WHAT: A re-engineered version of Hyundai’s popular midsize sedan. This seventh-generation Sonata is the South Korean automaker’s follow-up to the game-changing 2011 model, which introduced the brand’s flamboyant “Fluidic Sculpture” styling theme. It’ll follow the next phase of that approach, a toned-down design language Hyundai calls “Fluidic Precision.” Visible in this view are slightly softer body-side creases, as well as narrow projector headlamps, likely with LED accents. The new Sonata will get a redesigned interior but employ an updated version of the same basic chassis, revised for better ride and handling. It’ll also retain an all-four-cylinder lineup of naturally aspirated and turbocharged engines tuned for improved fuel efficiency. Hyundai may add a 1.6-liter turbo four as an option or as the new base engine. A gas-electric hybrid also will return.
WHEN: The re-engineered Hyundai Sonata will hit showrooms in the second-half of 2014 as a 2015 model. Look for the revamped hybrid in the first half of 2015, probably as a 2016 model.
WHY: The 2011 Sonata put Hyundai design on the map in America’s most popular automotive segment. Since then, every major competitor – including the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Ford Fusion — has been redesigned. Most were compelled for the first time to consider Sonata a rival for attention — and for sales. Hyundai needs a refreshed Sonata to stay current, but evidently believes it can remain competitive without a clean-sheet redesign of its chassis and powertrains.
HOW MUCH: Hyundai will defend its high-value approach by keeping base prices in the $22,900-$32,000 range