2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.0T Review

One more reason to steer away from Accords and Camrys


Wade Thiel, Staff Writer



Positives: Better steering and handling than the previous car, near perfect interior ergonomics, sportier appearance than the standard car, punchy turbocharged engine.
Negatives: Interior trim material could be better, top rivals in the segment have more powerful engines.
Bottom Line: The Sonata 2.0T is the higher preforming version of Hyundai's recently refreshed car. It's quick, competent in about every way, and nice to look at. The sportier touches on the 2.0T model are welcomed additions, and the long list of standard features make this car a winner. Its top competitors, however, are still more powerful, a little better to drive, and have slightly more interesting styling.
Hyundai’s Sonata was already a high-quality car in our book, but to compete with the redesigned Honda Accord and Toyota Camry the company knew it would have to up its game. For 2018, the Sonata received a refresh to its chassis, steering, suspension, and styling. The only question is, will it be enough or did the Sonata need a full redesign like its competitors? We spent a week in the Sonata Limited 2.0T to find out. Read on for the full review.
 

Driving Experience

8.6

 

Hyundai’s tweaks to the Sonata have turned what was once a good car to drive in to a great one. It’s right up there with the Honda Accord, but still lags behind the Mazda6.

Ride Quality: A very comfortable ride. The compliant suspension soaks up road imperfections with ease, yielding a smooth ride.

Acceleration: The 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder makes 245 hp. That’s not segment leading, but it’s enough to shoot the Sonata from 0-60 mph in a reported 6.8 seconds.

Braking: Progressive brakes with excellent pedal feel. There was plenty of stopping power.

Steering: Hyundai did a good job revising the steering system it feels more responsive than the previous model.

Handling: The revised suspension and chassis make the Sonata 2.0T shine on a curvy road. The car corners flatter than before.

Technology

9.4

 

The Sonata Limited 2.0T comes with a long list of standard features and one of the best infotainment systems out there. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Navigation, Qi wireless charging, navigation, and Hyundai’s Blue Link connected car system are all standard at this trim level.

Infotainment System: The 8-inch display has a clear interface and the system is more responsive to inputs than before. Amazon Echo and Google Home now link up with Hyundai’s Blue Link system.

Controls: The line of metallic-like buttons and touch screen control layout is clear and easy to use. It’s one of the best set of infotainment controls out on the market.

Styling

8.7

 

The previous Sonata was often criticized for being a little boring. Hyundai made the 2018 model more interesting while simultaneously making it classier. The reworked front and rear end of the car make it downright eye-catching.

Front: The Limited 2.0T model sets itself apart from the other trim levels with a diamond patterned grille and revised fog lamps. Aside from those elements, the front features a hood with multiple creases and a more aggressive fascia overall.

Rear: The rear gets cleaned up and made more elegant with a smoother-looking trunk lid and a revised rear bumper. Hyundai also moved the license plate mount down to the bumper, which really clears up the back of the car.

Profile: From the side, the car doesn’t appear to have changed much from the previous model year. It’s sleek but conservative.

Cabin: The cabin features a simple and attractive layout. There aren’t any major eyesores and the cabin doesn’t look cramped or too busy.

Comfort

8.7

 

Hyundai makes some of the best interiors in the industry. Everything is where you want it and the seats and material quality is very good. The trim on the doors looks a little cheap, but everything else is very good. The new Sonata Limited 2.0T’s cabin is one of the more comfortable we’ve been in at this price point.

Front Seats: The sport seats offer plenty of cushioning and decent bolstering. There’s plenty of room to adjust and get comfortable. The leather upholstery feels soft and pretty thick.

Rear Seats: The rear seats offer similar cushioning and plenty of leg, head, and hip room.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine does make a little noise both at idle and when accelerating. Otherwise the car is quiet and free of unwanted sounds. Road noise is also at a minimum, even at highway speeds.

Visibility: Clear visibility all around. None of the pillars are too thick.

Climate: The dual-zone automatic climate control works well, and the heated/ventilated seats and heated steering wheel work quickly and are powerful. The heated steering wheel feature heats the entire wheel.

Safety

9

 

Hyundai’s Sonata receives top-notch ratings when it comes to safety, and it has plenty of safety tech, too.

IIHS Rating: Top Safety Pick+.

NHTSA Rating: 5-Star crash test rating.

Standard Tech: Blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, lane change assist, rear parking sensors, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, automatic high beam assist, dynamic ending light headlights, and automatic emergency braking with brake assist.

Optional Tech: None. There’s plenty of standard equipment.

Storage/Cargo

8.7

 

The storage options in the cabin are robust and the trunk is easy to access and on par for the segment.

Storage Space: There’s a fairly large cubby in front of the two cup holders. In front of that there’s a large bin with Qi wireless charging. Under the armrest is a larger storage bin for additional items.

Cargo Room: The Sonata has 16.3 cubic feet of space. That’s slightly less than the Honda Accord, but better than the Toyota Camry. The trunk opening is large and the load floor is flat.

Fuel Economy

7.7

 

The Sonata, according to the EPA, should get 23 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, and 26 mpg combined. That’s not quite as good as the competition, but it’s still respectable. We saw numbers that were close but lower than the EPA’s estimates.

Observed: 24.3 mpg

Distance Driven: 288 miles

Driving Factors: We drove in Smart mode most of the time. We drove a mix of highway and local roads.

Audio

8.6

 

The Infinity 10-speaker premium audio system including a subwoofer and external amplifier was standard equipment in the Limited 2.0T. It provides crisp and full sound to all areas of the cabin. It could use a little more bass, though.



Final Thoughts

Hyundai has refreshed its Sonata when the segment leaders did a full redesign. It may just be enough to keep the Sonata in contention with the top sellers. It outpaces the Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion in just about every way, but the Mazda6 drives better and the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry’s new designs will be hard to beat. The Sonata is an excellent all-around car. If you have your sights set on a sedan, it’d better be on your shortlist, and you’re better off with the 2.0T over the lackluster 2.4-liter base engine.

Check out our Video Review:

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