Test Drive column: All-new 2020 Hyundai Sonata
Entry price: $23,600
Price as tested: $34,680
This week, we’re driving the all-new 2020 Hyundai Sonata, and when Hyundai says “all-new,” they mean it.
Arriving in top flight Limited trim and featuring a 1.4-inch longer wheelbase, re-designed exterior and interior, and loaded with the latest in driver and passenger amenities it’s hard to believe you can park one in your driveway starting at just $23,600 for the entry SE.
Even if a consumer chooses the entry SE, which does not offer some of the upper-most safety items, you’ll still receive enhanced safety as each and every 2020 Sonata arrives with Smart Cruise Control, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Automatic High Beam Assist, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Follow Assist, Driver Attention Warning, LED headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, LED tail lamps and Apple and Android compatibility.
Most impressive is Sonata’s new looks, as a distinct sporty front end with large grille is most prominent. Compared to last year, it’s longer by 1.8 inches, lower to the ground and features a novel front headlight design that creeps its way up into the hood. The new rear features wrap around taillights and a built-in rear spoiler.
The Sonata originally debuted outside North America in 1985 although it took four model years and a new generation to appear on North American shores. Introduced in America back in late 1988 as a 1989 model, the second generation Sonata sold well and officially began the Hyundai “keep improving” corporate dogma through its now eighth generation. With yearly improvements and subsequent consumer confidence over the last 12 model years, Hyundai has become one of the best selling cars in the world.
Built in Montgomery, Alabama, Sonata is Hyundai’s popular four-door sedan with room for five. Following the entry SE is the SEL at $25,700; SEL Plus at $27,650; and our tester Limited that starts at $33,500 fully loaded. Turbo engines power the SEL-Plus and Limited while the SE and SEL rely on naturally aspirated fuel injection for combustion.
Hyundai’s eight-speed automatic is now standard across the line, replacing the non-turbo’s six-speed automatics. This new generation features an overall roomier interior with extra rear legroom thanks to the wheelbase stretch. Sonata’s independent suspension is upgraded to deliver both comfort and handling while Hyundai designers took some big liberties creating a really new, novel design over and above the Sonata’s last refresh in 2018.
Powering the non-turbo SE and SEL models is a 2.5-liter inline-four that develops 191 horsepower and 181 lb. ft. of torque. Coupled to the aforementioned eight-speed automatic Shiftronic transmission with shift by wire buttons, the resulting EPA fuel mileage is very good at 27 city and 37 highway.
The SEL Plus and Limited trims utilize a turbocharged 1.6-liter four cylinder producing 180 horses and 195 lb. ft. of torque. These turbo models deliver outstanding EPA numbers of 27 city and 36 highway, both very good while delivering more passing performance and acceleration attributes. The paddle shifted Shiftronic is flawless and allows for drivers to select his/her driving style with a push of a console button to initiate sport, normal, custom or smart modes that allow for better RPM control, economy or more aggressive motoring.
On the road, expect solid handling thanks to the strut front and multi-link rear design. This secure handling comes thanks to the suspension working in tandem with Michelin 18-inch tires on lightweight alloy wheels for optimum road grip. The result is good steering feedback and a pleasant driving experience. As for rear seat passengers, there’s a good amount of rear legroom thanks to the extended length of the new Sonata while cargo room is very good and similar to the last generation at 16.0 cu. ft. The fuel tank, meanwhile, is smaller by 2.6 gallons versus the previous generation.
Top tier Sonata Limited standard features are many and include enhanced surround view rear camera, heated and ventilated seats (very good cooling), power sunroof, dual zone air, leather seating, USB jacks front and aft, 10.25-inch touch screen with easy to use Navigation, SiriusXM/HD/Bluetooth, power trunk, push button start, power driver and passenger seat, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, tilt/telescoping, all new LED headlights, steering wheel controls, electronic stability and traction control, electronic brake assist and all the modern airbags.
Also standard on the top trim are all the high end safety features like automatic emergency braking, remote park assist, digital key, and an electronic park assist. A navigation system with eight-inch display, three years of Blue Link Multimedia/Maps, 12.3-inch digital gauge/info cluster, smartphone charging, Bose Premium Audio with 12 speakers, heated steering wheel, and SiriusXM Travel Link with real time traffic round out most of the standard features.
Because the Limited arrives near fully loaded, our tester included just two ancillary options, a $50 cargo net and carpeted floor mats for $155. With $975 delivery the final tally came in at $34,680 retail.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 111.8 inches (up from 110.4 last generation), 3,336 lb. curb weight, 5.3-inch ground clearance, 16.0 cu. ft. of cargo space, 15.9 gallon fuel tank and a 35.9 ft. turning diameter.
This all-new eighth generation Sonata adds nicely to the Hyundai success story, especially with all its bold, novel, new design features. Notable, too, are the impressive reliability owner ratings and the famous 10-year, 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, the latter still the best in the industry.
In summary and regardless of model, the American-built 2020 Hyundai Sonata is a Test Drive overall best buy, hands down.
Check with your Hyundai dealer for current incentives and interest free 72-month financing.
Likes: New design, roomy interior, low entry price, standard safety galore.
Dislikes: No tune knob for radio, 250-horse performance model would be nice, not much else.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.