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So long, Sonata: Infinity audio sends 2014 Hyundai Sonata out on high note

Sections: Car Audio, Infotainment

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The head unit in the 2014 Hyundai Sonata had an array of buttons below its eight-inch touchscreen that were easy to use and pleasing to look at, too, thanks to this blue illumination. (Lyndon Johnson photo)

In a previous story, I sort of lamented the fact that we got a 2014 Hyundai Sonata to test just as the 2015 was making a big splash with its sexy new design. However, at least the optional Infinity audio system equipped on our Sonata sends that generation of the car out on a high note.

The Infinity setup is optional in Limited trim 2014 Hyundai Sonatas like our tester and gets nine speakers — two in the front doors, two tweeters, and four rear speakers, plus the subwoofer. It’s all powered by a 400-watt external amplifier. Tying it all together is an eight-inch color touchscreen atop the center stack.

Aesthetically, it’s a pleasing unit to look at. The 2014 Hyundai Sonata does as many modern-day Hyundais do, illuminating all of the head unit’s physical buttons in blue text and iconography. That big touchscreen, meanwhile, is easy to see in all kinds of ambient lighting conditions and remains generally legible even after my grubby, ink-stained paws have had their way with it. Unlike some touchscreens I’ve experienced, “phantom” touches weren’t a part of my daily routine, and on-screen icons generally recognized when I tapped them.

But all that’s minor compared to the sound quality of the Infinity speaker setup. As I’ve said of previous Hyundais, the Koreans here are doing their best impersonation of Lexus. Few Lexus models have window-quivering bass response or ear-splitting high-frequency delivery, but ol’ Mark Levinson knows how to make a package that sounds as good at a whispering volume as it does at a fully-amplified roar. The Infinity speakers similarly wouldn’t make the hairs on your neck stand up when cranked, but sounded remarkably clean whether the volume was set just above zero or at their full volume.

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The touchscreen atop the 2014 Hyundai Sonata LImited’s center stack was easy to read and use, even in unfavorable ambient lighting conditions seen here. (Lyndon Johnson photo)

Perhaps it’s just that both Infinity and Mark Levinson engineers know what live concert sound guys know: It’s far better to have more speaker than you have power, than to have more power than you have speaker. While I don’t know whether the speakers in the 2014 Hyundai Sonata Limited’s Infinity sound setup are officially rated to handle more power than the 400 watts listed by Hyundai, I would be willing to bet they could — officially or not — handle more juice. But only if you’re willing to degrade sound quality and shorten speaker life.

Myself? I’d leave it stock.

Disclosure: Hyundai provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.

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