BORN in 1985 as a model in the then fledgling Hyundai range, the Sonata was killed off virtually before it had time to grow up, with poor sales meaning it disappeared until 1988, when it was reborn with a broader market acceptance. Its affordable luxury sedan persona has continued ever since, often rivalling more expensive European offerings for features and specifications.
Now, in 2018, the new Hyundai Sonata has a fresh new exterior look, with an increase in style and comfort for the economical mid-sized family sedan making it even more attractive – especially when you consider a drive away price of around $35,000 for the Active variant we tested.
The engine, which pushes 138kW of power and 241Nm of torque, and 6-speed auto gearbox with torque converter, are smooth as silk and when coupled with three driving modes; Eco, Comfort and Sport (the Premium model above the Active gets Smart mode); it has everything you can possibly need to make it the perfect driving experience.
By default, the driving mode is set to Comfort, and quite frankly it’s pretty responsive, until of course you throw it into Sport mode, when the Sonata steps to a whole other level. Sport mode is twitchy and super responsive in a good way, and the overall ride and performance from the 2.4-litre GDi 4-cylinder petrol engine is exceptional.
It’s pretty thirsty though, and despite a claimed 8.3-litres/100km claimed fuel economy, we couldn’t even get remotely close, with a 9.4-litres/100km the best we could manage. On a positive note, the ride is great, with the well-tuned suspension soaking up the sometimes-challenging Sydney roads.
Inside, there’s loads of technology that was once an expensive option and indeed, in some cars it still is, including an 8-inch infotainment system, featuring SatNav, Android Auto and Apple Car Play as standard. The Bluetooth phone connectivity is easy and clear too.
Hooking up to the sound system via cable is completely automated once you plug your device in, and the interior is comfortable and well thought out too, with everything in pretty easy reach. Storage is good too, with plenty of spots for loose change, wallets, phones and your sunnies.
While the front seats, in particular the driver’s seat, definitely needs better lumbar support, the finish on the cloth seats is definitely top class, as are the the door trims and the console, all of which are well finished and look like they could belong in a much higher priced saloon.
There is even a little spot for the key fob next to the gearshift. A rear charging port and rear air vents also add to the overall up market feel of the Sonata, with rear head and leg room both very good. We are going to harp on about the old fashioned foot operated park brake as well, but since Lexus still has them, we’ll reserve our dislike for them.
Luggage space is a solid 462-litres, or 510-litres with the split fold seats down, providing excellent storage for a long weekend away, or large weekly grocery shopping for the family. There is also a full-sized alloy wheeled spare too.
Where it does fall down is in some of the safety features on offer. While it gets everything most cars get, like ABS, brake assist, hill start assist and traction control, and a very good rear view camera; it misses out on things that should be thought of as standard in all cars, not just ‘top of the line’ models, like blind spot monitoring and driver attention alerts.
The Active also misses out on the front and rear parking assist, and smart cruise control, both standard in the Premium edition.
The exterior upgrade, which includes Hyundai’s’ new cascading grille and a completely redesigned rear end, makes the 2018 Sonata Active a very stylish car, which could easily sit alongside any European model in the same class. The new look alloy wheels add to the style, and the quality and finishes throughout the vehicle are first class.
Available in Grand Blue (our test car), Ion Silver, Midnight Black, Pantera Grey and White Cream, the 2018 Hyundai Sonata Active comes with a 5-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, lifetime service plan and SatNav update plan, and lengthy service intervals (15,000km or 12 months).
Our road test vehicle was supplied by Hyundai Australia. To find out more about the 2018 Hyundai Sonata Active, contact your local Hyundai dealer.
Road Test: 2018 Hyundai Sonata Active
Pros – smooth drive; roomy interior; huge luggage area.
Cons – driver’s seat needs lumbar support; lack of high-end safety features like smart cruise control.