2015 Hyundai Sonata
The 2011 Sonata was a watershed sedan for Hyundai. It lured buyers in with dynamic styling, and cheap prices, and kept them satisfied with great drivability and reliability. But, that was yesterday. The challenge today is to keep those buyers despite more intense mid-size competition, and to uphold their well-earned reputation. So let’s find out how an all-new 2015 Sonata measures up.
It’s difficult to fathom that the 2015 Hyundai Sonata marks the beginning of the 7th generation of the Korean middle-weight four-door. To say it has come a long way is an understatement. Evolving from a late 80’s boxy also ran, to today’s family sedan trend setter.
And it’s easy to see those trend setting ways continuing when you climb inside the latest Sonata. You’re immediately treated to a great looking interior that is incredibly comfortable and very upscale in feel. Though this Limited model’s rich 2-tone black and brown theme surely has a lot to do with that.
Not that it’s perfect. Some of our staff found the sparseness of control knobs annoying, and the few knobs that are present are either a long reach or look too similar to each other, and had some turning up the temperature when they we were trying to crank up the volume. Owners will likely figured it all out in no time, however.
The folding rear seats offer plenty of head and leg room, and while seat cushions are a little on the hard side there is a very comfortable rake to the seat backs which makes things quite tolerable for long trips.
In fact, interior volume has risen enough that Sonata is now in the Large Car EPA size-class. Trunk space is certainly larger than most mid-size rivals at 16.3 cubic-ft.
An available Tech package gets you a panoramic sunroof, HID headlights, and very competent 8-inch navigation display with touchscreen. But the Ultimate package is where the tech really kicks in with smart cruise control with full stop and start capabilities, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, plus an electronic parking brake with hold feature.
As before all engines are four-cylinder and three are available. This standard, direct-injected 2.4-liter I4 rates 185-horsepower and 178 lb-ft. of torque. Peak power is actually down a little from last year in an attempt to make things more responsive. But, we found it a bit weak and noisy. A 1.6-liter turbo Eco model is new, but only recommended if fuel economy is your number-one priority. The 245-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo looks like the best choice for ample off-the line torque.
We didn’t find that in the 2.4. Getting to 60 took us a lackluster 9.3-seconds. Well off the previous car. You do start to feel some hint of power mid-range, but slow shifts from the 6-speed automatic keep the fun factor just barely above zero. Running out the ¼-mile took 17.2-seconds at 83 miles-per-hour.
Things improved somewhat through our handling course. Understeer is certainly there, but it doesn’t bombard you. Steering is quick, but the feel is artificially heavy and disconnected. Much, much better was braking performance, with solid stops from 60 that averaged just 117-feet.
This is, first and foremost, a family sedan of course, so while it’s doubtful that track performance will be high on any family’s priority list, exterior design will certainly play a much larger roll.
The fluidic sculpture 2.0 styling theme tries just as hard as the previous generation to make a statement, but we’re not sure the results are nearly as successful. Though the look, complete with LED daytime running lights and dual exhaust is now undoubtedly classier, like its better rivals. The rear appears wider and taller, with high mounted LED tail lights pointing in towards the center.
So while exterior beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, from the driver’s seat we all agree that Hyundai has certainly come a long way in chassis and suspension refinement. Ride is both solid and smooth. We also appreciated the lack of CVT transmission and found the 6-speed manual-mode automatic to work very well in daily driving.
It proved quite efficient for a larger sedan as well, with Government Fuel Economy Ratings of 25-City, 37-Highway, and 29-Combined, which we matched almost perfectly with a 29.2 miles-per-gallon loop on Regular. The Energy Impact Score is also respectable with 11.4-barrels of oil burned annually and 5.1-tons of CO2 emitted.
One thing that has not changed is Hyundai value with Sonata’s base pricing of just $21,960. Limited trim will cost you a fair bit more, but is still a bargain at $27,335. And of course Hyundai’s America’s Best Warranty is still in effect.
There is nothing that feels cheap about the 2015 Hyundai Sonata, particularly in upscale Limited guise, as it fully showcases the brand in their growth from low price alternative to mainstream staple. 7-generations is certainly proof that this car is more contender than pretender, and carmakers will be trying to out-do this high value nameplate for a years to come.
- Engine: 2.4-liter
- Horsepower: 185
- Torque: 178 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 9.3 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 17.2 seconds @ 83 mph
- EPA: 25 mpg city/ 37 mpg highway
- Energy Impact: 11.4 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 5.1 tons/yr
2023 BMW X7
Should Keep The BMW Faithful Coming Back For More
While BMW got serious about their SUV game around the same time as most other luxury brands, it took them until just a few years ago to deliver a 3-row example. This year, that X7 is updated with new style and new tech. So, let’s see if that makes it the ultimate premium 3-row family machine.
When it comes to utility vehicles, bigger seems to be better for a lot of people. So, for BMW, there’s none bigger or better than the X7 3-row utility, which for 2023 gets a comprehensive update after just 4-years on the market. That includes a facelift to bring it more in line with the new 7-series carline, which is to say joins the more vertical, aggressive grille party. Also, the actual headlights have been moved lower in the front fascia, with squinty DRLs above for the first time on a BMW. In back, taillights take on a 3D posture, with a new chrome bar connecting them.
There are also multiple new M Sport packages to choose from to spice up the exterior, with larger air intakes up front, high-gloss black trim, upgraded exhaust, cascade grille lighting, and 22-inch wheels, as well as M Sport brakes…
…and the interior too, with aluminum trim and exclusive steering wheel. But, by far the biggest change inside for ‘23 is a new dashtop curved display that eliminates the typical BMW well-hooded gauge pod and blends 12-inch Live Cockpit Pro into the 15-inch infotainment touchscreen, which now features iDrive8. Both a Head-Up Display and a large panoramic sunroof are standard.
Whether set up for 2 or 3 passengers, 2nd row seat room remains plentiful, and though the X7 doesn’t look ungainly large like many of its competitors, access to the 3rd row is quite good. Cargo space is reached through a fairly unique, Range Rover-style, split tailgate, which is quite oddly satisfying to watch unfold. There’s room for 48.6 cubic-ft. of goods behind the 2nd row, with a max of 90.4 cu.-ft.
The base xDrive40i has always been the sensible choice, even more so now with a new inline-6 turbo getting a significant bump in horsepower from 335 to 375, and a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that results in a total of 398 lb-ft. of torque.
At our Mason Dixon test track, there was enough to blast this big beast to 60 in just 5.4-seconds. That’s only about half a second slower than the V8 did the deed back in 2019. Making that optional 523-horsepower V8 simply overkill at this point. Our best ¼-mile pass was 13.9-seconds at 100 miles-per-hour. All X7s get a quick shifting sport-tuned 8-speed automatic transmission, which adds a new Sprint Function that finds the lowest usable gear instantly and maxes electric boost with a hold of the left shift paddle. What fun!
New looks and updated tech are cool, but BMW has also addressed dynamics as well, with a retuning of all chassis systems, including the optional Dynamic Handling Package which adds adaptive suspension with roll stabilization and uses GPS and camera data to prepare for what’s coming. We’re not sure if our slalom course was anticipated, but the X7 sure felt well-equipped to handle it. All-wheel drive is standard on all X7s, along with comprehensive drive modes.
In our braking runs, the pads bit down hard quickly, stopping us from 60 in just 115-feet with very little nosedive.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the 6-cylinder are 21-City, 25-Highway, and 22-Combined. We averaged just 21.0 miles-per-gallon on Premium.
There’s an average Energy Impact Score; 13.5-barrels of oil yearly, with CO2 emissions of 6.5-tons.
Pricing starts at $78,845, and it’s a significant step up from there to $104,095 if you want the V8. Even more reason to stick with the 6-cylinder as far as we’re concerned.
It took the ultimate driving machine folks quite a bit of time to enter the 3-row family crossover segment, but when they did, they were able to create their largest utility ever and keep it consistent with their values. For 2023, the BMW X7 gets even more dynamic, embraces new tech, and looks better too. All things that should keep the BMW faithful coming back for more.
- Engine: I-6
- Horsepower: 375
- 0-60 mph: 5.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 115 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 21.0 MPG
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 398 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 13.9-seconds at 100 mph
- EPA: 21 City / 25 Highway / 22 Combined