It’s a little hard to believe that the Hyundai Sonata is entering its fourth year of production, but here we are. The swoopy sedan ushered in a new era of styling for the brand, and propelled it to one of the longest and most rapid stretches of expansion in its history. But now it’s getting stale, and it’s losing ground to newer competitors from manufacturers that, maybe, were caught by surprise. With all-new Honda Accords and Toyota Camrys on sale, the Sonata’s blend of high-style, lots of stuff, and a low price tag isn’t quite working as well, so Hyundai’s put it through the ol’ spruce-ifier, giving it a thorough update before an all-new Sonata hits the road, sometime in 2015.
From the outside, not much has changed. The grille is bigger, matching the one on the Hyundai Azera sedan, and super-bright Xenon headlights and LED taillights are optional. Inside the changes are a bit more apparent. The entire center stack has been redesigned, with a new, bigger 8-inch navigation screen, and more traditional climate control buttons instead of the Volvo-esque arrangement it had been using. A rearview camera is optional on base GLS models, and standard on SE and Limited. There’s now an available ventilated driver’s seat, and the luxury has been upgraded with better sound deadening, a leather steering wheel on SE and Limited models, and sharp looking 17- and 18-inch wheels.
There are a few safety enhancements, too. Hyundai’s advanced Vehicle Stability Management enhances stability control to help reduce the effect of the steering wheel tugging in your hands under acceleration in a corner or on uneven surfaces. There’s also blind-spot detection optional, and new side mirrors that enhance your view of your blind spot area, too.
Under the hood, there’s not much that’s new. The 2014 Hyundai Sonata still offers two four-cylinder engines: a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 190 horsepower, or a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 274 hp. Note that the base numbers are lower, a change Hyundai attributes to how horsepower is measured by the EPA, and not a change to the engine itself. About the only major change we see there is in fuel economy, where the turbo has been knocked down to 21 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, and a combined score of 25 mpg. The suspension is largely carryover, and the only noteworthy change to the way the car drives is to the steering, which offers a Hyundai version of driver-selectable variable assist. We’re not calling this one an improvement until we drive it, as we’ve been pretty lukewarm toward the Kia version of the technology.
Prices for the 2014 Hyundai Sonata have pretty much held the line, with the base GLS going up just $155, for a base price of $21,350. Other prices haven’t been announced, but figure they’ll probably stay close to 2013 prices.