Consumers have largely turned away from the traditional sedan (passenger cars made up 17 per cent of sales in Canada in 2022), but Hyundai isn’t giving up on them yet.
The South Korea-based automaker is aiming to boost the sedan market with upgrades to its mid-sized Sonata and compact Elantra models. The changes include new facades, improved aerodynamics and, for the first time, an all-wheel-drive option for the Sonata.
The mid-model life refresh of both cars comes as Hyundai is hoping to see a renewed interest in its sedans, as alternatives disappear. Sedans as a segment have been steadily losing market share to SUVs.
“Hyundai remains committed to sedans as a part of our lineup at a time when some manufacturers have abandoned the segment,” said José Muñoz, chief executive officer of Hyundai Motor North America. He noted that in the United States, about three million sedans by all automakers are sold each year.
The company has much room to grow in the Canadian sedan market. In the first half of the year, Hyundai sold 958 Sonatas, down 36 per cent from last year. It sold 10,445 Elantras in the same time period, down 19 per cent.
John Simmons, Hyundai’s U.S. senior group leader, said the company sees an opportunity to grow in the sedan segment as other automakers withdraw models. “We’re bullish on sedans, moving into the future,” he said.
Drivetrain configurations are altered slightly from current models, and there are no plans for a plug-in hybrid option. Both models get restyled wheels and new colour options, although Hyundai says they haven’t been confirmed for Canada.
Hyundai’s styling update of the current Sonata, which was introduced in 2020, adds futuristic front and rear treatments.
The low-slung design achieves enhanced aerodynamics and embodies the theme of “sensuous sportiness,” Simon Loasby, U.S.-based head of the Hyundai Style Group at Hyundai Motor Company, said during an online media briefing. Front fascia enhancements include the addition of a full-width LED light strip, while the rear taillamps get a similar light strip.
The trim levels are Preferred, Sport, N Line and Ultimate Hybrid. The optional turbocharged 1.6-litre inline-four has been dropped, but the Sonata retains the naturally aspirated 191-horsepower 2.5-litre inline-four in the base car, a 290-horsepower turbocharged 2.5-litre inline-four in the high-performance N Line and a two-litre 192-horsepower hybrid. Normal, smart, sport and custom drive modes adjust settings for engine, transmission, all-wheel drive (when equipped) and steering mapping.
Sonata’s all-wheel-drive option is paired with the naturally aspirated 2.5-litre engine and uses the company’s HTRAC system, which actively distributes torque between the front and rear wheels, depending on road conditions.
The interior upgrades include two 12.3-inch screens housed in a single curved display and the addition of three USB-C outlets. Hyundai says the interior materials have been upgraded, and the gearshift has been moved to the steering column to free up space in the centre console. Ambient lighting has been added to enhance what the company calls a “floating” theme.
The sporty N Line features an enlarged front bumper grille area, 19-inch alloy wheels, rear spoiler and dual twin-tip exhaust. The interior receives red-accented stitching and cross-metal patterned trim upgrades.
The Sonata’s comprehensive slate of safety features includes collision-avoidance features, lane-keep assist and smart cruise control. Rear occupant alert notifies drivers when they leave an infant unattended.
The Elantra’s refresh comes just two years after the current model’s introduction. Similar to the Sonata, the Elantra receives new front and rear fascias. The shark-nose front design – with its thinner LED daytime running lights, two-piece grille and flat stainless steel Hyundai emblem – aims to create a wider appearance. The rear gets a diffuser with a U-shaped silver element.
The 15, 16, 17 and 18-inch alloy wheels all have new designs. The trim lines are Essential, Preferred, Luxury, and N Line Ultimate.
Inside, the Elantra gets soft-touch front door panels, leatherette seat surfaces in the Luxury and N Line, 4.2-inch instrument clusters and three USB-C outlets. Tech enhancements include a digital key for remote starting and locking, compatible with iPhone and Android.
An eight-inch centre infotainment display is standard, and gauges are analog. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard, as is Wi-Fi connection and over-the-air software updates.
The Preferred trim has a 10.3-inch digital cluster and a 10.3-inch infotainment display, adaptive cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a wireless smartphone charging pad, heated front seats and heated mirrors.
The dashboard and centre console are oriented toward the driver. A single LED strip follows the dashboard-spanning air vent across the width of the car.
The N Line adds a distinct front grille and fascia, 19-inch alloy wheels, rear spoiler, dual exhaust and sport bucket seats. A voice-recognition feature allows the driver to adjust the climate control or the heated seats by saying specific phrases.
Among the safety features is the addition of haptic feedback to lane-keep assist, blind-spot collision warning and rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist. The latter two features are available in the Preferred trim level and above.
The updated Elantra is to reach Canadian dealerships in the fall and the Sonata this winter, the company stated. Prices will be announced close to those dates.
- Price: To be announced
- Engines: 2.5-litre four; 2.5-litre turbocharged four (in the N Line), and 2-litre mild hybrid.
- Transmissions/drive: Eight-speed automatic, Eight-speed dual-clutch automatic (N Line), Six-speed automatic in the Limited Hybrid
- Fuel consumption: Not yet rated in Canada.
- Alternatives: Nissan Altima, Subaru Legacy, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry.
- Price: to be announced
- Engines: Two-litre four-cylinder; two-litre turbo (for N Line), 1.6-litre turbo and 1.6-litre mild hybrid.
- Transmission/drive: Six-speed manual or CVT in base model. The N Line, Blue Hybrid and Limited Hybrid models will have a 7-speed DCT (dual-clutch transmission).
- Fuel consumption: Not yet rated in Canada
- Alternatives: Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Kia Forte, Volkswagen Jetta, Subaru Impreza