Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
During the national press drive of the 2018 Hyundai Sonata in the golf haven of Torrey Pines, California I discovered the true meaning of brand loyalty from this midsize Korean sedan. The vehicle is Isaiah Thomas to the Celtics, Aaron Judge to the Yankees and Nick Saban to the Crimson Tide. Introduced to the American people in 1989, over 2.8 million units have been sold for a 31% representation of Hyundai’s total sales.
For today’s modern consumer automakers have to ascertain they meet expectations from various aspects of vehicle manufacturing including design, pricing, safety, fuel economy, interior comfort, connectivity and infotainment. Thus, after proper drive evaluations I can honestly say the latest Sonata performs admirably in all categories.
To exemplify the diverse needs of the marketplace Hyundai offers the Alabama produced 2018 Sonata in nine trims, three engines, three transmissions, a multitude of colors and a $22,050 to $32,450 price range. This means there is a Sonata for every member of the family including the most aggressive relative who would be highly satisfied with a Limited 2.0T. Machine Gray and Electric Blue are new additions for the exterior and Black Cloth and Black with Blue Accents are unique to the interior. Performance stems from various engine and transmission combinations starting with the 2.4L GDI 4-cylinder which produces 185-horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque and is partnered with the 6-speed Automatic with SHIFTRONIC. The fun-filled 2.0L Turbo GDI 4-cylinder is paired with the 8-speed Automatic with SHIFTRONIC and kicks out 245-horsepower and produces 260 lb-ft of torque between 1,350 and 4,000 rpm. The 7-speed EcoShift Dual Clutch Transmission is reserved exclusively for the 1.6L Turbo GDI 4-cylinder found in the Eco model.
During my stead in Torrey Pines I was able to experience a Sonata Limited Ultimate 2.4 in Electric Blue and a Quartz White Pearl Sonata Limited 2.0T with the latter bringing the most excitement and engagement to the table. Aesthetically, Hyundai knew they had to step up their design game with the latest rendition and they did just that. One of the hallmarks of the Sonata’s persona is the redesigned front fascia with a sportier bumper, new sheet metal, vertical LED DRLs, LED headlights and the cascading grille built from in-house steel similar to Game of Thrones’ versatile Valyrian steel. Overall, the artistic premise was to replicate a coupe-like physique from the roofline to the fast rear glass to a shorter deck for a more striking appearance.
If you upgrade to the Sport model then your ride will be blessed with honeycomb grille inserts, dual exhausts, 18” alloy rims tucked in Michelin rubber, specific chrome rocker panels, a rear diffuser, firmer suspension, aluminum pedals, sport seats with leather bolsters and a flat bottom steering wheel with paddle shifters. Though, the non-honeycomb grille is actually more aggressive in my opinion. However, Hyundai did say you could interchange the two. Also keep in mind Kumho tires are paired with the 17s so the Sport model is almost a no-brainer if you want the prowess of the Michelins.
My Sonata Limited 2.0T provided a far more enlightening drive than the 2.4L which lacks a turbocharger. Of course the goal is efficiency here but you will sacrifice full acceleration capabilities. Nevertheless, if Sport mode is selected while manually shifting the Sonata will produce a tad bit more pep. But there is nothing like the quick shifts from the 8-speed’s SHIFTRONIC mechanism utilizing the paddle shifters on the thicker 3-spoke sport steering wheel.
Inside the 2018 Sonata key changes were made to the center stack for a stronger and premium feel while providing greater comfort. For example, I’m a music addict so Apple CarPlay to rock my Spotify is always the key ingredient to a sensational drive. The Sonata also has Qi Wireless Charging, USB charging in the rear and Blind Spot Detection is now standard. I loved the large, square center stack buttons (8) that operate everything from media selections to navigation. The 400-watt Infinity premium audio system was ok but offered nothing special to the sound experience. Of course Blue Link Connected Services, Blue Link Remote Start and Blue Link Multimedia/Map Updates augment the Sonata’s intelligence and deliver three years of complimentary conveniences. My favorite feature was Smart Cruise Control with Start/Stop since it literally brings the Sonata to a standstill without pedal intervention.
Depending on your Sonata model of choice there are two formidable packages that will totally enhance character traits. The $1,000 Tech Package includes Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keep Assist System, Smart Cruise Control with Start/Stop and Electronic Parking Brake with Auto Vehicle Hold. Meanwhile, the $2,900 Limited Ultimate Package incorporates an extensive list of technologies in addition to the Tech Package such as Automatic high beam assist, Rear Parking Assistance System, 8” touchscreen navigation, heated steering wheel, rear window shades and Blue Link Guidance Package to name a few.
The 2018 Hyundai Sonata is a special vehicle for special times and hits the mark on all aspects of consumer demands. It looks good, feels good and emotionally appeases the senses. The Sonata is a genuine representation of what every corporation seeks, brand loyalty.