While in its previous iterations, the Hyundai Sonata was very conservative, and something of a wallflower, the 2012 Sonata is radically different--an intriguing blend of crests and curves that set it far apart from the blandness that colors the Toyota Camry and, maybe less so, the Accord, Passat, and Malibu.
Hyundai calls it "fluidic sculpture" design language, and it's a daring look for a family sedan, with lots of movement implied in the side view. In the grille we can see some of the “wave” look of the latest Infinitis, while at the rear of the roofline and across the tail, it's clearly an homage to the Audi A6. Some other passages are a little knotty: the point at the side mirrors where five different panels join up is a noticeable wart, and not everyone here is a fan of the chrome spears that glint off the hoodline and front fenders.
Inside, the styling's just as adventurous, with dramatic sculpturing across the dash and even on the steering wheel. But it’s a little out there, on the edge of cutting edge for traditional family-sedan shoppers. The interior shares some themes with the big Hyundai Genesis sedan, including the vents that flank a big LCD screen atop the dash. We prefer the metallic trim to the woodgrain on beige-interior cars, which looks out of place in the swoopy Sonata.The new Sonata has even more dramatic sculpturing in its steering wheel and dash cap than the Genesis, and gets cut-tube-style instruments as well as an iconographic climate control shaped like a human. Overall, it’s adventurous and functional, and maybe a little more dramatic than some families will want.