2020 Hyundai Sonata Limited Review

The evolution of the family sedan


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Head-turning exterior styling, attractive and highly functional infotainment system, smooth transmission, Limited trim comes seriously packed with features.
Negatives: Not as fun to drive as we had hoped, some quirky interior styling details, no V6 option.
Bottom Line: The new Sonata does a phenomenal job of upgrading the model's look and feel, provides some of the best family-sedan technology, and is better designed than the rest of the segment. We just wish it was more thrilling to drive and came with a 6-cylinder option. The Sonata is more evidence of how far the brand has come.
The last two generations of the Sonata have been really, really good. Although sales dwindled in the last generation due to two factors: family sedans are on the decline, and the styling was a bit more subdued than the one before it. Now, Hyundai is doubling down with the 8th generation family sedan. It sports some of the most radical family sedan styling we've seen, as well as premium technology not found in the competition. We drove the top trim Limited version for a week to see if Hyundai did enough to make the model stand out against the likes of the Accord and Camry. Read our full review below.
 

Driving Experience

8.2

 

The driving manners of the Sonata are good but not great, but that's only in comparison to the fantastic Mazda6 and the Honda Accord, both of which provide power, great steering, and nimble handling. The Sonata's top engine, the 1.6-liter turbo our tester had still provides the goods.

Ride Quality: The ride in the Sonata errs on the side of being more comfortable than sporty, and it does a solid job of keeping imperfect pavement muted from the occupants.

Acceleration: 60 mph comes in a little over seven seconds. It's too bad there's no V6 option available like the Camry's 301 hp mill. At least the conventional transmission (aka, not continuously variable) shifts smoothly.

Braking: The brakes were nice and progressive without mushiness or grabbiness.

Steering: The Sonata's steering has mild effort and good precision but lacks feedback.

Handling: The body control in the Sonata is just right, and we found it well-balanced in the turns with no noticeable oversteer that tends to befall FWD vehicles.

Technology

9.6

 

It's hard not to love what Hyundai has done with in-car tech. It's by far the best in its class when it comes to great looks, convenience, and cutting-edge technology. The blind spot view in the speedo and tach are sheer genius.

Infotainment System: The 10.25" landscape touchscreen is easy to read in bright sunlight and responds well to inputs. Menus are intuitive and well-executed.

Controls: Almost everything about the Sonata's controls is top-notch, including easy climate controls, knurled audio knobs, and steering wheel controls that are well laid-out. We just don't like the pushbutton transmission setup that's becoming more common in the industry. It's one of the better versions out there, but we'd rather have a traditional shift knob.

Styling

9.2

 

The Sonata looks like no other family sedan out there, and it takes some significant styling risks. It takes the segment to new heights, although there are a couple of details that are polarizing. An an overall design, we find the new Sonata very fresh and

Front: The bold and sizable grille somewhat resembles a fish's mouth, which some find off-putting. At some angles, the front end looks great, while other angles give it a pouty look that's no so fetching. Overall, with the LED hood elements that are very original, we find the front end attractively different.

Rear: The back end of the Sonata presents its best look that's far more upscale than the price might reflect. The big LED light strip that makes its way into the spoiler is brilliant.

Profile: The body and roofline are lean and elegant, and the Sonata has excellent proportions. The body crease that opens up to the taillights is perfect. We also love the fact that there's no stupid faux vent on the front quarter.

Cabin: The interior is fresh and well-constructed. Hyundai's cabins are improving with each new model. We would just like to see less piano black plastic, and we're not huge fans of that contrast-colored pad just to the left of the instrument pinnacle. It looks out of place.

Comfort

8.6

 

The interior of the Sonata will suit a family of four more than adequately. Materials quality is excellent, as is the level of space for both people and gear.

Front Seats: The leather in our tester was soft and supple, and we found no problems adjusting to the right seating position. We do hope a performance version adds sportier seats with more aggressive bolstering.

Rear Seats: There's ample legroom and headroom for tall passengers sitting behind similarly tall front row occupants. It's less accommodating for the middle passenger since the cushion is tall, and there's HVAC vents and a center hump to get in the way.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The noise level in the Sonata is hushed and good at high speeds. Only when the 4-cylinder is pushed do you really notice anything.

Visibility: Visibility all around is very good. The C-pillars aren't overly thick, nor is the rear decklid high. We love the blind spot monitors located in the gauge cluster. It's one of the best features in the Sonata.

Climate: The HVAC system and heated/cooled seats worked very well. We would, however, like to see taller center vents for more airflow.

Safety

9

 

The Sonata is full of great standard safety features, as well as excellent performance in crash tests. Every family should feel assured of the Sonata's ability to keep their loved ones safe.

IIHS Rating: It barely misses the Top Safety Pick+ rating due to marginal headlights in some trim levels, as well as "acceptable" LATCH ease of use. Otherwise, every category nets the Sonata a score of "good".

NHTSA Rating: The feds gave it five stars, only dinging it to four stars in the front passenger crash category.

Standard Tech: There's a lot to love here. Our Limited trim tester came with Automatic light control, Automatic High Beam Assist, Front and rear parking sensors, Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Following Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist , Rear Occupant Alert, Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, Blind View Monitor, Highway Drive Assist, and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System with individual tire indicator. Not many competitors can beat this list.

Optional Tech: None.

Storage/Cargo

8.7

 

The Sonata is great for small gear items and bigger pieces like luggage and sporting equipment thanks to well-executed storage spaces.

Storage Space: The center armrest can hold medium sized items like smaller tablets and big smartphones with no problem. The center cubby is the go-to for daily reachable items thanks to the deletion of a gearshift knob.

Cargo Room: 16.3 cubic feet of very usable space is up there with the Honda Accord and even the larger Toyota Avalon. It beats the Camry and Mazda6 handily.

Fuel Economy

8.7

 

We had the higher output 1.6T engine, but we still did pretty well even with Sport mode engaged 100% of the time. EPA numbers are definitely attainable. The Sonata with the 2.4 should do even better.

Observed: 26.5 mpg

Distance Driven: 133 miles.

Audio

8.9

 

The Bose 12-speaker premium system comes standard on the Limited trim, which is a great deal. The sound was full, rich, and had no distortion. We had no problem cranking the bass and enjoying an earful of great beats.



Final Thoughts

The Sonata for 2020 is the best it's ever been, and that's saying a lot especially when considering how good the last two generations have been. Will it be enough to outdo sales of the Camry and Accord? Probably not, but anyone considering a great family sedan should definitely consider the Sonata. In top trim, it looks more refined than the Accord and less juvenile than the Camry. It's just too bad there's no 6-cylinder upgrade because that would be a game-changer. Otherwise, the Sonata offers more than the competition in terms of features and tech, and it's a fresh flavor in a segment that needs more of this in order to sway crossover buyers back into the fold.
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