2020 Hyundai Sonata Review

2020 Hyundai Sonata - Sonata throws its hat into the ring


A notably unscientific DriveChicago.com pole this election year indicates Hyundai's mid-size 2020 Sonata sedan may be the candidate to beat.  Its popularity surge has perennial party leaders leering over their shoulders taking note.

More than once during the weeks test of the all-new eighth-generation Sonata, unsolicited suburbanites inquired in a mini-caucus of sorts about the silver four-door with, "Is that the 2020 Sonata?' desiring additional info.  

Sonata easily qualifies as Hyundai's longest-tenured vehicle, throwing its hat into the ring back in 1989. Since then, more than three million have been sold.

Pessimists insist four-door sedans remain out of touch with the common man or women. Trendy, flavor of the month crossovers and their forerunners, sport utility vehicles, have garnered the spotlight of late.

Major Party Big Bosses GM and Ford have cleared their showroom deck of sedans, doubling down with flashy crossovers and SUVs; a possible boondoggle in the making.

Sonata's in for the long haul as slow and steady often time wins the day through growing grass root, bipartisan support.

The sixth generation effort (2011-2014) recast Sonata from rather Stogy to suddenly Stunning when adding 'Fluid Sculpture Design" to the ticket, raising side belt lines and narrowing door windows.

This Gen Eight redesign updates with a 'Sensuous Sporty Design' resulting in reduced weight and a lower center of gravity (thanks in part to lower front shock absorber towers). This delivers a sportier experience in tandem with two revamped four-cylinder engines. Interior materials including the dashboard, now dress for success while the interior quarters regain a quieter composure.

Sonata's wheelbase (distance between front and rear axle) expands over seven inches, longest in its mid-size delegation while overall length grows by almost two inches.  Extra dimensions add up to expanded second-row leg room, helping Sonata cart three average sized adults when summoned.  Width gets shaved by two-tenths of an inch creating a slimmer silhouette.

Another added value when considering a vote for Sonata; an industry leading 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, one of the longest-durations offered;  helping Sonata stand apart in a crowded primary.  Frame it as Hyundai's vision of healthcare for all its internal combustion engines.

A new party-affiliated perk was announced for Hyundai's purchased or leased after February 1, 2020; three year/36,000-mile complimentary coverage for basic maintenance. This covers, most notably, periodic oil/filter changes and tire rotation.

Two all-new gas-direct-injected inline four-cylinder engines swap among four trim levels:  SE, SEL, SEL Plus and top-trim Limited.  A 2.5-liter, naturally-aspirated (non-turbo) generates 191 horsepower in SE and SEL parties and updates from Gen Seven's 2.4-liter with 185 horses. Limited and SEL get the turbo, a 1.6-liter candidate with 180 horses and lots more lower-end torque, providing quicker starts from standstill and rates as the pick to click if considering the 'fun factor.' All derive from front-wheel drive and delver power through an electronic eight-speed automatic transmission.

Fuel economy checks in top-ticket excellent.  City miles per gallon of 27 and 36 mpg with the 1.6 turbo reach highway. The rather diminutive 15.8-gallon tank utilizes regular, 87-octane fuel.  

Party contingents demand better numbers...and Sonata delivered again.

A self-charging 2020 Sonata gas-electric hybrid sedan (no plug-in necessary) brings home an estimated 52 miles per gallon of combined city/hwy travel (a 24 percent increase from 2019). A segment-first solar panel roof helps charge 12-volt and hybrid batteries. Those attending the Chicago Auto Show last month got a first glimpse as Hyundai utilized the rally for Sonata hybrid's North American debut.

Larger V-6 engines once dominated the mid-size landscape. Advancements within four-banger technology now produce horsepower results once associated with six cylinders. Sonata's two four cylinders deliver competence for a majority of circumstances, although some rivals deliver higher HP numbers.  

Pricing starts at $23,600 for a SE trim. Our Limited tester came fully loaded from the factory at $33,300.  With carpeted floor mats ($135) as the only extra, the bottom line reached $34,365 after adding the $930 destination charge.

Only SEL and SEL Plus offer packaged factory options.  The SEL includes Convenience and Premium packages while SEL Plus delivers a Tech package.  

All trims include a nice suite of radar-enhanced safety nuances.  These include smart cruise control, automatically slowing and speeding Sonata based on the vehicle ahead, forward collision warning, lane keep assist and driver attention warning.

The new-for-2020 push-button transmission locates between front bucket seating (a leather variety comes standard solely in Limited) with the square 'Park' button to the left and 'R,' 'N' and 'D' buttons in-line to the right. Each letter illuminates red lighting when pressed. An electronic parking brake resides rearward and to the side, in-line dual cup holders.

An up-front cove specializes in all-things Smartphone with USB ports, a 12-volt outlet and in Limited and SEL Plus, a flat wireless charging rest pad for the latest-generation Smartphone.  Android Auto comes standard across the board allowing Application interaction with the in-dash screen. Limited comes standard with a sizeable 10.25-inch color touchscreen (optional in SEL and SEL Plus).  Lower trims downsize to an eight-inch variety.  This non-cluttered design remains easy to navigate.

Vote for Limited, and receive a visually-appealing Blind View Monitor, the sole trim with this novel instrument panel camera-fed extra. With the left-turn signal summoned, an in-motion camera feed of the port-side blind spot live streams in the tachometer circle. A starboard request and a motion picture develops inside the right-leaning speedometer circle. Amber-colored icons continue to illuminate in side view mirrors when vehicles occupy blind spots. Limited and SEL Plus feature an expanded 12.3-inch LED highly-animated instrument cluster display.

Limited also boasts the only standard sunroof of the trims and an 'around view monitor' built into the in-dash display providing additional camera perspectives other that straight back. Other Limited exclusives include ventilated front seats, heads up color front windshield display and front/rear parking sensors.

Dual zone climate controls feature a pair of dials controlling driver and passenger side requests with chrome press buttons in between summoning fan direction and speed.

Trunk volume grows to 16.0 cubic feet, besting Toyota Camry's 15.1 cubic feet.  Plus, a temporary spare tire resides under the flat cargo floor.  Not all sedans or crossovers promise one.

The exterior facelift shows nicely on television, in print and even better in person.  A multitude of character lines of varying width adorn the handsome exterior. Slightly shorter 2020 dimensions have this four-door in mimicking the styling of a sporty two door. The hood enjoys a pronounced up front curve and four bejeweled LED headlights nest inside bird-beak framed daytime running lights stretching to the hood. A neon-like tail light LED stream extends from one end to the other, not unlike what the Dodge brand employees with Challenger and Charger.

When December 2020 results file in, this value-oriented re-imaged candidate could win the mid-size sedan popular vote (and Electoral College results, too).

2020 Sonata Limited

Price as tested: $34,365

Engine: 1.6-liter turbo inline four

Horsepower:  180

Wheelbase: 118.0 inches

Overall length:  192.9 inches

Overall width:   73.2 inches

Overall height:  56.9 inches

Curb weight:   3,336 pounds

Fuel Economy: 27 mpg city/36 mpg highway

Powertrain warranty:  10-year/100,000 mile

Assembly: Montgomery, Alabama

Dave Boe

Dave Boe, a lifetime Chicago area resident, worked at the Daily Herald, Illinois' third-largest daily newspaper, for 24 years. In 1989, the Daily Herald began a weekly Saturday Auto Section and he was shortly appointed editor. The product quickly grew into one of the largest weekend sections in the paper thanks to his locally-written auto reviews, the introduction of a local automotive question-and-answer column, a new colorful format and news happenings from Chicago area new-car dealerships.

Five years later, a second weekly auto section debuted on Mondays with Boe adding an industry insight column and introducing a "Love Affair with Your Car" column where readers sent in their own automotive memories for publication. During the next 10 years, the number of weekly auto sections Boe edited and coordinated grew to five and featured expanded NASCAR racing coverage, a dealer spotlight/profile feature and a Car Club Calendar where grass-roots automobile clubs could publish upcoming events for free. Boe also introduced more local automotive columnists into the pages of the sections, all of whom were seasoned members of the well respected Midwest Automotive Media Association. In 1997, Boe earned the Employee of the Year award from the Daily Herald.

Boe is a founding member and current president of the Midwest Automotive Media Association. He has degrees in Journalism and Business Administration from Northern Illinois University.