In the not-so-distant past, the idea of a flamboyantly styled, charismatically designed Hyundai was a nonstarter, and the Sonata was a stodgy also-ran from a design standpoint. But with the introduction of an all-new Sonata and its 'fluidic design' theme for the 2011 model year, that all abruptly changed. And even two model years later, the 2013 Hyundai Sonata remains radically different than most other mid-size sedans, with an intriguing blend of crests and curves that set it far apart from the rather bland look of the Passat and Camry.
While fluidic sculpture is used throughout Hyundai's model line, it's at its best in Hyundai's sedans, where there's lots of movement implied in the side view and the upkick of the prominent side crease. 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. The point at the side mirrors where five different panels join up is a noticeable wart—Hyundai did better here in applying its design ethic to the smaller Elantra—and to some people there will be a few too many pieces of glimmering chrome brightwork.
Inside, the design is either cutting-edge or a little out there, depending on how you see it. There's dramatic sculpturing across the dash and even on the steering wheel, and just as in pretty much every other new Hyundai there are angled vents that flank a big LCD screen atop the dash. But it's functional; you'll find an iconographic representation of a person for the climate controls and door trim that flows in well-coordinated fashion into the dash—all aspects we appreciate. We prefer the metallic trim to the woodgrain on beige-interior cars, which looks out of place in the swoopy Sonata.