According to Reuters, the redesigned-for-2015 Hyundai Sonata is not enjoying the same degree of success in the early going as the previous sixth-gen model, which proved to be one of the most important models in the company's history and ushered in the company's so-called "Fluidic Sculpture" design language that we still see today. Citing a recent review from The New York Times that called the car's more conservative styling "bland" and "boring," Reuters also points to analysts who claim the higher price of the new Sonata, as well as smaller rebates and incentives, are hurting sales. Honda and Toyota both offered anywhere from $600 to $800 more on the hoods of their Accord and Camry sedans last month.
"But so far, Sonata sales are up compared with last year even while we're still ramping up to full speed," - Jim Trainor
We reached out to Hyundai Motor America's Jim Trainor, national manager of product public relations, and he strenuously argued in-depth against many of the claims made in the Reuters story, telling Autoblog that it's too early to judge the Sonata's success, as the entire range hasn't even made it to dealers yet. He may have a point.
"All along, we had planned for a phased rollout to be sure we were delivering high-quality cars to our dealers and customers right off the bat. For the first month, we began this ramp up with just the 2.4-liter models before we introduced the 2.0-liter turbos," says Trainor. "Additionally, the all-new 1.6-liter turbo models are just now being shipped to dealers. We are right on track where we wanted to be while delivering the highest quality Sonatas possible."
Trainor also takes issue with Reuters claim that the Sonata is off to a "slow start," pointing out that sales in October were actually up seven percent (over 1,000 units) versus the same period in 2013.
In regards to the "bland" and "boring" characterizations reiterated in the Reuters piece, Trainor argues "Picking two words from a car review is a little prejudicial, to say the least. The reporter could have selected from dozens and dozens of positive reviews."
"It might be fun for some to try to guess the ending of a movie while the popcorn is still warm but that doesn't guarantee an accurate calculation. But so far, Sonata sales are up compared with last year even while we're still ramping up to full speed," Trainor said. "It was one of only 10 cars [named] to the North American Car of the Year short list. So it's fair to say we're very happy with what our new, sophisticated Sonata is doing in the market."
So, who's right? We're doing some further investigating, but in the meantime, scroll down to see the rest of Hyundai's comments – they're worth reading.