Unfortunately, road noise does continue to plague this sedan during highway speeds. The Sonata also offers a twin-scroll turbocharged 2-liter with 245 horsepower; and a Hybrid version combining the 2.4-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor for a net 199 horsepower and speeds reaching as high as 74 miles-per-hour in electric-only driving mode.

The Green Concern: Fuel economy for the 2.4-liter is 24-city and 35-highway for a combined 28 miles-per-gallon with the hybrid version gets 36 miles-per-gallon city and 40 highway.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
Although the competition has improved in the last couple of year to close the gap, the Sonata remains ahead of the mid-size sedan pack in my opinion by providing shoppers with too many attributes to count, from being extremely stylish and tech-loaded to delivering noted performance – and most importantly – remaining affordable.

©2015 Katrina Ramser