We know sedans are a shrinking market, but don’t tell that to Hyundai. Even as Americans increasingly move from sedans to SUVs, the automaker is designing its best sedans yet. Case in point, the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Packed with technology and topped with a solar roof, it’s an impressive redesign that further elevates Hyundai’s sedan game.
My review vehicle, the top of the line Sonata Limited Hybrid, slots above the Hybrid lineup’s BLUE and SEL trims. One of its stand out features is its new for 2020 solar roof, standard on the Limited trim. Solar roofs are still rare on vehicles these days -- and my hats off to Hyundai for this accomplishment. Hyundai says its two panels produce 205W of electricity and increase mileage about 2 miles a day -- which adds up to more than 700 miles a year. It also helps recharge the battery and prevent battery discharge when the car is off.
The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid delivers plenty of acceleration for a sedan its size - delivering 192-horses, which is slightly more powerful than both engines offered in the gas version (191hp/180hp). Its Smartstream hybrid engine pairs a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder to an electric motor. It’s mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, and while Hyundai says new technology delivers quicker and smoother shifting, I preferred the gas model’s 8-speed.
The 8th-generation Sonata is built on a new platform which Hyundai says improves performance, design, safety and efficiency. It’s also one inch lower to the ground and overall more aerodynamic than the outgoing model. Its coupe-like sporty fastback design looks upscale and features a lot of unique design elements. Exterior-wise the hybrid gets a unique redesigned cascading grille and the Limited rides on 17-inch wheels. It also features LED matrix-type headlights and a chrome strip with graduated LED Daytime Running Lights that appear to be chrome when switched off and become dramatically lit when turned on. In the back, you’ll see a continuous LED tail light bar stretched across the back as well as a redesigned spoiler. Another unexpected feature are the aero fins placed atop both tail lights. And that solar roof on top? It’s 28 pounds lighter than a panoramic sunroof.
Hyundai’s done a fantastic job on the interior. Soft touch materials abound and include a wrap-around leatherette dash, and soft touch door panels as well as leather seating. The front seats, which are heated and cooled in the Limited model, are designed well and very comfortable. The driver’s seat is 8-way power adjustable, the passenger’s is 4-way. I also like the longer seat cushions. The Limited offers a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel. The entire interior is well designed and the glossy black center console sports a large push button gear shifter as well as the drive mode selector and buttons for the available parking sensors, surround view camera and standard brake hold. You’ll also find 2 USBs, a 12-volt and wireless charger up front on the Limited trim. The center console bin is cavernous.
Technology shines in the Sonata Hybrid. I’m talking about the tech-forward 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, the available high resolution 10.25-inch multimedia touchscreen, all the driver assist technology and the new 12-speaker Bose sound system which delivers exceptional sound quality.
The bright and colorful digital gauge cluster offers great, easy to read information and graphics. It really lights up when you change driver modes. It also displays the really cool available blind spot view monitor in the digital display. The 10.25-inch multimedia touchscreen is outstanding both in its quick responsiveness and graphics quality. It can be displayed as a split screen. The system also houses a high resolution backup camera with gridlines when called upon to do so and the Limited also comes with a surround view camera.
Hyundai’s voice recognition system is excellent and probably the best I’ve experienced. Whether it’s changing the radio station or asking it to route a location, it’s very easy to use, intuitive and I was very impressed with its ability to accurately understand and respond to commands. Route navigation is also amazing with exceptional graphics quality.
Another unique feature is Sounds of Nature. You can pipe in certain sounds in the cabin, ranging from beach waves, a rainy day and lively forest to a wintry day and even an outdoor cafe.
It’s very roomy in the Sonata in terms of head- and legroom in both rows. The back row comes with sunshades, its own AC vent, a USB port and dropdown console with cup holders. The rear seats fold down in a 60/40 split. Cargo space increases in the new Sonata hybrid since Hyundai moved the battery more towards the center of the vehicle. So you’ll get the same amount of cargo space as in the gas-only model. The Limited comes with remote trunk release. Ride and Drive Like the gas-version, the Sonata Hybrid delivers a pleasant smooth ride on the highway or city streets with nice acceleration in all situations. Overall the cabin is quiet though I did notice more wind noise at highway speeds than I expected. More a touring than sports sedan, the Sonata’s easy to drive handling and turning radius is on the looser side.
The Sonata Hybrid Limited delivers 47 miles combined fuel economy. The most fuel efficient trim is the base BLUE trim which achieves an EPA estimated 52 mpg combined fuel economy rating and 686 miles of driving range.
Other standard or available features include an electric parking brake, and ambient lighting along with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Text-to-Speech via Bluetooth. Hyundai also offers an optional smartphone-based digital key that allows you to unlock, lock and drive without a physical key.
One of the coolest non-driver assist safety features on the Sonata is the automatic shutoff function. It’s designed to automatically turn the vehicle off if it sits idling too long.
Hyundai’s latest SmartSense advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) includes:
- Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (standard)
- Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (standard)
- Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (standard)
- Lane Keeping Assist (standard)
- Advanced Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go (standard)
The Limited is also equipped with Highway Driver Assist, Blind Spot View Monitor and a Color Head-Up Display.
Hyundai did an excellent job with the Sonata’s redesign and the hybrid model really shines with all its features including its solar roof. For around $35,000 I think it’s an incredible value for the great ride and drive you get, plus the tech and safety features, not to mention its great fuel economy made even better by its solar roof. It’s a standout four-door sedan in its class.
2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
- What I liked most: Interior, navigation, solar roof, Bose system, smooth ride and drive.
- What I would change:
- MSRP: None given on Press Vehicle Monroney. Limited starts from $35,300 according to Hyundai’s pricing guide on its media site, not including handling and destination.
- Fuel Economy: 45 city/ 51highway/47 combined.
- Official Color: Hampton Gray
- Odometer reading when tested: 5,417 miles.
- Weight: 3,505 – 3,530 lbs.
- Spare Tire: Temporary spare.
- Length-Width-Height: 192.9” long/73.2” wide w/o mirrors/56.9” high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 12.3 gallons.
- Towing Capacity: N/A
- 2020 Hyundai Sonata in a few words: An impressive redesigned sedan that shines when it comes to its interior, technology and safety.
- Final Assembly Location: N/A
- Warranty: 5 year/60,00/mile new vehicle limited warranty; 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain; 10-year/100,000-mile hybrid powertrain; 7-year/unlimited miles anti-perforation; 5 year/unlimited miles 24-hour roadside assistance.
- Manufacturer’s website: Hyundai