If you're interested in a midsize sedan, we suspect that the Hyundai Sonata is probably on your shopping list. It's attractive, reasonably priced and loaded with equipment. There's even a fuel-efficient hybrid model for shoppers focused on gas mileage. Most importantly, the Sonata is all new for the 2015 model year, so we'll explain the key differences to help you learn more about what's new with the 2015 Hyundai Sonata compared to last year's model.
When the outgoing Hyundai Sonata debuted for the 2011 model year, its design was seen as a revolutionary change compared to the car's 2006-10 version. It offered flowing lines, a sporty look and overall styling that generally took midsize-sedan buyers by surprise. For 2015, things are more evolutionary than revolutionary. Yes, the 2015 Sonata represents a full redesign compared to last year's model, but to many observers, the 2015 Sonata will look similar to its predecessor. Only careful scrutiny will reveal some revised lines, smoothed surfaces and a heavily updated front end with a new grille.
The 2015 Sonata's interior is more drastically updated than its exterior. Passenger room is still ample, and ride comfort remains strong. The biggest changes come to the center console and dashboard. Last year's stylized look and narrow center control stack are gone, replaced instead by a wider center stack with a more mainstream design. The 2015 Sonata also adds some more upscale materials, including available contrast stitching, that bring a more luxurious look to the cabin.
The Sonata offers a few interesting mechanical updates for 2015. To start, the sedan still boasts two gas-powered engines: a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder and a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. Power is down in both engines, however. The 2.4-liter motor is down from 190 horses to 185, and the turbo drops significantly from 274 horsepower to just 245 hp. Of course, these numbers help improve the Sonata's gas mileage: The 2.4-liter model adds 1 mile per gallon in the city and 2 mpg on the highway for a 25 mpg city/37 mpg hwy rating, while the 2.0T is now rated at 23 mpg city/32 mpg hwy, up from 21 mpg city/32 mpg hwy last year.
More important for shoppers interested in fuel economy is the Sonata's new Eco model and the gas/electric-powered Sonata Hybrid. The all-new Sonata Eco uses a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which makes 177 hp and uses a dual-clutch automatic transmission. Hyundai says that the model will return 28 mpg city/38 mpg hwy.
As for the hybrid, Hyundai says that it will remain in its current design through the 2015 model year. According to the automaker, a redesigned Sonata Hybrid will appear for 2016, likely with a sharper eye on fuel economy than the numbers (36 mpg city/40 mpg hwy) of today's model.
Although the 2014 Sonata included a long list of standard and optional equipment, the 2015 Sonata still manages to add a few new items. One is the sedan's dual-clutch automatic transmission, which is only offered with the Eco model. Hyundai says that the dual-clutch Sonata Eco will be delayed from launch, but we're excited to try out the newest member of the Sonata family when it reaches dealers.
In addition to the newly available transmission, the Sonata adds a few more comfort features and a lot of new technology, which we'll cover below. New comfort and convenience items include available heated rear seats, rear-window sunshades, and a smart trunk that allows drivers who have their hands full to open the trunk without removing the sedan's key from their pocket.
In terms of technology, the 2015 Sonata represents a big step forward over the old model. That's especially true for Apple iPhone users; the Sonata offers two iPhone benefits: Siri Eyes Free, which gives drivers an easier way to use Apple's Siri personal assistant without taking their hands off the wheel, and Apple CarPlay, which brings some iPhone apps to the sedan's infotainment system.
The 2015 Sonata's new technology doesn't only benefit iPhone users, though. The sedan's available 8-inch touchscreen also offers a new satellite radio system that allows drivers to record up to 22 minutes of SiriusXM Satellite Radio. There are also several enhancements to Hyundai's Blue Link system, including the ability to start the car remotely from a smartphone app and look up destinations using Google.
The 2015 Hyundai Sonata offers a long list of newly available safety features compared to the outgoing model. New items include forward-collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert, a blind spot monitoring system, and class-exclusive lane-change-assist technology that monitors the speed of nearby vehicles and warns drivers if there's not enough time to change lanes before a passing car speeds by. The Sonata also offers adaptive cruise control, a new feature that can bring the car to a complete stop if necessary, along with high-beam assist, which automatically dims the sedan's high beams when an approaching car is detected.
In government crash-testing, the 2014 Sonata earned a 5-star overall crash safety rating, something Hyundai says it expects to preserve with the 2015 model. And while the outgoing Sonata didn't receive a Top Safety Pick+ rating for crash safety from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the automaker expects the new model to earn the coveted distinction.
We really like the 2015 Sonata. Not only does it offer more equipment than last year's model, it does so for a highly reasonable price. In fact, Hyundai cut the base price on the base-level Sonata SE to help make the sedan even more competitive in an increasingly cutthroat midsize-sedan segment. So while the new Sonata may not be as revolutionary as the old model, it still deserves a spot on your shopping list.