A dowdy redesign for 2015 robbed the Sonata of the trendy, fashion-forward looks that put it at the head of the mid-size sedan class and told the world that Hyundai could build pretty cars. This year’s facelift did its best to return the Sonata to form, with a more aggressive grille that gets a stylish insert (particularly with the 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine). The rear wears new taillights that draw inspiration from the more fashionable Elantra compact, although you’ll need to pony up for the Limited trim to get the more attractive LED units.
Changes aren’t as dramatic in the cabin. While there’s an inverse correlation between the rise of touchscreens and the elimination of physical buttons, the Sonata retains plenty of physical buttons, the most important of which is a physical bank below the touchscreen. It’s a smart layout – drivers don’t need to mess with the touchscreen if they don’t want to, which prevents distractions while driving.
But the buttons themselves don’t feel especially nice. It’s not so much their plastic construction – but the action. It doesn’t feel as solid as we’d like. The window switches, the steering wheel buttons, and the two stalks sprouting from the steering column don’t suffer from this problem, at least. The rest of the materials are good, too, particularly the door panels and dash uppers – both are a step above the facelifted model that debuted in 2015.
The Sonata’s seats are almost all comfortable, aside from the back middle (shocking, we know). The front chairs are wide but supportive, with plenty of cushioning that makes long journeys a cinch. The seating position is good, too. The steering column has a wide range of tilt and telescoping, while the 10-way power driver’s seat of our Limited tester was enough for a wide range of body types.
The back seats are tolerable for two adults, but with just 35.6 inches of rear legroom, the Sonata isn’t the best choice for passenger hauling – the Toyota Camry has 38 inches and the Honda Accord has just over 40 inches. The seats themselves are comfortable, though, with ample padding.
Hyundai’s infotainment system remains one of the segments best. Quick and intuitive, its layout is attractive too. The presence of redundant buttons makes navigation far easier than systems that rely entirely on touchscreens (or minimize the use of physical buttons).