Sonata Evolves Into More Sophisticated Car
The Hyundai Sonata sedan, poised to set a new U.S. sales record this year, feels like a more premium car for 2015 and adds interior room, improved ride, more standard equipment and new, luxury-car features.
Standard features on every Sonata now include light-emitting diode daytime running lights that were first popularized by luxury carmaker Audi, a driver's knee air bag, a small rear spoiler and dressy, chrome-colored, exterior window surrounds.
This is on top of the standard six-speed automatic transmission, keyless entry with panic alarm, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and front seats that both have height adjustment. Many competitors only give height adjustment to the driver's seat, not the front passenger seat, on their lower-priced sedans.
Too bad, though, that the base, 2015 Sonata doesn't include a standard rearview camera. A backup camera is standard on the Toyota Camry.
Hyundai's industry-leading warranty and value pricing remain. The 2015 Sonata, like all Hyundais, comes with the automaker's 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile limited vehicle warranty. Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, for the base, 2015 Sonata SE is $21,960, which is $300 less than the base price on last year's Sonata.
The 2015 base model comes with a 185-horsepower, 2.4-liter, naturally aspirated, four-cylinder engine.
Also, the 2015 Sonata received an overall five out of five stars in federal government frontal and side crash testing. In addition, Hyundai rose to fourth place in the 2014 J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study, trailing only luxury carmakers Porsche, Jaguar and Lexus.
Sonata's more powerful, turbocharged, 2-liter, direct injection four cylinder with 245-horsepower is offered in upper-level Sonatas with "2.0T" in their name. Starting retail price for these models is $29,385.
Sonata's third engine offering is a smaller and more fuel-thrifty, 1.6-liter, turbocharged four cylinder generating 178 horsepower and mated to a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. Starting retail price for this ECO model, which carries the Sonata's top fuel economy ratings of 28 miles per gallon in city driving and 38 mpg on the highway, is $24,085.
Only four-cylinder engines are available in the Sonata, and, for 2015, Hyundai retuned the engines for lower horsepower and better drivability.
Competitors include the most popular family sedans in the country, such as the 2015 Toyota Camry, which has a starting MSRP, including destination charge, of $23,795 with 2.5-liter, naturally aspirated four cylinder producing 178 horsepower and mated to a six-speed automatic. Another top selling sedan, the 2015 Nissan Altima, starts at $23,125 with 182-horsepower, 2.5-liter, naturally aspirated four cylinder and continuously variable transmission.
Through the first 10 months of this calendar year, Sonata's U.S. sales totaled 180,497. If sales remain on pace through the end of December, Sonata will surpass its previous U.S. sales record of 215,593 set in 2011.
The four-door, five-passenger Sonata grew about an inch longer and wider for 2015. Exterior styling was subtly improved giving the sedan a rich, more sophisticated look. But what impressed immediately on the test drive was how quiet the Sonata can be at idle and how smoothly it rode.
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