Don’t tell Hyundai sedans don’t matter. Even as Americans increasingly move from sedans to SUVs, Hyundai, like Toyota and Honda, is taking it as a challenge to make its best sedans yet. The brand spent considerable time and effort redesigning the all-new mid-size 2020 Sonata and I’m here to tell you it paid off. The new Sonata is a comfortable, smooth-riding and quiet sedan with a well-designed cabin full of superb technology. All things I discovered during my week behind the wheel of the Sonata Limited, the pinnacle of the lineup that slots above the base SE, SEL, SEL Plus trims.
The Alabama-built Sonata is Hyundai’s longest-standing and most successful model. Hyundai says the 8th-generation, the first built on Hyundai’s new vehicle platform, comes with improvements in design, safety, efficiency and driving performance. As with the trend these days, it’s new platform gives it a lower, longer and wider stance than the model it replaces. While it’s more athletic-looking, showcasing Hyundai’s “Sensuous Sportiness” design philosophy, this is not to be mistaken for a sports sedan in terms of handling. More performance-oriented driving dynamics will come with the 2021 Sonata N-Line.
The Sonata is a sleek and striking sedan with a coupe-like fastback design that is anything but boring. The way Hyundai designed the headlights is intriguing and makes a statement. LED strips wrap around the headlights and up the outer edges of the hood. A strong chrome bar takes over from there, outlining the lower windows. In the front, a black gloss grille emphasizes the low and wide stance. In the back it’s just as interesting. A continuous tail light bar flows across the entire length of the trunk with aero-fins atop the taillights. The Limited trim features twin tip single exhaust and rides on 18-inch wheels.
The Sonata lineup offers two powertrains. My model’s upgraded 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder makes 180-horsepower, slightly less than the base model’s engine, but it offers more torque (195 lb.-ft.). My model’s 180-horses offered nice acceleration from the get-go and it handles well, if not sporty. Both engines are mated to a smooth-shifting well-performing 8-speed automatic. The Sonata is offered as front-wheel drive only and the turbo engine delivers 31 mpgs combined.
Ride and Drive
Riding in the Sonata is comfortable in both city and highway driving, and I spent a fair amount of time doing the latter on a road trip. The seats were comfortable and it was a smooth, quiet ride. Cruise control with stop and go also impressed and worked exactly as intended. Combine that with the optional Highway Driving Assist and it provided semi-autonomous driving that allowed me to go hands-free briefly even through curves in the road, though at times it wasn't always smooth and felt a bit like ping pong. (Note: You should always keep your hands on the wheel.) What also impressed me was how it handled wet roads during inclement weather. The Sonata navigated the highway confidently and I felt planted to the road at all times in slick, rainy conditions. It was overall easy to drive and to maneuver, be it on the road or in a parking lot.
Hyundai designers did an excellent job on the interior. It’s comfortable, well laid-out and full of soft touch materials including a leather-wrapped dashboard on the Limited. The top of the line model is also outfitted with supportive leather seats that are heated and ventilated in the front, along with 10.25-inch multimedia touchscreen, panoramic sunroof, and 64-color ambient lighting. The driver’s seat is 8-way power driver’s seat and passenger’s seat is 4-way power adjustable. The heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters is equipped with easy to use controls.
You’ll use well-placed gear shift buttons on the center console for park, reverse, neutral and drive. The console also hosts the drive mode selector (with Smart, Normal, Sport, and Custom modes) as well as brake auto hold and parking sensors. An automatic electric parking brake is to the left of the steering wheel.
Technology is exceptional in the Sonata. The 12.3-inch cluster is digital, bright and easy to read. The weird thing is that the speedometer and tachometer are reversed. The speedometer is on the left side. But what is really cool is the integrated Blind View Monitor. When you use your turn signal, a camera view of your blind spot appears in the middle of the speedometer or tachometer. The Limited is also equipped with a nice color heads-up display.
The dash-mounted 10.25-inch multimedia touchscreen is a real standout. Great screen and graphics quality, and it’s very responsive, easy to use and find things. It houses a great surround view camera in this trim.
A cool feature is called “Sounds of Nature”. You can actually pipe in sounds of a forest, ocean, rain, fireplace, even a coffee shop and a snowy village. Be it nature sounds or music, all sound great coming from a 12-speaker Bose sound system with HD radio.
Navigation is exceptional as I discovered during my road trip. Not only was voice recognition spot on, (even if it did mispronounce my destination it understood what I was saying), it gave detailed directions on which highway lanes to be in to make my exits and turns.
Applause, Hyundai. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard. A wireless charger and 2 USBs and a 2-volt are in the front of the cabin.
The Hyundai is a roomy sedan for all passengers with plenty of headroom throughout and lots of legroom. Back seat occupants get one USB port, floor A/C vents and a rear-seat drop-down armrest with cupholders. There is a 60/40 split and a nice amount of trunk space. A hands-free trunk release comes on all but the base model.
I love that the Sonata has a vehicle auto-shut off function. The vehicle will turn off automatically after a certain amount of time (30 or 60 mins), to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, for example, when the vehicle is on and parked in a garage for a long time.
The Limited is also the only trim equipped with remote parking assistant, which allows you to pull your car in and out of a parking spot remotely. I was actually able to reverse out of a parking spot using the keyfob while standing outside the vehicle.
The Sonata also introduces an Android-based digital key that can be used to unlock and start it using an Android smartphone.
Standard Hyundai SmartSense safety technology includes smart cruise control with stop and gol, emergency autonomous braking, forward-collision avoidance with cyclist detection, driver attention warning, lane keep assist, lane follow assist, driver attention warning, rear occupant alert and high-beam assist. The Limited is also equipped with blind-spot collision avoidance and rear cross-traffic collision avoidance.
What You’ll Pay
A base Hyundai Sonata starts from $23,600. You’ll spend around $10,000 more for all the features of the Limited trim, which I consider a great value for all the technology and driver assistance you get, not to mention the Bose sound system. The only extra on my loaded review vehicle are carpeted floor mats ($135.)
The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Limited deserves your attention if you’re in the market for a stylish and comfortable riding four-door sedan packed with the latest technology. My hats off to Hyundai for its tech-laden efforts to keep the sedan alive.
2020 Hyundai Sonata Limited
- What I liked most: Exterior looks, all the exceptional technology.
- What I would change: The steering wheel was missing something stylewise for me, but it’s all in the eye of the beholder.
- MSRP: Limited Base Price: $33,300; as equipped: $34,365.
- Fuel Economy: 27 city/ 36 highway/31 combined.
- Official Color: Phantom Black.
- Odometer reading when tested: 2,256 miles.
- Weight: 3,336.
- Final Assembly Location: Montgomery, Alabama.
- Spare Tire: Temporary spare.
- Length-Width-Height: 192.9” long/73.2” wide w/o mirrors/56.9” high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 15.9.
- Towing Capacity: N/A
- 2020 Hyundai Sonata in a few words: A worthy mid-size sedan contender that strengthens the segment’s offerings with its unique style, well-designed interior and top notch technology.
- Warranty: 5 year/60,00/mile new vehicle limited warranty; 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain; 7-year/unlimited miles anti-perforation; 5 year/unlimited miles 24-hour roadside assistance.
- Manufacturer’s website: Hyundai