Back in 2009 Hyundai put the midsize sedan segment on notice with the debut of the 2009 Sonata, which was far more stylish than everything else in the segment. Hyundai lost some of this magic with the seventh-generation Sonata, but it’s got its mojo back with the eighth-generation 2020 Sonata. Once again the Sonata brings a higher dose of style than most would expect in this segment.
The last Sonata skirted the line of boring, but the 2020 Sonata features a new aggressive and sculpted exterior that helps it stand out from other heavyweights like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. The design details also make the Sonata look more like a luxury car than some of its rivals. The fast back profile, sculpted face and sleek roofline work well for the Sonata and easily make you forget all about the last Sonata.
One cool design element are the LED running lights that blend into the chrome strip that runs the entire length of the Sonata. While we do love what Hyundai has done with the new Sonata, the fish-face grille may turn off some, but at least it gets the Sonata more attention.
Inside the Sonata’s interior now feels and looks more upscale than before. The interior is stylish, packed with tech features and spacious. The interior’s design isn’t as aggressive as the exterior, so most buyers should find it a pleasing place to be. Compared to the in your face exterior, the interior takes a more minimalistic approach.
Even with the more coupe-like roofline there’s still plenty of headroom for your taller friends and legroom is ample. The only thing that takes a bit to get used to are the push buttons that replace a traditional shift lever. Overall the Sonata’s interior feels and looks like it could belong to a luxury car.
Sitting on top of the dashboard there’s an 8-inch touchscreen that’s standard on all Sonatas. The infotainment system is easy to use and comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. If you opt for the Tech Package you’ll get a larger 10.25-inch screen and the SEL Plus trim level adds a 12.3-inch digital display in the gauge cluster. Both digital screens are better than what you will currently get in the Camry, although Toyota has upgraded the 2021 Camry’s infotainment system.
One cool new feature is the Digital Key, which lets owners use their phones to operate the Sonata, instead of a traditional key. Sadly it’s only available for Android users.
Also if you hate parking your car, there’s the Remote Smart Parking Assist system which will automatically park or pull the Sonata out a parking spot without you actually having to be in the car. It’s perfect for those times when you’re trying to fit in a tight spot, but wouldn’t be able to get in or out after you parked it.
On the safety front, the 2020 Sonata comes standard with automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, lane following assist, and adaptive cruise control. A blind spot monitor is optional. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2020 Sonata its second highest rating, Top Safety Pick.
Right now the Sonata is available with two engine options. The standard engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. Higher trim levels are powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft. Both engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
We’re still waiting for the more powerful Sonata N-Line, since right now the Sonata can’t really compete with the top engines that are offered in the Accord and Camry, which generate between 252 and 301 horsepower.
The 2.5-liter is rated up to 28 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined while the 1.6-liter is rated at 27/36/31 mpg.
There’s also the Sonata Hybrid if you want a greener option, which is powered by a 2.0-liter hybrid powertrain that generates 192 hp and is rated up to 50 mpg city, 54 mpg highway and 52 mpg combined.
How does it drive? We spent some time with the top-of-the-line Sonata Limited, which is powered by the 1.6-liter engine. We wouldn’t call the driving experience sporty here, since the Sonata places more emphasis on comfort. If you want a sportier drive, you’ll want to check out the Accord. What it does do well though is that it gets you from point A to point B in comfort. The suspension does a good job of soaking up bumps and pot holes in the road and the light steering doesn’t require much effort.
The 1.6-liter engine packs enough power around town, which is helped by the fact that its torque comes on low in the rev range, but don’t expect to speed away from a stop like you can in the Accord or Camry.
How much does it cost? The 2020 Hyundai Sonata starts at $24,575, which is cheaper than the Accord, which starts at $25,225 and the Camry at $25,380.
At the end of the day the 2020 Hyundai Sonata has been completely revamped and it’s the best one yet thanks to its combination of style, features and a classy interior.