Redesigned for 2015, the Hyundai Sonata is a popular midsize sedan that offers loads of features for a good price. The redesign alone is good enough reason to take one for a spin and see what’s what, but for 2015 Hyundai also integrated Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s Car Play into their infotainment system. The Google Android Auto is live, so we plugged in our phone and took it for a spin.
(Full Disclosure: Hyundai delivered this car with a full tank of gas to my driveway to review during a blue moon. I tried my best to think of blue moon metaphors for this review, but I can’t. Fail.)
But before getting to the Android Auto, let’s talk about the rest of the car itself.
The Sonata is a popular midsize car from the Korean automaker, and popular amongst all age groups. The last-generation of the car grew leaps and bounds in terms of market share and sales, so the new car has a lot to live up to. While there are a load of different trim options available, ours was a modestly-equipped Sport version. Of course, with Hyundai these days, modestly-equipped means you get a whole lot of stuff.
Powering our Sonata was a 2.4L GDI four-cylinder engine making 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent through the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Both of those facts don’t sound that interesting on paper, but in practice they work pretty well. There is a drive mode selector that lets you choose from Eco, Normal, and Sport modes, though I couldn’t tell a huge difference between them. Well, I take that back, the steering wheel gets really heavy and kind of annoying in Sport mode.
The only complaint I really have about the transmission and engine combination is that the transmission is definitely programmed for fuel economy. Sometimes it’ll shift so early in the rev range that it feels like the engine is actually bogging down. If there’s a reason to run in the sport setting, that would be it.
However, 185 horsepower is really more than enough for a midsize car. Sure, the competition has high-end horsepower models making up to 300hp, but for sitting in traffic it’s not really useful. There’s plenty of power on tap to overtake a slow car, and you don’t feel like you’re going to die when merging onto the freeway.
Spectacular? No. But it is very comforting and reassuring when driving.
That’s actually how the entire car feels. The interior is nicely done with soft-touch materials all over. The controls are easy to use, including the navigation system with loads of entertainment options. The buttons all feel nice to press. It’s just a nice place to be.
With the interior, there are a few quibbles that you’d get over after a few weeks ownership. One, the buttons to control the panel between the speedometer and the odometer are on the right side of the steering wheel, while the buttons to control the stereo are on the left. That feels opposite since the screen is on the left and the stereo on the right.
Also, and I ran into this quite a bit, I kept grabbing the much larger temperature knob for the climate control when I wanted to grab the stereo volume control knob. I know I’m nitpicking here, but the rest of the car was pretty spot-on so I had to find something annoying.
For $27,560, including destination, the car was pretty well-equipped. I had blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. I had a backup camera. I had dual-zone automatic climate control. I had satellite navigation, leather bolstered seats, and a premium stereo.
I also had loads of space for passengers and a comfortable ride and handling. It’s no Lexus, but it’s a pretty nice place to be.
Android Auto Review
Additionally, I had Android Auto. In addition to the factory infotainment system, which is pretty good, I could plug my Android phone into the car via USB and be able to access Google Maps, my Google Now screen, and special apps through the touch screen on the phone.
In theory, all I have to do is plug my phone in, and it’ll automatically turn my Bluetooth on and pair it with the car, download the required Android Auto apps, and make all the necessary connections.
In practice with my Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge I had to unplug and plug it back in in order for it to see the connection. I occasionally had to do that after plugging the phone back into the car. I tried with a friend’s LG G4, and it took quite a few tries to get the car to detect the phone and the phone make the necessary connection and download the correct software.
Once connected, the system works pretty well, though sometimes loading a menu for the first time is a little slow. Google Maps works exactly as it does on the phone, and is definitely the preferred method of navigation. The only downside to Google Maps is the directions don’t appear on the redundant display in the instrument cluster like the stock Hyundai navigation does.
Full Google voice commands are available, including Google Search. Just press and hold the voice command button for two seconds and you can send messages, get your next calendar appointment, or find out what the capacity of Ohio Stadium is (great for settling car debates).
If your music or podcast app supports Android Auto (Google Music does, as does Pocket Casts), you can listen to that media through the car’s infotainment system.
Since I spend most of my driving time listening to podcasts, it was great to see Pocket Casts choosing to support Android Auto. Doubly cool is that even if I went back to the Hyundai home screen (or use the Hyundai navigation system), I could still see and listen to the podcast that is playing on the home screen. It’s a nice integration.
Downsides? If you have your phone plugged into the USB, you have to use Google for voice commands, even if you are using none of the Android Auto features. That’s a bit annoying when you want to use voice to control the Hyundai infotainment system or adjust the climate control. Also, the initial setup bugs might dissuade a novice from wanting to use it.
Hyundai seems pretty confident in their support for Android Auto, and I expect to see updates to address the issues I’ve seen. Plus, Google also will update the Android Auto app regularly.
2015 Hyundai Sonata Final Verdict
Overall, I had a good time in the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport. The car has decent power, and good fuel economy (24 city/28 combined/35 highway). For the price, it’s hard to beat. While it might not be my favorite car in this segment, it’s definitely one I’d look at if I were in the market for a new midsize sedan, along with the Ford Fusion and the Chrysler 200.
As I mentioned earlier though the Sonata just feels right when you’re in it. It’s like a familiar jacket or your lucky baseball mitt. Additionally, it has little features that surprise you and gives you almost everything you want for well under the $30,000 price point. Not bad, Hyundai. Not bad at all.
- Great value.
- Support for Android Auto and Car Play.
- Decent fuel economy.
- Android Auto a little buggy at times still.
- No HID headlight option on any trim.