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Hyundai unveiled a mid-cycle freshening for its Sonata mid-size sedan, with styling tweaks and a new eight-speed automatic transmission. The Sonata was redone for 2015 with styling toned down from the former and distinctive swoopy look.
The 2018 Sonata will arrive in the U.S. as overall demand for mid-size sedans has softened versus SUVs. It also faces tougher competition, with Toyota rolling out a redone 2018 Camry, the 800-pound gorilla in the class.
The biggest change to its styling — bringing it in line with other new Hyundai designs — is a bigger grille filled with horizontal bars or mesh (for a sportier 2.0-liter turbo model) and a big Hyundai logo, along with a more muscular hood.
The rear gets new taillights and the license plate is moved down from the trunk to a spot in the new bumper. The 2.0-liter turbo model also gets its own black headlight and daytime running light surrounds, a black lower front bumper, black side-mirror caps and dark-chrome trim.
Inside, the new Sonata gets revised controls, a new steering wheel and an 8-inch display for the optional multimedia system with navigation. The sporty 2.0-liter turbo model will get a flat-bottom wheel and more bolstered seats.
Under the Hood
Mechanically, the news is a new eight-speed transmission for the 2.0-liter turbo. Four global engines were listed, including two turbos carried over from the current model: the Eco trim’s 1.6-liter putting out 178 horsepower and the 245-hp 2.0-liter.
Hyundai said the Sonata will have a full suite of electronic safety and driver support technology, but it did not say whether it would expand the technology’s availability, which currently is confined to the top Limited trims. Toyota is making some of these features standard across its lineup.