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- Spacious interior
- Fuel efficient
- Eco edition is no mild hybrid
- Android or Apple, your interface is okay
- Controlled ride and handling
- Beginning to blend in
- Not as quick as some rivals
- Manuals are gone for good
- Woodgrain trim is unconvincing
The 2017 Hyundai Sonata is a strong family-sedan value, with inconspicuous looks hiding top-notch safety and fuel economy.
The 2017 Hyundai Sonata is a four-door family sedan that's made a roundabout trip into the top tier of family sedans. Just last decade, it was lumped in with a pack of anonymous also-rans. Then, in 2011, it was redesigned with brash style that drew attention to a slew of reliability gains.
Recast in the 2015 model year with a more refined personality and a more subdued style, the 2017 Sonata is offered in Sonata SE, Sport, Limited and Eco models. It's a rival for vehicles with fearsome reputations for sales and durability, including the Camry, Accord, Fusion, and Altima—not to mention the Malibu, Passat, Optima, 200, and Legacy.
Tough competition, indeed.
We give the Sonata a rating of 7.2, based on its strong safety scores, excellent equipment, and good fuel economy. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Hyundai Sonata styling and performance
With its 2015 redesign, the Sonata's taken on a more traditional appearance, one pretty well divorced from the chrome-trimmed excesses of its recent past. It's more even-tempered and probably will age better, but it's no doubt a more sober take than a Fusion or a Malibu. The cockpit works well with the subdued theme; it's framed like the dash on a vintage German sedan, a bit formal, and it cleans up nicely with carbon-fiber and aluminum-look trim.
One of the lighter cars in its class, the Sonata was also one of the first to move to an all 4-cylinder lineup, and it doesn't want for more. The base 185-horsepower 2.4-liter inline-4 and the twin-scroll turbocharged, 245-hp 2.0-liter inline-4 are free-revving engines that deliver their power fairly quietly and almost free of vibration. With either engine, you get a 6-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual controls and quick, smooth shifts. All Sonatas get a three-mode driving selector.
The Sonata's biggest improvement in this generation is in ride quality. It's settled at any speed, and compliant. Sport versions get slightly stiffer tune and bigger tires. In either case the steering isn't entirely communicative, but it's responsive enough.
All three Sonata powertrains perform well on the EPA cycle. The Sonata Eco's 38-mpg highway rating drops to 31 mpg on the Limited. There's really not a bad pick here.
Sonata comfort, safety, and features
Space is a strength for the Sonata. There's plenty of room for 6-footers in the front seats, and the seats are comfortable, with plenty of bottom cushion and bolstering. In back, there is an excess of knee room, enough to cross over a knee into a freestyle yoga pose.
The Sonata's positively awash in storage bins, perfect for hiding stuff from drivers and passengers. Trunk space is generous at 16.3 cubic feet, and it has handy seat-fold levers inside the trunk. The cabin is relaxed, too. It's quiet enough, even at a good driving pace, to hear front-seat conversations without straining.
In crash testing, the Sonata has earned 5-star federal scores, and the current car has been named an IIHS Top Safety Pick+. It also offers blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and a forward-collision warning system with automatic emergency braking.
The Hyundai Sonata SE starts at $22,785. Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, a rear lip spoiler, automatic headlights, cloth upholstery, an AM/FM/XM/HD/CD radio with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, Hyundai BlueLink telematics, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a rearview camera, a USB port, and Bluetooth with audio streaming.
Equipment increases by model, and the Sport 2.0T models are delineated by paddle shifters, a sport suspension, sport-tuned steering, quad exhaust tips, a rear diffuser, 18-inch wheels, aluminum pedals, and sport seats, among other features.
The Sonata's infotainment systems comes with a large 8.0-inch touchscreen, smartphone-app compatibility for Pandora and SoundHound, and HD radio. Navigation-equipped cars get Apple Eyes Free Siri integration.