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The 2018 Hyundai Sonata Struggled With Reliability

Safe, economical, and fuel-efficient: the 2018 Hyundai Sonata seems like it would be a smart choice for a family sedan. The Sonata also makes a respectable showing among other popular midsize sedans such as the Mazda6, the Toyota Camry, and the Honda Accord.

But Consumer Reports warns that it falls short on reliability. Let’s take a look at why the 2018 Sonata isn’t as dependable as it should be.

A poor reliability rating for the Hyundai Sonata

Hyundai refreshed the Sonata for the 2018 model year, updating its front end with a new mesh grille, sporty-looking headlights, fancier front air ducts, and other cosmetic changes. The automaker also revamped its suspension. These enhancements made the Sonata more attractive and easy to maneuver, but they did nothing for the car’s reliability.

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata rated an abysmal one out of five in Consumer Reports’ reliability surveys. This is a drop from the 2017 model year’s three out of five. And although CR testers liked its roomy cabin, peppy engine, and snappy handling, they weren’t sold on its dependability.

As a result, the Hyundai Sonata ranked fifth out of the six 2018 sedans that CR rated, with only the Chevrolet Malibu ranking lower. The other sedans in this segment that scored better than the Sonata, from best to worst, were the Mazda6, the Kia Optima, the Ford Fusion, and the Honda Accord. Consumer Reports based the rankings on whether the model had more or fewer problems than the average model of that year by incorporating data on trouble spots reported by owners.

The Sonata’s most common trouble spots

Consumer Reports gave the 2018 Hyundai Sonata the lowest rating for its overall reliability verdict. This rating shows how the car performed in past model years, laying the groundwork for predicting how it will do in the coming year. The information CR uses to establish reliability verdicts come from its subscribers’ surveys.

Minor transmission problems were troublesome for the Sonata’s reliability. CR rated this trouble spot a three out of five. These could be problems with the gear selector or linkage, transmission sensor, clutch misalignment, slipping transmission, or rough shifting. We suspect that the last problem on the list caused at least part of the car’s reliability issues because CarComplaints.com identified hard shifting as the 2018 Sonata’s second-worst problem.

Another trouble spot was the electric system, which CR also rated a three out of five. Problems in this system could affect the alternator, starter, coil, spark plug and wires, regular battery, battery cables, hybrid battery and related systems, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor. Again, this is consistent with the Sonata’s third-worst problem according to Car Complaints: its cruise control failed to operate properly.

Less severe trouble spots that rated a four out of five included issues related to in-car electronics, power equipment, and drivetrain components.

Are the 2019 and 2020 Hyundai Sonata models more reliable?

It’s too bad that Hyundai didn’t refresh the 2018 Sonata’s reliability along with the rest of the updates. But the 2019 and 2020 model years show some improvement, according to Consumer Reports.

The 2019 Sonata earned an overall reliability score is three out of five. The overall reliability verdict for it fell exactly in between worse and better than the average model.

It still scored in second-to-last place in the model comparison for reliability with the Honda Accord dead last. But it did receive a score of 55 out of 100 for this model year as compared to 19 for the previous year’s model. CR also has officially recommended the 2019 Sonata, which had an overall score of 70. 

The newly redesigned 2020 Sonata is still in testing at Consumer Reports. Its predicted reliability is three out of five.

A recent model Hyundai Sonata is still a good choice among the variety of midsize sedans out there. If you stay clear of the 2018 model year and its reliability issues, you should do well with either the 2019 or 2020 versions.