The SUV’s dramatic rise in popularity makes it easy to forget about the sedan’s continued significance. Sedan sales are down dramatically in 2019, but ruling out the segment’s importance remains short-sighted.
Hyundai gets it. Over the past few years, the manufacturer has expanded their lineup of SUVs to include Venue, Kona, Tucson, NEXO, Santa Fe variants and the Palisade. We’ve spent time with most of them and have found the build quality, performance and styling to be excellent. However, in the rush to fill out the SUV segment the Korean manufacturer has not forsaken their sedans. In the words of Albert Biermann, president and head of R&D Division, Hyundai Motor Group, “The Sonata (sedan) holds a special significance for our company as one of the longest-standing and most successful models in the global market.”
Spending a few days in Arizona with the all-new 2020 Sonata provided us with plenty of evidence that Hyundai’s strategy includes building attractive and tech-filled four-door midsize family cars. Add excellent fuel economy, one of the best warranties available and a MSRP that won’t break the bank, and it is hard to ignore the latest Sonata’s value.
The all-new 2020 model features Hyundai’s “sensuous sportiness” design language. To our eyes the styling of the four-door coupe is sleek and attractive. Sitting lower, but longer and wider than the outgoing model, it isn’t hard to consider the Sonata a sports sedan. The long hood and short rear deck lid, with integrated spoiler, are taken straight from the sports car lexicon.
Centered around a dashboard that was inspired by the stealth bomber’s wing, the interior design is simple and elegant. Seating is comfortable and the infotainment system continues to be one of the best in the industry. Rear passengers will find the new C pillar’s design robs a little space from the door’s opening, but once inside headroom is excellent and three adults will fit comfortably.
Sonata’s sporty look is more than skin deep. Hyundai’s new sedan is the first model to be based on the manufacturer’s new platform. According to Hyundai, the new architecture is lighter and stronger than the outgoing model. The changes result in better comfort, performance and safety.
The base SE model gains as much as three miles per gallon over the outgoing model. The 2020 Sonata SE, with the 191-horsepower 2.5-liter four cylinder engine, is rated at 32 mpg combined.
The base engine is complemented by a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine found in the higher trim models. The engine provides less horsepower, 180 versus 191, but has an advantage in torque. Thanks to a wide powerband that kicks in the sedan’s full 195 pound-feet of torque at a mere 1500 rpms, the turbocharged Sonata’s acceleration is immediate and feels consistent at almost every speed.
Both powerplants favor fuel economy as the key performance feature over acceleration. That said, the Sonata has plenty of power for the majority of owners shopping for an attractive family sedan. Handling is excellent. The sedan’s braking and steering is immediately familiar and welcome. Powered by either engine, the 2020 Sonata is a capable vehicle.
Driving enthusiasts will want to wait for the yet to be released Sonata N Line. The turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine produces 290 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. We were able to take a pre-production version of the N Line for a spirited drive along a twisty Arizona. While we can’t make an in depth assessment based on our limited time behind the wheel, we can report that the car is fast, fun and surprising in the best ways.
Hyundai’s new Sonata is filled with plenty of standard and optional technology features. Standard active safety includes forward collision-avoidance assist, lane keeping assist and advanced Smart cruise control with stop and go. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included in all models.
Hyundai has also developed a smartphone “key” that allows the driver to operate the vehicle without a traditional key fob. The Limited’s key fob includes a remote control function for starting the car and driving it into narrow parking spaces from outside the vehicle.
Pricing for the 2020 Hyundai Sonata starts at $23,400 for the base SE. The top line Limited costs $33,300. Pricing does not include a $930 delivery. SE and SEL models are equipped with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. The SEL Plus and Limited arrive with the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine.
This review also appeared in The Florida Times-Union.