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2015 Hyundai Sonata: accolades & more accolades is good for Hyundai

2015 Hyundai Sonata - media press drive - Memphis & Mississippi --
2015 Hyundai Sonata - media press drive - Memphis & Mississippi --
- photo by ALAN GELL

The first press trip for media types was held in Alabama in June. Then, a few weeks later, another 'ride-and-drive' event was held in the Memphis area. Due to a conflict, I did not make the first one, but was privileged to be a part of the Memphis trip. This new 2015 Sonata did not disappoint me. It was great.

2-15 Hyundai Sonata Sport Turbo
- photo by ALAN GELL

The new 2015 Hyundai Sonata is the 7th generation of this mid-size sedan. Beginning with the 2011 model up through 2014, those six progressive generations received more than its share of awards. Spokesman Brandon Ramirez commented, “Sonata has been a great success for the Hyundai brand.” Over 200,000 have been sold up until now.

It is easy to describe this new 2015 Sonata: 'Crisp', 'Balanced', 'Refined', 'Sporty', 'Confident', 'Quality', 'Fun-to-Drive', and more. The navigation and center cluster of information has been moved so that they all are on the same level or 'plane'. That reduces eye movement and allows drivers to be more attentive to the road. Controls have been made very simple to operate.

For 2015, the Sonata, generally speaking, comes in either a Sport Model or a Non-Sport Model. Maybe that is over-simplification. The non-sport model is basically an Eco styled sedan for those who are not needing or wanting the sporty get-up-and-go and prefer the better mileage and care of our environment. The ride quality has been significantly improved and it was very noticeable as we took the different models out on the drive route. The drive route included interstate highways, some rural roads, and a lot of twisting and turning along the Mississippi River going south down to Clarksdale, Mississippi for a lunch break, and then back to Memphis.

The base engine is a 2.4-liter GDI 4 cylinder which is the same as the previous model, except it has been improved. It is now rated at 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque. The sport engine is a 2.0-liter Turbo-charged 4 cylinder that is Twin-Scroll, spitting our 245 horsepower with 260 lb-ft of torque. This is not a race car, but it certainly has a lot of power that gives the driver a significant feel of being able to get-up-and-go when he wants to do so. Both engines are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.

The new 2015 Sonata is larger than expected. In fact, it is larger, sometimes by only inches, than most of its competitors in the mid-size sedan segment. There are updated and more modernized features on this new model, such as a panoramic sunroof, a rear-lip spoiler, xenon headlights, even a heated steering wheel, and more.

There are three models actually available for the 2015 model year: SE, Sport, and Limited. The SE model is the base and it is expected that most of the sales will be split between the Sport and the Limited. Although other colors are available, a special orange exterior color is available for the Sport with the 2.0 Turbo engine. That orange color will only be available for the Sport model.

The Mid-Size Sedan segment is the largest division or 'segment' in the car industry. Almost every manufacturer has at least one entry in this segment and some have more than one. Pricing was a nice surprise when it was noted that the 2015 base SE model has been reduced $300 from the 2014 model. It will start at a base price of just $21,150 and ranges to $22,350. The Sport model 2.0-liter Turbo ranges from $28,575 to $33,525.

Mileage figures are fair, since most drivers expect much more than they actually get. The Sport model is EPA rated at 23 city, 32 highway, and 26 average. The SE sedans with the 2.4-liter I4 engine are rated at 25 city, 37 highway, and 29 average. The Limited sedans with the 2.4-liter I4 are EPA rated at 24 city, 35 highway, and 28 average.

Probably the most noticeable feature while test-driving this new 2015 Sonata was the sheer quietness on the inside of the car. There was obviously an increased use of sound deadening materials and sound absorption materials. Bottom line: it is a terrific car for a terrific price and offers a terrific drive experience. I think the Sonata will continue to reap those accolades.