Toward the end of the 2000s, Hyundai saw the writing on the wall for their fifth generation Sonata. Even equipped with a mild refresh, the Sonata was a bland blob in a sea of ever-better competitors. Hyundai had to do something drastic. Something mind-blowing.
Hyundai gathered all their competitors' mid-size vehicles in Korea. The goal: to design and engineer a mid-size sedan that was just as good, load it up with more features, and undercut the competition on price.
What is the Hyundai Sonata?
Hyundai's mid-sizer is the first “gotcha” product to come out of the company since their most recent resurgence in growth. After years of pumping out value-proposition product, the Korean automaker wanted to grab the attention of the buying public, which they they did with the Sonata in 2010.
The Sonata in its current form is now in its final year of production. Next year, a new generation will take its place sporting a design closer to the Genesis sedan
2014 Hyundai Sonata Price and Specs
The Sonata is available in GL, GLS, SE, Limited w/ Navigation, and 2.0T Limited w/Ultimate trims. There's even a Hybrid model. All models, except the 2.0T and Hybrid, are powered by a 2.4L 4-cylinder engine which produces 190 hp. A 2.0T belching out 274 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque powers the 2.0T Limited. Power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. There is no all-wheel drive option.
Base GL trimmed Sonatas start at $23,999 before freight, PDI, and the taxman getting his cut. Full-blown 2.0T models bring MSRPs up to $34,199.
Driving the 2014 Hyundai Sonata
Mechanically, the Sonata gives you a decent amount of performance out of its 2.4L 4-banger. It's not the smoothest engine in the world - it seems all modern direct injected four-cylinders are a bit rough - and the six-speed automatic clicks through the gears as expected.
Brakes were adequate, though a tad bit noisy. Cabin noise was acceptable, though not best in class. And comfort was pleasant, though not awe-inspiring.
There is one thing though - and it's massive, mountainous - that makes me go insane about the Sonata and virtually every other Hyundai on the market today.
Thanks to being tuned for glass-like road surfaces, the suspension provides almost no damping for the larger potholes and other road imperfections we get in Canada. Even small cracks in the road surface can be felt in your fingertips through the steering wheel. Our tester, which was shod with 17-inch aluminum alloy rims and slivers for tires, had a ride somewhere between a wooden rollercoaster and a rock quarry truck.
Maybe the ride is better in some of the lesser trims with smaller wheel diameters allowing for taller tire sidewalls.
Inside and Out of the 2014 Hyundai Sonata
If you haven't already gathered, I'm not the biggest fan of the Sonata in the design department. If I wanted to, I could write an entire essay on how the design of the current Sonata makes my stomach winge.
Instead, I'll use the remaining space to tell you why the inside of the Sonata is the nicer place to be, though what you may see on paper may not be what you get in the real world.
Hyundai has loaded the Sonata up with some great options. For one, rear heated seats are a welcomed treat for passengers, as long as said passengers are of average height and under. The rear bench leaves occupants wanting for thanks to a sloping roofline.
Up front, very clear controls mounted to the center console make it easy to navigate air conditioning and navigation without thinking about them too much.
Hyundai has even equipped the Sonata will selectable steering modes, though I can't see why anyone would use any other setting but Comfort. Normal? Sport? No, the Sonata is neither of these things.
The leather seating is comfortable, though it doesn't feel luxurious. It feels like the cheap leather coat you buy to say you own a leather coat. In fact, a number of the features on the Sonata, and many other Hyundais, work this way.
The Sonata, when compared to a Camry or Fusion or Accord, might add up on paper. But if you line them up, side-by-side, and sit in all four in succession, you'll notice the difference. The features may all be there in the Hyundai, but they aren't as good in direct comparison.
This is how Hyundai packs “value” into their cars.
But, after a while, you'll start to notice where corners have been cut. It's a cost game where you're the winner and the loser all at the same time. And if you're willing to shell out a few dollars more, you'll end up happier at the end of the day.
Comparing the 2014 Hyundai Sonata
The Sonata is older than virtually all its competitors - the Toyota Camry, Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord
, Nissan Altima
, Kia Optima, Chrysler 200, Dodge Avenger, Subaru Legacy, Volkswagen Passat, and the Mazda6, AJAC's 2014 Canadian Car of the Year.
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