Looking at last year’s sales figures, there’s no doubt that crossovers are quickly replacing sedans as the official vehicle of American families. But don’t expect automakers to give up on this market as easily as they did with station wagons and minivans. For Hyundai, sedans are still the biggest sellers, even though last year, the only vehicles to post year-over-year gains were its trio of crossovers.
To combat this trend, the 2018 Hyundai Sonata has been heavily updated just a few years after the current model was introduced for the 2015 model year. To see how the new Sonata stacks up, we spent a week in the higher 2018 Hyundai Sonata 2.4 Limited.
2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited Exterior
With rivals including new or updated sedans like the Toyota Camry, Mazda6 and Honda Accord, the improvements made to the 2018 Hyundai Sonata started with a fresher, bolder look. From the A-pillar forward, all of the body work is new for 2018 giving the Sonata a stronger, more distinguishable face, and that includes Hyundai’s latest signature cue, its cascading grille. The five-slot LED lights in the lower fascia add even more distinction to the Sonata’s front end.
The rear of the 2018 Sonata was updated as well with more rectangular LED taillights, but the biggest improvement was moving the license plate from the decklid down into the fascia. Not only does this create a more chiseled look to match the front end, it also gives a more upscale appearance with the prominent “SONATA” lettering. In terms of the profile, the Sonata hasn’t changed all that much since its ground-breaking redesign for the 2011 model year, and the subsequent updates every two or three years have really helped this sedan remain fresh in its segment.
2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited Interior
With the Genesis cars now a standalone brand and the Azera gone, the 2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited is now Hyundai’s most luxurious sedan with standard features like dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, power memory driver’s seat, six-way power-adjustable front passenger seat and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever. Opting for the $2,900 Ultimate Package brings added safety technology, eight-inch touch screen navigation system, heated steering wheel, wireless smartphone charging, 400-way Infinity premium audio system, rear parking sensors and rear side window sunshades; this package is an option on the 2.4 Limited and standard on the 2.0T Limited.
While the changes made to the exterior of the 2018 Sonata are easy to spot, it takes a closer eye to spot the differences inside. Minor tweaks were made to the center stack and center console area to create a cleaner, more cohesive layout with revised buttons and switches. Even the trim looks better on this new Sonata with the limited getting striped, wood-grain accents on the instrument and door panels. Since the interior changes were all cosmetic, the Sonata’s cabin hasn’t lost any of its spaciousness with roomy front seats and a cavernous rear bench seat.
2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited Powertrain
The 2018 Hyundai Sonata lineup is offered with four powertrain options including a turbo model, hybrid and plug-in hybrid, but this decked-out tester had the base engine, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder. This engine and the six-speed automatic are carryovers that deliver help deliver 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque and EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 25 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway**.
If sedans are going to make a comeback on crossovers, it’s going to have to come from improvements made to driver engagement, and that’s exactly what the 2018 Sonata did. CUVs are sold on their ride height and utility, but the new Sonata shows that family sedans don’t have to be boring to drive. To achieve this, Hyundai refined the chassis, suspension and steering tuning by increasing the stiffness of the front and rear suspension and recalibrating the power steering. The result is a well-balanced mid-size sedan that isn’t as sporty as the Mazda6 but more engaging than the Camry.
2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited Safety
Since safety is such an important factor in family cars, Hyundai even made improvements in this aspect of the 2018 Hyundai Sonata. New for 2018, the Sonata now comes standard with Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, and it continues to garner a five-star crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Last year, the Sonata missed out on a full Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety–settling instead for a Top Safety Pick rating–due to a Poor rating for the headlights, but this has been remedied with the available LED headlights that are included on the Limited.
Furthermore, a full battery of driver assistance technology features are included in the Ultimate Package like the Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keep Assist, Smart Cruise Control with stop/start capability, Electronic Parking Brake with Automatic Vehicle Hold and Automatic High Beam Assist.
2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited Overall
Using only a handful of relatively minor updates, Hyundai has managed to make the 2018 Hyundai Sonata even better, but it’s still one of the best deals in its segment. The starting price of $22,050* is only incrementally higher than the 2017 model year even though the sedan now packs more standard features. The luxury-minded Sonata Limited starts at $27,400, but if you’re looking for a fully loaded sedan, this Sonata Limited with the Ultimate Package had an as-tested $31,310. Compared to some of the more luxurious versions of mid-size sedans out there, this price is an incredible value. And that’s a cornerstone at Hyundai that has never changed.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Hyundai dealership and test drive the 2018 Hyundai Sonata today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.