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Home / Business / 2020 Hyundai Sonata first drive review: Striking style, Tesla-like tech

2020 Hyundai Sonata first drive review: Striking style, Tesla-like tech

Do you see how the driving lights bleed into the chrome trim running up the bonnet? It's the "Dynamic Lasso."

David Dewhurst / Hyundai

A "Dynamic Lasso Made of Chrome Strip" sounds like a butt kick weapon designed to hang from Gal Godot's waist in the next DC Comics & # 39; superhero success. Instead, it's the defining design feature of the Hyundai Sonata of 2020.

Ask some of the stylish men and women who are straying away from the automakers' CAD workstations, and they will tell you: the essence of a successful car design can be expressed in a couple of simple lines or "gestures." It is true, but rarely do these lines end up being a visible and central role in defining the look of the production car as they do in this Alabama-born, Korean-badges family sedan.

Of course, I refer to the prominent chrome straps that surround Sonata's side glass (daylight opening, or "DLO" in designer speech), just to fold down on each side of the bonnet, where these bands abruptly break out at the nose to emphasize each headlamp. The metallic trim element, which Hyundai designers have dubbed "Dynamic Lasso," hides an important secret: much of it is transparent when illuminated. When Sonata's daytime running light is turned on, it illuminates the chrome strip from the LED's outer range, forming an unusual inverted check mark that extends halfway up into the hood. It's a look that won't be for everyone, but day or night it is a striking, unexpected touch that ensures that Sonata is not mistaken by its rivals.

Stretching just outside the yawning shadows of Hyundai's giant, 2 million-square-foot assembly plant, the immaculately paved, rolling hills outside Montgomery reveal that this new Sonata's boldness is not superficial. On the contrary, it is in the margins of the legs of this midsize sedan, on clear display in this car's myriad innovative features. The 2020 Hyundai Sonata isn't perfect, but if you want the latest high-tech goodies and you don't have the budget (or desire) to go for an electric sedan from Elon Musk and Co. Well, friend, go right this way.


The code name "DN8", the 2020 sonata is the first model based on Hyundai's third generation platform, a modular architecture set to support a variety of vehicles spanning different segments. Longer and lower than the far more conservative predecessor, the new car runs at a longer 1

11.8-inch wheelbase and has a shorter front overhang and a dramatically tapered roofline that gives the profile a fast-back, four-door coupe-like design. In fact, the rear glass is shaved enough that you can be forgiven for thinking it forms a hatch, like a reduced price Volkswagen Arteon . However, the Sonata is actually a traditional three-box sedan.

When it hits US dealerships in December, Sonata will be offered with a pair of Smartstream four-cylinder engines. Base SE and SEL models will receive a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter GDI engine that offers 191 horsepower and 181 pounds of torque. The premium option found in steps SEL Plus and Limited is a 1.6-liter T-GDi power plant. Turbocharged and with the world's first application of Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) for increased efficiency and power. This closed size of line four produces fewer horses (180) but a handful more pounds (195). You can see the 1.6T on the street thanks to the unique gloss-black grille with triangular elements. (For my money, the chrome laminate grille of the base car is actually considerably more appealing.]

If caring to produce two different engines with such similar outputs seems like a strange decision, we're of the mind. It is particularly curious considering that the base engine is estimated to be 2 miles per gallon more efficient on the combined EPA fuel economy cycle than the smaller, turbocharged relative (33 miles per gallon combined versus 31). headline numbers, and you'll notice that the 1.6T's torque curve is much wider, with the peak coming from 1,500 rpm (the 2.5L ramp does not reach full strength before 4000 revolutions), suggesting better driveability. L I can't tell yet how noticeable any performance gap is between these engines.

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Five Things You Need to Know About Hyundai Sonata from 2020


Whatever the engine, a conventional eight-speed automatic will be hung from the output shaft, which only controls the power of the front wheels. Contrary to what we had heard during our early driving of a Korean-specific car in April, Hyundai executives said at launch that there is no plan for a four-wheel drive version to compete with Ford Fusion Nissan Altima and Subaru Legacy . Hyundai officials tell Roadshow that AWD variants make up only one-digit percent of most rivals' total sales. Fair enough, but assuming this final word is the final one, this will be one of the very few areas where Sonata's makers seem to lack ambition.

Because our first drive of an American model was also so early, only pre-production 1.6-liter limited models were available. (The 2.5-liter base assembly is expected to start later this year, closer to Sonata's 2020 sales date). Fortunately, the 1.6T proved to be a nice partner, and not just because top specific models have a complete complement of tech. The engine fits well with the chassis and offers enough power under the feet both off the line and for the freeway. The transmission can be a bit lazy to kick down (even with the drive mode switch set to Sport), so the 1.6T's paddle shifters are handy for preemptive lows before pulling out to pass (or when you want to induce engine braking on steep climbs).

Ride and action

Despite maintaining the outgoing Sonata's basic front MacPherson suspension and rear multilink suspension, Hyundai says that more rigid front and rear subframes combine to provide better steering and handling, plus braking response become better because of a larger size booster. I wish I could tell you that Sonata is eager to hook up in the corners, all hot and heavy as the seniors on the school ball, but I spin a yarn. Instead, the Sonata handles predictably, confidently and with noticeably better control feel than I remember from its predecessor.

For a family sedan, the Sonata has a very sporty and low nose and a rakish roofline.

David Dewhurst / Hyundai

At least in this outfit, on Michelin Primacy all year rubber, Hyundai is not a sport fish for sports sedan audiences. Competitors such as the Mazda6 and Honda Accord provide higher-belief responses and ultimately more driving pleasure. Not by the way, most rivals also offer larger turbo fires or V6 engines that deliver more power. I expect this shortage will be rectified in the not too distant future with a larger engine (probably a 2.0h), but for the moment the word is official. Representatives at hand at the launch of the media confirmed that the chassis is designed to accommodate electrification, and I would not expect Hyundai to shy away from the history of finally offering hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants.

Of course, for the vast majority of buyers of sedan cars are nowhere near as high on the shopping list as comfort, technology and safety, and the 2020 Hyundai Sonata feels ready to compete in these key disciplines.

Cabin smarts

It starts with a fully modern and well-executed interior with a deeper selection of available technology than any of these car competitors. While low-end models are content with analog gauges, the Sonata is positively Mercedes-esque in its ability to be selected not only with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, but also a 10.25 -inch wide format infotainment touch screen. At 8 inches, the base of the infotainment screen is even as large as some competitors' top trim screens, and all Sonatas have standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Hyundai's user-friendly navigation is available, as well as 360-degree camera coverage and dual Bluetooth support (one for telephony and the other for audio streaming).

Sonata is also the first Hyundai to offer Bose audio – the premium setup offers 12 speakers and Centerpoint surround sound processing. There is even a sharp and large (8-inch) head-up display available, although I, like many such systems, had trouble seeing it wearing polarized sunglasses.

Sonata's four-poker is a bit strange, but the interior of this limitation is well done.

David Dewhurst / Hyundai

All this cabin technology is nicely integrated into the elegant dashboard that provides an expansive, almost sports-car-like foresight when combined with Sonata's unusually low hood and rocky windshield.

I have tried out Hyundai's push buttons in other models, including the company's excellent new Palisade . I feel the same about this as I did in the three-row SUV, which means it's a little gimmicky, but nice. Unfortunately, the e-shifter does not release any bonus space during the way it does in Hyundai's crossover, but the center console is still well organized.

In general, ergonomics and material finish are very fine, as are switchgear feel. Despite the status of the pre-production, my tester was completely creaky and rattled, delivering a cabin experience that was smartly isolated from road and wind noise. I'm not sure that Sonata's weird four-spoke steering wheel is my taste, but overall, this interior is a very nice place. That's even true in the back seat, which manages to offer more headroom than Altima and Accord without resorting to difficult knee positions.

I come to Sonata's bumper crop of advanced safety equipment moments, but what really gives you this Hyundai's high-tech glory is a couple of class-exclusive party tricks: Digital Key and Remote Smart Parking Assist.

Digital Key

Digital Key builds on the knowledge Hyundai's software engineers have derived from its well-known Blue Link app, and added Near Field Communications and Bluetooth Low Energy tech. This allows drivers to leave the key at home and simply tap their Android smartphone against the door handle to lock and unlock the car or start the engine. Hyundai also includes a hotel key-like NFC card that can be handed over to officers, and digital keys can be sent to cell phones to friends or family to provide temporary access with or without driving privileges. It also feels like Hyundai could set the stage for future ride sharing opportunities. Sounds like someone we know?

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No fob required with Hyundai Sonata Digital Key


Remote Smart Parking Assist

Sonata is Hyundai's second model for getting Remote Smart Parking Assist – the first was the company's limited volume Nexo Fuel Cell Transition . The RSPA allows drivers to remotely start their cars and pull them forward or backward into or out of tight parking spaces. The system is activated by the car's keypad, and uses the car's 13 ultrasonic parking sensors to ensure that the car does not accidentally pull into anyone or anything. The system can also control inputs to straighten out. Since the user must be close to the vehicle for the technology to work, it is best to think of RSPA as a simpler, less exposed version of Tesla's controversial new Smart Summon .

Both Digital Key and Remote Smart Park Assist performed flawlessly during a staged demo, but I would like to spend more time trying them out everyday before deciding if this technique is really useful or just for party tricks.

Geared up for safety [19659008] Standard safety equipment includes autonomous pedestrian emergency braking, lane assistance, intelligent stop-and-go cruise control, and Safe Exit Assist, which utilizes radar to prevent doors from opening to traffic. Like other recent Hyundais, the Blind-Spot View Monitor, which shows what can be hidden in the rear three-quarter view of the digital gauge cluster, is optional, as is the rear intersection for traffic alert with auto brakes.

Also optional Highway Driving Assistant is primarily adaptive cruise control with lane centering and speed limit recognition. In my limited test, HDA worked well, but there were times when the many small steering corrections felt a little busy on winding highways.

Sonata's rear three-quarter aspect makes this design look just as big a hatch as a sedan

David Dewhurst / Hyundai


MSRPs have not yet been announced, but they are expected to remain roughly in line with today's car, suggesting that a model is spread between $ 23,000 and $ 32,000. Regardless, it is clear Sonata will offer unmatched amounts of high-tech convenience and safety equipment in its class.

There is an argument to be made that Korea has turned to bold design because global sales of sedan are trickling down, and the company feels it needs to flaunt the latest model's virtues. In any case, no one should be surprised by the boldness of Hyundai Sonata in 2020. A decade ago, Sonata's Fluidic Sculpture design placed "YF" sixth generation in the middle segment of the ear. But after a cool initial reception on the domestic market, Hyundai got cold feet, and eventually replaced the car with the relatively conservative "LF", which now left dealerships . Korea seems to have learned the lesson – this new exterior look didn't actually originate in Hyundai's California design studio, it's a home-grown design.

If Hyundai wants to challenge segment statistics like Toyota Camry and Honda Accord for new leadership in the segment, the company needed to go big or go home on Sonata's technology and design. Fortunately, the new car seems to do just that … plus it has a dynamic Lasso to rope them in.

Editor's Note: Travel expenses related to this feature were covered by the manufacturer. This is common in the automotive industry, as sending journalists to cars is far more economical than sending cars to journalists. While Roadshow accepts multiday vehicle loans from manufacturers to provide scored editorial reviews, all scored vehicle reviews are completed on our turf and on our terms.

The judgments and opinions of Roadshow's editors are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.

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