Beauty Is As Beauty Does: The 2015 Hyundai Sonata

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata.
The previous generation Hyundai Sonata was such a styling breakthrough...lithe, lean, more than vaguely Italian....that the new one, blockier, with a more upright nose, has a lot of my fellow automotive journalists whining about how Hyundai's great styling revolution may have been a flash in the pan.

Let's set the record straight, shall we?  There are factors (pedestrian safety, placement for the distance-keeping smart cruise control) that pretty much dictate the taller hood and more upright grille. And beyond the subjectives of styling, the new Sonata is simply better than the one it replaces.

Rear 3/4 view of 2015 Hyundai Sonata
2015 Hyundai Sonata.
The top-of-the-line Limited, which was our test vehicle, starts at $26,525 ( a base model can be had for $21,150), gets an EPA estimated 24 miles per gallon in city driving and 35 on the highway, and it comes with Hyundai's legendary 10 year/100,000 mile warranty.  There's also a raft of standard equipment on the Sonata Limited that makes $26,525 a bargain: 17-inch alloy wheels, LED taillights, heated side mirrors, proximity key and pushbutton start, leather seating surfaces, heated front and rear seats (power for the driver and front passenger) a tilt/telescope steering column, dual-zone climate control, a 5-inch color touchscreen audio display, satellite radio, Bluetooth and Hyundai's BlueLink telematics system.

Interior view of 2015 Hyundai Sonata
2015 Hyundai Sonata interior.

Stick with stock and you're miles ahead of most of the competition at that price point, but our tester went beyond,  adding the Tech Package (panoramic sunroof, high-gloss window surrounds, HID Xenon headlights, navigation with an 8-inch touchscreen display to replace the standard 5-inch unit, SiriusXM Travel Link, an upgraded Infinity audio system with HD Radio, electroluminescent gauges, memory for the driver's seat and the side mirrors, adding ventilation to the heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and LED interior lights) for $3,500...the Ultimate Package (smart cruise control with full stop and start, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, an electronic parking brake with automatic vehicle hold, automatic high beam assist and a rear parking assistance system) for $1,550 and carpeted floor mats for $125.

Bottom line with $810 inland freight and handling: $32,510.  Optioned like that, you're still coming in a shade under our favorite family sedan, the Mazda 6, with an equally powerful and arguably more luxurious car.  We'd still give the Mazda the edge simply because its engaging handling is at a level the Sonata can't match, but make no mistake, the new Sonata is one fine machine, and you'd never hear us asking why if you bought one with your own money.