HERITAGE BENEFACTORS PARTING WAYS: 2020 will go down as the year that the House built by Henry Ford, Legatees of Louis Chevrolet, Descendants of Dodge Brothers and the Willed of Walter P. Chrysler gave up on their heritage hewing family cars in the U.S., henceforth placing all their eggs in an SUV and truck basket.
VOLUME SEDAN SALES FACT CHECK. Last year Americans purchased over 3 million new cars which didn’t fall into the light truck, crossover category. Of those sales 2/3rds were mid size family sedans.
FAMILY SEDAN MANTLE CEDED: This year Asian automakers have accepted the baton to continue in the American volume mid size sedan relay race. Look no further than the re-designed 2020 Hyundai Sonata which is pushing the family car envelope.
WHAT: 2020 Hyundai Sonata 1.6T Limited. This is the 8th generation Sonata, designated DN8, replacing the Sonata LF series.
Power: transverse variable nozzle turbocharged 1.6L DOHC 16V DI gas I-4 = 180 hp/ 195 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm.
Drivetrain: 8-spd. torque converter planetary automatic transaxle + ABS torque vectoring
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE(S): Among the adieu of Luc Donckerwolke designs for Hyundai, the new Sonata embodies an imaginative bold flow departure from the dialed back LF Sonata, seguing from sharp folds to open flowing panels. While the dimesions have grown slightly Donckerwolke, stylists of the Lamborghini Gallardo, has achieved a lither silhouette.
A bold arching hood descending to a wider hexangonal flowing molten steel grille bears out a relation to the Genesis G70. Front corners are formed by intersecting inverted boomerang creases, while the tweezed boomerang LED climb higher on the fenders. A taller greenhouse Coke bottle body flares prominently at front and rear wheel arche, while a arching beltine crease splits at the rear quarter panel.
A fastback profile is achieved by a coupe’s roof slope mating with a short trunk deck and prominent duck tail spoiler in fastback fashion. Boomerang wrap around rear directionals are bridged near the bottom of the trunk lid by a full racetrack red LED bar. A crease tracing the lower rear quarter rises to the bumper cover with license plates affixed in the lower bumper cover recess. Call it a little Ford Mustang in the front and a little Lincoln MKZ in the back.
WHY: Crossovers don’t lend themselves to such eye candy style and smooth moves.
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since winter 2019-2020
WHERE: Hyundai new vehicle dealers
WHERE MADE: Montgomery, Alabama, U.S.A.
HOW IT MOTIVATES: The low down is the turbocharged torque low down in the engine spin department. The subtly gritty sound won’t garner fans on the Voice. The in-house designed 8-speed automatic transaxle minimizes any lag penalty, locking gears to spin the impeller on demand. Real deal magnesium trimmed steering wheel shift paddles don’t execute expedited downshifts, though they sure look and feel exquisite.
+1/- NFC card allows smart car remote parking space vehicle extraction
HOW IT MOVES: The independent rear suspension remains one toe link away from less corner lift and understeer. Damping is taught but the chassis is bushed for plenty of forgiveness. Not by any means a highly communicative chassis, the new Sonata has settled on a natural steering heft and wind action. Sufficiently large rotor binders adept at bite with appetite are dispatched by a pedal consisting of low effort modulation.
HOW FAR: 31 miles per gallon combined fuel economy. Increase all-wheel driveline drag pinches highway fuel economy. Expect 420 miles interstate range per tankful of 87 octane petrol.
HOW BIG / LITTLE: The numbers say the new mid-size Sonata’s cabin is more intimate than the outgoing model’s. The sharp sloped panoramic roof combines with a lower rear bench for headroom to suffice. The front perch is plenty roomy with a good view forwards, though it’s more of a gun-slit squint through the sloped backlight.
√ 2020 Hyundai Sonata 111.8″ wheelbase = 0.4″ > Mazda 6, 1.0″ > Volkswagen Passat
- +1 Row 1 legroom = 9.0″ > Mazda 6, 3.7″ > VW Passat
- -1 Row 2 legroom = 2.4″ < Mazda 6, 4.3″ < VW Passat
HOW USEFUL: Considerable growth has occurred in storage: √ Deep Trunk = 2 full size cases and 3 roll aboard carry-on pieces; √ 60/40% split rear seat backs fold nearly flat. √ Adequately long & deep door pockets; √ Lower center stack wireless device tray with Qi inductive charging fits larger phablets and then some. √ Extra front passenger center console saddle pocket w/ roomy glovebox.
-1 Lack of concealing cover for wireless device tray.
√ 2020 Hyundai Sonata 16.0 cu. ft. cargo space (nom.) = 8% > Mazda 6, 0.2% < VW Passat
HOW SAFE: IIHS 2020 Top Pick status: √ 10 airbags, √ Rear camera w/ fixed gridlines, √ Sonar audible park assist;
Driver assist technology: √ Blind Spot Warning (available); √ Forward collision & pedestrian avoidance braking; √ Full adaptive cruise control; √ Lane departure warning, keep assist, trace; √ Rear Cross Traffic Alert, collision avoidance; √ Automatic high beam headlamps
Available (included on test vehicle): Gauge cluster adjacent lane view; Surround view cameras; Heads up display; Rain sensing wipers; Adaptive LED headlamps.
There is a reserved elegance inside the 2020 Hyundai Sonata which is eons away from the brand’s humble beginnings. Soft dash top and door panels impart a matte tactile impression. Cross stitching is abundant from seats to dashtop and door panels and a shapely new 4-spoke steering wheel. Contrast comes in the form of judiciously used piano gloss black bezels in the middle of the cockpit. Matte metallic accent bands span from center dash, trim vents and mid upper doors. Gradiated climate knobs, switches, steering spoke toggles are adorned with a simulated brushed metal. Even the new premium Bose audio door sail panel tweeters feature metallic ringed housings. Displays are optimally informative without overwhelming and the center console transmission push-button selector is among the most intuitive of the genre.
√ Contrast stitched, perforated, leather seating, front heated & cooled, 2nd Row heated; √ Power front seats: Driver’s 10-way w/ 2-position memory, front passenger 8-way; √ 4 power windows = front x full express; √ Heated tilt & telescoping, cross-stitched leather wrapped steering wheel; √ Dual analog dial gauges √ Fore center console twin dial and button 2-zone automatic climate switchgear; +1 Lower left lower dashboard dimmer & driver assist controls; +1 Wind & road noise isolation. +1 2nd Row door mounted seat heating switches
Cool Gizmo(s): ♦ Gauge cluster adjacent lane view; ♦ Bose Audio “Sounds of Nature” effect; ♦ Push button center console transmission selector; ♦ 10.25″ Tri-pane touch LCD infotainment display ; ♦ Retracting center console cupholder brackets
Details Done Right: ♦ Drive mode color variable 12.3″-inch color LCD gauge cluster; ♦ Fully padded and contrast stitched dashboard; ♦ Matte metallic and wood dashboard and door accents; ♦ Middle dashboard pebble graining; ♦ Metallic vent bezels; +1 Grooved metallic toggle integrated steering wheel spoke controls; +1 Metallic mid-dashboard media switch buttons.
Nearly Non Descript: -1 Thinner cargo bay carpets; -1 3rd Row and aft dark, hard grained plastic wall & pillars; -1 Climate control display reflective glare.
HOW “APP” -LICABLE: Center dash-top 10.25″-inch capacitive touch LCD infotainment tri-horizontal pane screen; +1 Large touch display icons; √ Voice learning hands-free communications; √ Native GPS HD voice command, guidance navigation; √ 6-speaker, 240 W audio w/ streaming audio & HD radio; √ Mobile powered Android Auto/ Apple Car Play application & navigation overlays; √ BlueLink Apps.
♦ Helpful vehicle setting menu function pictograms
♦ Delicately sweet 12 speaker Bose Centerpoint audio upgrade
√ Subscription based: Sirius XM & Sirius XM TravelLink (90 days included trial); BlueLink telematics (5 years included)
√ USB x 3, 12V x 1; Forward center console wireless device tray w/ Qi wireless charging.
HOW MUCH: $34,365 suggested retail price 2020 Hyundai Sonata 1.6T Limited.
WHAT’S MISSING: Wireless device tray concealing lid.
ANY COMPETITION: Honda Accord: +1 roominess and deft handling; Kia K5: +1 aggressive new look; Mazda 6: +1 premium materials and enthusiast’s responsiveness; Nissan Altima: +1 standard safety features, fuel economy; Toyota Camry: +1 sporting appearance; standard safety features
(Contributing Editor: J. Flynn)