2015 Hyundai Sonata – Finding Inner Strength [First Drive Review]

2015 hyundai sonata turbo front grille
2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0T

When any car enters its seventh generation, you can be sure that it has pedigree and found success. This is the case with the all-new 2015 Hyundai Sonata as it sees a full redesign. The sixth generation car came out just four years ago, so why make an all-new car so soon? The Sonata is playing in a lucrative and highly competitive space. It is in a sales fight for fifth place in the mid-size sedan segment against the Chevy Malibu. Then there is a large gap to the front runners. Can the new Sonata continue the momentum and make gains against the likes of the Ford Fusion and the Nissan Altima?

Exterior design is new and represents the second iteration of the design language that started with the current car (aka. Fluidic Sculpture 2.0). The long and couple-like roofline remains, while most body panels are new. The head designer says that there is more control and precision in the lines and design. The Sonata appears less polarizing than before and more conservative, but still conveys strength and a premium flare.


The car gains an inch in width, a little more length and wheelbase. It makes the interior even more spacious, and the EPA actually classifies the Sonata as a full-size sedan. Indeed, there is more than enough interior space for your head, shoulders, and toes. There is also a cavernous 16.3 cu-ft of luggage volume in the trunk.

There are four trim levels initially available for the Sonata: SE, Sport, Limited, and Sport 2.0T. The Eco model is all-new and should be in the dealerships in September of this year.

2015 hyundai sonata limited
2015 Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.4

The base 2.4-liter four cylinder produces 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft and is available in SE, Sport, and Limited trims. The starter SE adds content over the outgoing model, but brings the starting price $300 to $21,150. I briefly drove the Limited model, which felt very luxurious and premium on the inside.

2015 Hyundai Sonata Limited

The Limited model greets you with comfortable leather seats, wood trim, button-laden steering wheel, navigation system, and much more. As tested price of this car was $32,285. I felt like I could have been in a much more expensive vehicle. EPA rates the 2.4L Sonata at a very impressive 24 MPG city, 35 MPG highway, and 28 MPG combined. Of course, the normally aspirated four cylinder provides for relatively leisurely acceleration (when compared to the 2.0T). Still, it is adequate for around town driving.

If power is what you like, then you need to step up to the 2.0T turbocharged Hyundai Sonata. This direct injected power mill has been updated to the tune of 245 horses @ 6,000 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque at incredibly low 1,350 rpm. If you are keeping track, this is 29 horsepower and 9 lb-ft less less than in the previous generation. This is a bold move in the present world of horsepower wars. However, the new GDI motor makes more low-end torque and the resulting acceleration is immediate and forceful. The turbo motor is backed up by a 6-speed automatic (just like the 2.4L engine). The engine revs very quickly and the transmission rips fast shifts with precision. The 2.0T can stand up to any competitor’s V6.

2015 Hyundai Sonata

The as tested price of the Sport 2.0T was $29,385. The 2.0T can only be had two ways: with or without the $4,950 Ultimate package. The tester did not have this feature-laden package. It includes everything from a panoramic sunroof, to adaptive cruise control, to the navigation system. EPA rates the 2.0T at 23 MPG city, 32 MPG highway, and 26 MPG combined.

2015 hyundai sonata eco power
2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco

Hyundai has another ace up its sleeve with the Eco model, which will be available in September. This model uses a new 1.6-liter turbo-four with respectable 177 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. It’s backed up by a new 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. No CVTs for the 2015 Sonata. The Sonata Eco model is focused on simplicity, light weight, and efficiency. Not only does it get the outstanding 28 MPG city, 38 MPG highway, and 32 MPG combined, but it’s also a lot of fun to drive. I drove a prototype version of the Eco, and if given the choice between the 2.0T, 2.4L, or the 1.6T in the Eco – I would choose the Eco for its playful and fun driving character. Starting price on the Eco will be $23,275 before the destination charge.

In case you are wondering, the current 2014 Sonata Hybrid will be sold alongside the new 2015 model, until the new hybrid comes next calendar year.

Learn everything you wanted to know about the new 2015 Hyundai Sonata in this TFLcar video.