The 2015 Hyundai Sonata further refines the midsize sedan formula with a new look, revised powertrain and plenty of tech and convenience features. If you want plenty of passenger room and a quiet, easy-to-live-with cabin, this Sonata definitely has what you’re looking for.
The Hyundai Sonata is redesigned for 2015 with a more refined look and a larger cabin. A new Eco trim level with a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine also debuts, although the more powerful 2.0T trim level has nearly 30 fewer horsepower.
The previous-generation Hyundai Sonata was nothing short of a smash hit in the midsize sedan segment. With its combination of daring style, respectable performance, generous standard features and solid build quality, the Sonata easily convinced us that it was finally a true rival to cars like the Accord and Camry. Now redesigned for 2015, the Hyundai Sonata is a little more grown up, gaining refinements to its interior, chassis and feature content. We think it should stay squarely on the radar of savvy car shoppers.
The new Sonata trades some of the swoopy curves of the previous version for more conservative lines that take the styling uptown. Overall, the basic proportions and the sweeping roof line carry over, but the car is a little bigger than before and rear passengers benefit from a little more hip- and legroom. The chassis has also been overhauled to improve both the Sonata’s handling capabilities and its ride quality.
This year also brings a new 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Fitted to the new Eco trim level, this engine promises high fuel economy along with peppy performance. Curiously, however, those looking for the peppiest performance possible from their family sedan will find the Sonata’s 2.0-liter turbo engine (comparable to the V6s found in rival sedans) produces nearly 30 fewer horses this year. The base four-cylinder is also down on power, but by a more modest 5 hp, and certainly remains competitive in the segment.
Yet, even if the 2015 Sonata is down on power, it’s up in available high-end features. You can now opt for adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam control, a hands-free trunk opener and the latest in driver safety aids such as blind-spot detection and forward-collision alert systems.
Freshly fortified to face its foes, the Edmunds “A” rated 2015 Hyundai Sonata should be on your must-drive list if you’re in the market for a well-rounded midsize sedan. It’s also one of our top recommended cars in our 2015 Sedan Buying Guide. Still, with so many excellent choices in this class, we encourage you to get out there and drive as many as you can. We suggest also checking out the highly regarded Ford Fusion and Honda Accord, as well as the Mazda 6, Nissan Altima and Volkswagen Passat.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2015 Hyundai Sonata is available in SE, Sport, Eco, Limited and Sport 2.0T trim levels. There’s also a Sonata Hybrid, which for now continues on in previous-generation guise and is reviewed separately.
Cloth upholstery is standard in the Sonata Sport, but adding the Premium package upgrades you to leather and cloth seats.
Standard features on the SE include 16-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, LED running lights, air-conditioning, cruise control, full power accessories, heated mirrors, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, a 60/40-split rear seatback, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker sound system (with a CD player, satellite radio, an iPod/USB audio interface and an auxiliary audio jack).
The Sport and Eco trims add automatic headlights, a rearview camera, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), upgraded door trim, Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system (with smartphone integration) and a 5-inch touchscreen audio interface. The Eco differs with a special fuel-economy-focused engine, while the Sport gets its own 17-inch alloy wheels, dual exhaust with chrome tips, hands-free “smart” and unique body styling tweaks.
The Limited includes the Sport’s features (minus the body styling tweaks) and adds LED taillights, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, wood grain trim, a six-way power passenger seat, heated rear seats, rear air vents, rear window sunshades, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an upgraded audio system and driver safety aids (blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert).
The Sport 2.0T includes most of the features of the Sport and Limited trims (less the power passenger seat, heated rear seats and rear sunshades) along with 18-inch alloy wheels, sport-tuned suspension and steering, a rear diffuser with quad chrome exhaust tips, xenon headlights, sport seats with accent stitching, a flat-bottom sport steering wheel and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Many of the upper trims’ features are available as options on the lower trims. Other optional features (depending on trim level) include xenon headlights, a panoramic sunroof, an electronic parking brake, adaptive cruise control (with full stop-start capability), an upgraded gauge cluster, sport front seats, a navigation system (with an 8-inch touchscreen), an Infinity 10-speaker premium sound system, ventilated front seats, driver memory settings, rear parking sensors and forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems.
All 2015 Sonatas have simple to use controls. The optional navigation system offers a split-screen view.
Powertrains and Performance
A 2.4-liter four-cylinder rated at 185 hp and 178 pound-feet of torque powers the SE, Sport and Limited models. All Sonatas are front-wheel drive, and all engines except the Eco’s are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Sonata SE has an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 29 mpg combined (25 city/37 highway). The Sport and Limited trims are slightly less at 28 mpg combined (24/35).
The Sport 2.0T comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, producing 245 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. At the Edmunds test track, we recorded an 8.3-second sprint to 60 mph — an exceptionally poor performance considering this powertrain is meant to compete with V6-powered family sedans that routinely are much quicker. On the other hand, the Sport 2.0T returns an EPA-estimated 26 mpg combined (23 city/32 highway), and we managed to earn 28 mpg on our 120-mile highway-biased evaluation route and over 31 mpg on a long highway drive.
The Eco features a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 177 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed automatic transmission is standard (it is technically an automated manual transmission). Ironically, we recorded a highly impressive 7.5-second time for its 0-60-mph run, beating the Sport model by almost a full second. The EPA says the Eco will achieve 32 mpg combined (28 city/38 highway), and we validated those figures with our own 32 mpg, earned on our evaluation route.
Standard safety features on every 2015 Hyundai Sonata include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag.
In Edmunds’ simulated panic-stop testing from 60 mph, the Sonata Sport 2.0T came to rest in 125 feet, which is an acceptable distance for midsize family sedans. The Eco model did even better at 119 feet.
In government crash testing, the 2015 Sonata earned a perfect five-star overall rating, with five stars overall for its performance in frontal- and side-impact crash tests. In crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Sonata earned a top “Good” rating in moderate-overlap frontal-offset impact test and a second-best “Acceptable” in the small-overlap frontal-offset impact test. The Sonata posted a “Good” rating for the remaining side-impact, roof-strength and whiplash protection (seats and head restraints) tests.
All but the SE also come with a rearview camera and Blue Link, Hyundai’s emergency telematics system (includes roadside assistance, crash response, remote door lock control and monitoring features for parents with teenage drivers — speed, geo-fencing and curfew limits). Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are standard for the Limited and Sport 2.0T and optional on the Sport and Eco. Forward collision warning and rear park assist are optional on the Limited and Sport 2.0T.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Sonata SE is fairly basic inside, but materials and build quality are improved over those in the base trim level from last year’s Sonata. With their plusher door trim and additional cabin accents, the higher trim levels compare pretty well to those of segment rivals. Not surprisingly, the Limited trim, with its available two-tone color schemes and convincing wood grain trim, is particularly appealing. The Sport 2.0T features heavily bolstered sport seats for added lateral support during spirited back-roads drives.
The control layout is straightforward and easy to use, with dedicated buttons for primary functions like navigation, phone, radio and media. The climate controls are simple, and Hyundai’s touchscreen interface remains intuitive. The 5-inch touchscreen isn’t very big, but it does provide decent functionality for Sonatas without the optional navigation system. Those with the nav system boast an 8-inch touchscreen, which gives the Sonata’s cabin even more of an upscale, cutting-edge feel.
As before, the Sonata has more than ample room for four adults. Those in back even have a bit more hip- and legroom than before. Rear headroom is essentially unchanged, however, so taller passengers may feel a bit cramped due to the dramatically sloping roof line.
Like most midsize sedans, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata has a roomy backseat, but taller adults might run short on headroom.
At 16.3 cubic feet, the trunk is a little more generous than average for this segment, and the standard 60/40-split-folding rear seat is at the ready to add more cargo capacity should the need arise. Models equipped with the hands-free “smart” trunk opener automatically open the trunk if the person with the key fob stands behind the car for more than 3 seconds.
Possibly the most striking characteristic of the 2015 Hyundai Sonata is the utter silence with which it goes about its business. This is a quiet car. Swallowing road irregularities with hushed damping and quiet confidence is this sedan’s biggest strength. Ride quality, regardless of trim, is well-controlled but never harsh.
Though there’s nothing to complain about when you take the Sonata around turns, there’s also little that’s involving about the experience. Even the Sport 2.0T trim isn’t very thrilling, though it will hit freeway speeds quicker than the 2.4-powered trims. It also has handy shift paddles and a flat-bottom steering wheel, which feels better than the round wheel in other trims. Honda’s Accord Sport, which offers a six-speed manual transmission, is more involving, as is the Mazda 6 and the Ford Fusion.
All of the Sonata’s engines provide adequate power, but this sedan’s greatest strength is its quiet ride.
Strangely enough, it’s the Eco trim that’s the real surprise here. With discernibly more punch than the 2.4-liter engine and quicker acceleration than the 2.0T, it offers peppy acceleration along with the best fuel economy of the group. What’s more, is that despite the more mileage-minded tires it wears, its quietness, ride quality and confident handling aren’t degraded one bit.
All trims offer three driver modes: Normal, Sport and Eco, which adjust the transmission and throttle calibrations according to your needs. Steering weight increases in Sport mode, as well. However, the difference between Normal and Sport is modest at best. And unless you’re more patient than most folks behind the wheel, you’d probably avoid the Eco mode, as it notably dulls the powertrain’s response.