ANN ARBOR, MI — (WWJ) Hyundai hopes that a more refined look, and new technology will help its Sonata mid-size car, as it competes with industry leaders like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion and Nissan Altima.
“The new Sonata’s all about refinement and modern premium,” said Mike O’Brien, Hyundai Vice President, Corporate and Product Planning. “The whole engineering and design goal was to elevate the car, and have it present a better value proposition to our customers.”
As the 2015 Sonata starts to arrive in dealerships, Hyundai showed the vehicle to journalists at an event at its technical center just outside Ann Arbor, Michigan. The vehicle has a different look, a smoother ride and features upgraded safety and connectivity technology.
It’s also, says O’Brien, the first mainstream vehicle to include Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
“Those two platforms allow the car to interface with the phone in a way never seen before,” he said. “It makes it much more intuitive.”
Unlike Ford’s Sync or Cadillac’s Cue, the Apple and Google systems are designed by the companies that manufactured the phone, and are meant to use apps that are on the phone, not on the car. For example, the phone’s navigation system would become the navigation system that appears on the cars screen.
The two systems also allow customers to use voice commands to send and receive text messages.
The upgrades of the Sonata come as Hyundai is expanding into a full line car maker, as opposed to a company that sells strictly on price.
“Income levels of our buyers are increasing dramatically,” said O’Brien. “Level of upper education is increasing dramatically.”
Hyundai’s redone Genesis sport sedan, in particular, has brought in more buyers from premium brands, says O’Brien.
The Sonata shares many styling cues with the Genesis, and moves away from the more extreme styling of its predecessor.
“We sort of had to stand up on top of the table, beat our chest and say, ‘hey look at us,” said Hyundai North America CEO David Zuchowski
Now, as Hyundai’s target audience has changed, Zuchowski says they can adopt a styling that attracts a wider customer base.
“It’s a much more beautiful, elegant and refined styling.”
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