Revised for 2018, the Hyundai Sonata keeps much of what makes it a strong competitor against such big dogs as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, while making some notable enhancements. Look beyond the freshened skin, and you'll find a Sonata with sharper handling and better braking than before, but the ride has become considerably firmer.
The Sonata is an easy car to live with, thanks to its easy-to-use controls and an upright stance that affords easy access and good visibility. The cabin is roomy, boasting one of the most generous rear seats in the class. The standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine smoothly delivers sufficient pep without sounding like it's being flogged, making the Sonata reasonably quick. The six-speed automatic transmission makes well-timed shifts with nary a hiccup. However, its 28 mpg is nothing special as some competitors get 30 mpg or better. On the other hand, the hybrid version gets 39 mpg overall in our testing and can propel itself on electric power alone at low speeds. A much more powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine comes on high-end Sonatas.
Some of the biggest changes this year were made to the Sonata's suspension. This revamped car now feels like it's cooperating better with the driver through corners. It has tauter, more responsive handling. Braking performance also has improved.
Ride comfort took a step back, though, with the 2018 freshening. It has grown considerably firmer, transmitting too many impacts from bumps into the cabin and reducing passenger comfort. Fortunately, the cabin is quiet.
While the Sonata lacks any "wow" factor inside, occupants should still be satisfied. The seats are wide and comfortable, and the well-appointed interior is spacious, particularly in the rear seat. It's one of the most generous in a class where cabin room is often sacrificed at the altar of styling.
The main controls and touch-screen infotainment system are easy to use. However, automatic climate control isn't standard; to get that convenience you have to opt for the Limited trim. The trunk is large but finding the exterior release is a challenge.
Forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking are standard on the top trims and optional on some lower trims. This strategy still leaves several Sonata versions without these prized systems. We'd prefer they were standard for all versions.
Overall, the Sonata proves to be a viable competitor to the best in the midsized sedan class. Like other offerings from Hyundai, it has a long bumper-to-bumper warranty and comprehensive roadside assistance.