The 2018 Sonata is quite a looker on the roads! There is no lag time in the Genesis G80 Sport’s design trickle-down: both wear very similar shield grilles, darkened with glossy mesh and black chrome for a sinister and sexy style.
Usually it takes a few years for the 7 series M Sport style to make it to a 3 series (for example), so Hyundai is definitely plugged into style trends.
This review comes from a man whose middle name might be Sonata this fall. We started with the Sport 2.0T and now are in the Limited 2.0T, which has the Sporty grille and LEDs up front. But instead of stiffer suspension and larger front brakes, the Limited 2.0T brings standard active cruise, lane-keep and nav touchscreen.
Can the Limited 2.0T’s light refresh for 2018 really stand up to the shockingly new 2018 Accord and Camry?
We find out on HD video (featuring drone cameras and thorough editing!) and through standard section headings of Exterior, Interior, Performance and Pricing.
HD Drive Review Video
Sonata Turbo in any color – and whether Limited 2.0T or Sport 2.0T — is easily the coolest Sonata around. The dark tint to all the base chrome is sexy and very premium im the flesh. On cloudy days, it just fades to shiny black. But in the sun there is a rich copper effect from some angles.
Over the Phantom Black of this test car, the nose of the Sonata is clearly in the $30k+ big leagues for mid-size sedans. The waterfall grille design is actually pretty enchanting for its unique look from different angles.
Thankfully, dead ahead is one of the sexiest ways to observe Sonata. Look how the edges of the grille continue upward in an arc right below the new-shape headlamps. Planting the wide stance are vertical slatted LED daytime running lights in the outer bumper edges. A flowing mustache of a chin splitter in black chrome spreads like a wing from the lower grille outward across the lower splitter in front. Air-vents to streamline the aero give a peek-a-boo of light visible from the right low angles in front.
The black headlamps over black paintwork help this Sonata Turbo to look seriously cool, macho and even a bit menacing. Is that an unmarked state trooper? A scary Audi RS car in my mirror? Nope!
Sonata! [..whizzes past…]
The profile is fairly familiar but the de-chroming really helps it feel fresh. Same doors, roof and glasshouse as before. Profile of Sonata is slightly frumpy still to some eyes.
The tail is also massively updated for this 2018 refresh. It easily looks like a luxury car on the road these days, appearing wider and classier with Sonata letters in all caps across the trunk face.
The H emblem on this generation hides the trunk release button flawlessly in its upper portion. Just press and what seems like painted metal is actually a button!
Not that you need the trunk release much. Sonata has a kick-release trunk pop-up that knows when you are beside the back corners (slide leg under the bumper below the tail lamps to activate.) Trunk just pops up a bit, however, not all the way like a proper Genesis these days. Manual closure as well. Normal enough, but perhaps not state of the art.
In general, the style of the Sonata Limited 2.0T gets a B+. Larger wheels and a lower ride height might be nice next to the new Camry XSE V6, which definitely looks sportier and perhaps more special than this most-loaded Sonata.
On that note, Sonata Turbo’s main change is the grille and dual exhaust pipes. A bit more differentiation versus base models might be nice. Also, Turbo LEDs not as popular as SEL trim with horizontal bars of white light.
Cabin of Sonata mostly skipped the big exterior upgrades for this mid-cycle refresh. New piano-key buttons (in a somewhat tech-tacky siler) for the main controls and a silver garnish around the standard display audio screen are about the only visual.
A new center console incorporates the electronic parking brake with Auto Hold (!) as well as more numerous USB ports, power sockets, aux-in port and even Qi wireless charging.
Sonata Limited 2.0T has all the goodies inside. Heated seats front and rear, plus heated steering wheel? Check. Vented seats up front with power adjustment? Check.
Nav with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as XM and Bluelink mobile apps? Check. Blindspot, auto cruise and lane keep are quite modern and effective. They react fast in traffic and the Active lane-keep is genuinely good at self-driving. Even on two-lanes well outside these systems’ natural expressway environment.
Carryover seats and most materials were fine to begin with. Plastics inside all have a fairly soft-touch effect, with some interesting technical, textured accent panels in place of faux wood.
Touch quality is good, and assembly tolerances for shutlines and panel toughness seem terrific.
A few instances with Sonata do not enforce a super-high-quality impression, but are normal for the segment. Things like the painted door edges visible from inside the car, or the hollow sound the door slam makes when a window is down.
Seating position and general comfort is still decent but not tailor-made for low, leaned-back drive positions, despite the long reach of the telescopic steering adjustment.
Backseat drivers still have an obscene amount of leg, shoulder and hip room. Comfort is good back there, but the headroom is oddly snug for taller passengers. Odd because the roof looks quite practical from the outside.
Major Sonata takeaway is that it has top-tier technology that is super easy to use and master. Could refinement and engine smoothness be improved? Yes. Is it still far better than ever for this price? Yes.
Sonata Turbo’s get the major performance upgrade of the range for 2018. They bag the first application of Hyundai’s eight-speed automatic in a front-drive car.
Versus the six-speed from before, this new transmission’s wider gear spread notably improves performance. 0-60 is down to about 6.8 seconds, a half second faster than before, and in-gear thrust is much, much better.
This 245HP motor makes 260 pound-feet of torque. It is very quiet from inside, but showed some vibration through the seat base on cold startups.
In all, this turbo four is not exactly a V6 replacement. Only about 5-10-percent of Accord and Camrys are V6s these days, so the hope is that the Sonata Turbo will have higher update. It does, but also has about a $3k price premium at the base $28k level of the Turbo models.
This transmission definitely achieves its goals of better efficiency, thanks to its ultra-low cruising RPMs.
Eco, Normal and Sport modes are slightly underwhelming. Sport’s throttle response is great on the road but jumpy from off the line.
Speaking of launches, the Sonata Turbo does not like a brake-torque launch. This dramatically hurts its overall 0-60 potential. 23-city, 32-highway is also down from 25/25 of the base 2.4L engine, albeit for a car that has vastly better passing power.
One curious detail of this Limited 2.0T (versus the Sport 2.0T) is that this Limited still rides pretty firmly. I can definitely imagine some shoppers wishing for a cushier experience over potholes or highway expansion joints.
Sonata has near give-away pricing for how huge it is. It stickers from just over $20k in its cheapest form. The Sonata Sport 2.0T is priced from $28k, while this Limited 2.0T totals $33,460 including delivery and $125 floormats, the only option on our tester.
For this street style, Sonata definitely feels like good value.
A car that is near-premium with its design and trim details? One whose back seat is genuinely larger than Audi A6 or BMW 5 series?
Midsize cars have a lot going for them. SUVs and crossovers might be all the rage, but this behemoth sales segment isn’t going away anytime soon.
Sonata Limited 2.0T justifies its price jump versus the base cars by including virtually everything you could ask for. The feature list is long and the equipment is top notch. This most-loaded Sonata is still thousands less than the top Ford Fusion (but that car has AWD and a rockin’ V6 twin turbo.)
For people who want Genesis size and even style, Sonata Turbo is a nice intro to luxury-sedan greatness.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.