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  • 2018 Hyundai Sonata SEL

    Posted on November 11th, 2018 ninarussin

    Value never goes out of style

    By Nina Russin

    Hyundai Sonata

    This year Hyundai refreshed its midsize Sonata sedan with a new mesh grille and front fascia and some important infotainment enhancements including Qi wireless charging, dual-zone automatic climate control and a heated steering wheel. While the Sonata might not be the fastest vehicle in its competitive segment, one would be hard pressed to find a better value. The Sonata is a premium-feeling sedan without the premium price.

    Base for the SEL tested is $23,700 excluding the $885 destination charge. Power comes from a 2.4-liter direct injection engine and six-speed automatic transmission, yielding 28 mile-per-gallon average fuel economy according-to the EPA.

    Standard convenience features include keyless entry and start, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, satellite radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth interface, heated front seats, power driver’s seat with power lumbar, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone climate control and Blue Link connected services. A tech package costing $1000 adds autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping assist, electronic parking brake and adaptive cruise control. The test car also comes with carpeted floor mats, bringing the final MSRP to $25,710.

    Test drive in Phoenix, Arizona

    Hyundai Sonata

    Over the past week I drove the Sonata around the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area and east valley cities of Tempe, Chandler and Gilbert. The Sonata is a willing partner for the daily commute, with the safety, comfort and infotainment features today’s car buyers are looking for. The front-wheel drive sedan’s four-cylinder engine delivers 185-horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque: not a barn burner but plenty for merging into high-speed traffic, cruising along high-speed roads and passing slower vehicles on the freeway.

    The six-speed automatic transmission is well matched, delivering crisp, smooth shifts with no shift shock under normal driving conditions. While an eight-speed gearbox would produce better fuel economy, it’s hard to criticize the Sonata’s 35 mile-per-gallon fuel economy on the highway. A manual shift mode enables owners to stay in lower gears for additional power.

    A four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and multi-link set-up in the back. Stabilizer bars on both axles keep the chassis flat while cornering. Electric power steering is nicely tuned to the car, with plenty of low-speed assist for maneuvering along crowded streets or through parking lots. On-center response is decent: drivers should feel comfortable making the occasional evasive maneuver should that need occur.

    Four-wheel disc brakes stop the sedan in firm, linear fashion.

    Hyundai Sonata

    Engineers did a good job of minimizing engine, road and wind noise intrusion to the cabin so occupants can enjoy the audio system or converse on the highway. Rear air vents keep second-row passengers comfortable in temperature extremes.

    Standard blind spot monitoring is a must for commuters these days: it’s nice to see the feature included as standard equipment. A rearview camera with cross traffic alert makes it easy to back out of parking spots when surrounded by high-profile vehicles.

    Spacious interior

    Hyundai Sonata Interior

    The Sonata has plenty of room for four adult passengers (five for shorter trips around town). I found the power driver’s seat easy to adjust for a clear forward view. The adjustable lumbar provided plenty of support for my lower back.

    Standard cloth seating on the SEL is attractive and easier to maintain than leather for buyers with active lifestyles who tend to bring mud and dust into the car. During the hot southwestern summers, cloth is much more comfortable than leather.

    Rear seats fold flat to extend the cargo floor for larger items. Cyclists wanting to stash their bikes inside the vehicle should, however, consider the brand’s crossover offerings.

    Both the gauge cluster and center stack screen are easy to read in bright sunlight and after dark. The test car came with projector headlamps (upscale grades come with LEDs), but I found them quite adequate driving through a dark stretch of rural road at night. All but the base grade come with daytime running lamps, making the Sonata more visible to other drivers in low light conditions.

    Infotainment controls are easy to reach from either front seating position and intuitive to operate, with knobs for basic audio and climate controls so the driver doesn’t have to worry about multiple clicks into the center stack screen.

    Standard Qi wireless charging is a huge benefit now that Apple has jumped on board. Hyundai Blue Link connected care automatically notifies emergency personnel in the event of a collision, includes roadside assistance and maintenance reminders.

    Standard safety

    The Hyundai Sonata comes with seven airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, LED daytime running lamps, tire pressure monitoring, blind spot monitoring and a rearview camera with cross-traffic alert.

    The Hyundai Sonata received a five-star crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

    Hyundai builds the Sonata at its Montgomery, Alabama assembly plant.

    Like: A stylish midsize sedan with solid power and performance, plus comfort and convenience features rarely found in this price range.

    Dislike: 2.4-liter engine lags-behind the competition in power.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Hyundai
    Model: Sonata SEL sedan
    Year: 2018
    Base price: $23,700
    As tested: $25,710
    Horsepower: 185 HP @ 6000 rpm
    Torque: 178 lbs.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 25/35 mpg city/highway

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