Well, hello, Hyundai Sonata sedan; we finally meet! I’ve already written twice about the updated Hyundai Sonata sedan, but only now it’s time to dot the i’s and cross the t’s: finally a test drive and a personal acquaintance. So, what does this car offer? Let me tell you everything!

Design: hit the bull’s eye again?

I frankly like the design of the new Hyundai car: it’s bold and bright, but always original. And there are few common features between different Hyundai models; but when you look at the overall picture, you immediately realize that they belong to a certain brand and the modern automotive world. Just think of the Hyundai Ioniq 6 and compare it with the Hyundai Sonata – everything seems to be different, and yet so similar: aerodynamic, swift silhouette, small headlights, a solid lantern, lots of glossy decor, matte paint…

The updated DN8 generation Hyundai Sonata sedan is no exception to the design rules. The predatory “nose” resembles a shark, the headlights are integrated into the side bumper extensions, all of which is emphasized by the upper LED strip. The latter glows in the dark over the entire width of the car, and its edges are also used as turn signals. The rear end is also original: a wide bright red H-shaped lamp, small LED sections of the turn and reverse indicators staggered in a checkerboard pattern, a black glossy overlay and a bumper with an imitation diffuser. And all this is completed with smooth lines of the side surfaces and matte paint. It’s just beautiful!

However, there were also some comments about practicality. For example, the glossy thresholds risk being quickly torn off by shoes when you land, and the matte paint retains even the smallest bits of dust that are usually blown away by air from a conventional smooth paintwork. However, let’s consider it a price to pay for the design and overall look, which is definitely not boring or inconspicuous.

The Hyundai Sonata sedan is not afraid of design experiments: during the update, the DN8 generation car radically changed the front and rear parts – now there are more straight lines and sharp corners compared to the smooth contours of the first incarnation of the Hyundai Sonata DN8 (the latest photos in the gallery). The eighth-generation Hyundai Sonata car was released in 2019, and in general, the history of the Hyundai Sonata model dates back to the mid-1980s – soon to be 40 years old! During its renewal, the car became slightly larger, it added 10 mm in length; therefore: now the length is 4.91 meters; width is 1.86 meters; height is 1.445 meters; wheelbase is 2.84 meters. The standard ground clearance is 135 mm, but with the Bad Roads package it increases to 155 mm. The update not only changed the exterior and added length, but also completely updated the interior…

Instead of the smooth lines and contours of the front panel, the Hyundai Sonata sedan now offers a panel with an emphasis on straight horizontal lines and a pair of 12.3-inch displays. While the dashboard display is already well known (for example, from the Hyundai Tucson), the central touchscreen offers not only an increased size but also an updated design: several windows on the start page, a menu in the form of tile squares, and clear graphical hints.

I would also like to note the wide possibilities of customization, which is one of the characteristic features of Hyundai cars now: you can customize menu sections, functions of the “quick access” buttons, automatic operation of seat heating/ventilation in accordance with the “climate”. By the way, the climate control is controlled via the new instrument panel: selecting the temperature with the usual rotary rings is convenient; but turning something on/off with touch switches is not so much. Below the climate control unit is a niche with wireless charging and several ports. And if you continue looking further, you will see the traditional “automatic” lever, several buttons behind it, and a couple of cup holders.

The Hyundai Sonata in the maximum Tor trim is not only distinguished by its large displays and light wood décor, but also by its Relaxation Seat: it can be folded down to a reclining position (the angle of folding reaches 105 degrees), and the armrests are designed well enough for both regular seating and this reclining position. Even if the car is used with a driver, this seat will be the main one; not the seats behind. Don’t get the wrong idea: there is plenty of legroom, ventilation deflectors and an armrest, and in the maximum configurations you can get heating and sun shades. However, for a car of this class, it would be nice to have a separate rear climate. And from the point of view of practicality, it would not hurt to add various niches, hooks, shelves in this giant 480-liter trunk.

The beautiful, pleasant, modern interior design is supported by light materials – it looks very light and with a lot of “air”; but soft panels are used only in the minimum necessary areas of the cabin. There is a lot of space in the back and a comfortable fit; but for a car of this class, a rear “climate” is already expected. And the large trunk could use a little more work: hooks and shelves should be added, and the exposed metal should be hidden. However, I’d like to mention some nice bonuses here, such as an electric lid and a full-size spare tire.

Equipment: only an automatic transmission and an automatic engine, but there is potential for more

I’ll allow myself to recall the Hyundai Sonata presentation material and note only the main points: a load-bearing body, fully independent suspensions, the rejection of the 1.6-liter turbo in favor of the 2.5-liter automatic, the presence of a powerful turbo engine and the N Line sport version, the offer of a hybrid and front or all-wheel drive. However, all this is a “general” description, and we need to pay attention to what is offered for a particular market. So: for Ukraine, only one variant is offered in terms of technology: the atmospheric 2.5-liter 4-cylinder Theta III 2.5 GDI engine of the Smartstream-G series, a classic hydromechanical automatic transmission, front-wheel drive.

The engine has the G4KN designation and the most important thing that distinguishes it from its almost similar predecessor, the G4KM (which was used on the Hyundai Sonata DN8 before the update), is the GDI system: that is, direct fuel injection into the cylinders. This technology has made it possible to increase power (180 hp was the previous level, now it’s 194 hp) and slightly reduce fuel consumption. In addition, if before the update, the Hyundai Sonata DN8 was previously paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission, now an 8-speed automatic is used. In short, that’s all that can be said about the Hyundai Sonata in Ukraine right now. But you can continue with expectations and dreams for the future: for example, the appearance in Ukraine of hybrid versions of the Hyundai Sonata, built on the basis of a 2-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor. The hybrid will offer only a symbolic increase in power (195 hp), but should be very economical.

In the case of the Hyundai Sonata, everything is based on the “classics of the genre”: a load-bearing body, independent MacPherson suspension in front, independent multi-link suspension in the rear, an atmospheric 2.5-liter engine and an 8-speed automatic. The new engine demonstrates not sky-high, but quite decent performance: power – 194 hp at 6100 rpm; torque – 245 Nm at 4000 rpm. But currently, the official Ukrainian website and the information provided do not contain the exact characteristics of the dynamics and maximum speed for the Hyundai Sonata 2.5 GDI 8AT; however, the following fuel consumption per 100 km is given: city cycle – 8.8 liters; country cycle – 6.4 liters. It is interesting to compare with the performance of the Hyundai Sonata car before the update, which was offered with a 2.5 MPI 6AT engine: for example, fuel consumption in the city was declared to be 11.4 liters; and for this version, acceleration to “hundred” in 9.2 seconds and 210 km/h top speed were declared. What will the updated car with a more powerful engine show?

Behind the wheel: when character meets design

Here’s another expectation I had – maximum comfort and soft suspension. But no: the Hyundai Sonata sedan unexpectedly turned out to be not a “soft jelly” at all. On the contrary, its suspension is quite assembled and taut, although it does not go beyond the permissible limits of understanding normal comfort. The car doesn’t “dissolve” pits and bumps (of course, with such 18 wheels…), but it also doesn’t let painful bumps or excessive shaking into the cabin.

Plus, this suspension, combined with a normal passenger car body height and a wide wheel track, means that there is little body roll in corners. If you combine all this with the average sharpness of the steering wheel (about 2.6 turns from stop to stop), you get a car that is not sporty, but quite pleasant to drive. For a better understanding: on the scale between the most comfortable and relaxing character of the Toyota Camry and the most incendiary character of the Mazda6, the new Hyundai Sonata sedan tries to balance somewhere in the middle.

Another example of this approach is the engine. At low and partially medium speeds (range 1.5-2-3-4 thousand), it does not impress with traction and does not provide extraordinary dynamics, but it behaves quietly and smoothly. Instead, after 4-4.5 thousand revolutions, the engine seems to “wake up”, it gets a second wind – and with a loud hum, it begins to accelerate the car much more briskly. And so on, up to 6+ thousand revolutions, which can be achieved with the accelerator pedal pressed “to the floor” in the race for the best stopwatch numbers.

It is in such modes that the automatic works best, shifting very quickly. After all, when starting to drive, you can sometimes notice shifting in lower gears (1-2 or 2-3), and during “half-pedal” accelerations, sometimes the gearbox downshifts several gears – and this turns out to be too much, literally in a second the automatic already shifts up one gear. In general, it seems that it is the 8-speed automatic that dictates the style of driving: either we move as smoothly as possible, slowly and carefully, or we drive “for all the money” and for maximum dynamics.

The engine seems to be unimpressive, but it accurately works out every promised horsepower and Newton-meter; but from the automatic, I want to get more smoothness and predictability in operation, and it is at an average pace of movement – because with a leisurely or sporty driving style, everything works out well. By the way, the sport mode not only affects the behavior of the engine/transmission, but also makes the steering wheel heavier – in my opinion, too much. Thankfully, it is possible to create your own driving mode with individual element settings. A few more of my own observations: acceleration to “hundred” is within 9-9.1 seconds, fuel consumption in the city was about 10.5 liters per 100 km; the minimum can be obtained less than 10 liters (empty roads and calm driving style), the maximum reached about 12 liters (traffic jams and/or dynamic driving style).

If we recall the Hyundai Sonata before the update with a 2.5 MPI engine and a 6-speed automatic, it turns out that the new engine/box pair only slightly gained in dynamics, but significantly improved efficiency. By the way, on the highway “hundred” the car generally demonstrates an excellent result – about 5 liters per 100 kilometers – thanks to high gears and low engine speed. On the highway, you can go faster, but not much: there is not much power reserve, and aerodynamic noise is noticeable. By the way, when driving even at city speeds, you can hear the hum of the tires in the cabin; and during hard acceleration, you can also hear the engine. I confess: I expected better sound insulation from the Hyundai Sonata. And I’ll repeat that I also expected a softer suspension; but after driving it for a few days and getting used to the car, I have to admit: the balance of sufficient comfort and a sense of stability is well chosen here – pleasant driving, without painful bumps and jolts, but also without excessive sway and “floating” of the body.

Cost: how much does Hyundai Sonata cost and who are the competitors

I’ll also link to the previous article about the car’s versions and highlight only the main points. So: currently, the car is offered only with the aforementioned 2.5-liter gasoline engine and 8-speed automatic, but you can choose from four trim levels.

The starting option is the Hyundai Sonata Comfort for UAH 1.24 million (about $31 thousand) and with a list of equipment in the style of “the minimum necessary for a comfortable life”: airbags, climate control and heated seats, a rearview camera, a 12.3-inch central display, 16-inch alloy wheels, etc.

The next step is the 1.37 million UAH (about $34.5 thousand) version of the Hyundai Sonata Style, where more options are added to the list of equipment not so much for style as for comfort: combined interior trim, heated steering wheel, wireless charging, 17-inch alloy wheels.

A step higher is the Hyundai Sonata Premium for UAH 1.5 million (about $37.7 thousand), which features adaptive cruise control, lane control, collision avoidance, a fully leather interior, front seat ventilation, heated rear seats, a fully digital 12.3-inch dashboard, and more.

Finally, the maximum option is the Hyundai Sonata Top for UAH 1.62 million (almost $41 thousand).), which additionally has surround view and video monitoring systems, collision avoidance assistant when reversing, BOSE audio, a folding front passenger seat, rear window blinds, 18-inch alloy wheels, and more.

Here’s a Hyundai Sonata car in almost the maximum Premium configuration: a security system package and a fully digital dashboard have already been added, the leather interior boasts heated seats in front and behind, and smaller 17-inch wheels and higher-profile tires promise additional comfort. So, the Hyundai Sonata Premium for UAH 1.5 million is the case when you “buy a car for yourself and you don’t need more.”

Finally, a few words about competitors, of which there are only a couple. First, of course, the Toyota Camry is a competitor: this car offers good comfort, a more powerful conventional engine, an already available hybrid version, a luxurious rear row of seats for the chef, and a lower price tag. But keep in mind that this generation of the model is just now completing its life cycle, and the new generation Toyota Camry has already been presented – when this car arrives in Ukraine, it will be very interesting to see its price. Secondly, Skoda Superb is a strong competitor: large size, spacious interior, convenient trunk (liftback). However, ideologically, from the point of view of the buyer’s portrait, these are different cars: a small turbo engine instead of the “atmosphere”, DSG-robot instead of the usual “automatic”. Plus, we’re already waiting for the new generation Skoda Superb, which may bring a new price tag along with the updates.

There are no other competitors: the sedan Mazda6 has already left the market and the situation with the next one is unclear, the new Volkswagen Passat in European versions will be available only in wagon body, the DS 9 is frankly created for its own – for fans of “French originality”. All this brings us to the conclusion of the article…

Hyundai Sonata test drive results

So, my expectations of the Hyundai Sonata and the reality with this car were somewhat different. However, I still welcome its arrival in Ukraine for several reasons. First, the fact that a new (and at the same time familiar) car has appeared in the large sedan class. In the time of the total SUV market, such an interesting event is simply impossible not to welcome! And secondly…

You see, whatever the expectations and reality, the Hyundai Sonata definitely has a face – both literally and figuratively. Of course, everyone will measure it against the Toyota Camry templates; and playing by these rules is almost guaranteed to lose. But the strength of the Hyundai Sonata is precisely the ability to be different. For those who care about the original design and interior, who do not need the total softness of the suspension, who want a classic and original large sedan at the same time – for all such buyers, there is now an interesting alternative in the form of the Hyundai Sonata.

Hyundai Sonata 2024 test drive: expectations and reality

The car was provided by Hyundai Motor Ukraine