Acres of space, leather, and hard plastics. The Sonata's interiors need a facelift in the light of the competition.
The dashboard layout is extremely functional and well laid-out but has nothing special. The lower dash plastics are too hard for a car that costs as much as it does, but they’ll last through rough use. All controls are easily accessible, the front seats have good storage space, and visibility is good. We would like real chrome door handles and not silver-painted plastic ones – they make the car feel cheaper than it really is. The doors shut with a reassuring, solid 'thunk', but that’s when you encounter the flimsy headlamp stalks that lack the necessary weighted feel. The gear lever feels cheap too – almost like an i10’s!
All the instruments are clear, legible and easy to read, with the exception of the red needles, which are too bright when lit up. The trip computer is very useful and the air-con couldn’t be set to a comfortable temperature, it was either too hot or too cold. The dash clock is too low, you have to take your eyes off the road to look at the time.
There are more than enough cubbyholes for the front seats. The driver’s seat is electrically adjusted but the front passenger seat doesn’t – it should have it as well. The passenger does get a retractable bag hook that can carry up to 3kg, which is perfect for the ladies. The electrically-folding mirrors are a boon, as is the dead pedal. We like the door pockets, although they can be too narrow for large hands if something small falls in. There aren’t any door pockets in the rear, and there isn’t a power outlet for the rear seat passenger, either – they’ve given the user a power outlet in the boot! The rear passengers are mollified by a remote control for the audio system. The rear seat can also split 60:40, which makes carrying long objects so much easier.
An almost-perfect driving position is attainable within minutes of getting in and playing around with the seat and steering wheel adjustments. The adjustable seat base inclination helps under-thigh support, and the adjustable front passenger headrests are a thoughtful touch. The big, lovely wing mirrors show everything you could possibly want to see behind you. The steering wheel could have telescoped a little more for tall drivers. The good visibility and lots of adjustability makes life easy for the occupants, especially the driver.
The cabin has fantastic legroom, headroom and shoulder room. It is one of the most comfortable cars for five people. The front seats have no negatives, but the rear seat doesn’t have enough lower back support for tall passengers, which can become uncomfortable over long journeys. The rear armrest is at the right height, and the seat-belt height adjusters are a thoughtful addition.
The Sonata has a 6-CD changer, cassette player and AM/FM tuner that does not play mp3 discs. It lacks an aux in and USB port as well. The bass distorts at high volumes, but the system has really good punch at lower volumes.