If public backlash against the sixth-generation Sonata, mainly in its home country, caused Hyundai to pour cold water all over the midsize sedan’s edgy design, consider the 2018 Sonata a reaction to its toned-down predecessor.
The refreshed 2018 Sonata unveiled in Seoul, South Korea, today aims to shelter the popular midsize from accusations of “safe” or “boring” styling. While the sedan’s flanks are easily recognized, the previous model’s this-won’t-offend-anyone front fascia has given way to a wholly new design.
Unlike the 2014-2017 model, the new Sonata’s grille follows a trend set by its smaller stablemates, opening wide and filling the center of its face. While the existing Sonata Hybrid already ventured in this direction, the 2018 update brings a cleaner, more cohesive look. Sport models see a mesh-filled grill, with others making do with familiar chrome bars.
Completing the front-end makeover are vertically stacked LED running lights and a sculpted hood. Out back, the Sonata’s taillights continue the diagonal motif established by the smaller Elantra.
Midsize cars are having an especially hard time as of late, and the automaker can’t afford to rest on its laurels while its rivals fight over remaining buyers. Hyundai saw Sonata sales peak in 2012.
Hyundai hasn’t taken this opportunity to boost its competitiveness in the infotainment screen size race. (Not that it lagged the competition by an appreciable degree.) For 2018, the Sonata maintains a standard 7-inch touchscreen, while those with extra bills in their pocket can plunk an 8-inch unit into the redesigned center stack.
Rear seat users gain a USB charging port, while front seat occupants can now enjoy the plug-free bliss of wireless charging.Â Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity rounds out the convenience upgrades. On the safety front, buyers can cocoon themselves in more technology than before, with Lane Keep Assist now available.
While engine choices carry over from last year, an eight-speed automatic now comes standard in Sport 2.0T models. That model also brings a helping of black trim and dark chrome moldings, in addition to the aforementioned grille mesh. Other non-hybrid models retain the tried-and-true six-speed automatic.
Because the Sonata unveiled in Seoul is bound for the Korean market, we’ll have to wait until next month’s New York Auto Show to hear any North American specifics.[Images: Hyundai Motor]