The 2015 Sonata is Hyundai’s evolution of style and simplicity. In some cases it works so well most will never even notice their efforts. In some cases some of the best features are transparent to the owners. When things work they work well, such as most interior ergonomics. When it goes bad it sticks out, such as paddle shifts that block turn signal and wiper stalks.
Driving the revised Sonatas 2.0L Turbo makes sense for a majority of the car buying public. Having such usable and sometimes excessive amount of torque available at such low RPMs gives the immediate wow factor for most who have never revved a motor to redline. And in daily driving it’s almost electric car like in its initial power delivery. But for those who enjoy the driving experience, the torque falls flat after 4000RPMs and despite the motor making peak HP near redline the tuning feels as though it continues to pull timing the more you rev. In fact power delivery on this car feels quite inconsistent on repeated floggings. What does it mean? It’s a car for those who don’t drive hard and for those who want that loyal companion with V6 like power but with 4 cylinder MPG.
We averaged between 25MPG and 27MPG for most of our driving and at worst we had 22MPG. Expect mid to high twenties for most mixed driving. On highway low thirties should be easy.
The six speed automatic was smooth and average in every regard. The shifts happened with zero fuss. It’s the transmission for the daily life of shopping and sitting in traffic. The manual mode is a gimmick, shifts were slow to respond to up and downshifting. The car auto upshifts even in manual mode. It was best to leave it in fully auto mode.
“The paddle shifters despite looking nice had less quality than a 200$ Logitech video game wheel.”
With strut based front and multilink rear, Hyundai supposedly took some of the engineering advice they learned from Lotus on the Genesis project to valve dampers and tune sway bars. The ride is composed quiet and mostly soft. It’s the type of ride that is setup for daily commutes and will always feel on the more compliant soft side. With plenty of suspension travel it does well on bad pavement. But the tradeoff is when you want to drive more aggressively the body rolls around, it feels composed however heavier than the 3500lb weight suggested. The car felt at home on the highway at around 65MPH. This is when that quiet comfortable interior and aero treatments made the most sense. The term “Sport” is nothing more than letting the buyer know they have some appearance pieces on the exterior and interior. While Hyundai tried something different here for tuning the motor for low end power, the suspension and tires cannot handle it when driving aggressively. At 3000RPMs even in a straight line tires would often break free on quick launches. In any type of turning and throttle application drivers should expect push and tire slippage.
The interior is where the car shines the brightest. Simple, basic and ergonomically sound with plenty of space and comfort for most body types. The center stack is a throw back to when cars were less distracting. Buttons are easy to read and use. And the knobs have a precision lacking in most cars.
While there is some cost cutting on plastics this can easily be addressed. The door and armrest padding is non-existent and the driver knee rests on hard plastic. Paddle shifters block the view of the turn signal and wiper stalks. But overall the interior space is where this car transcends average into class leading.
Overall this car feels like it’s going to be that family pet, always around quietly waiting to be used, played with and fed, but rarely a burden. While it excels in interior comfort and solidity it just feels so painfully average. The 2.0L should be reserved for those who came from a V6 and need that extra power, otherwise the tuning of the motor is not properly set up for the tires and suspension on this car. There are other motors that make more sense from an efficiency stand point as well. This vehicle is an appliance after all and while it lacks any excitement the car makes up for it deficiencies in a very well sorted interior and fairly refined styling. In a flooded market of mid-sized cars it will be up to the buyer to decide it strikes the right chords. The car for us lost too much character from the last generation but, this conservative approach may just pay off for Hyundai, time will tell.