Toyota Camry 2018 review
Toyota has taken the bull by the horns when it comes to replacing the Camry, choosing to import a highly specced – and, dare we say it – good looking replacement from Japan.
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Hyundai's Sonata is part of that fading market segment - the medium family car. If you're not the Toyota Camry, your sales are in the hundreds per year (the hitherto Australian-built Camry slaughters all-comers), with the Sonata clocking up around 800 so far in 2017.
Hyundai sticks with this car, like David sticking with throwing stones at Goliath, to ensure that it has a vehicle in its dealerships to suit buyers in every segment.
The Sonata was relaunched here a few years ago as a far better car than any of its previous namesakes. In fact, my family had one for a year as a long-termer and we really quite liked it. Big and capable, it was only missing the design flair that following Hyundais inherited.
|Hyundai Sonata 2018: Active|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
Hyundai has given the Sonata a good old fashioned facelift, with a new front and rear end to liven things up a bit. The old car was sleek but not at all sporty, so the new look is designed to match the dynamism that is steadily creeping into the Hyundai line-up. The big new grille, angrier headlights and kicked up bootlid with new taillights combine to make the Sonata look sportier, saucier and, oddly enough, shorter.
The grille is different between the entry-level Active and top-spec Premium, with the latter scoring a more interesting 3D look, while our Active made do with a slightly more conventional one. The effect is a bit trout-lippy, but it grew on me.
The cabin didn't need much work, with just a few materials swapped out and made to look and feel a bit more upmarket. The dash is a very conventional design - clean and clear with big dials and a small digital screen for extra information. The general fit and finish is good and my newly re-discovered fandom of cloth trim was given a boost by a rather fetching textured interior.
The Sonata is one of the roomiest cars I've ever been in, save for properly big cars like the Audi A8 or BMW 7 Series. Rear-seat passengers cheerfully loll about with tonnes of leg and headroom. The bench seat is comfortably padded and it's probably the best spot in the house for long journeys. If you were a ride-sharing driver who specialised in basketballer transport, this would be the car for you.
Storage isn't bad either, with four cupholders, pockets and slots scattered about and a bottle holder in each door. The boot is a solid 510 litres - drop the 60/40 split-fold rears and you'll have a seriously large load area.
As before, the Active opens the range, now priced at $30,990, a rise of $400 over the MY17. Hyundai reckons there is an extra two grand of included gear, though, so let's have a look.
Standard are 17-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control (new), 8.0-inch media screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (new), leather steering wheel, cloth trim, reversing sensors, full-size alloy spare wheel, auto headlights and wipers, six speaker stereo, sat nav, keyless entry (new) and start, front and rear parking sensors and cruise control.
Yes, that is a reasonable amount of new stuff for your money.
The Active soldiers on with Hyundai's 2.4-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder, which is good for a reasonable 138kW and 241Nm. The front wheels are driven by the same six-speed auto as before, pushing the Active's 1587kg kerb weight along at a reasonable clip.
Towing capacity is rated at 1300kg braked and 400kg unbraked.
Hyundai claims 8.3L/100km on the combined cycle for the Active. I've always found Hyundai figures unusually accurate and we got 8.7L/100km in the week we had it. There is no stop-start trickery to reduce consumption, which explains the baseline figure. It's worth noting that the Sonata makes do quite happily on standard 91 RON fuel, which is a good saving.
Hyundai's Australian suspension tuning team gave the Sonata the once over first time around, so the tune hasn't changed for the facelift. That means a plush, easygoing ride that dismisses potholes and speed bumps the way polite company ignores something in your teeth.
It's an effortless thing to drive around in, with smart response from the gearbox and engine when you want a bit of go, yet both are completely unobtrusive otherwise. Passengers will enjoy that ride and while the handling is pretty tidy, it's not going to excite the keen driver. The turbo-engined car is the one to go for if you're a fan of chirping front wheels and powerful overtaking urge.
City driving is as serene as highway running, with little in the way of any wind noise. The engine is a distant drone, easily overcome with the stereo.
The only quirks are the slightly grabby brakes (which require some getting used to), the halogen headlights are still a bit ordinary and the steering is still absurdly light, but that's about it.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The little ones are looked after with three top-tether anchors and two ISOFIX points.
Irritatingly, the rather more expensive Premium is fitted with blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, reverse cross traffic alert and active cruise, none of which is even optional on the Active. And none of them have AEB, because the South Korean factory doesn't fit it, although the US factory does.
The Sonata is covered by Hyundai's impressive five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty with 12 months of roadside assist. The Active requires a trip to the dealer every 12 months or 15,000km (the turbo Premium needs a visit every 10,000km).
Hyundai also offers lifetime capped-price servicing. For the first five years, you'll pay $1425 all up - four of the five services are $265 each while the third service jumps to $365.
The Sonata's new look is unlikely to send it rocketing up the sales charts, but that's not what it's all about here in Australia. Having said that, it comes with some useful improvements, especially in Active trim, with a few spec additions that make the Premium's almost 50 percent... er... premium on price look a bit stiff.
|Active||2.4L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$16,900 – 23,540||2018 Hyundai Sonata 2018 Active Pricing and Specs|
|Premium||2.0L, ULP, 8 SP AUTO||$26,800 – 35,530||2018 Hyundai Sonata 2018 Premium Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||7|