The 2020 Hyundai Sonata strikes an ideal balance between performance and price.
A range of interior technology helps drivers stay connected on their daily commute.
Two engines are available and both return an EPA-estimated 30 plus mpg combined.
Hyundai debuted the 2020 Sonata earlier this year at the New York International Auto Show. Whatever it brings to the table this time you better get used to it, because you’re going to be seeing a lot of these things around. Hyundai figured out the sweet spot for this a while back, and they have been honing it and refining it ever since. Like I said, get used to seeing a lot of Hyundais around, in particular the 2020 Hyundai Sonata.
The sweet spot, in this case, is the convergence of style, available features, and above all, price. Somewhere along the way, Hyundai figured out how to make good cars that are right on the money with current automotive design trends; and without a high cost for the consumer. Think of Hyundai as a near-fashion brand knock-off. You’ll look great and a la mode, and by this time next season (i.e. when your lease expires) you can get rid of your old look for what’s contemporary but not break the bank.
“Sonata is our signature product,” explained Mike O’Brien, Vice President, Product, Corporate and Digital Planning, Hyundai Motor America. “Having been one of our first and most successful nameplates, Sonata is our legacy, and it needs to be special and memorable in all attributes.”
“The new-generation Sonata is a fully transformed vehicle packed with advanced personalization technology, a new platform, and an array of ADAS technologies,” added Albert Biermann, President of Hyundai Motor Group’s R&D Division. “We are confident that our customers will be pleasantly surprised by this innovative new model.”
Design Language: Contemporary Yet Pleasant
The 2020 Sonata embodies Hyundai’s “Sensuous Sportiness” design language with a “sophisticated four-door-coupe look,” or so says the company. Besides all the buzz words and corp. speak, you can look at the 2020 Sonata’s design like this: it’s pleasant, contemporary, and it’s impression will fade over time. Seriously, no Google’ing “what does a 2010 Hyundai Sonata look like?” We’ll be in the same spot in 2030 trying to describe Hyundai’s “Sensuous Sportiness” design language.
Now, I’m not saying Hyundai is incapable of having original designs – just look at the concepts they roll out at auto shows every so often. What I am saying is Hyundai is more interested in manufacturing cars that do three things: hit a price point, hit a feature set, and hit a fashion point. Which brings us to the 2020 Hyundai Sonata.
“Sonata signifies our vision for future Hyundai designs, great active safety systems, and cutting-edge technology that is effortless,” O’Brien said.
Easier to codify are the technical aspects, like how the latest Sonata gets down the road. This time around, you get your choice of two engines the South Korean automaker dubs as “Smartstream gasoline powertrains.” One engine is a 2.5-liter GDI (gasoline direct injection) and the other, a 1.6-liter turbo (designated as “T-GDI”). Either mill is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The “big” block Smartstream 2.5 engine cranks out 191 horsepower and 181 lb-ft. of torque, returning a combined EPA-estimated fuel economy of 33 mpg. The other engine, the 1.6 turbo, puts out nearly the same power and fuel economy: 180 horsepower, 195 lb-ft. of torque, and 31 combined.
Hyundai never really explains why you should go with one choice over the other, so neither will I. But really, who cares about the motive power? Hyundai buyers seem focused on other things than just going fast. What is important is comfort, safety, and infotainment as you get from point A to B.
The cabin of the 2020 Hyundai Sonata seeks to be defined by a “Beautifully Smart” theme, whatever that means. There’s a big, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster front and center. It’s customizable to suit different driving modes and your preferences. In the very center of the dashboard is another large, 10.25-inch HD screen that handles all the audio-video and navigation functions. This is known as AVN and get used to hearing that phrase. It will become as standard in the automotive lexicon as ABS.
Anyway, the Sonata’s AVN screen can be split so stuff like audio and navigation displays simultaneously.
Speaking of audio, the latest Sonata has a Bose Premium sound system with 12 speakers. Hyundai says audio and EQ adjustments are made automatically, depending on the vehicle’s speed, but I’m not really going to care. Cars are not concert halls, despite the best intentions of people like Bose and Hyundai.
All of this stuff is wrapped up in what Hyundai calls “convenience technology,” which pretty much hits the nail right on the head. The 2020 Hyundai Sonata features a bunch of comfort and convenience features you normally find luxury cars. The Sonata comes with a sunroof; heated and ventilated front seats, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Qi wireless charging pad includes a cooling fan and there’s Text-to-Speech via Bluetooth.
Dual Bluetooth support means two devices can be paired at the same time. Why? One for phone calls and one for streaming audio, duh.
Hyundai Digital Key utilizes Near Field Communication (NFC) so data communication takes place only when the device and the reader are close to each other. So the 2020 Sonata can tell when you’re near, and can lock and unlock the vehicle, activate the panic alert, and start the engine. Oddly, Hyundai Digital Key is compatible only with Android phones, so you’re kind of screwed if you’ve got an iPhone. Yes, Sonatas still come with traditional keys too.
Safety & Security
Of course there’s tons of driver assistance and safety tech. For a start, the new Sonata has three radar sensors, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and five cameras. These support such safety gizmos as Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Advanced Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go, and Highway Driving Assist. There are even more digital assistants: Lane Following Assist, Safe Exit Assist; Blind-Spot View Monitor and Blind-Spot Collision Warning, along with Reverse Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist, among others.
Shoot, even the door handles have a trick system called “Touch Sensor Outside Door Handles.” To lock the car, just touch the sensor on the outside of the door handle. If you pull the handle, you activate a larger sensor on the inside of the handle to open the door.
Pricing & Availability
The 2020 Hyundai Sonata starts at $23,400 for the SE trim, and goes as high as $33,300 in Limited form. Add on another $930 for destination and freight charges. A complete look at the pricing and trim levels for the 2020 Sonata can be found here. Production is underway at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz.