Midsize sedans have been easy to overlook in a market dominated by trucks and utility vehicles. But sleek looks and drivability still count with a lot of drivers, which is why the 2021 Sonata SEL Plus still attracts interest.
This 2021 Sonata is undoubtedly one of the best midsize sedans on the market and a worthy competitor for cars such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, which have dominated the segment for years and maintain loyal followings.
But Hyundai’s passenger cars have been gaining support for the past two decades and the Sonata certainly carries on the South Korean company’s effort to build vehicles with impressive styling, lots of features and the latest technology at an affordable price.
Hyundai also has made a concerted effort to build cars that are also fun to drive, and it certainly shows with 2021 Sonata, which certainly reminds drivers even on crowded streets driving can be a pleasure, or at least pleasant, rather than a tedious chore.
One of the nice aspects of the Sonata is its impressive exterior design. The 2021 Hyundai Sonata SEL Plus is low slung, seeming to emphasize a swift appearance and enhance the car’s overall appeal. The sleek profile of the Sonata is highlighted by the crisp belt line.
The roofline of the Sonata sweeps from the windshield to the car’s rear edge, so it looks a bit like a fastback, reinforcing the car’s swift appearance. The front of the 2021 Sonata is nicely styled with a bold grille, carrying the Hyundai badge. But the air openings around the grille and cuts over the front wheels, designed to help cool the brakes. The light fixtures are also neatly tucked into the front corners and the appearance is rounded off by 19-inch wheels, which fit nicely in the vehicles overall design.
The skill of Hyundai’s designers is displayed in the Sonata’s interior. The cabin is nicely furnished with good quality materials, so it does not look dowdy or cheap. The instrument panel is anchored by a high resolution 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster, which is easy to read and puts information right in front of the driver and it’s supported by an 8-inch touch screen display for the audio display of equally high resolution.
The cabin is also quiet out on road, making it easier to listen to audio system without cranking it up several decibels. The seats are comfortable, and controls are easy to reach. In addition, the Sonata also has plenty of headroom despite its low-slung appearance and the back seat actually is large enough so adult passengers can sit comfortably. The visibility from the driver’s seat is excellent and controls on the steering wheel are easy to use.
The 2021 Hyundai SEL Plus is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with direct injection. The engine is matched up with an 8-speed automatic transmission and the combination in the front-wheel-drive layout produces 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. The powertrain also is equipped with driver-select modes and paddle shifters, allowing the driver to control moves to a different gear. The Hyundai Sonata with the 1.6-liter turbo earned a combined rating of 30 miles per gallon. The rating in city driving is 27 mpg and the highway rating is 37 mpg.
Safety and Technology
The Sonata SEL Plus I drove came with a long list of safety and connectivity features, as well as multiple airbags to protect passenger and occupants in frontal- and side-impact crashes. It is also equipped with automatic driver assistance features such as blind-spot collision avoidance assistance, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision avoidance assistance with pedestrian detection, lane-following and lane-keep assistance. It also comes with LED headlights, heated outside mirrors, Bluetooth, satellite radio, heated suede and leather seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and Hyundai’s Blue Link connected services.
I found the 2021 Sonata SEL Plus a great deal of fun to drive. The engine had ample power and torque given the overall weight of the car and shifts seemed to come in a timely fashion and could be changed directly by the paddle shifter.
In addition, the steering was taut and the brakes had more than enough power for a sudden stop. The Sonata’s suspension has been steadily improved so it delivers a smooth ride over a variety of road surfaces or inclement weather. The suspension also kept the Sonata under control in tight turns, keeping the vehicle on a flat level even as speed increased during the turn. Overall, it was a pleasant vehicle that was nimble and quick out on the highway, elevating its fun to drive quotient.
2021 Hyundai Sonata SEL Plus specifications:
|Dimension||L: 179.1 inches/W: 72.5 inches/H: 66.2 inches/Wheelbase: 106.2 inches|
|Powertrain||1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine; 8-speed automatic transmission|
|Fuel Economy||27 mpg city/37 mpg highway/30 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $28,300; As tested: $32,064 including $995 destination and delivery charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
Standing still, the 2021 Hyundai Sonata SEL has more sex appeal than your standard SUV, which is a big plus. It also rides and handles well and comes packed with features and technology. It may not be quite as versatile as a utility vehicle of comparable size. But by and large it cans still perform many of the same functions and at $32,064 is probably less expensive than a utility vehicle.
It also comes with a five-year or 60,000-mile warranty. For anyone planning to return to the office and daily commuting soon, it actually a relatively safe choice even if you need to load it up occasionally with passengers.
2021 Hyundai Sonata SEL Plus — Frequently Asked Questions
How much horsepower does a Hyundai Sonata have?
The horsepower of the 2021 Hyundai Sonata is between 180 horsepower and 191 horsepower depending upon which trim level you choose.
Does Hyundai offer the Sonata as a hybrid?
Yes. Hyundai’s proprietary parallel hybrid drive system is the heart of the Sonata Hybrid. This is where the Sonata Hybrid gains a key advantage. Most of the competition uses a power split system with a planetary-geared Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Most competing hybrid models use electric motors that have to power a planetary gear set.
Does the Hyundai Sonata SEL Plus have a sunroof?
Hyundai offers it as an option on the SE and SEL whereas its a standard feature on the top-of-the-line Limited.