2015 Hyundai Sonata: Modern maturity for fluidic sculpture design

Written by New York Times | New York | Updated: Apr 19 2014, 18:47pm hrs
2015 Hyundai SonataThe 2015 Sonata?s dignified new look seems likely to attract new customers.
What is it

The next version of Hyundais midsize sedan, whose appearance has matured with the application of the brands Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language.

Is it real

As real as the next model year. Dave Zuchowski, chief executive of Hyundai Motor America, pulled the sheet from the new model, which the automaker said would be built at its plant in Montgomery, Alabama.

What they said

For this class of car, were looking for dignity, were looking for respect, were looking for confidence, Chris Chapman, Hyundai Motor Americas design chief, said at a press event in Manhattan before the official media previews began. John Shon, a product planning manager for Hyundai, said in an interview that the automaker wanted to ensure that the new Sonata had a premium feel. To do that, he said, engineers focused on improving ride quality and steering precision, and on keeping the interior quiet.

What they didnt say

As usual, Hyundai didnt name the rivals in its crosshairs. But its clear that this is a car aimed squarely at the upper edges of the midsize mass marketterritory now occupied by the likes of the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima. The 2015 Sonatas dignified new look seems likely to attract new customers, and the efficient 4-cylinder engine choicesno V6 is offeredcould continue to help the value-oriented brand draw in new customers.

What makes it tick

Beneath the revised skin is a stiffer frame, electric steering and suspension improvements that Hyundai says were made with the help of on-road testing in South Korea, in the Mojave Desert and on the Nrburgring track in Germany. Two 4-cylinder engines are available, a 185-horsepower 2.4-litre and a 245-horsepower turbocharged 2-litre; both are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Standard safety features include seven air bags, blind spot detection, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, auto-dimming high-intensity headlamps and adaptive cruise control.

How much, how soon

Hyundai hasnt announced a price, but dont expect significant change from the 2014 model, which starts around $23,000. The new Sonata will go on sale early this summer.

How does it look

The cartoonish lines of the current model are gone. Instead, the design cues seem to achieve Hyundais goal of making its flowing designs more dignified and confident. The narrowed headlamps, wider grille and sloping coupe-like roofline suggest that this is a car that should be taken seriously. The interior is tidy, and the optional panoramic sunroof adds to the premium feel. Both Sport versions come with dual exhausts, but the one on the turbo 2.0T ends with a foursome of squared-off tips that add a dash of Corvette to an already attractive design.

- Benjamin Preston