A redesign of Hyundai’s signature cascading grille adds to the bold new look of the 2020 Sonata midsize sedan. (Manufacturer photo)

A redesign of Hyundai’s signature cascading grille adds to the bold new look of the 2020 Sonata midsize sedan. (Manufacturer photo)

Hyundai Sonata midsize sedan gets sweeping changes for 2020

Hyundai’s most successful model carries the carmaker’s new Sensuous Sportiness design language.

The Sonata midsize sedan, Hyundai’s longest-running and most successful model, is entirely redesigned for 2020, marking the start of its eighth generation. It’s the first Hyundai sedan styled in the carmaker’s new “Sensuous Sportiness” design language, and it will take many first-time beholders a while to even realize it’s a Hyundai.

This new Sonata looks expensive but Hyundai hasn’t strayed too far from its affordability origins. With a $955 destination charge included, pricing starts at $24,555.

Along with the sweeping design changes, the 2020 Sonata has a new platform, new engines, and a lot of new technologies.

There are four trim levels: SE, SEL, SEL Plus, and Limited.

SE and SEL trims have a 2.5-liter four cylinder engine producing 191 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque. It’s rated 28 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, and 32 mpg combined.

SEL Plus and Limited models come with a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. Its fuel economy numbers are 27/36/31 mpg.

All four models have an eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive isn’t available.

The base Sonata SE trim doesn’t ask buyers to endure hardship. The only features it lacks whose absence I’d bemoan are a power driver seat with lumbar, heated front seats, satellite radio, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and, depending on the time of year, heated outside mirrors.

I drove the top-tier Sonata Limited, which weighs in at $34,455 including a heavy dose of special features as standard equipment.

The Limited’s 1.6-liter engine has less horsepower than the 2.5-liter used in the SE and SEL, but its turbocharger takes up the slack, and then some, with the thoughtful gift of extra torque, which is the soul of satisfying acceleration. Still, its performance isn’t particularly exceptional, and if you consider that a deal-breaker there’s a sport-tuned Sonata N-Line model coming later in the year. For those more interested in maximizing miles per gallon, a Sonata Hybrid is set to arrive this spring.

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata interior is handsome, uncluttered, roomy and comfortable. (Manufacturer photo)

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata interior is handsome, uncluttered, roomy and comfortable. (Manufacturer photo)

Sonata’s interior design is handsome, uncluttered, and comfortable. Front seats are wider than average. They’re well bolstered, and there were several inches on both sides between me and the bolsters. Large people who get overly squeezed driving a midsize sedan will appreciate Hyundai’s generosity. Head room for front and rear passengers is also magnanimous.

The infotainment system and I got along pretty well during the week, even though it required a bit too much research and experimentation to be deemed full-on intuitive. I wasn’t cheerful about the capacitive (touch-sensitive) controls in place of mechanical buttons or switches, and confess to holding a week-long grudge about there being no tuning knob for the audio.

An unusual “Sounds of Nature” feature lets you play sounds simulating such things as a Lively Forest, Calm Sea Waves, Snowy Village, and Warm Fireplace, presumably for relaxation, which is a bad idea while driving unless you’re in the middle of a road-rage episode. One of the sounds of nature options is really odd: Open-air Café. For fun I played Rainy Day and listened to the slow plinking of raindrops when it was pouring outside.

A decidedly more interesting feature of the new Sonata is called Hidden Lighting Lamps. The name itself is wonderful enough. There’s a chrome line that starts at the wing mirror, goes around the side passenger windows, and returns to the front of the car by running the length of the hood and ending beneath the headlights. It has LED running lights embedded with the Hidden Lighting Lamps that look like chrome when switched off but become dramatically lit when turned on.

There are four trim levels of the 2020 Hyundai Sonata, and two four-cylinder engine choices, including a turbo. (Manufacturer photo)

There are four trim levels of the 2020 Hyundai Sonata, and two four-cylinder engine choices, including a turbo. (Manufacturer photo)

2020 HYUNDAI SONATA LIMITED

Base price, including destination charge: $34,455

Price as driven: $34,455

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.

Talk to us

More in Life

CloZee performs during the second day of Summer Meltdown on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019 in Darrington, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The psychedelic fest Summer Meltdown is back — and in Monroe

The music and camping event is on for July 28-31, with a new venue along the Skykomish River.

Veteran Keith F. Reyes, 64, gets his monthly pedicure at Nail Flare on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021 in Stanwood, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
No more gnarly feet: This ‘Wounded Warrior’ gets pedicures

Keith Reyes, 64, visits a Stanwood nail salon for “foot treatments” that help soothe blast injuries.

Enumclaw, the band
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Most of these venues require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or negative… Continue reading

Does this ring a “Belle”? Storied anime writer-director Mamoru Hosoda’s newest resets “Beauty and the Beast” in a musical, virtual environment — among other modern twists. (GKIDS/TNS)
‘Belle’ is striking virtual reality riff on ‘Beauty and the Beast’

In it, ‘Beauty’ is the charismatic online avatar of a moody teenager that attracts the attention of a bruised and brooding Beast

"Redeeming Love"
Movie review: ‘Redeeming Love’ doesn’t yield cinematic riches

The story, about a sex worker “redeemed” by a folksy farmer in Gold Rush-era California, is creepy “tradwife” fan fiction.

Eggs Florentine
Baked Eggs Florentine: A brunch favorite inspired by a queen

The kitchen manager at Quil Ceda Creek Casino shares a dish that pays homage to a spinach-crazy 16th century monarch.

Jennifer Bardsley, author of her newest book Good Catch, at her home on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021 in Edmonds, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds author transitions from young adult novels to romance

Jennifer Bardsley’s “Good Catch” is set in an Edmonds-like town. Spoiler alert: There’s a happy ending.

Caption: They might be too old for lunch box notes, but teenagers benefit from TLC too.
Fun ways to show the teens in your life that you care

The teen years can be challenging but they don’t last long. A little bit of extra attention can go a long way.

This easy-to-make spinach and mushroom quiche is perfect for a light dinner or fancy brunch. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)
Gretchen’s table: A spinach-mushroom quiche with cheesy goodness

The savory egg custard baked in a pie crust is easy to make — especially if you use a refrigerated crust.

Most Read