The line between the luxury and mainstream segments is getting as blurry as the lines that define a batter’s box around the seventh inning of a major league baseball game. A case in point is the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Limited, a midsized passenger car that sits at the center of market even as more and more buyers opt for trucks and SUVs.
Overview: When you get in the Sonata Limited its seems to have most of the elements that used to define a luxury car – a comfortable interior with first rate materials, sophisticated technology, sharp graphics and a well-defined sense of security and ample power.
However, the price for the fully loaded Limited that I got to drive recently was $35,463, including the $930 destination charge, which is well below the $40,000 threshold that used to define the entry-level luxury segment though that line also has moved around quite a bit as the price of new of new cars has climbed.
Exterior: Hyundai has produced an impressive number of exterior designs and the long, low-slung 2020 Sonata follows right along. One of the best things about the Sonata’s exterior design is its bold front face, which includes the artfully done corners that house the LED lights.
The front corners like as if they have been chiseled from a block of steel into sculptural forms that support the bold grille. The corners also serve as the starting point for the character lines that run the length of the car.
The roofline slopes to the rear and while it leaves what some might consider an undersized opening when the trunk space is needed, however, it fits with the overall design giving it a complete look.
… The complete design also gives the 2020 Sonata a stately appearance when its sitting at a curb waiting for the driver or passengers …
Interior: The inside of the 2020 Hyundai Sonata, as I mentioned above, is both comfortable and sophisticated. The interior space in the cabin focuses on the functionality of instrument panel and center console, with ample storage and cup holders that are easy to reach from the driver’s seat.
The instrument cluster is easy to read, and the look is great on a long drive in the dark. Overall, the visibility from the behind the wheel is excellent. For daytime driving there is a panoramic sunroof to bring in sunshine and a sunscreen if it gets too bright or to help take the load off the very efficient air conditioning system on very hot days.
The cabin has an air of luxury about it, right down to the inner door panels and the touch of the switches that control the windows. In addition, the leather-wrapped steering gives the cabin an additional first-rate touch point.
Powertrain: The 2020 Sonata Limited is powered by a 1.6-liter engine that is both powerful and efficient. It is paired with an impressive 8-speed transmission that always seems to be in the right gear while the car is in motion. The shifts are smooth and are barely detectable.
The engine’s 180 horsepower comes on instantly when the accelerator is touched, and the car gets up to the top speed allowed by law — and then some — quickly. On the efficiency side, the 2020 Sonata has a combined rating of 31 miles per gallon on the mandatory Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy tests, including 27 mpg in the city and 36 miles per gallon on the highway.
Safety and Technology: The 2020 Sonata Limited comes with a full range of driver assistance features, including blind-spot detection system. Forward collision alert, rear cross traffic alert and rear parking assist as well as a sharp surround-view camera that comes on when the car is turning right or left and once you get used to It can help you make a turn more safely.
… The audio and navigation display is a wide, high-definition touchscreen that is easy to read. It also offers split-screen capability with four different views …
The navigation system includes a bird’s-eye view in Navigation maps and provides traffic flow and incident data without ever paying for a subscription. Dual Bluetooth support is also available, so two devices can be paired at the same time—one for phone calls and one for streaming audio. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard on the Sonata.
Drive Impressions: The 2020 Hyundai Sonata is built for highway cruising and does it nicely with a minimum of fuss. The electric power steering is nicely tuned and offers some feel for the road, while the brakes have plenty of stopping power. The overall driving dynamics, I found, were excellent over a variety of road surfaces and the car’s chassis construction helped minimize the noise in the cabin.
Hyundai’s suspensions have come in for a fair amount of criticism over the years, but bit by bit the company has overcome the shortcomings and the suspension on the Sonata seemed up to the challenges of everyday round of day trips and errands. It’s a pleasant car to drive, and the driver assistance features are very well integrated.
Wrap Up: Overall sedans are out of favor with the motoring public these days and while I suspect the exterior design of the 2020 Hyundai Sonata can’t help but make a good impression, the car — which actually seems to have the space of a large, full-size sedan — could be overlooked because it isn’t a utility vehicle with its extra carrying space that people with think they will need for the post COVID-19 trip to grandma’s house.
Nonetheless, the 2020 Hyundai Sonata is probably a good choice for someone looking for comfortable transportation at an affordable price that also has a bit of old-fashioned automotive spirt built into it.