On paper, the latest Hyundai Sonata has been a winner. The sedan sold 216,936 units in 2014, around 13,000 more than the previous year, and the new model posted healthy year-over-year gains in both December and November. However, according to a report from Wards Auto, the Korean brand isn’t happy with how the vehicle is doing and is planning a redesign, to be timed with the future refresh.
Unveiled at the 2014 New York Auto Show, the latest Sonata has a more refined, almost luxurious air about it, and the sedan ditches the swooping styling from the previous generation. It also comes at a slightly lower base price. But the more mature design is also the problem. Hyundai Motor America CEO Dave Zuchowski told Wards during the 2015 Detroit Auto Show that the new model was “not as distinctive” as its predecessor. Previously, “people would seek us out because we look different. And we don’t get that now,” he said. While no details on the redesign were divulged, Zuchowski said the company was already at work on the shape. He suggested the changes would debut for the Sonata’s refresh, likely in the 2017 or 2018 model years.
Autoblog reached out to Hyundai about the possible design change and spokesperson Derek Joyce told us, “Dave was simply referring to our normal mid-cycle refresh where it’s typical to make styling tweaks.”
According to Wards, the latest Sonata isn’t conquesting as many buyers from other brands as Hyundai would like. The company reportedly raised incentives to get them to move. So while sales were up, the automaker was disappointed.
AutoTrader senior analyst Michelle Krebs confirmed to Autoblog that incentives were high for the Sonata, but that had nothing to do with its design. “The midsize car segment has fallen out of favor with buyers who want utilities so they are carrying very heavy incentives. We expect that trend to continue and then some in 2015,” she said.
A previous report also claimed that the 2015 Sonata wasn’t living up to sales expectations in part due to its more traditional styling. But the company shot down those claims because the sedan was still rolling out the entire range to dealers at the time. Even now, Hyundai is still adding the Sonata Hybrid and Plug-In to the lineup in the coming year.