2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco - After a Clean Shave - First Drive Review

Hyundai recently invited the local automotive press for a preview of their more than refreshed 2015 Sonata mid-size, front-drive family sedan.

We'll give it to Hyundai that the 2010 Sonata broke with all previous family sedan ground rules. Fluidic Sculpture 1.0 was the stylistic wild-child meant to grab attention.

Sonata sales skyrocketed to 200,000+ NA units in 2011. However, that's still mid-pack in the ultra-competitive mid-size segment.

Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 Grooming:

By 2011, Sonata was deemed ready to grow gray wisps behind the temples. Hyundai USA Product Planning manager, John Shon, went straight to work on a Sonata refresh.

- For 2015 Hyundai gives Sonata a shave and a haircut, bearing a familial resemblance to the 2015 Genesis.

Ergo, the Aston Martin-esque grille. Free-flowing, oblique lines have been replaced by those with greater precision and character. A' la Kia Optima .

- 2.0L Sport Turbo brags on itself with twin dual square chrome exhaust outlets embedded into a sleek rear lower valance.

Refinements Inside and Underneath:

- The 2015 Sonata cabin has become more purposeful, ala the Optima, with the button-count conserved center stack, now canted towards the driver. The entry level 5.2" touch infotainment screen and controls are marvelously simple and responsive. Faux metal dash inserts fulfill the need for contrast, and soft touch surfaces are generous too.

Just before this Christmas, navigation equipped Sonatas will receive the gift of Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto. The software allows the infotainment screen to mimic your familiar mobile handset screen.

- Claiming nearly as much extra high strength seam adhesive as an E-class Benz along with 51%  high-tensile steel alloys yielded no quiver we could detect.

Improved Fuel Economy + Driveability:

- "Drive...He Said" drove a pre-production 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco with 1.6L Gamma twin-scroll turbo-charged twin-cam straight-four gas powerplant. The 195 lb-ft @ 1200 rpm are 17 more than the "base" 2.4L Theta engine makes. Sonata's response to the similarly-sized mill in the Ford Fusion is rated at 32 EPA combined miles per gallon, challenging class-leading Mazda6 i-Eloop.

Perhaps the Sonata Eco's biggest revelation is Hyundai's own 7-speed dual-clutch automated transmission. Employing electric motor clutch actuation eliminates off-the-line jerking common to DCTs. Once past some turbo lag, Sonata Eco accelerates with Lipton tea briskness.

- Our short stint at the helm exhibited improved steering wheel centering. But it betrayed the lack of road feel. Hyundai spec'd lower bushing rates for ride improvement.

What to Look Forward To:

- Base price of $21,150 for the 2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4L SE = $300 price drop with greater contenting.

An extended test of the 2015 Hyundai Sonata, for the low-down on Apple & Android infotainment screen renditions.

And for fielding a lot of :"Is that a Genesis?"

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