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The 2018 Sonata keeps last year’s profile, but changes its details. A more evocative front fascia boasts a stylized version of the hexagonal grille seen on most of Hyundai’s newest models. A cleaner look out back tucks the license plate low on the rear bumper and emphasizes this sedan’s distinctive long-roof, hatchback-like profile. It’s a big improvement over last year’s wallflower, which felt awkwardly dowdy with its sexy roof line at odds with its dull front and rear fascias.
Inside, the changes are light. Hyundai didn’t relocate the Sonata’s infotainment screen (7.0 inches in most models; 8.0 inches with navigation). Instead, a silver accent ring that was previously around the central air vents now shows off the screen. It’s a subtle effort to highlight technology that automakers once tried to keep somewhat hidden.
Most Sonatas to leave the automaker’s Alabama assembly plant—SE, SEL, Sport, and Limited trim levels—boast a 2.4-liter inline-4 rated at 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. This relatively large 4-cylinder features gasoline direct injection to save fuel and improve efficiency, and it sends power to the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, either about the engine or about the way it drives. It’s smooth and quiet, providing acceptable but hardly ample power. The transmission fires off quick shifts and never seems to hunt for the right gear, something we can’t say about many rivals.
Opt for a Sonata Sport or Limited and you’ll be able to swap out the 2.4 for a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that cranks out 245 hp and 260 lb-ft. This year, it’s mated to a new 8-speed automatic that’s tuned to provide slightly more aggressive, crisp shifts than the slick 6-speed. The transmission suits this engine’s broad torque curve (which peaks between 1,450 and 4,000 rpm).
Despite the Sonata Sport’s nomenclature, all models except for the 2.0 turbos have the same suspension and steering settings. They’re soft and compliant with electric power steering that feels natural while still filtering out most road imperfections. It’s unlikely most Sonatas will be pushed hard, but we found neutral, comfortable dynamics on a winding country road in a Sonata Limited with its standard 17-inch wheels. Sonata SE and Eco trims feature 16-inch wheels that deliver a slightly softer ride quality.
Sonata Sport and Limiteds trims fitted with the 2.0 have a sport-tuned suspension that’s noticeably firmer, but hardly too rough. It’ll jostle heads a bit more on pockmarked pavement, but only slightly. To go with that sport-tuned suspension, Sports and Limiteds have a special electric power steering setup that’s a little heavier and provides a hint more road feel. If it’s a sports sedan you’re after, you’ll probably find that the Sonata comes up a little short against rivals like the Honda Accord and Mazda 6. Instead, all versions of the Sonata are pleasantly sedate, with good noise suppression from both the road and under their hoods.
*This vehicle is Certified Pre-Owned and is eligible for our third party warranty program.