By Bill P. and Sommer Thornton
The brand-spanking new Hyundai Sonata, built on a new platform has a sporty coupe-ish look and interior fit for a prince. The 8th Generation Sonata is unlike any of its predecessors, more resembling the recent Le Fil Rouge concept unveiled at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. Though the brand’s most successful nameplate, the “old school” Sonata used to be an average looking sedan, ideal for young professionals, and as a second car for growing families.
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Now under the Sensuous Sportiness design language the Sonata has a new identity, low slung with a sporty nose, big grille and muscle lines all around. The rear wing adds more sporty flair and aids spectacular aerodynamics. In the hood deep muscle lines enhanced by a chrome strip make the whip look like a premium sports car – like an Aston Martin or Jaguar.
We’ve already seen the new 2020 Sonata all over Chicago signaling another big win for Hyundai – who is still stunting with its flagship Palisade and Kona.
For the all-new model, the Hyundai Sonata is offered in the base Sonata SE, SEL, SEL Plus and the Sonata Limited.
We reviewed the top of the line 2020 Sonata taking it all over Chicago and the west and southern Illinois suburbs. With a sexy new look and impressive 31 mpg combined fuel economy, the Sonata turned heads and rarely ever saw the pump.
Spectacular Display of Muscle and Chrome
The 2020 Sonata boasts a beautiful four-door silhouette with a long nose and sharp rear wing. Strong character lines that connect and contour the Sonata from the sides to the front fascia make it look sportier, and the unique lighting design makes it look more expensive. The totally new Digital Pulse Cascading Grille nearly spans the entire front of the Sonata and fans open with a 3D mesh effect.
Muscle lines on the hood of the new Sonata give it a strong yet sensual look. A chrome line flows around the side passenger windows and runs down the hood creating a sharp right angle beneath the headlights.
The Sonata also has a distinctive new lighting design with a thin strip for the daytime running lights that looks like an eyebrow above the slanted LED headlights. Together the drls and headlights create a piercing gaze.
The front and back end of the Sonata looks like a hybrid of a sports coupe and fastback. Blacked out elements like the front intakes and side strakes give the new Sonata even more flair. The panoramic sunroof designs makes the the entire roof look like its glass.
Sporty dimensions of the chiseled frame give the 2020 Sonata amazing aerodynamics. Lowered by an inch, with a 111 inch wheelbase and 162 inches in length, the low-slung Sonata can slice through the wind at high speeds and stays planted.
At the rear, a wide horizontal LED line extends across the trunk and connects each break light. And the Sonata nameplate is stylishly stretched across the trunk in a concave red strip. Gloss black side mirrors stylishly match the rear wing and intakes.
The 2020 Hyundai Sonata comes fitted with 17, 18 or 19 inch alloy wheels.
Impressive Interior with Superior Lux and Tech
The Sonata’s cabin is cleverly sleek and functional with options for a leatherette /cloth combination or more luxurious leather with matching dash and heated steering wheel. Satin chrome is accented throughout. It’s designed for max comfort and functionality with a combination of concave and convex surfaces.
The sweeping leather-wrapped dash is thinly convex and pushed back at the footwell for max hip and legroom. And available panoramic sunroof is stretched high and sloped back for max headroom.
Every aspect of the cabin is well-thought-out, from the seat controls on the door window area and the controls like Auto/Hold, the drive mode and park brake on the center console a safe distance from the gearshift buttons, to the climate controls having their own plane in the center stack.
Configurable convenience technology blends well with superior safety tech. For instance the gear shifter is replaced with trans shift buttons on the center stack, allowing for more hip room and a more open feeling in the cabin.
The base Sonata SE offers cloth seats with 6-way adjustments for the driver and 4-way adjustments for the front passenger. The Sonata Limited we reviewed as well as the Sonata SEL Plus features Dinamica Suede leatherette seats heated and ventilated. Contract stitching on the seats matches the door design perfectly and perforations perfectly contrast the door trim.
LED ambient lighting that includes a subtle strip across the dash and accent lighting on the doors can be changed to any color in the spectrum.
Drivers sit low and long in the Sonata with a sloped windshield giving a great panoramic view of the road. While the Sonata is low-slung, front passenger will be grateful for the 40 inches of headroom and rear passengers for 38 inches of headroom.
Motorsport Correspondent Daryl who is 6-foot and 3-inches said the Sonata was very comfortable with 46 inches of front legroom. With the seats way back though, tall passengers may feel a little snug in the rear. But 34 inches of legroom is descent for a sporty sedan of this size. The trunk at 16 cu-ft looks huge.
A 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster is available on the Sonata SEL and standard on the Sonata Limited. The full-color fully digital dash changes its configuration depending on the drive mode and shows all kinds of valuable info and stats including detailed navigation, average mpg’s, temperature, the Driver Attention Warning and many other safety features.
The seating and dash design together are ergonomically perfect. The available Heads Up Display (HUD) is icing on the cake. The configurable HUD display can projects nearly a dozen stats in different colors on the windshield, from vehicle speed, Cruise Control info, navigation, Blind Spot Collision Warning and Lane Keeping Assist System.
The Sonata SE offers an 8 inch audio display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard. The stuntastic 10.25 inch touchscreen is standard on the Sonata Limited. Infotainment and Navigation can be viewed on a two or three-way split screen. Navigation is detailed even in the digital dash, showing street names and landmarks and traffic patterns. All Sonata models except for the base SE have three years of complimentary Blue Link services that includes Remote Start with options to set heated seats, vehicle status notifications and maintenance alerts.
The Sonata Limited offers a pristine 12-speaker Bose premium sound system that utilizes high-tech Centerpoint surround sound and Surround Stage signal processing. Speakers are cleverly positioned in the doors and dash.
Digital Key is another cool new feature that allows drivers to program and give options to unlock, start the Sonata, and even activate the panic alarm with a smartphone. Car owners can designate access for family members and tailor functions for each. The duration of use can be preset and the owner can even revoke access. It’s great for valet service as well.
Performance and Safety Tech Perfectly Poised
The 2020 Sonata has a more robust chassis and two fine-tuned powertrains matched to an athletic 8-speed automatic transmission. Customers can choose between two Smartstream powertrains, a 2.5 GDI and 1.6 T-GDI engine. The Sonata Limited has the 1.6 T gas direct injection engine with 180 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 195 lb-ft torque at 1,500 -4,500 rpm.
The Sonata Limited has an amazing launch thanks to impressive torque and a versatile 8-speed automatic transmission. Paddle shifters are also available. The whip rides low and planted with peppy get-up-and-go and a smooth cruise. Front Macpherson Strut and multilink rear suspension has been refined for enhanced responsiveness and straight-line stability. The result is a well-balanced evenly-cushioned ride in any drive mode and amazing roll. An all-new Continuously Variable Valve Duration System helps the Sonata Limited achieve an estimated 31 mpg combined fuel economy (27 mpg city / 36 mpg highway.)
A drive mode selector offers distinctive Sport, Eco and Smart modes. Sport mode keeps rpms high offering amazing acceleration and jetting forward with lightweight aggression. Smart mode uses driving traits to auto-configure the drive mode. Eco mode is more efficient but with more effort pushing the gas pedal. Smart mode is the best because it’s efficient and seems calculated and poised with a well-balanced acceleration.
Turning and cornering is great in the new Sonata bending corners and even doing tight U-turns at low and high speeds. Braking 12 inch ventilated front and solid rear disc brakes help the Sonata stop with brute force.
Safety technology in the Sonata is perfectly integrated into the 10.25 inch center touchscreen, Heads Up Display and 12.25 inch LCD instrument cluster creating a fully-digital mobile compound. For instance, when reversing, powering folding side mirrors automatically rotate down to show the sides of the parking spot, while the center touchscreen shows the rearview camera and aerial view on a split screen with reverse parking guidelines.
As an option the blind spot camera view can be shown in the digital instrument cluster. It’s an innovative feature seen in pricier vehicles, but on the Sonata it could be overkill seeing as the blind spot icon lights up in the Heads Up Display and the side mirrors. Drivers would be better served keeping their eyes on the road when turning and changing lanes.
Standard safety features on the Sonata are numerous including the typical sensor and cam controlled blind view and surround view monitored features. But fresh is the Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist and Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection which enact braking to stop an imminent collision. But not before warning the driver with a beep, a warning in the digital dash and vibration in the steering wheel. Most times the Forward Collision Avoidance Assist is very helpful, but sometimes it would go crazy with multiple warnings just because a car ahead was turning off and the driver didn’t slow down enough. Neither automatic nor manual braking is always needed.
Lane Keeping Assist and Lane Departure Warnings keep the Sonata in its lane by actively applying corrective steering. The Driver Attention Warning shows the drivers condition and fatigue level if they are showing inattentive driving practices.
Lead Vehicle Departure Alert monitors the driver’s attentiveness and if eyes are not on the road shows a warning in the instrument cluster that the car ahead has moved forward.
Smart Cruise Control and Start Stop technology have been enhanced and show detailed real-time stats in the instrument cluster and the Heads Up Display. Highway Driving Assist will keep the vehicle in its lane and a safe distance behind the vehicle ahead on the highway auto adjusting the set speed.
One of the coolest new features is Remote Smart Park Assist which can park the Sonata when the driver is outside the vehicle.
The 2020 Hyundai Sonata SE retails with a MSRP of just $23k. But to get the swag and pomp, buyer should at least cop the Sonata SEL Plus for $27k. The fully-loaded Sonata Limited we reviewed sells for $33,500.