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The 2015 Hyundai Sonata, now fully redesigned and in its seventh generation (the third built in Alabama), is a completely different vehicle than last year's model. The Sonata competes against a squadron of well-qualified family four-doors—Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion, and Chevy Malibu—as well as the VW Passat, Kia Optima, Chrysler 200, Subaru Legacy and Mazda 6.
The previous Hyundai Sonata was an especially bold move—one that's paid off, drawing attention to Hyundai with its daring yet practical design, strong yet efficient engines, and good overall value.
The Sonata has traded some strength for better refinement, and it's a swap well worth making. One of the lighter cars in its class, the Sonata was also one of the first to move to an all-four-cylinder lineup, and it doesn't want for more. This year, power ratings actually go down for both the base 185-horsepower, 2.4-liter four and the twin-scroll turbo'ed, 245-hp 2.0-liter four. They're both less freewheeling, but more free-revving, much quieter and almost free of vibration, two bugbears of the last-generation edition.
In either case, you get a six-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual controls. In this front-wheel-drive sedan, the transmission has been fully reworked for quicker, more muted shifts. Sport 2.0T models get paddle shift controls, and all Sonatas get a three-mode driving selector that fiddles lightly with power steering assist, shift timing, and throttle delivery through Eco, Normal, and Sport modes. In Eco mode, the Sonata really dithers over downshifts, but the milder differences in normal and sport modes probably mean owners will play with the feature once before letting it go in default mode.
Hyundai enlisted Lotus Engineering to iron out the new Genesis' handling, and those lessons have been applied also to the Sonata. The body's much stiffer now, and that makes for an easier job damping bumps and taking direction. It's more settled at any speed: the skittishness has been replaced by more compliance, and a lot less drama. Sport 2.0T tuning isn't much different, with just a 1-mm change in stabilizer-bar thickness and moderately beefier P235/45R-18 tires. Electric power steering tracks better and maintains its sense of true, without much wandering or excessive weight. Even if it's not talking back to you, at least the steering is listening.
With a gain in overall length and in wheelbase, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata does a better job of accommodating passengers than it did last year, especially back-seaters.
It's still technically defined by the EPA as a large car, but the Sonata is marketed as a mid-size car, against vehicles like the VW Passat, Honda Accord, Subaru Legacy, Nissan Altima, and Ford Fusion. All but the Passat give up some interior space to the Hyundai--but if we're being more accurate, the Sonata is a bit smaller than its large-car competition like the Chevrolet Impala.
Bottom line, the Sonata is much more spacious than cars like the Chevy Malibu and Chrysler 200, especially if rear-seat space is what you're studying most closely.
*This vehicle is Certified Pre-Owned and is eligible for our third party warranty program.