It’s interesting to look back at the evolution of the Hyundai Sonata. In the model years leading up to 2010, it was a very functional, but ordinary-looking midsized sedan. It received high marks for value and was making noise in the industry with its refined interior, but the exterior design was lackluster.

That changed with the 2010 model and the debut of Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture design language. With its nature-inspired curvy, flowing lines, the design was bold and unlike anything in what has historically been the least daring segment of the market: the sedan. Hyundai also broke new ground by abandoning the six-cylinder engine option in the Sonata that year, opting to engineer more power into lighter, more fuel-efficient fours.

2014 saw the launching of Fluidic Sculpture 2.0. The Sonata became sleeker and more refined with a greater focus on details and driver experience.

The 2018 Sonata marks the next step in its evolutionary process. The entire front end (hood, grille, headlights, bumper and corner vents) has been redesigned, as has the rear portion of the car. The result is a more aggressive design with a level of sophistication that rivals the leading Japanese luxury brands.

Another upgrade in the 2018 model is the suspension. Hyundai has stiffened things up in the front and rear and employed an advanced bushing system to improve handling, ride quality and steering responsiveness.

The Sonata I tested was equipped with the standard 2.4-liter motor. I found it more than powerful enough to quickly accelerate up to freeway speeds or safely hustle past an 18-wheeler to make a pass. The 185-horsepower four-cylinder engine is paired with a silky-smooth six-speed automatic transmission.

The Sonata is also available with either a gas-stingy 1.6-liter or a high-performance turbocharged 2.0 that puts out an impressive 245 horsepower.

The comfortable, spacious and smartly designed interior of the 2018 Sonata Limited belies its modest sticker price.

The wide layout of the center stack allows the buttons to be large and clearly marked and the infotainment and climate controls are logically grouped into distinct areas.

Heated and ventilated leather seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a power sunroof are all standard on the Limited model, as are rearview camera, blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert.

The car I tested also included the $2,900 Ultimate Package, which adds about every safety and technological feature in the industry, including smart cruise control, lane keep assist, wireless device charging, navigation and a sweet-sounding Infinity premium audio system.

Over the last decade, the Sonata has evolved from modest, value-oriented, basic transportation to a full-featured midsized sedan that rivals the best in the category. The 2018 edition boasts a beautifully designed exterior, a spacious and refined cabin, a full complement of safety and tech features, extraordinary fuel economy and a remarkably low sticker price.

Evolution. It’s a beautiful thing. 

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