Hyundai refreshes its 2018 Sonata with a new face, infotainment tech

Hyundai can’t seem to make up its mind when it comes to the styling of its Sonata midsize sedan. It tried an extroverted, expressive look, then toned it down for the current-generation model that debuted three years ago. Now it’s going back to extroverted and expressive with a refresh of that car.

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata launching this week at the 2017 New York Auto Show once again puts emphasis on design, to the extent that Hyundai’s press conference featured two designers drawing the car live in front of the assembled media. Underneath the new skin, the 2018 Sonata also gets some mechanical changes and added tech.

The front and rear fasciae of the Sonata are all new, while the body itself retains the sleek, low roofline of the previous model. The new front end features vertical side air intakes to give the car a more planted feel, while the new grille is inspired by molten steel flowing out of a cauldron, Hyundai says. The rear has sharper-looking tail lights and a less cluttered overall look. All of these changes make for a handsome car, but one that’s more evolution than revolution.

Mechanical changes include updated rear suspension and tweaks to the steering system that Hyundai claims will yield more feel. Models with the 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine also get a new eight-speed automatic transmission. In addition to the 2.0-liter, Hyundai currently offers a 1.6-liter turbo four in the Sonata Eco, plus naturally-aspirated 2.4-liter four, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid options. Expect those to carry over.

On the safety front, Hyundai is making blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert standard on the 2018 Sonata. Hyundai claims the Sonata will be the only midsize sedan to offer these features as standard equipment. The 2018 Sonata gets new lane departure warning and lane keep assist systems as well.

The standard infotainment system includes a 7.0-inch touchscreen display, and is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Qi wireless phone charging is available as well, and Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system can be connected to Amazon Echo, linking cars with smart homes.