The Hyundai Sonata is no longer just the value pick in its segment. Although the Honda Accord is our overall favorite, the Sonata has a unique youthful appeal, boasting an eye-catching appearance and superior technology. Plus, its nimble handling makes it feel smaller than it is. We’ve driven multiple variants of the Sonata, but it’ll take further evaluation to know if the Sonata’s allure holds up over time. Is it reliable and affordable to own? Is all the fancy tech really useful? Is it comfortable on long road trips? This is what we aim to find out by the end of the year.
Our 2020 Hyundai Sonata rolled into the MotorTrend Garage wearing a Stormy Sea coat of paint, which looks more inviting than it sounds. Underneath its sapphire skin is an interior fitted with all the posh trimmings afforded by the Limited trim. Perched at the top of the Sonata lineup, this model comes standard with leather upholstery, heating and ventilation for the front seats, a panoramic sunroof, a 12-speaker Bose audio system, and a hands-free trunk. The cabin looks fresher than rivals thanks to its crisp 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and wide 10.25-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and navigation. This wide central screen responds quickly to touch, although the controls can be a little bit far from the driver’s reach.
To make driving easier, the 2020 Sonata Limited comes with adaptive cruise control that works even in stop-and-go traffic. The much-publicized “smart park” feature allows the car to park itself without the driver needing to be inside the vehicle. If you choose to DIY, the Sonata’s 360-degree camera provides an aerial view of your car pulling into a parking space.
Thanks to its interior materials and technologies, the Sonata feels like a luxury car compared to my previous long-term vehicle, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 XLE. And it’s only about $3,000 more expensive. With the aforementioned standard features, plus an extra $155 for carpeted floormats, our Sonata rings out to $34,630. For what it’s worth, a loaded 2021 Accord will cost you $37,655.
Under the hood, our Sonata packs the upgraded 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder mill. Making 180 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, it has less horsepower but more torque than the base engine. At the track, although this isn’t a car for speed fiends, this Sonata’s 0-60 mph time of 7.4 seconds is pretty respectable. More important, it accelerates smoothly from a stop, and we’ve had no problems merging or passing other vehicles. The EPA rates this Sonata configuration at an adequate 27/36/31 mpg city/highway/combined. We’ll soon conduct our own test to discover the Sonata’s real-world fuel economy performance.
How has our blue chariot treated us so far? On a COVID-conscious trip to Las Vegas, we enjoyed its smooth ride and quiet cabin. More and more, we’re discovering that convenience features and technologies are what will truly make or break your long-distance drive. Fortunately, the Bose system provides crisp audio to keep us entertained. In future updates, we’ll explore how, although it’s far from perfect, the smart cruise control system alleviates much of the stress that comes with driving.
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