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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited: Placing Style Back On The Drawing Board


Highlight:  This year’s model includes a solar control glass roof.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $37,070 (Base Model: $28,725)

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Features: airbags; side airbags; ABS; a radar activated cruise control system; a blindspot collision avoidance assist system; a rear cross traffic alert system; a forward collision alert system; a high beam assist system;  tire pressure monitoring system; a traction control system; a stability control system; a tire repair kit; and a rearview camera


Standard Equipment (Blue): 16-inch wheels; a 6-speed automatic transmission; front-wheel drive; LED headlights; LED Daytime Running Lights; LED taillamps; a push button ignition starter; a keyless lock/unlock system; a hands free mart trunk; a manual operated tilt/telescopic steering wheel; dual power folding mirrors; a solar control glass a chrome tip single exhaust; cloth seats; manual control front seats; rear split folding seat with a center armrest; a push button gear control system; an automatic climate control system; steering wheel mounted paddle shifters; and an 8-inch infotainment screen

Standard Equipment (Limited): 17-inch wheels; full LED taillamps; side mirror LED turn signal indicators; dual power heated folding mirrors;  heated bodycolor side mirrors; a rear bumper with parking sensors; laminated front glass; solar glass roof panel; leather seats; power front seats; heated and ventilated front seats; a wireless device charging system; dual charging USB ports; front console mounted rear vents; a leather wrapped steering wheel; a heated steering wheel; a 10-inch infotainment screen; a 12-speaker Bose audio system; a heads up display (HUD); a highway driving assist system; a Hyundai digital key; an electronic automatic rearview mirror; a 360-degree camera; an electronic blindspot monitor; ambient lighting; and front and rear parking sensors

Optional Features On Test Vehicle: None

Other Trim Levels:

SEL

Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 6-speaker AM/FM/HD with SiriusXM

Apple CarPlay/Android: Yes

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

USB Connectivity: Yes                

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 10 years or 100,000 miles

Hybrid System Warranty: 10 years or 100,000 miles

Hybrid Battery Warranty: Lifetime

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder/192-hp

Recommended Fuel: Regular

Standard Fuel Mileage: 45-city/51-hwy


What’s New: The eighth-generation Sonata has evolved from a vanilla looking ugly duckling to more like a swan, taking more styling cues from the sixth- generation breakout design, which was a game changer for both the midsize car market as well as the Korean brand.

Why: After to failing to break away from the pact with its previous lackluster design, the eighth-generation Sonata is attempting to move the needle again with its more mature premium-like styling.

The all-new Sonata with its wider and lower styling profile is available in both a gasoline and a hybrid configuration. The hybrid model, which we reviewed, was available in three trim levels: Blue, SEL and Limited.

All of the hybrid trims were outfitted with a fuel-efficient 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine, which produced 192-horsepower. However, when one opted for this year’s model base level Blue trim, according to fueleconomy.gov, the vehicle is now capable of producing a combined 52-mpg, when compared to the lackluster 41-mpg the previous Sonata hybrid achieved. This year’s model has increased by close to 30 percent, putting it on par with the Camry LE Hybrid. Both vehicles also offer the same 686-mile driving range.

And while the Sonata’s SEL and Limited trims, combined mpg weren’t as high the base Blue trim model, the combined gas mileage of 47-mpg was still up significantly from last year’s model even with this year’s smaller fuel tank.

Also this year’s higher end Sonata Limited was design with ‘green’ in mind. This was quite evident based on such engineering feats as the active airflaps, the rear spoiler and the glass solar roof panel. In fact, the glass solar roof panel, which is only available on the Limited, is a first in the midsize segment. Previously we’ve seen such a design on the Toyota Prius. According to the folks at Hyundai, the solar roof panel is capable of inking out 2 miles per day from nature’s sunlight.

Moreover, this year’s eye-catching Sonata can be outfitted with a number of premium features too, ranging from leather seats to a wireless charging device to a premium Bose sound system to a digital key to lock and unlock the door using one’s smartphone. We also must note that the layout of the instrument panel and infotainment is a mixture of simplicity and modern. Its not overly complicated or highly digitized. 

Furthermore, depending upon the trim, the 2020 Sonata is available with the latest safety driving aids. These features consist of a blind spot monitor, a forward collision avoidance assist system and a 360-degree camera.  

But: The oval shaped almost egg crate-like grille reminds us of those days, when we needed orthodontic assistance. While we are smitten with the almost every angle of this sedan, the front end of the vehicle needs to go back to the drawing board. It actually takes away from the vehicle.

Moreover, the hybrid model should offer a sportier wheel flair. The wheels on our higher end limited trim didn’t necessarily enhance the appearance of the vehicle.

Furthermore, we didn’t realize that we could open the trunk from literally popping the Hyundai logo, which was placed below the rear spoiler. It was that obvious to us!

And with the new piano-like parking gear selector it seemed as though electric brakes were automatically applied every time the vehicle was placed in park. Each time we restarted the vehicle or placed the vehicle in drive we had to release the electric parking brakes. This was quite annoying.

Added to that, we had to be reminded that with the new premium design one would expect a large car ride. While the ride is in sync with other vehicles within the segment, we were expecting the vehicle to float more like the luxurious Audi A7, which the vehicle takes styling cues from.

Lastly, the Honda Accord Hybrid produced a combined 48-mpg, as opposed to the combined 47-mpg in the Sonata SEL and Limited trims, according to fueleconomy.gov.


Verdict: After the seventh generation Sonata seemingly lost its design touch, after the success of its sixth-generation model, this year’s model seemed to be back on track. Hyundai has seemingly found its way again, enhancing the style and fuel-efficiency, as the ‘Detroit 3’ have decided to exit the midsize segment.

Now Hyundai is wondering will they be able to gain the appeal they won with the model and the brand, as they did with the sixth-generation Sonata, which was designed by Andre Hudson, a young Black man.

Competition: 2020 Kia Optima Hybrid; 2020 Honda Accord Hybrid; and 2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid


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