Hyundai timed that well. About an hour after the 2015 Toyota Camry reveal showed us how "fun" that car is trying to be, there was the 2015 Hyundai Sonata across the way. It doesn't look like it's trying too hard, but it doesn't have to.
Hyundai hit its stride with the 2011 Sonata, daring to put a four-door "coupe" look on with more curves than Rainbow Road. Even in its dying days, it's still one of the best-selling midsize sedans.
The 2015 Sonata isn't a clean-sheet design by any means. That was demonstrated most by the words used by Hyundai execs this morning at its unveil. Taut, robust, refined, sharp. The company has discovered details, because the whole design looks intentional and less cartoonish than the old car. It looks a little like a 2015 Genesis, but a lot like an Audi A4. Which I guess is a long way of saying it looks like a knock-off Audi.
The Sport model is the most striking, obviously because the one here was painted orange. But it ditches most of the chrome for nice matte black trim on the grille. It's different and a gamble, but it looks great. Amazingly, Hyundai expects it to be the biggest seller.
Two issues: the wheels even on the orange Sport looked too small and the little spoiler on the back looked a bit like an afterthought.
Engines stay the same now. All trims – SE, Limited and Sport – get a standard 2.4-liter four with 185 horses. Sport 2.0T is the only way to (direct) inject some excitement with the 2.0-liter turbo four with 245 horsepower, quite a ways down from the 274 horsepower you used to get from that engine. Blame the quest for refinement. A six-speed auto is the only transmission.
The interior looks like an Audi, too. Unfortunately, it doesn't feel that way. It's not badly assembled or anything, and the detailing like the piping on the leather seats and the stitching on the Sport 2.0T class up the place a lot. But the materials felt decidedly average, even for the class. I just expected more.
That's unlikely to be a deal killer, especially because of the room inside. It's easier to get in now, even with the sloping roof. Rear legroom has to be up there with the biggest midsize sedans. Actually, the 2015 Sonata isn't midsize at all. Hyundai says the EPA classifies it as a large car now. Maybe that's why Hyundai's so proud of it's "segment-exclusive side window shades."
More interesting is the Apple CarPlay coming later this year. Hyundai's also getting with the safety program and offering blind spot, lane departure, forward collision and rear cross-path warning systems.
It's all going to come down to how the 2015 Sonata drives, though. Hyundai says they've redone the steering and suspension, old weak points, and it's way quieter than before.
So, quiet, comfortable, big and grown-up looking. Hyundai ripped off ideas from the Camry playbook Toyota threw out. And it looks like things will go well for them when the 2015 Sonata goes on sale this summer.
Photos: Brian Williams