It’s a shame. Crossovers are skyrocketing in popularity and stealing the lunch of midsize sedans everywhere, just as many of the best choices in that previous go-to family segment are being redesigned and updated. They’re better than ever, so let’s consider two of them. The 2018 Honda Accord represents one of those that were completely redesigned, boasting dramatic changes to just about everything, from the new dramatic styling to the type of engines under its hood. The 2018 Hyundai Sonata, meanwhile, represents an update to an existing generation, but it’s a much more substantial mid-life change than you’d normally see — and a very successful one at that.
Could one of these be a better choice than a compact SUV? Perhaps. But which one? Read on to find out.
2018 Honda Accord
The most revolutionary change in the Accord’s long history occurred in 2018. Gone is the conservative, indifferent styling inside and out, and in its place a sleek coupe-like roofline mimicking many a luxury model, and a handsome cabin that does the same. Naturally aspirated 4- and 6-cylinder engines have been replaced by turbocharged 4-cylinder units of different size, while features content has swelled along with interior space. A new Sport trim even reintroduces the manual transmission to the Accord sedan lineup, pleasing car fans everywhere. See the 2018 Honda Accord models for sale near you
2018 Hyundai Sonata
This car belongs to the same generation Sonata that debuted for 2015, but there were big changes this year that fundamentally improve the car. Most noticeable is the styling. Gone is the witness protection program anonymity of the original design, and in comes more organic, memorable details in keeping with the previous-generation Sonata that was so popular and greatly influenced the rest of the family sedan segment. Just as important, however, is a radical overhaul of the car’s underpinnings that results in superior steering and handling. It feels like a completely different and substantially better car to drive. At the same time, the interior, powertrains and feature content have largely remained the same. See the 2018 Hyundai Sonata models for sale near you
The Accord is way too new to fairly comment on its reliability, but history indicates this nameplate has been one of the most reliable on the road. It’s hard to imagine this version would be different. Now, as the Sonata belongs to a generation that goes back three years, there’s reliability data that indicates reliability that’s well above average. Reliability of past Sonatas was also very good, if not as strong as the Accord. Still, Hyundai has an ace-in-the-hole with its superior warranty: Five years for bumper-to-bumper coverage and 10 years for powertrain. Honda is three and five years, respectively.
Every Accord trim comes standard with a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces 192 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is standard, but a 6-speed manual can be added to the Sport trim with either engine as a no-cost option. Fuel economy with most trims and the CVT is class-leading at 30 miles per gallon city, 38 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined. The Touring and Sport trims, regardless of transmission, get 31 mpg.
The Accord’s upgrade engine is a 2.0-liter turbo inline-4 (2.0T) good for 252 hp and 273 lb-ft. With its standard 10-speed automatic transmission, most trims get 23 mpg city/34 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined — this would be as good as it gets.
The 2018 Sonata is offered with three engines. The SE, SEL, Sport and Limited trim levels come standard with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder (no turbo) that produces 185 hp and 178 lb-ft. A 6-speed automatic is standard. Most trims achieve 25 mpg city, 35 mpg hwy and 28 mpg combined, while the SE does one mpg combined better. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, this fuel economy difference could mean you’d spend an extra $250 every year fueling the base Sonata engine versus the Accord’s.
The Sport and Limited trims can be upgraded with a 2.0-liter turbo inline-4 good for 245 hp and 260 lb-ft. It has an 8-speed automatic and returns estimates that barely fall short of the Accord 2.0T at 23 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined.
Exclusive to the Sonata Eco is a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder paired to a 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. It produces 178 hp and 195 lb-ft. It has estimates of 28 mpg city/37 mpg hwy/31 mpg combined, which is very good, but still lower than the Accord’s base engine.
There are also hybrid versions of both, along with a Sonata Plug-In Hybrid.
Every 2018 Accord comes standard with the Honda Sensing suite of accident avoidance technologies that includes forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist (adaptive cruise control is also included). To get this content on the Sonata, you have to select the SEL trim (it’s not available on the SE or Eco) and then opt for the $1,000 Tech Package. Effectively, then, the cheapest Sonata with these safety systems is $25,585. The cheapest Accord is $23,600. However, the Sonata does come standard with blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning, which only show up on the $27,500 Accord EX.
Both the Accord and Sonata get perfect 5-star ratings from the government for their overall, frontal and side crash performance. The non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the 2018 Accord a Top Safety Pick for its best-possible crashworthiness and crash avoidance ratings, but the 2018 Sonata did one better with a Top Safety Pick+ award thanks to a best-possible headlight rating. Really, both have excellent safety credentials.
Though the Accord does better in terms of standard safety tech, the Hyundai wins in terms of infotainment. The base Sonata SE comes standard with a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Those smartphone-mirroring features are included on all but the base Accord, along with an 8-in touchscreen. Regardless of screen size (including the Sonata’s own 8-in upgrade), both are pleasantly easy to use and two of the better interfaces on the market. Another noteworthy tech feature is a second USB port: It’s standard on all but the base Sonata, and standard on all but the Accord LX and Sport. Wireless smartphone charging and integrated navigation are also included on the top trim levels of both.
Whether you’re comparing their base trims, their fancy-pants upper trims or the sporty ones in between, the 2018 Sonata will be cheaper while providing as much or more equipment. It also comes with a longer warranty. At the time of purchase, it does offer greater value. However, there are important things to consider with the Accord. First, it’s more fuel efficient — especially when comparing the base engines of each — and should save you a couple hundred bucks per year. It has a larger, more comfortable back seat that’ll make a difference when carrying adults, teenagers or rear-facing child seats. Its interior also boasts higher quality materials and a more premium overall vibe. This is particularly important to keep in mind should you be considering the top, pricey trim levels of each.
Overall, the 2018 Accord is the superior car. However, the Sonata offers great value and its substantial improvements for 2018 mean you could prefer the way it drives or looks. Either would be a good choice. Find a Honda Accord for sale or Find a Hyundai Sonata for sale