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The Hyundai Sonata is all new for 2020, and it’s a perfect showcase for Hyundai’s characteristic mix of attractive design and high-level features at an affordable price. The 2020 Sonata is not the best driver’s car in a class with a few dynamic standouts, but Hyundai has baked in decent handling and plenty of torque (at least in its optional turbocharged 1.6-liter engine; a non-turbo 2.5-liter engine is standard and a hybrid powertrain is also an option). The interior is spacious and elegant, with just enough buttons on the dash to complement the functional, well-organized touchscreen infotainment system. If you want a car that hits luxury-brand benchmarks at an affordable price, the 2020 Hyundai Sonata could be just the thing. The Sonata made an appearance alongside John Krasinski, Rachel Dratch, David “Big Papi” Ortiz, and Chris
The Sonata enters a new generation for 2020, with a more aggressive design, and a trio of new powertrains—including a hybrid that can charge its battery from energy captured by solar panels on the roof. The interior is new, too, with a sleek, spacious design that can comfortably accommodate four adults. There’s a lot to like in the Sonata’s latest generation.
The SEL Plus trim is the cheapest way to get the Sonata’s 180-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It’s also a pretty good value at less than $30,000 and packed with features including 18-inch wheels, paddle shifters, suede and leatherette seating surfaces, a wireless phone-charging pad, and what Hyundai is calling Digital Key, which is the ability to use your smartphone to enter the car, allowing you to leave the fob at home.
The Sonata is not the sharpest handler in its class—we like the Honda Accord and the Nissan Altima better—but it’s still composed and responsive on the road. The ride is a little more unsettled than we’d like and firmer than most cars in this category, but the Sonata is at least reasonably quick with its turbocharged 1.6-liter engine; during our testing, a Sonata with that powertrain made it to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds—an acceptable result in this class. The shifts from the eight-speed automatic are smooth and well-timed. We’d also like to commend Hyundai for continuing to offer a conventional automatic transmission in its family sedan; much of the class has gone over to droning (but efficient) continuously variable automatic transmissions (CVTs). We haven’t tested the Sonata hybrid, but we expect that model to offer slower acceleration than the turbocharged model.
A hybrid Sonata will join the lineup for the 2020 model year; when it does, it will be the most fuel efficient of the bunch. Hyundai says the Sonata hybrid earned EPA fuel-economy estimates of up to 54 mpg highway, 50 mpg city, and 52 mpg combined. An array of solar panels embedded in the hybrid’s roof helps provide additional electric driving range. The base 2.5-liter engine and the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine are both rated by the EPA to earn more than 30 mpg combined, which is quite good. In our real-world highway fuel-economy test of a Sonata in the Limited trim with the turbo engine, we saw 31 mpg. That’s 5 mpg below the EPA’s estimate, but about on par with several similar sedans we’ve tested. We haven’t had a chance to run the numbers on the rest of the Sonata’s lineup, so it remains to be seen whether the non-turbo engine or the hybrid model do a better job living up to the government’s expectations.
The Sonata’s interior is attractive and feels like it’s worth more than the asking price (which starts in at $24,555 and tops out $10,000 later). The back seat is comfortable and spacious, the materials look and feel upscale, and the dashboard layout is simple and ergonomic. The Sonata’s 16 cubic feet of cargo space is about what we expect from mid-size sedans—neither the best nor the worst in its set. Still, we fit seven of our carry-on suitcases inside its trunk, which is plenty of space for a long road trip with the family.
The infotainment system relies on an 8.0-inch center touchscreen. In SEL models with the Convenience package, SEL Plus, and Limited models, there’s also a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. Hyundai’s new tech pièce de resistance is the feature it calls Digital Key, which allows owners to use Hyundai’s app and their smartphone to unlock the car using near-field communication (NFC) and operate certain vehicle functions remotely. This would allow drivers to leave the key fob behind if and when their active lifestyles made carrying one inconvenient.
The 2020 Sonata has not been crash-tested by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Hyundai has clearly made safety features a priority with this new generation, though. Hyundai’s SmartSense package of driver-assistance features is standard, and includes forward-collision avoidance, lane-keeping assist, automatic high-beam assist, adaptive cruise control, and a driver-attention warning that can sense drowsy or distracted driving. Blind-spot monitoring is standard in the SEL trim, which is one step up from the base SE trim. The Sonata can even pull in and out of a parking space while you wait for it from outside. That feature is reserved for the top-level Limited trim. Key safety features include:
Hyundai’s warranty coverage is legendary, thanks largely to the 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The company also now offers complimentary scheduled maintenance that bests mainstream rivals such as Toyota.
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