The Hyundai Sonata is all-new for 2020, marking the eighth generation of this midsize family sedan. Again in its sights are the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, formidable rivals to be sure. But as we’ve come to expect from Hyundai, it is playing to win. That mindset has manifested in the best Sonata yet, one that brings loads of safety equipment in even its least expensive form, and unexpected technology and amenities in its highest trim. There’s also a 2020 Sonata Hybrid that gets up to 53 mpg on the highway. Furthermore, the goods come at a price that still undercuts competitors.
Part of the 2020 Hyundai Sonata’s revamp is a sleek new exterior design that will surely bring differences of opinion. Let your eyes decide. And if you’re among the few drivers seeking a manual-transmission family sedan, you’ll have to look to the Honda. Those factors aside, the 2020 Hyundai Sonata is a complete package and then some, and still boasts the best warranty in the business.
Driving the 2020 Hyundai Sonata
After driving the Sonata in multiple locations and over hundreds of miles, we can assert that its manners are right up there with the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. If we’re splitting hairs, we’d say its personality is in the middle of those two — slightly less sporty than an Accord and the slightest bit less comfortable than a Camry. We see this as more of an asset than a fault, similar to the way Audi splits the difference between BMW and Mercedes among luxury cars.
Our seat time was in Sonata models with the 1.6-liter 4-cylinder turbo engine, which comes in SEL Plus and Limited models. This engine has less horsepower than the standard 2.5-liter, but more torque. This leads to smooth and confident acceleration from a stop, and enough in reserve for good if not great passing power. All models use an 8-speed automatic transmission that is seamless. The cabin is acceptably quiet, though we did notice modest wind noise from the driver-side door at elevated highway speeds.
One of the Sonata’s best driving features is its ability to take on much of the task itself. The Highway Drive Assist — standard in Limited models and optional in the SEL Plus — is among the better semi-autonomous systems. Returning to California from Arizona, we basically let the Sonata do most of the driving while keeping our hands on the wheel. Its adaptive cruise control paced the vehicle in front, and its lane-centering system kept the new Sonata centered and sure. It also worked well in stop-and-go traffic, though initially activating the Smart Cruise Control took a couple of tries.
We also spent some time in a 2020 Sonata Hybrid, a top-of-the-line Limited model. Our quick take: It feels much like a standard Sonata Limited that gets phenomenal fuel economy.
If you’re used to the smooth power delivery of a Prius or any other hybrid with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), the silky shifts of the Sonata Hybrid’s standard automatic make this Hyundai feel more like a car with a conventional drivetrain. The Sonata Hybrid Limited also has a 205-watt Solar Panel roof that charges the car’s 12-volt and hybrid lithium-ion batteries. Besides looking techy, the Solar Roof gives the new Sonata Hybrid a couple of extra miles of range per day, or about 700 “free” miles over the course of a year. Pretty nifty.
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