2020 Hyundai Sonata is a game changer

2020 Hyundai Sonata

The Hyundai-KIA partnership has been one of the biggest success stories of the automotive industry’s history. Both entered the US market about the same time with shaky starts. Now as sister companies each seems unstoppable. The 2020 Sonata proves this.

The stunning new Sonata is totally reimagined from the previous model and looks to help the company continue making strides toward having the best midsized car in the class.

The Sonata is now one of the best looking cars on the market. If you go for the non turbo, you get a car that has some Austin Martin as well as Mercedes thrown in. It’s a gorgeous package that screams Genesis, Hyundai’s luxury mark. If you opt for the turbo engine you get a large, black grill that looks more boastful than beautiful. It is not as elegant as the regular grille, but boy, this makes a statement.

All Sonatas are longer, wider and lower, which is pretty much to be expected with a new design. It has strong character lines and a sloping hood that looks sensuous. The rear end is elegant with an LED light strip going across the full width of the tail. An integrated wing is reminiscent of Mercedes.

One of my favorite Sonata design elements are the front LED lights. What looks to be chrome accents are actually lights, or at least part of strips are lights. It’s so well integrated that you’d never know until the lights are on. This feature is present on all grades of Sonatas.

The Sonata’s interior is tastefully understated luxury. The instrument panel is configurable, giving you loads of information on the car. It is a 12.3-inch LCD cluster. The speedometer and the tachometer are in the left and right corners, respectively and are very large. Each serves a second purpose. These dials become monitors when you make a left or right turn giving live feeds of what’s beside you. Honda does this if you are making a right turn. Hyundai decided to one up the company.

To the right is a 10.25-inch touch screen. It’s very responsive to the touch and has exceptional clarity. My Limited test car equipment includes navigation and a really good Bose stereo system.  You can also select ambient sounds such as rain, ocean waves or even an open air cafe at a button’s touch.

Room with a view

There is ample room for five adults. The leather covered front seats are ventilated, heated and cooled. There are also various power adjustments. I didn’t spend much time in the rear but it looked cozy, but roomy. There is a 60/40 split bench that gives you access to a truck with nearly 16.5 cubic feet of space. Got your hands full of groceries and can’t get to your keys? No worries. The trunk has hands-free operation.

Now, let’s get to the engine. Go for the Limited version like my test car and you get a 1.6-liter turbo that makes 180 horsepower with 195 pounds feet of torque. The standard engine is bigger and has more horsepower but the turbo’s power is available at much lower rpms. It’s a jewel of an engine making the car feel quick. The eight speed transmission works with such sophisticated grace that a few luxury brands should take notice.

The 180 horses are enough to move the vehicle swiftly down the road. You can select a sport mode for the transmission and make the car more engaging. It’s not a true sports sedan but that’s coming later with a beefed up suspension and bigger turbo. For now, this engine gets the job done with a hint of throatiness. Passing power is good and handling is also good. I did notice the car got out of sorts under emergency braking but the may have been more me than the car. Paddle shifters also add to the fun.

The car is almost Genesis G80 quiet on the road – almost.

Safety first

The new Sonata also has the latest group of safety features such as blind spot detection, rear cross traffic detection, forward collision avoidance and surround view monitor.

What’s my favorite feature? Ever come back to your car and find someone has parked so close you can’t open the door to enter? Hyundai has a feature for that. You can use your key fob to move the car out of the space. Simple remote start the car and use the buttons on the fob to move the car forward or backwards. There are limitations, but it will allow you to go about 30 feet in either directions. The system can detect objects and come to a stop, again, with limitations.

The Limited Sonata checks off all the boxes as standard stuff: panoramic sunroof, upgraded stereo system, leather seats, keyless entry with remote start, ambient interior lighting, digital key, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio and 3 years of Hyundai’s Bluelink connected services. Carpeted floor mats are extra and there is the matter of freight. All that comes to an as-tested price of $34,365.

That’s a lot of stuff for a somewhat modest price, which is still a few thousand under the average Americans pay for a car. This is an unqualified hit for Hyundai. Heck, Genesis is now looking over its shoulder. 



  • Killer looks
  • Affordable price
  • Luxury car features
  • Safety features galore
  • Smooth, quiet ride


  • Not many