2018 Honda Accord vs. 2018 Hyundai Sonata: Compare Cars

February 7, 2018
2018 Honda Accord

2018 Honda Accord

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A mid-size sedan should be all things to all people: spacious inside, comfortable on a variety of road conditions, fuel efficient, and safe for the entire family.

The 2018 Honda Accord and 2018 Hyundai Sonata check all those marks, of course. And why wouldn’t they? Both of these four-doors regularly earn top spots on shoppers’ lists, and they’re both fresh-faced for the 2018 model year.

MORE: Read our 2018 Honda Accord and 2018 Hyundai Sonata reviews

Our nod goes to the 2018 Accord for its complete redesign, its strong turbo powertrains, and a ride-and-handling balance that’s the right side of sublime. The 2018 Sonata, by contrast, excels for its roomy interior and decent value, but it shows its age in ways the Accord does not.

Overall, we rate the latest Honda Accord at 7.8 out of 10 and the Sonata at 7.3 out of 10.

2018 Honda Accord

2018 Honda Accord

Enlarge Photo
2018 Honda Accord

2018 Honda Accord

Enlarge Photo
2018 Honda Accord

2018 Honda Accord

Enlarge Photo
2018 Honda Accord

2018 Honda Accord

Enlarge Photo

Getting the look right

This year, Hyundai’s designers added some spice to last year’s rather dull Sonata. Its shape is unchanged, but the difference is in the details. Up front, the Sonata’s nose is sharper and more beak-like—not to mention a little better at cheating the wind. At the rear, the Sonata boasts upscale LED headlights and we like the way its long roofline slopes into its trunk lid. What lets the Sonata down are its wheel choices that look dour compared to the dressier shoes fitted to all versions of the Accord.

The 2018 Accord isn’t likely to end up in a museum in a few decades’ time, but we can’t fault Honda for discarding with frumpiness in favor of daring, dashing lines. A long nose gives the Accord rear-wheel-drive proportions and works well with the abrupt front fascia. At the rear, the Accord’s roof tapers handsomely, although not unlike the Sonata.

Inside, the Sonata hits all the bases with its comfy front seats, good visibility, and stretch-out space in the rear seat, but it does so with little flair. A 7.0-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility serves as the nerve center on most trim levels. Sonatas we’ve driven have felt solidly assembled, but the materials chosen hardly impress.

High-spec versions of the 2018 Accord feel like luxury cars, as they should at a price that can climb to nearly $37,000 (for comparison, a loaded 2018 Sonata tops out at about $33,300). Each switch and button is a cut above. Every inch of the interior has been carved out for extra space.

The Accord simply tries harder inside and out.

2018 Hyundai Sonata

2018 Hyundai Sonata

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2018 Hyundai Sonata

2018 Hyundai Sonata

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2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited

2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited

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2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited

2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited

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Going down the road

Honda spoils shoppers for choice with a pair of turbocharged inline-4 engines that can be mated to automatic or manual transmissions. Most Accords feature a 192-hp 1.5-liter turbo-4 tied to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), but stretch your budget or your clutch foot and you may find a delightful 6-speed manual or a more powerful, 252-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 worth parking in your garage. We can’t blame you, but we also can’t blame you for being perfectly satisfied with the workaday 1.5-liter. It’s smooth, strong enough, and returns 33 mpg combined with the slick CVT.

Hyundai also offers a turbo-4 as an option, rated at 245 hp and paired exclusively to an 8-speed automatic that’s similarly quick if not as refined at idle or under hard acceleration. The vast majority of Sonatas on dealer lots instead feature a 2.4-liter inline-4 pegged at 185 hp that uses a comparatively outdated 6-speed automatic. This base engine can be gruff when pushed but motivates the Sonata well. The 6-speed fires off quick shifts and helps the Sonata achieve a still respectable 31 mpg combined, according to the EPA.

The Sonata Eco stands alone with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic and an efficiency-minded 1.5-liter turbo-4. Frankly, we wish that Hyundai would toss the lower-tech engine in most Sonatas in favor of this small turbo, which makes the most of its 178 hp.

The Accord and Sonata are both available in high-mpg hybrid versions, but they’re pricier and different enough that they fall out of the purview of this comparison.

We prefer the Accord’s controlled, firm ride to the softer, floatier feel of the Sonata. The Honda also aces our steering test, with a tiller that’s quick to respond and weighted just right. The Accord relishes twisty road driving, although a Sonata SE will happily and confidently hustle along the same roads. To our ears, the Sonata is slightly quieter over rougher pavement.

On the safety and features front

Here again the Accord edges forward for its hefty standard equipment and high level of safety features built into every model—but that comes at a price some buyers may not be willing to pay.

At the entry level, the Accord LX should satisfy most needs at about $25,500. It’s fitted with 17-inch alloy wheels, power windows and locks, and automatic climate control—but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity for its 7.0-inch audio system. Stepping up to the Accord Sport and EX trim levels nets those features and an upsized, 8.0-inch touchscreen, plus a few more goodies. The Accord Touring verges on luxury territory with its head-up display and air conditioned seats. So-equipped Accords are also priced close to some entry-level luxury cars, too, so shop wisely.

Where Honda doesn’t skimp at all is in safety gear. The brand’s so-called Honda Sensing suite of features includes forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control. Honda Sensing is standard on every 2018 Accord.

Hyundai doesn’t offer the same comprehensive trim level lineup as Honda, but it comes close. The base Sonata SE comes in at a palatable $23,000 with standard blind-spot monitors, CarPlay and Android compatibility, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment. The Sonata SEL comes in at about $24,500 with heated seats, larger alloy wheels, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. For an extra $1,000, the worthwhile Tech Package adds safety gear similar to Honda Sensing. It’s worth seeking out and it makes a Sonata SEL a slightly better value than an Accord LX.

From there, the range gets dressier or sportier with Sport and Limited trim levels available with the 2.0-liter turbo-4 as an extra-cost option.

Also in the Sonata’s favor: Hyundai’s 5-year, 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, which is two years and 24,000 miles longer than Honda’s basic coverage.

We’re smitten with the Accord, which does nearly everything better than it’s asked to do. By contrast, the Sonata is a well-rounded, balanced sedan, that makes a better deal than it does a class-leading mid-size sedan.

Summary

7.3
Expert Rating
The 2018 Hyundai Sonata receives a much-needed injection of style.
8.0
Expert Rating
The 2018 Honda Accord sedan should be at the top of any four-door shoppers’ lists—sedan or otherwise. It’s well-crafted, comfortable, and affordable.

Styling

7.0
Expert Rating
Once again, the Hyundai Sonata is a looker inside and out.
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8.0
Expert Rating
On-trend angles and traditional proportions merge to make the 2018 Honda Accord one of the best-looking mainstream sedans that we’ve seen in a while.
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Performance

6.0
Expert Rating
It's far short of sporty, but the Hyundai Sonata rides well.
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7.0
Expert Rating
The 2018 Honda Accord handles its available power with grace and ease. When did “fine” become a pejorative?
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Comfort & Quality

8.0
Expert Rating
Comfortable front and rear seats and a big trunk make the 2018 Hyundai Sonata a practical choice.
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8.0
Expert Rating
Effective packaging makes the 2018 Honda Accord a supremely comfortable mid-size sedan.
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Safety

9.0
Expert Rating
A near-perfect crash-test scorecard means the 2018 Hyundai Sonata should be a safe pick.
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9.0
Expert Rating
A wide array of standard safety gear and good crash test scores are assets for the 2018 Honda Accord.
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Features

7.0
Expert Rating
Base Hyundai Sonatas are well-equipped and the brand's warranty is fantastic, but there aren't many ways to configure your own.
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8.0
Expert Rating
Good features abound, but the 2018 Honda Accord is best at the edges: base or fully loaded.
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Fuel Economy

7.0
Expert Rating
The Hyundai Sonata provides good fuel economy for such a roomy sedan.
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8.0
Expert Rating
The EPA hasn’t yet pulled out its calculators for the 2018 Honda Accord.
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MSRP

from $22,050
from $23,570

Invoice

from $21,141
from $21,573

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

29
33

Engine

Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.4 L
Intercooled Turbo Regular Unleaded I-4, 1.5 L

Drivetrain

Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
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