Hyundai's New Sonata Hits Dealerships
Hyundai previewed the all-new Sonata at the Midwest Automotive Media Association's (MAMA) July meeting. The 2015 Hyundai Sonata is a fresh design from the ground up and is the fourth generation of the familiar midsize sedan to be sold in the United States. Similar in shape and size to the outgoing model, the new Sonata boasts new safety features, freshened engines and a completely new level of smartphone connectivity.
Sonata comes only as a four-door sedan with a coupe-like styling. Competitors include the Chevrolet Malibu, Chrysler 200, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Mazda 6, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Passat and the mechanically similar Kia Optima. Overall length has increased by 1.3 inches, while width is up by 1.2 inches. Wheelbase increases by only .4 inches to 110.4 inches. Hyundai claims the new chassis is 41 percent stiffer than the outgoing model and the .27 coefficient of drag is the lowest among midsize sedans.
Trim levels include SE, Sport, Limited, Sport 2.0T and Eco. All are front drive. SE, Sport and Limited get a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 185 horsepower. Sport 2.0T gets a 2.0-liter turbo four with 245 horsepower. Eco models, which won't be available until October, get a 1.6-liter turbo four that makes 177 horsepower. 2.4- and 2.0-liter engines come with a six-speed automatic transmission and the 1.6-liter gets a new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic that is said to improve fuel economy and shift response time. The current-generation Sonata Hybrid will continue on the old bodystyle for one more year.
Available features include smart cruise control with auto stop, electric parking brake, memory seats, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, rear window shades, LED interior lights, HID headlamps, LED running and tail lights and panoramic sunroof. Also offered is a new convenience feature called Hands-Free Trunk Release. Similar to systems on other vehicles, Hand-Free Trunk Release will open the trunk remotely. However, in the case of this system, all you have to do is stand at the rear of the vehicle with the keyfob in your pocket and the trunk will open. Safety systems include a new driver knee airbag, rear-view camera, lane-departure warning, forward-collision alert, blind-spot alert, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-change assist, which warns when traffic to the rear is approaching too quickly to safely change lanes.
Available later in the model year on the Sonata is the next big thing in automotive smartphone integration. Called Apple Car Play or Android Auto, the system allows for an enhanced tethered connection of your iOS or Android device to the Sonata's 8-inch touchscreen display. Basically, the car's display screen becomes your phone's touch screen, allowing you to interact with your phone in the same way you are familiar. In addition, both systems take advantage of the phone's speech recognition to allow for hand's free operation of phone, music and navigation systems. According to Hyundai, people who purchase a 2015 Sonata today will be able to add Apple Car Play or Android Auto at the dealership once it is available at no additional cost provided they have purchased a vehicle with the navigation system.
Last year Hyundai sold nearly 750,000 vehicles in the United States accounting for a 4.6 percent market share. More than 60% of those sales came from Hyundai's two most popular vehicles, the Sonata and compact Elantra. Recently, Hyundai was rated as the automaker with the fourth-best initial quality by J.D. Power, topping all mainstream brands. So far in 2014, Hyundai has already introduced an all-new Genesis luxury sedan and a hydrogen-powered version of the Tucson compact crossover-utility vehicle.
Prices range from $21,150 for the SE, which is $300 less than last year, to $28,575 for the Sport 2.0T. The Sonata is built at Hyundai's new factory in Alabama and has a destination charge of $810.
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