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2018 Hyundai Sonata: What You Need to Know

US News & World Report - Cars logo US News & World Report - Cars 11/27/2018 U.S. News & World Report
a car parked on the side of a road: 2018 Hyundai Sonata© Hyundai Motor America 2018 Hyundai Sonata

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata sits near the top of our midsize car rankings thanks to its overall competence: It has generous storage, user-friendly tech, and a comfortable cabin. However, its sloping roofline makes rear-seat space tight for taller passengers.

Is the Hyundai Sonata a Good Car?

The Hyundai Sonata was refreshed for the 2018 model year and is a well-rounded choice in the midsize car class. Though it lacks the agility of some competitors, it has a smooth ride, solid fuel economy, and a larger trunk than many competitors. It also has supportive seats and many user-friendly features. Its combination of value and overall quality in the class made it a finalist for our Best Midsize Car for the Money award.

Should I Buy the Hyundai Sonata?

With a lower base price than many competitors, the Hyundai Sonata offers great value for your money. Still, there are some worthy alternatives. The Toyota Camry ranks well, but it comes with a marginally higher price point. If you're looking for livelier performance, the Mazda6 fits the bill.

Should I Buy a New or Used Hyundai Sonata?

The Hyundai Sonata is refreshed for 2018, but it hasn’t been completely redesigned since the 2015 model year. Changes for 2018 include a new suspension, a new eight-speed automatic transmission for the 2.0T trim (replacing the old six-speed automatic), and new features like a heated steering wheel, lane keep assist, and pedestrian detection. Several features that were optional in the 2017 model are standard in 2018, including blind spot monitoring and lane change assist. A 7-inch touch screen became standard for 2016.

There haven't been any other significant changes to the Sonata since the 2015 redesign. If you're open to a used car, you can save money by shopping for an older model, though you'll miss out on some of the new features. If you're interested in a used model, be sure to visit our overviews of the 2016 Hyundai Sonata and 2017 Hyundai Sonata. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Sonata »

We Did the Research for You: 39 Reviews Analyzed

We base our car reviews on a combination of test driver opinions and quantifiable data like crash test and reliability ratings. We analyzed 39 Hyundai Sonata reviews for this overview.

This 2018 Hyundai Sonata review uses applicable research and data from all model years in the current generation, which spans the 2015 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

Our team of experts has more than 75 years of automotive industry experience combined, and we’ve been ranking cars since 2007. To maintain objectivity, our editorial staff doesn’t accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers. Additionally, all advertising on our site is handled by a third party.

How Much Does the Hyundai Sonata Cost?

The Sonata is available in many different trims, and the prices vary pretty widely. The base trim, the Sonata SE, starts at $22,050, which is less than many rivals’ base trims. The most fuel-efficient trim is the Sonata Eco, which starts at $22,650.

The Sonata SEL has a starting price of $23,700 and might be the best value in the lineup, but there are still several higher trims. The Sonata Limited ($27,400) is the best-equipped trim. The two highest trims – the Sonata Sport 2.0T and the Sonata Limited 2.0T – are the only two that come with the most powerful engine. The Limited 2.0T is the most expensive, with a starting price of $32,450.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Hyundai dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Hyundai deals page.

Hyundai Sonata Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Hyundai Sonata or Toyota Camry?

The Toyota Camry is one of the most popular vehicles on the road. Taller passengers won't have any qualms with space in either row of seats. This sedan's cabin is pleasant and quiet, even at highway speeds. It has above-average cargo space, but the Sonata has an even larger trunk. The Camry's available V6 engine is more powerful than the Sonata's strongest engine. Also, the ride quality is comfortable. Last but not least, the Camry has an abundant standard features list, which includes an easy-to-use infotainment system and advanced driver assistance features. The Camry has a slight advantage over the Sonata but not by a lot. If you're looking to spend less than the Camry’s price, the Sonata is a worthwhile option.

Which Is Better: Hyundai Sonata or Mazda6?

There are few midsize sedans that are fun to drive, but the Mazda6 just so happens to be one of them. With its agile handling, it has no problem tackling winding roads. Still, its sole engine has similar power output to the Sonata’s base engine, meaning the Mazda6 isn’t especially fast. That said, the Mazda6 has better gas mileage and premium cabin materials that wouldn't feel out of place in a luxury car. The seats are supportive, but the Mazda6 doesn’t offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay like the Sonata. Also, the Hyundai's trunk is larger. In terms of quality, these two aren't very different, so choosing between them will depend on how much you prioritize engaging performance.

Sonata Interior

How Many People Does the Sonata Seat?

The Sonata seats five and has a spacious interior. The front seats are supportive even on long drives, and the rear seats have plenty of room for most adults. Taller passengers, however, may find that the sloping roofline cuts into their headroom.

Sonata and Car Seats

The Sonata features two full sets of LATCH car-seat connectors. The tether anchors are easy to find, but the lower anchors can be a pain to use because they’re set deep in the seat.

Sonata Interior Quality

Most of the Sonata’s cabin materials are high quality, and the overall design is pleasant – though it may be a little too simple for some people’s tastes.

Sonata Cargo Space

The Sonata’s trunk has over 16 cubic feet of space, which is larger than many other midsize cars’ trunks. Sixteen cubic feet is enough room for four sets of golf clubs or a couple of beach chairs and a cooler. This Hyundai also has a pretty rare feature for the class – a hands-free power trunk. It opens when you stand near the rear for a few seconds with the fob in your pocket, allowing you to access the cargo area even while your hands are full.

Sonata Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features in the Sonata include Bluetooth, a USB port, a 7-inch touch-screen display, and Hyundai’s Blue Link infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Available features include a power sunroof, a nine-speaker Infinity premium audio system, satellite radio, an 8-inch touch screen with navigation, and wireless device charging. 

The Blue Link infotainment system is intuitive and responsive. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, meaning every Sonata has easy-to-use smartphone connectivity features. The available Infinity audio system delivers outstanding sound, and wireless device charging is something that most midsize cars don’t offer.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.

Sonata Performance

Sonata Engine: Three Options … Choose Wisely

The Sonata comes standard with a 185-horsepower four-cylinder engine. It has enough power for daily driving, but it won’t wow you. Two turbocharged four-cylinder engines are available. One is a 178-horsepower engine that powers the Eco trim and delivers the best fuel economy in the lineup. The other is a 245-horsepower engine found in the highest Sonata trims. It doesn’t have the energetic feel of some rival engines, but it delivers more power and better acceleration than this Hyundai’s other engines.

Sonata Gas Mileage: Good, but Not Quite Class-Leading

With the base engine, the Sonata earns 25 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. If you opt for the Eco trim, those ratings jump up to 28 mpg in the city and 37 on the highway.

The Sonata Eco will save you a little gas money each year compared to the Mazda6 (about $50), but it will cost you about $100 more than the incredibly fuel-efficient Toyota Camry.

Sonata Ride and Handling: New Suspension Paying Dividends

The Sonata gets a new suspension for the 2018 model year, and while it still doesn’t have the agility of some rivals, it is more engaging to drive and delivers composed handling on curvy roads. It also rides smoothly even over rough pavement.

Sonata Reliability

Is the Hyundai Sonata Reliable?

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata has an above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Hyundai Sonata Warranty

Hyundai backs the Sonata with a five-year/60,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Those are better warranty terms than what virtually every other midsize car offers.

Sonata Safety

Sonata Crash Test Results

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Hyundai Sonata a Good rating (the highest possible) in six crash test categories. The IIHS also gave it a Superior rating for front crash prevention features and a Good score for headlight performance, helping it earn a Top Safety Pick+ designation. It received a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Sonata Safety Features

Standard active safety features include a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and lane change assist. Available features include adaptive headlights, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, rear parking sensors, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control. 

Which Hyundai Sonata Model Is Right for Me?

You won’t be starved for options when choosing a Sonata trim; there are more than half a dozen available. The base SE trim will appeal to some buyers. It has a lower starting price than many competitors, and it still offers a decent number of tech features. The Eco trim is similarly equipped, but it costs slightly more due to its engine, which is the most fuel-efficient in the lineup.

If you want more features, the Sonata SEL is a good choice. It has a reasonably low starting price for a midsize car, more standard features than the lower trims, and an available options package that adds more driver assistance technology.

The Sonata’s most powerful engine option is a 245-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder, and it’s only available in the highest trims. It also carries a marked price increase, so you should be certain it’s the engine you want before paying for the upgrade. If you don’t need the 245-horsepower engine, but still want the most features, the Limited is your choice. It comes standard with many more comfort features than the lower trims, and it’s the only trim to offer some of the Sonata’s high-end features like an upgraded infotainment system.

Hyundai Sonata SE

The Sonata SE has a base price of $22,050. It comes with a 185-horsepower four-cylinder engine and tech features like Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and the Blue Link infotainment system. There are no notable options packages offered in this trim.

Hyundai Sonata Eco

The Sonata Eco starts at $22,650. This trim features a 178-horsepower turbo-four engine instead of the base four-cylinder. There’s also a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission instead of the base trim’s six-speed automatic. As with the SE, the Sonata Eco doesn’t offer any noteworthy options packages.

Hyundai Sonata SEL

The Sonata SEL has a starting price of $23,700. It comes with the same engine and transmission as the base model. In addition to the lower trims’ standard features, the Sonata SEL comes with heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, HD Radio, and satellite radio. For $1,000, you can add the Technology package, which includes lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection.

Hyundai Sonata Sport

Sonata Sport models start at $25,200. Standard features in the Sport include a power sunroof, sport seats, and some styling differences. Like the lower trims, there aren’t any options packages for the Sonata Sport. There is also a Sport Limited 2.0T trim, which comes with a 245-horsepower turbo-four engine and has a starting price of $27,600.

Hyundai Sonata Limited

The Sonata Limited has a starting price of $27,400. It comes with leather upholstery, a power-adjustable passenger seat, ventilated front seats, and dual-zone automatic climate control. The Ultimate package is available for $2,900. It adds many features, including an Infinity audio system, satellite radio, a heated steering wheel, wireless device charging, lane keep assist, automatic emergency braking, rear parking sensors, and an upgraded infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen and navigation.

There is also a Sonata Limited 2.0T trim, which comes with the 245-horsepower turbo-four engine and has a starting price of $32,450.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Hyundai dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Hyundai deals page.

The Final Call

The Hyundai Sonata is refreshed for the 2018 model year, and it finishes high in our midsize car rankings. The Sonata brings a lot to the table, particularly in sedan-type areas: It has a spacious trunk, a smooth ride, supportive seats, and good mpg ratings. It also has a below-average base price for the class. It could be more fun to drive, but that shouldn’t be a deal breaker for most buyers.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

Read the full 2018 Hyundai Sonata review on U.S. News & World Report for more details, photos, specs and prices.


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