Quick Spin

2018 Hyundai Sonata Sport Quick Spin Review | Returning to the revolution

The anonymously conservative Sonata is out. Welcome something far better.

Autoblog Rating

This is a solid, all-around everyday sedan. We'd call it a smart buy for the safe design, decent technology and great safety scores, but find it far less soulful than its Japanese counterparts.

  • Trim
  • Engine
    2.4L I4
  • Power
    185 HP / 178 LB-FT
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain
  • Seating
  • Cargo
  • MPG
    25 City / 35 Hwy / 28 Comb
  • Base Price
  • As Tested Price
1 Review
The 2018 Hyundai Sonata represents a course correction of the sort that just wasn't needed with the previous-generation model. Besides a few added features here and there, that car really didn't change much during the course of its lifetime, and frankly, it didn't need to. When something works, don't screw it up. It arrived at a time when Honda and Toyota were pretty much phoning it in, and boasted a revolutionary design that quite literally changed the way midsize family sedans look to this day. Toyota designer Ian Cartabiano told me that Sonata was one of the few cars over the years that made his fellow designers wake up a bit and realize the game was changing.

Then, after staging a revolution, Hyundai played it safe. The Sonata introduced three years ago was conservative to the point of anonymity outside, while not really moving the needle on the vehicle dynamics front. If there was one, clear area where that revolutionary Sonata fell short -- and indeed virtually every Hyundai -- it was in the sophistication and poise it demonstrated out on the road.

Well, after the cool reception to the model redesign, Hyundai got a wake up call of its own. This 2018 Hyundai Sonata gets a rather significant facelift, adopting the curvy trapezoidal grille found on more recently introduced models, and ditching its conservative anonymity for a more organic overall appearance certainly in keeping with its "Fluidic Sculpture" predecessor. The rear was also redone with more tapered, dare I say "aggressive" taillights and the license plate relocated to the bumper. Is the end result a great-looking car? Shoulder shrug, but it's sure better than before.

Compare the 2018 Hyundai Sonata to its rivals using the Autoblog Compare Cars tool.

  • 2018 Hyundai Sonata Sport
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
2018 Hyundai Sonata Sport
  • 2018 Hyundai Sonata Sport
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
2018 Hyundai Sonata Sport
  • 2018 Hyundai Sonata Sport
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
2018 Hyundai Sonata Sport
  • 2018 Hyundai Sonata Sport
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
2018 Hyundai Sonata Sport
  • 2018 Hyundai Sonata Sport
  • Image Credit: James Riswick

However, I knew the 2018 Sonata looked different. I was quite frankly not expecting it to drive different, because when you review cars long enough, you start to know what a particular brand's cars feel like behind the wheel. There'll be subtle changes over the years, but the language remains the same.

Well, the Sonata has been hitting the Rosetta Stone. The change is immediately apparent. The on-center steering feel is crisp, the turn-in more immediate and effort is consistent. It just feels "right" now whereas before turning the Sonata was one of numb indifference. It's good now; before it was "good enough."

According to Hyundai, this was accomplished by increasing the steering system's torsion bar by 12 percent while introducing new steering calibration that focused "on responsiveness and on-center feel." The suspension was also updated with thicker trailing arms and new bushings in the rear that better respond to wheel motions.

And indeed they do. There is a poise to this Sonata that was previously missing in Hyundais. It stays planted and doesn't get out of sorts over large bumps. Again, it feels "right" now. Is the whole thing what would be described as "sporty?" Well, no, but it doesn't need to be despite the car in question literally being the Hyundai Sonata Sport. In fact, there are no steering or suspension differences between the Sport and other trim levels when equipped with the 2.4-liter engine. That says something about how good the revised Sonata is -- you don't have to get the sporty version.

Instead, the Sport gets a slightly different grille, side sill extensions, dual tailpipes and a ubiquitously silly rear diffuser on the outside, and a flat-bottomed steering wheel, special upholstery and more aggressively bolster seats on the inside. So, it looks a bit cooler and is makes you feel a little more in-tune with the car -- fair enough. The rest of the cabin is basically unchanged, which means it maintains its user-friendly controls, somewhat stuffy Germanic appearance and unremarkable materials. Space is typically midsize sedan generous.

After finding 2017 to be a year of surprises, it's nice to see that 2018 is starting off in a similar vain. I was not expecting to appreciate the 2018 Sonata as much as I did. For Hyundai at least, the Sonata is once again revolutionary. Now, is it as good or better than a Mazda 6, Toyota Camry SE or the new Honda Accord? I don't know, but it's good enough to once again ask the question.

Vive la revolution.

Related Video:

Hyundai Sonata Information

Hyundai Sonata

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