THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: Sonata is an already proven model, which the 2018 refresh improves upon.
- What’s Worst: No driving impressions yet — stay tuned.
- What’s Interesting: Sonata is now the largest vehicle in the Hyundai fleet.
ESTEREL, QC: A revised and refreshed Sonata is about to arrive in Hyundai showrooms across Canada.
Now that Genesis is a separate, upmarket division within the Hyundai conglomerate, the 2018 Sonata is the largest vehicle in the fleet and the de facto flagship, that is, until something like a new luxury-oriented SUV comes along.
As part of the press launch of the 2018 Elantra GT hatchback earlier this summer in Esterel, QC, Hyundai brought along a handful of pre-production Sonatas for the media to assess.
Actual drive time was limited to a few minutes, so any driving impressions will be reserved until I can put in a week or two behind the wheel.
Mechanically, much is the same, including the platform and front-drive only drive train.
The main engine is Hyundai’s tried-and-true 2.4-litre direct injection DOHC inline four-cylinder with 185 hp and 178 lb/ft of torque with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The exception is the toptrim 2.0T model with a 2.0-litre twin scroll turbo, direct injection inline four-cylinder with 245 hp and 260 lb/ft of torque coupled to the brand’s new eight-speed automatic transmission.
Fuel numbers were not announced at the press launch, but for comparison the 2015 Sonata (the last one I drove) with the same 2.4-litre engine and six-speed auto tested here returned 9.8/6.7/8.4L/100 km (city/hwy/combined). The 2.0-litre, but with six-speed, was rated at 10.4/7.4/9.1L/100km (city/hwy/combined).
Pricing was also being calculated, but I’m guessing the base GL model will start around $25K, the GLS around $27K and the 2.0-litre at about $31-33K.
The 2018 Sonata definitely falls into the “large car” category, with a wheelbase of 2,895 mm and an overall length of 4,855 mm. When a sedan approaches five metres in length, it’s big indeed.
Styling is what sets the 2018 models apart from Sonatas that have gone before.
At the front, Sonata sports the new “cascading grille” which Hyundai says “symbolizes the flow of molten steel, while also emulating the elegant shape of a Korean celadon vase.”
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The front lower spoiler blends in with the lines of the sides of the car, which combines with the larger grill to make the hood appear longer.
At the rear large “Hyundai Sonata” lettering and the Hyundai logo (with trunk release button) is flanked by a new taillight treatment.
The 2.0T model sports a new and intricate mesh grille with black used as an accent on the headlight bezels, running light surrounds, lower bumper and side mirror casings. The 2.0T also gets dark chrome mouldings on the lower side body, door handles and rear lamp moulding, rear diffuser and dual exhaust mufflers.
Most models are equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, while the 2.0T gets a new 18-inch design.
The new styling won’t extend to the current Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid models for the 2018 model year.
Inside, the centre stack is larger and the revised audio and heating, ventilation, air conditioning controls are given ‘piano key’ buttons.
All trim levels have a three-spoke steering wheel except the 2.0T, which has a racy D-shape wheel along with more aggressively bolstered front seats.
The shifter has a switch that allows the driver to select one of four drive modes – Comfort, Eco, Sport and Smart. Smart automatically shifts between the first three options depending on the driver’s current driving style.
Sonata is the second vehicle in the Hyundai lineup to offer the brand’s new BlueLink telematics/connectivity system.
BlueLink technology that includes remote start with climate control, local search powered by Google, remote door lock/unlock, Find My Car and Enhanced Roadside Assistance and is easily accessed from the buttons on the rear-view mirror, the web or via smartphone app.
Hyundai offers it as one complete service package and it is free for five years from purchase.
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Already available on Sonata are Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection and Adaptive Cruise Control.
Now offered on the 2018 Sonata will be Lane Departure Warning system with Lane Keep Assist function, High Beam Assist and Adaptive Cornering System and Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.
Sonata, along with Elantra, were the two cars that put Hyundai on the Canadian map.
Hyundai knows not to mess with a winner such as Sonata, thus the 2018 model.
2018 Hyundai Sonata
BODY STYLE: mid-size sedan
DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, front-wheel-drive
ENGINE: 16-valve DOHC 2.4-litre inline four cylinder with GDI (185 hp, 178 lb/ft of torque) with six-speed automatic; DOHC 16-valve turbocharged 2.0-litre with GDI (245 hp, 260 lb/ft of torque) with eight-speed automatic
CARGO: 462 litres
TOW RATING: Not recommended
FUEL ECONOMY: TBA
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