2020 Hyundai Sonata first drive evaluate: Placing type, Tesla-like tech

See the way in which the daytime working lamps bleed into the chrome trim working up the hood? That is the “Dynamic Lasso.”

David Dewhurst/Hyundai

A “Dynamic Lasso made out of chromic strip” feels like an ass-kicking weapon designed to hold from Gal Godot’s waist within the subsequent DC Comics’ superhero blockbuster. As an alternative, it is the defining design function of the 2020 Hyundai Sonata. 

Ask any of the fashionable women and men who beaver away at automakers’ CAD workstations, they usually’ll let you know: the essence of a profitable automotive design may be expressed in a few easy traces or “gestures.” That is true, however hardly ever do these traces find yourself enjoying as seen and central a job in defining the look of manufacturing automotive as they do on this Alabama-born, Korean-badged household sedan.

I am referring, after all, to the distinguished bands of chrome that encircle the Sonata’s aspect glass (daylight opening, or “DLO” in designer converse), solely to plunge down both aspect of the hood, the place these ribbons abruptly kink outwards on the nostril to underline every headlamp. That metallic trim aspect, which Hyundai designers have christened “Dynamic Lasso,” hides an vital secret: a lot of it’s clear when backlit. When the Sonata’s daytime working lamps are switched on, that chromic strip illuminates from the LED headlamps’ outer reaches, forming an uncommon inverse-checkmark sample that extends midway up the hood. It is a look that will not be for everybody, however day or night time, it is a placing, sudden contact guaranteeing Sonata will not be mistaken for its rivals.

Stretching simply past the yawning shadows of Hyundai’s gigantic, 2-million-square-foot assembly plant, the immaculately paved, rolling hills exterior of Montgomery reveal that this new Sonata’s boldness is not superficial. Quite the opposite, it is within the marrow of this midsize sedan’s bones, on prepared show on this automotive’s numerous cutting-edge options. The 2020 Hyundai Sonata is not excellent, however if you would like the most recent high-tech goodies and you do not have the price range (or the need) to go for an electric sedan from Elon Musk and Co., nicely, pal, step proper this manner. 

The heart

Codenamed “DN8,” the 2020 Sonata is the primary mannequin to be primarily based on Hyundai’s third-generation platform, a modular structure set to underpin quite a few automobiles spanning completely different segments. Longer and decrease than its far-more-conservative predecessor, the brand new automotive rides atop an extended, 111.8-inch wheelbase and encompasses a shorter entrance overhang and a dramatically tapered roofline that lends the profile a fastback, four-door-coupe-like design. In truth, the rear glass is raked sufficiently that you can be forgiven for pondering it varieties a hatchback, like a cut-price Volkswagen Arteon. Nevertheless, the Sonata is definitely a conventional three-box sedan.

When it hits US sellers in December, the Sonata will likely be supplied with a pair of Smartstream four-cylinder engines. Base SE and SEL fashions will obtain a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter GDI engine providing 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. The premium possibility present in SEL Plus and Restricted trims is a 1.6-liter T-GDi powerplant. Turbocharged and that includes the world’s first software of Constantly Variable Valve Period (CVVD) for enhanced effectivity and energy, this downsized inline 4 delivers fewer horses (180) however a handful extra pound-feet (195). You possibly can spot the 1.6T on the road because of its distinctive gloss-black grille with triangular parts. (For my cash, the base car’s chrome-slat grille is definitely considerably extra interesting.)

If bothering to provide two completely different engines with such related outputs looks like an odd resolution, we’re of like minds. It is particularly curious contemplating the bottom engine is estimated to be 2 miles per gallon extra environment friendly on the mixed EPA gasoline economic system cycle than its smaller, turbocharged relative (33 miles per gallon mixed versus 31). Look past the headline numbers, although, and you will be aware that the 1.6T’s torque curve is far broader, with the height arriving from 1,500 rpm (the two.5L does not ramp to full power till 4,000 revs), suggesting higher drivability. With out time within the 2.5L, I am unable to but inform how noticeable any efficiency hole is between these engines.


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5 issues it’s worthwhile to know concerning the 2020 Hyundai Sonata


Irrespective of the engine, a traditional eight-speed computerized will likely be hung from its output shaft, directing energy solely to the entrance wheels. In distinction to what we had heard throughout our early drive of a Korean-spec car in April, Hyundai executives on the launch stated there are not any plans for an all-wheel-drive model to compete with the Ford FusionNissan Altima and Subaru Legacy. Hyundai officers inform Roadshow that AWD variants solely make up single-digit percentages of most rivals’ total gross sales. Honest sufficient, however assuming this newest phrase is the definitive one, this is able to be one among only a few areas the place the Sonata’s decision-makers appear to lack ambition.

As a result of our first drive of a US mannequin was additionally so early, solely preproduction 1.6-liter Restricted fashions have been obtainable. (Meeting of the bottom 2.5 liter is anticipated to start later this yr, nearer to the 2020 Sonata’s on-sale date.) Fortunately, 1.6T proved to be an agreeable associate, and never simply because top-spec Restricted fashions function a full complement of tech. The engine is an efficient match for the chassis, providing sufficient energy underfoot each off the road and for freeway passing. The transmission generally is a bit lazy to kick down (even with the drive mode toggle set to Sport), so the 1.6T’s paddle shifters are handy for preemptive downshifts forward of pulling out to cross (or when trying to induce engine braking on steep ascents). 

Experience and dealing with

Regardless of sustaining the outgoing Sonata’s fundamental entrance MacPherson strut and rear multilink suspension setup, Hyundai says extra inflexible subframes entrance and rear mix to yield higher steering and dealing with, plus, braking response has improved resulting from an upsized booster. I want I might let you know that the Sonata is raring to hook up in corners, all sizzling and heavy like seniors at promenade, however I might be spinning a yarn. As an alternative, the Sonata handles predictably, confidently and with noticeably higher steering really feel than I bear in mind from its predecessor. 

For a household sedan, Sonata has an exceedingly sporty and low nostril and a rakish roofline.

David Dewhurst/Hyundai

No less than on this guise, on Michelin Primacy all-season rubber, Hyundai is not angling for the game sedan crowd. Opponents just like the Mazda6 and Honda Accord ship higher-fidelity responses and in the end, extra driving enjoyment. Not by the way, most rivals additionally supply bigger turbo fours or V6 engines that ship extra energy. I anticipate this shortcoming to be remedied in the not-too-distant future with an even bigger engine (doubtless a 2.0T), however for now, mum’s the phrase formally. Representatives readily available on the media launch did affirm this chassis is designed to accommodate electrification, and I would not anticipate Hyundai to again away from its historical past of ultimately providing hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants.

In fact, for the overwhelming majority of household sedan consumers, driving finesse is not almost as excessive on the procuring record as consolation, tech and security, and the 2020 Hyundai Sonata feels set to ace the competitors in these vital disciplines.

Cabin smarts

It begins with a totally trendy and well-executed inside that includes a deeper vary of accessible tech than any of this automotive’s rivals. Whereas low-end fashions make do with analog gauges, the Sonata is positively Mercedes-esque in its skill to be optioned not solely with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, but in addition a 10.25-inch wide-format touchscreen infotainment system. At Eight inches, even the bottom infotainment display is as massive as some rivals’ top-trim shows, and all Sonatas function customary Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Hyundai’s easy-to-use navigation is out there, as is 360-degree digicam protection and twin Bluetooth help (one for telephony and the opposite for audio streaming). 

The Sonata can also be the primary Hyundai to supply Bose audio — the premium setup presents 12 audio system and Centerpoint encompass sound processing. There’s even a crisp and enormous (8-inch) head-up show obtainable, though like many such techniques, I had bother seeing it carrying polarized sun shades.

The Sonata’s four-spoker is a bit unusual trying, however the inside of this Restricted is nicely carried out.

David Dewhurst/Hyundai

All of this cabin tech is properly built-in into the smooth dashboard that affords an expansive, nearly sports-car-like ahead view when mixed with the Sonata’s unusually low hood and raked windshield.

I’ve sampled Hyundai’s pushbutton shifter in different fashions, together with within the firm’s wonderful new Palisade. I really feel the identical about it right here as I did in that three-row SUV, which is to say that it is considerably gimmicky, however high quality. Sadly, the e-shifter does not release any bonus house beneath the way in which it does in Hyundai’s crossovers, however the middle console is however nicely organized.

Total ergonomics and materials finishes are very good, as is switchgear really feel. Regardless of its preproduction standing, my tester was completely squeak and rattle free, delivering a cabin expertise neatly remoted from street and wind noise. I am unsure the Sonata’s odd-looking four-spoke steering wheel is my style, however total, this inside is a really high quality place. That is even true within the again seat, which manages to supply extra headroom than the Altima and Accord with out resorting to awkward knees-up postures.

I will get to the Sonata’s bumper crop of superior security gear momentarily, however what actually lends this Hyundai its high-tech halo are a few class-exclusive celebration methods: Digital Key and Distant Sensible Parking Help. 

Digital Key

Digital Key builds on the data Hyundai’s software program engineers have gleaned from their well-known Blue Hyperlink app, including Near Field Communications and Bluetooth Low Energy tech. This allows drivers to depart their key at dwelling and easily faucet their Android smartphone in opposition to the door deal with to lock and unlock the automobile or begin the engine. Hyundai additionally features a hotel-key-like NFC card that may be handed to valets, and digital keys may be despatched to the cell phones of mates or household to grant non permanent entry with or with out driving privileges. It additionally seems like Hyundai could also be setting the stage for future ride-sharing alternatives. Sound like anybody we all know?


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No fob required with the Hyundai Sonata Digital Key


Distant Sensible Parking Help

The Sonata is Hyundai’s second mannequin to get Distant Sensible Parking Help — the primary being the corporate’s limited-volume Nexo fuel-cell crossover. RSPA lets drivers remotely begin their vehicles and pull them ahead or backwards into or out of tight parking spots. Activated by the automotive’s key fob, the system makes use of the automotive’s 13 ultrasonic parking sensors to make sure the automotive does not inadvertently pull into anybody or something. The system is able to slight steering inputs to straighten out, too. For the reason that person must be in shut proximity to the automobile for the tech to work, It is best to think about RSPA as a less complicated, much less abuse-prone model of Tesla’s controversial new Smart Summon.

Each Digital Key and Distant Sensible Park Help carried out flawlessly throughout a staged demo, however I will need extra time attempting them out in on a regular basis life earlier than I resolve whether or not this tech is genuinely helpful or simply for celebration methods.

Equipped for security

Customary security gear consists of autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keep help, clever cruise management with stop-and-go, in addition to Protected Exit Help, which leverages radar to stop doorways from being opened into site visitors. Like different current Hyundais, Blind-Spot View Monitor, which reveals what is likely to be hidden in your rear three-quarter view within the digital gauge cluster, is elective, as is rear cross-traffic alert with auto brake. 

Additionally elective is Highway Driving Assistant, primarily adaptive cruise management with lane centering and speed-limit cognition. In my restricted testing, HDA labored nicely, however there have been instances when its myriad small steering corrections did really feel a bit busy on winding freeways. 

Sonata’s rear three-quarter side makes this design appear to be as a lot of a hatchback because it does a sedan

David Dewhurst/Hyundai


MSRPs have but to be introduced, however they’re anticipated to remain roughly in-line with at the moment’s automotive, suggesting a mannequin unfold between $23,000 and $32,000. Both manner, it is clear the Sonata will supply unequalled quantities of high-tech comfort and security gear in its class.

There’s an argument to be made that Korea has turned to audacious design as a result of international sedan gross sales are shrinking, and the corporate feels it must flaunt its newest mannequin’s virtues. Both manner, no person ought to be stunned on the 2020 Hyundai Sonata’s boldness. A decade in the past, the “YF” sixth-generation Sonata’s Fluidic Sculpture design set the midsize section on its ear. However after a cold preliminary reception in its dwelling market, Hyundai bought chilly toes, ultimately changing that automotive with the comparatively conservative “LF” just now exiting dealers. It seems Korea has discovered its lesson — this new exterior look really originated not in Hyundai’s California design studio, it is a home-grown design. 

If Hyundai needs to problem section stalwarts just like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord for section management anew, the corporate wanted to go huge or go dwelling on the Sonata’s tech and design. Luckily, it seems the brand new automotive does precisely that… plus it is bought a Dynamic Lasso to rope ’em in.

Editors’ be aware: Journey prices associated to this function have been lined by the producer. That is widespread within the auto trade, as it’s miles extra economical to ship journalists to vehicles than to ship vehicles to journalists. Whereas Roadshow accepts multiday automobile loans from producers with a purpose to present scored editorial opinions, all scored automobile opinions are accomplished on our turf and on our phrases.

The judgments and opinions of Roadshow’s editorial crew are our personal and we don’t settle for paid editorial content material.

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