The 2020 Hyundai Sonata is making no apologies for being a mid-size sedan. In the current era of SUV dominance, that’s a bold position for any automaker to maintain. The Sonata is pitted against direct rivals like the Honda Accord, Kia Optima, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry and Volkswagen Passat. But this car’s fiercest competition comes from a hoard of sales-stealing SUVs like the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
So, what did Hyundai do help the Sonata stand out? It made the exterior more assertive and aerodynamic, loaded on safety and tech touches, and provided a true degree of semi-autonomous driving capability. Follow the related link above to read our full expert review of the 2020 Hyundai Sonata by Cars.com’s Joe Wiesenfelder … or keep reading for a quick take about whether the Sonata helps prove sedans are here to stay.
Here are eight things we like — and three that should maybe go back to the drawing board — about the 2020 Hyundai Sonata:
Things We Like
1. Smooth Ride, Stable Handling
The 2020 Sonata gets down the road quietly and with a minimum of fuss. During our test drive, we complimented the smooth ride — even if our driving route in Montgomery, Ala., was curiously short on the sort of rough and ragged pavement we’re accustomed to. (Expect a tougher test to come when we get the Sonata on the crumbling asphalt of Cars.com’s hometown of Chicago.) When it comes to handling, the Sonata felt competent from behind the wheel; it’s not a sports car, though it’s plenty agile for a family-friendly sedan.
2. Base Engine May Be Better Bargain
The Sonata’s standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine has more horsepower than the optional turbocharged 1.6-liter fitted to our tester. That may seem counterintuitive, but the key appeal for the optional motor is larger torque output, which gives punchier acceleration across a wider rev range. Still, the 191-horsepower base engine could be the better deal. After all, how many car buyers start talking torque curves when shopping for a new ride?
3. Lane Keeping Assist Impresses
Hyundai upgraded its lane departure mitigation system and has given it the official title of Lane Keeping Assist. Whatever you call it, the system does an excellent job keeping the car in its intended travel lane. Combined with adaptive cruise control, the Sonata has a smart and (most importantly) safe-feeling degree of semi-autonomous driving capability.
4. Standardized Safety
You don’t have to dive into the Sonata’s tech specs to appreciate all the safety equipment that comes standard. This includes automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection along with the aforementioned lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, to name a few.
5. Hyundai Did Its Chrome-work
There’s no doubt about it: The 2020 Sonata gets noticed. We’ll let you decide if the look-at-me design is a hit or a miss, though we can’t help but admire clever details like the chrome strips that work their way backward from the headlights. The strips are laser-perforated, and they illuminate as daytime running lights. When the car is turned off, they switch back to being chrome strips. The delight’s in the details.
6. Good in a Tight Squeeze
Hyundai’s Remote Smart Parking Assist allows you to move the car forward or backward while standing outside the vehicle. What’s the point? Imagine coming back to your car in a crowded lot and the vehicle alongside has gotten way too close for comfort. Press a button on the key fob, have the car move backward, and you won’t need to wiggle and squeeze into the driver’s seat.
7. Well-Done Widescreen Display
The multimedia system comes in 8-inch and 10.25-inch sizes, the latter of the two coming standard in the Sonata Limited and optional in the SEL and SEL Plus trims. This screen is simple to use and nicely organized. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and the rear camera has a crisp wide-angle view.
8. Cabin Quality for Everyone
The Sonata Limited we drove featured plenty of high-end materials throughout the cabin. Better still, cabin quality doesn’t fall off a cliff in the second row. This is a bad habit for many sedans and SUVs, so it’s nice to see Hyundai avoid this cost-cutting pitfall.
More From Cars.com:
- Shopping for a 2020 Hyundai Sonata? Research One, Here
- Find a 2020 Hyundai Sonata for Sale Near You, Now
- 2020 Hyundai Sonata: Everything You Need to Know
- 2020 Hyundai Sonata Priced to Entice Versus Honda Accord, Toyota Camry
- How Do Car Seats Fit in a 2020 Hyundai Sonata
Things We Don’t
1. Who’s the Optional Engine for, Anyway?
The Sonata we drove came powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that sends 180 hp and 195 pounds-feet of torque to the front wheels. This engine’s best party trick is the torque curve, which is available from 1,500 to 4,500 rpm — except the base engine, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, delivers 11 hp more than the optional turbo engine. Granted, you don’t have the same level of torque, but the standard engine also boasts better fuel economy, and we think most buyers will find it hard to justify (or understand) spending extra to upgrade the powertrain.
2. Lost Legroom
The good news is that during our test drive of the 2020 Sonata, we noted the amount of cabin room should be more than enough for mid-size-sedan buyers. Unfortunately, there’s no arguing hard numbers here: The new Sonata has about 1 inch less rear legroom compared with the outgoing model. At 34.8 inches in total, this is almost 6 inches less than what you get in the second row of the Honda Accord.
3. Interior Design Don’ts
Again, we spent our time in a Sonata fitted in range-topping Limited trim, so cabin materials are at their most luxurious. For the most part, the design and layout of the Sonata cabin is impressive. But that imitation-leather dashboard isn’t fooling anyone, and there are some shiny (read: cheap-looking) plastics scattered here and there.
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