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2018 Hyundai Sonata Review By Larry Nutson

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2018 Hyundai Sonata
Trying to make you a happy driver

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Yes, I know SUVs are the hot ticket these days. It seems that’s all most every new vehicle shopper is interested in. And granted, SUVs have become more and more car-like, refined and comfortable. And of course, they offer great versatility with both good carrying as well as towing ability.

But let’s step back in to the world of cars, the world of mid-size four-door sedans. Hyundai’s Sonata has been a popular seller in the mid size segment---and that’s THE sedan segment that matters.

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The Sonata has been redesigned for 2018 and we first got a good look at it at the New York Auto Show in Spring 2017. On the outside there’s a new look all around. A new “cascading grill,” a more assertive profile and an entirely new rear with new slim taillights makes for a good look.

Inside, the center stack and instrument panel have been reworked and there’s a new gauge dial design and three-spoke steering wheel. Piano key buttons for audio and HVAC controls add a premium look.

The 5-passenger, front-wheel drive 2018 Sonata is offered in a number of models with different powertrains—Sonata, Sonata 2.0T, Sonata Eco, Sonata Hybrid and Sonata Plug-in Hybrid.

I recently drove the 2018 Sonata that is powered by a 185-HP 2.4-L 4-cylinder coupled to a six-speed automatic. SE, SEL, Sport and Limited trims are offered with this engine and are priced from $22,050 to $27,400.

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My test vehicle was the $27,400 Sonata Limited equipped with the optional $2,900 Ultimate Package.

The Ultimate Package is in the “recommended to buy” category since it includes semi-automated driver assistance safety features. Namely, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, smart cruise control with stop/start capability and rear parking sensors. You also get 8-inch navigation, Infinity Premium 400-watt 8-speaker audio, wireless mobile device charging, heated steering wheel and a rear side-window sun shades.

Note that the 2018 Hyundai Sonata earned the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety’s (IIHS) highest accolade for safety, receiving a 2017 TOP SAFETY PICK+ award when equipped with optional front crash prevention and dynamic bending headlights.

For 2017, the requirements for TOP SAFETY PICK+ were tightened. To qualify, winners must earn good ratings in each of the Institute’s five crashworthiness tests – small overlap crash test, moderate overlap crash test, side and roof strength, and head restraint tests – and have an available front crash prevention system earning an advanced or superior rating. Winners must also score no less than an acceptable rating in the headlight test.

Blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and a rear-view camera are standard.

Hyundai engineers tweaked the chassis a bit for 2018 to improve the already good ride and handling. Steering response and feel was tightened up and made more responsive. The rear suspension has been updated too.

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I thought the Sonata behaved well in my city as well as highway driving. The suspension is very compliant and soaks up road bumps well. Overall the Sonata is quite comfortable, although I didn’t have it heavily loaded in any of my travels. There’s a bit of road noise but nothing that’s bothersome.

EPA test-cycle ratings are 28mpg combined, with 25 city mpg and 35 highway mpg. On a 26 mile highway drive I easily hit 36 mpg. Most of my in-city slow stop-and-go driving only got around 21 mpg.

The 185-HP four delivers decent acceleration but it’s no neck-snapper. If you crave more performance the Sonata 2.0T with 245-HP might be the better choice.

For road trips the 18.5 gallon fuel tank should get you around well over 600 miles down the highway. The 16.3 cu.ft. trunk is plenty big to handle a family’s luggage too. Trailer towing is not recommended, as is the case with most all new sedans these days.

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The Sonata looks good and is quite stylish on the outside. But, the cockpit is where it shines. Material, fit and finish, and surface textures are of high quality. Seats are comfortable and there’s plenty of room. Outward visibility is good with relatively slim A-pillars and no big blind spots to the rear. I was very comfortable in the driver’s seat and was pleased with the adjustments I could make to seat, tilt-telescopic steering and outside mirrors.

Take a look at for more model details, specs and information on the Sonata. All Sonata’s have Hyundai's class-leading five-year/60,000-mile transferable warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

There are really good buyer choices in the mid-size sedan segment. And, the bar keeps getting raised. The Sonata may not be at the top but it offers great value in what you get for the dollar.

© 2017 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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