Caraganza First Drive Review 2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited: Apocalypse survivor



We all know it’s coming. The Automotive Apocalypse.  That day when all awake to find the roads filled with self-driving cars harmoniously marching along at the same speed; none uttering a sound beyond the gentle whine of the electric motors pushing them effortlessly along.  Us old gearheads not yet dead and buried, will be sitting in our wheelchairs watching this parade and shaking our heads as we remember the belching, fiery, smoky days of motoring past.

Someone should write a Sci-Fi story about this future time; a nefarious villain programs all the driverless cars to come to his secret lair, the passengers oblivious to it all, their faces buried in their smart devices, ears plugged, caught up in cyberspace, ignoring the real world as they are sent to their doom.

No one knows of course if such a thing will really play out. I however, believe it will, and could make an argument that in fact it’s already started.  Driverless cars are already prowling the road, and fully gasoline powered cars are already being outlawed in some countries, those silly British.

If the Automotive Apocalypse really does become a reality, I can almost guarantee you that those capable of self-driving their way to doom will not be sedans; they will be SUVs and crossovers, but not sedans, or coupes.  That part has already started too. The automotive buyer today is running away from the sedans and coupes in herds. Sales for nearly every sedan and coupe on the market today are down over last year, most in double digits.

It won’t be long then before there will be only a few sedans left to choose from.  And that’s a shame. Because there will still be plenty of us out here who don’t care about sitting up high, having a dance hall size auditorium behind us.  We want something low to the ground, nimble, yet with four seats and a big enough trunk to carry weekly groceries home. And for most of us, it needs to be affordable enough to live with.



Hyundai has such a thing. A car that just a few years ago was almost a joke.  But the little Korean car company has grown up; improved its quality, and is now a legitimate contender in the midsize sedan market.

The Sonata is one of the more versatile models on the market; it can be Plain Jane, Sporty, or dressed to the nines.  The Plain Jane (SE) is nicely equipped (and priced), while the Limited is loaded (and also nicely priced).

There are the Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T with bigger engines, (a turbocharged 4-cylinder with 245 horses and 260 lb-ft torque), but Hyundai recently sent me the Limited with the 2.4-liter (185 horsepower, 178 lb-ft torque), and it was just fine. In fact, it was really fine.  It didn’t have the new eight-speed automatic (that’s only available with the more powerful engine), but the same six-speed automatic as before. It did have the minor changes Hyundai put in place for 2018: style tweaks and suspension updates that give a better ride. All models now come with safety features like blind-spot detection, lane changed assist, and rear cross traffic alert; the headlights are now LED and there has been some weight loss, giving better fuel economy.

Something that hasn’t changed, thankfully, is the value and goodness of the Sonata. My Limited had all the features I like; sat nav/radio, heated/cooled front seats/ heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, with plenty of power for everyday driving, thanks in part to selectable drive modes.

All for a reasonable price hovering just over $30,000 (meaning a savvy shopper could easily get one under that threshold).

And it’s worth every dime.

No, you won’t be tearing up the roads leaving smoky burnouts in your wake; cruising in swaddled luxury, or being pampered, but you won’t have to worry about getting a nose bleed from the altitude, or worry about finding a parking space big enough to put your land yacht.  You will have a decent car for a good price, and one of the increasingly rare sedans on the market. And if the Automotive Apocalypse does descend upon us one of the few survivors will likely be the Sonata; I just hope I’m dead and buried.

2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited

MSRP: $27,400
MSRP (as tested with Ultimate Package): $31,310
Engine (as tested): 2.4-liter 4-cylinder 185 horsepower, 178 lb-ft torque
Transmission: 6-speed shiftable automatic w/OD
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 25 city, 35 highway, 28 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested mixed conditions): 27 mpg

Interior Dimensions
Passenger Capacity:  5
Passenger Volume: ft³     106.1
Front Head Room: in     40.4
Front Leg Room: in     45.5
Front Shoulder Room: in     57.9
Front Hip Room: in     55.3
Second Head Room: in     38
Second Leg Room: in     35.6
Second Shoulder Room: in     56.5
Second Hip Room: in     56.1
Base Curb Weight: lbs     3380

Exterior Dimensions
Wheelbase: in     110.4
Length, Overall: in     191.1
Width, Max w/o mirrors: in     73.4
Height, Overall: in     58.1
Track Width, Front: in     63.1
Track Width, Rear: in     63.3
Min Ground Clearance: in 5.3
Trunk Volume: ft³: 16.3

Basic: 5 Years/60,000 Miles
Drivetrain: 10 Years/100,000 Miles
Corrosion: 7 Years/Unlimited Miles
Roadside Assistance: 5 Years/Unlimited Miles

Greg Engle