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September 29, 2015

Review: 2015 Hyundai Sonata GLS Premium

Photos by Ulysses Ang
Automakers generally follow one of two paths in introducing an all-new vehicle. Some take a conservative approach and choose to raise each bar (performance, comfort, efficiency, etc.) marginally, in an effort to please all and alienate none. Others take a strategic risk and focus on specific attributes in an attempt to shift perceptions about their vehicle.

The all-new Hyundai Sonata has taken the second approach, executing targeted improvements while softening some of its predecessor’s qualities to create a car that’s much more refined and comfortable in its position in the executive sedan segment. Where the previous model aimed to establish credibility, the new one is gunning straight for customers who would otherwise be seeking entry-level European cars.

Hyundai is very proud of its new Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 styling language on the all-new Sonata which can be summed up as being “modern premium”; but there’s little denying that the previous model was much more aggressive and youthful. Nonetheless, this fresh albeit conservative look is more upscale and complement’s Hyundai’s new positioning. The Sonata continues to be aerodynamically slippery with a co-efficient of drag at just 0.27 thanks to carefully sculpted panels and a near flat underbody tray. Of course, being slick doesn’t equate to the lack of style. There are some nice, subtle cues like a chrome strip running across the hood to the C-pillar, 18-inch alloys with hidden lug nuts, and the twin exhaust tips integrated into the rear bumper. Overall, it’s a very clean and nice effort from Hyundai, but they could have hidden the front and rear proximity sensors better.

Despite the need to warm up to the new exterior, there are far less complaints with the interior which has moved upscale. It mimics many of the design cues of new Hyundais while adding a dose of sportiness. The four-spoke steering wheel is meaty and nice to hold while the dashboard has less of a cocooning feel compared to before, leaving an impression of openness. The wider center console also gives the occupants an increased sense of personal space.

Materials, as well as fit and finish, are impressive. The cabin offers nice, plush plastics and supportive, supple leather seats. All the controls, whether major or minor, offer the resounding ‘click’ of solidity. Hands down, the best part of the Sonata experience is the new gauges. Not only is it legible, but the clean-looking interface and quick, but animated menus look like it’s been lifted off a luxury sedan. The Sonata’s competitors should take note: high-tech need not look tacky. This interface offers all information you need, but presents it very well. On the other hand, the biggest offender is the extensive use of aluminized plastic to spruce up the cabin. It’s better than faux wood, yes, but Hyundai could have re-designed it with something less shiny.

The new range-topping GLS Premium is very generous in terms of equipment level with almost everything you need built in as standard. Smart Key passive entry with a push-button start/stop, power front seats with built in ventilation, panoramic sun roof, a full array of audio interconnectivity options operated by a 4.3-inch touch screen, and even a hands-free Smart Trunk. The last one sounds interesting in theory, but irritating in practice. It allows the Sonata to open the trunk remotely if you stand behind the car for a few seconds with the key in your pocket (no foot waving necessary). But, it caused a false alarm more than once. This can be a problem when you’re at the mall and all you wanted to do is check how well you parked.

Normally, Hyundai Philippines isn’t too sold on safety, fitting their vehicles only with the minimal of equipment in that aspect; not so with the Sonata. Not only does it get a full suite of airbags (including one for the driver’s knee), anti-lock brakes with EBD and brake assist, but it also gets the rest of the alphabet soup: blind spot detection (BSD), rear cross-traffic alert (RCTA), and proximity sensors with rear camera. In short, it has taken the safety lead in the executive sedan segment trouncing all of its rivals in one fell swoop.

Equally ballsy is Hyundai’s decision in offering the Sonata with just one 4-cylinder engine unlike its Japanese counterparts. However, it’s not the direct-injected or turbocharged variety. Instead, it’s the 2.4-liter Theta II unit carried over from the previous model. The 178 horsepower and 228 Nm of torque outputs are unchanged. It’s worth noting though that despite the larger body, the Sonata retains its 1,585 kilogram curb weight. This means the resulting on-road feel is largely the same as before. It’s punchy and responsive enough to give confidence when overtaking on two-lane roads. The power delivery is smooth with just a hint of growl at the top-end. The six-speed gearbox gives smooth, imperceptible shifts even when pressed, though paddle shifters would have been welcome.

 New in the Sonata is an Integrated Drive Mode system with three modes: Active Eco, Normal, and Sport. It’s a system that alters engine response, transmission shift points, and steering weight to suit various driver preference and driving conditions. Despite leaving it on Active Eco most of the time, fuel economy still isn’t the Sonata’s strong suit registering just 6.86 km/L in the city. This figure does go up when it hits the open road at 14.97 km/L before settling down to a 8.75 km/L combined figure. As a result, it’s best to leave things in Normal or Sport and just enjoy the drive.

And that drive can be very enjoyable with a chassis that’s made to love the twisties. At the core is a stiffer body shell that offers stronger rigidity and more bending resistance. Built on top of this solid foundation are new MacPherson Struts with revise sub-frame bushings and a tweaked multi-link rear suspension. These contribute a solid, well-controlled ride that’s certainly one of the best in this class. There’s excellent stability through corners, perhaps limited only the standard Kumho rubber.

The previous Sonata established Hyundai as a credible competitor in the executive sedan segment. It showed how Hyundai can create a car that’s focused on design and sporty performance while keeping its price fairly reasonable. The new one it seems has a more focused ambition: going upscale. The resulting bump in price (P 1,868,000) and equipment level is pretty much evident of this. Still, in this intimidating segment, the Sonata remains to be a very strong contender. The badge may not have the same gravitas as its rivals, but beyond brand prejudice, it’s an executive sedan that ticks all the right boxes.

2015 Hyundai Sonata GLS Premium
Ownership 2015 Hyundai Sonata GLS Premium
Year Introduced 2015
Vehicle Classification Executive Sedan
The Basics
Body Type 4-door Sedan
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.5
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 178 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 228 @ 4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission 6 AT
Cruise Control Yes
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,855
Width (mm) 1,865
Height (mm) 1,485
Wheelbase (mm) 2,805
Curb Weight (kg) 1,585
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-Link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Kumho Solus XC 235/45R18 V (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 7
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Front and Rear, w/ Reverse Camera
Exterior Features
Headlights HID
Fog Lamps Yes, Front
Auto Lights Yes
Auto Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Electric (front, driver w/ memory)
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Climate Control Yes, Dual
Audio System Stereo
No. of Speakers 6
Steering Wheel Controls Yes


  1. Nice review! Can you please review their sporty sedan, Azera? It has similar price but more power and features.

  2. isn't this model part of the crankshaft recall recently?. Sonata's crankshaft was hastily placed in the assembly line without being cleaned thoroughly. Result? a dirty crankshaft in a spanking new car.

  3. The Mazda 6, Honda Accord or the Toyota Camry is a lot better than this.

  4. The Optima EX at less than 1.5M might be a better alternative. They are practically twins as they share engines, chassis, and parts. Not to mention that the local Kia service is better than Hyundai's.

  5. Inconclusive review. Why is the author trying his best to hold back words? He's just sitting on the fence. Aren't reviewers supposed to be the one dishing out the cold, objective assessments? This review is like a spec sheet turned into prose. It doesn't tell me if it absorbs bumps, has better handling, provides cushier seats or whatnot than the current Camry which is the segment leader, or any of the other mid-sized sedans in the immediate price range. Inconclusive.

    Don't summarize the spec sheet for us. We can read it, thank you. This review did not help me at all with purchasing.

    1. I think he's playing safe because most of the people who visits this site are blind korean car fanboys. Just look at the comment section on other articles. These fanboys are everywhere.

  6. Korean cars sucks. They are better doing soap operas. New car designs every now and then, pero... quality issues talaga. A few months, Clunk here and there. A few years later... error na ang main board.

    1. typical close minded idiot.
      our 2008 sta fe is now 180k kms, we always travel from davao to cagayan de oro.
      sure there are some small rattles, what can you expect, the roads here are crap.
      but no problems, all electronics still work fine.
      engine still pulls like a train( its auto btw)
      ac still freezing cold. the compressor has never been broken or changed.
      never left us on the road.
      except when the battery died out, was my fault, I did not notice the low voltage warning in the dash.

    2. I have a 2009 altis... nearing 200k in mileage. not once have I experienced rattling issues.

      I do believe that korean cars do have subpar build quality.

  7. As per this limited and lacking review, my thoughts of this new Sonata are:
    1. Is this really an all new model? Looks like a facelift
    2. I don't care about the drag coefficient. Wouldn't translate to a big difference in gas consumption.
    3. I prefer the older Sonata - looks more original unlike this new one which is kind of an A-TOY creation.
    4. The 18s are a good addition. Personally, I think all cars in this class should atleast have 18s
    5. A wider center console does not translate to more space. It actually is the opposite cause a wider center console will eat more space!
    6. That gauge panel is very plain. Not that I want a space ship dashboard but this a re big circles with a small screen in the middle. Nothing that gives a sense of depth to the gauges. And please, put some color in it. Perhaps a red needle.
    7. I disagree with Ulysses. This ain't a competitor to entry level European models (unless you're talking about the VW Polo Sedan).

    1. This a good looking car, but it's not as distinct as the old one anymore.
      The design is a slight repeat of the old car.

    2. The gauges are reminiscent of those from the previous accord and city. I don't like it.

  8. eto po yun sonata na 6 months pa lang sa US ay pinalitan agad ng facelift. pangit daw kasi. di nag click sa mga consumers sa US. pero mukhang OK naman sya sa paningin ko hehe..

    1. Di kasi happy ang Hyundai na kaunti mas mallaki lang ng 5-10% ang average monthly sales ng new Sonata over the old one. Di sila madaling makuntento. Pagkaalam ko is rims lang ang pinalitan nila after the 1st 6 months.

  9. in fairness maganda yun mags nya ha!.. type ko.
    yun gauges lang nya , mukhang old school. cheapo ang dating.

  10. the made the Sonata boring looking because the sporty-luxury counterpart is the Azera which you probably haven't seen in the streets yet :)

    1. Azera is one class above the Sonata.

    2. Azera is above the Sonata.

  11. I love the design of this new Sonata.
    It's a stylish but mellow looking car.

  12. Guys in any other day i would be the first guy to bash any korean made cars but after seeing that our market is being flooded with chinese cars i think chinese brands opened up a sub par category for motor vehicle and that forced us to considered korean cars as better but not as good as japanese cars, so my list goes for reliability under 25M is japs>euro>indian>/=korean>american>malaysian>pedicab>kalesa>walking>.................................and then last chinese brand. share you list and thoughts

    1. my choice is UBER. engot!

    2. I like this 2015 Hyundai Sonata GLS Premium because of both its appearance and its comfortable position in the executive sedan segment feature, Ulysses Ang !


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