An all-new Sonata midsize sedan hit the Hyundai showrooms during fall 2019 as a 2020 model, and five months ago the 2020 Sonata Hybrid joined it.
While the hybrid maintains the compelling good looks of the conventional Sonata, there are a few distinguishing features. For improved aerodynamics resulting in better mileage, the hybrid has a cross-hole grille with active air flaps and a bottom lip, unique rear spoiler, and its own drag-reducing alloy wheels. But the most notable difference is the hybrid’s solar roof panel. It recharges the hybrid battery while preventing unnecessary battery discharge when the car is turned off. After six hours of charging, the solar setup can increase the car’s driving range by about 2 miles per day.
The Sonata Hybrid is available in Blue, SEL, and Limited grades. Fuel economy numbers for the Blue model are 50 mpg city, 54 mpg highway, and 52 mpg combined. For the SEL and Limited models, they are 45/51/47 mpg. SEL and Limited have lower numbers because they have additional standard equipment not included on the Blue. They also ride on 17-inch rather than 16-inch wheels.
Base pricing for the Blue is $28,725 with the $975 destination charge included. The SEL starts at $30,870 and the Limited at $36,275.
The same powertrain is used in all three Sonata Hybrid models: a 2.0-liter four cylinder engine generating 150 horsepower and 139 pound-feet of torque, and an electric motor with an output of 39 kW (51 horsepower). Combined, they create a total of 192 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard on every trim level.
My test car was a Limited model with only one extra-cost option, carpeted floor mats. The extensive list of standard features includes adaptive cruise control, heated and ventilated power front seats, 12-speaker Bose premium audio, 10.25-inch touchscreen navigation system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, and SiriusXM radio.
The infotainment system is user-friendly in general, but gets a demerit for not having a tuning knob. It does have a volume control knob, however.
Digital key is another standard feature of the Limited, enabling users to unlock, start and drive the Sonata Hybrid without a physical key, using a smartphone for control. It also allows for secure sharing of virtual keys with others, such as family members and friends. Hyundai’s digital key is compatible only with the Android operating system, and the car still comes with a traditional key as well.
Inside the cabin, the Sonata Hybrid is similar to the standard Sonata, but with the usual hybrid displays giving feedback about what’s happening with the system. An attractive Tan two-tone (black and beige) interior color scheme gave my test car a nice upscale look.
The aerodynamic low stance of the Sonata Hybrid makes it a little less easy to enter and exit than a typical family-style midsize sedan. It’s not a deal-breaker except for someone with challenging physical conditions, and keeping seats in a raised position can help mitigate the situation.
Driver assistance technology on the Sonata Hybrid Limited includes blind spot collision avoidance, blind spot view monitor, rear cross traffic collision avoidance, forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, and rear parking collision avoidance.
At times during the test week the technology was too bossy, especially when approaching a curve. It was correcting on the approach, as though it didn’t think I’d noticed the curve coming up. The corrections could have been more subtle, too.
A surround view monitor and front and rear parking sensors provide outstanding camera views, making correct parking a snap.
Note: Since the 2020 Sonata Hybrid arrived so recently, the 2021 model will be a carryover.
2020 HYUNDAI SONATA HYBRID
Base price, including destination charge: $36,275
Price as driven: $36,425
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.