Hyundai Sonata is due to be replaced by an all-new model in the first quarter of 2019, but the current one has received significant changes to see it through the intervening period. The importer has trimmed the range to just two models by discontinuing the Elite. Sonata is now offered in only in Active and Premium format.
A major facelift has given the Sonata a striking appearance. Its front end has a huge grille, sleek headlights and large daytime running light housings. The tail has received a sort of sporty treatment, with slimmer lights and a bold shape to the diffuser.
Though Sonata’s sides remain virtually unchanged the trim around the window line has been modified to change the appearance somewhat.
Inside, changes are minimal with switches and buttons having a gloss piano black finish. See the Infotainment segment of this review for further details.
New-design steering wheels are fitted, with a sporty flat-bottomed unit in the Sonata Premium, the latter being the subject of our week’s test.
Satellite navigation with SUNA traffic updates is now standard in both Sonata models. There’s a new in-dash 8.0-inch touchscreen, as well as and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, an upgraded AM/FM radio is used. Aux and USB audio inputs are fitted.
The 2018 Sonata carries-over the engines from the superseded model. Sonata Active is powered by a 2.4-litre, naturally-aspirated engine which develops 138 kW, and 241 Nm of torque at 4000 revs. It drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic.
Sonata Premium gets a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine that develops 180 kW, and 353 Nm. Maximum torque runs all the way from 1350 to 4000 rpm.
The turbo engine in the Sonata Premium sits beside a new eight-speed multi-mode automatic transmission. Driving modes are Comfort, Eco, Sport and Smart. The Smart setting automatically switches between the other three modes as the computer senses changes to the driver’s demands as well as road conditions.
Both 2018 Sonata models have electronic stability control, anti-lock braking with assist, and electronic brakeforce distribution, hill-start assist, traction control and vehicle stability management, emergency stop signal, rear-view camera with dynamic guide lines and four-sensor rear park assist.
Sonata Premium adds blind spot detection, driver attention alert, lane change assist and lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, smart cruise control and four-sensor front park assist system.
Two IsoFix seats are installed in both Sonata variants.
The front seats are comfortable and provide the sort of support we like without being overly aggressive. The rear seat has good legroom and can take three adults if they don’t mind a bit of shoulder rubbing.
Mum, dad and three little darlings will find the Sonata makes a fine family sedan.
Boot space is good at 510 litres and is reasonably easy to load. The back seats have a 60:40 split.
Obviously sedans cannot accept bulky items the way hatchbacks can, but the added strength at the rear gives the Sonata a solid feel that’s not always there on hatches.
As with all current Australian Hyundai passenger vehicles new Sonata has unique-to-Australia suspension and steering tuning. Developed by a team of engineers from this country as well as South Korea and including a great deal of testing on local roads.
We feel that the engineers have reached the right compromise between comfort and handling. Some Aussie imports have modified suspensions that lean too far in the sporting direction. Hyundai is well aware that its Sonata will typically be bought by people who want a responsive car, but have no intention of ever driving it hard.
Noise reduction was impressive on smooth roads, however rough ones, particularly good-old Aussie coarse-chip surfaces let quite a bit of noise into the cabin at times.
Fuel consumption was typically in the nine to eleven litres per hundred kilometres range around town, dropping to five to six litres on the open road. The latter low figures are the result of an efficient turbocharged engine and the large number of ratios in this new eight-speed auto.
Hyundai Sonata offers all of the benefits of a four-door sedan in the way of ride comfort and a large boot. It’s up against some tough completion with the new Toyota Camry and others, so the local importer must be hanging out for the all-new 2019 Sonata.
AT A GLANCE
Sonata Active 2.4-litre petrol four-door sedan: $30,990 (automatic)
Sonata Premium 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-door sedan: $45,490 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Hyundai for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Hyundai Sonata Premium 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-door sedan
Capacity: 1.998 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 180 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 353 Nm @ 1350 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.5 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 198 G/KM
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4855 mm
Wheelbase: 2805 mm
Width: 1865 mm
Height: 1475 mm
Turning Circle: 10.9 metres
Kerb Mass: 1645 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 70 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc
Five years / unlimited kilometres