Polarizing design is less and less common these days. But Hyundai has recently made headlines for just that, generating equal amounts of love it or hate it, with the all new 2020 Sonata. Does the controversial styling take away from the overall perception of the redesign, or can the Sonata’s new looks bolster its value proposition for another generation?
The proverbial elephant in the room with this new Sonata is the design. Half of our staff liked it and the other thought it was, not to mince words, hideous. Thankfully the author of this post liked the looks, and thought it was a welcome breakaway from the bland redesign in 2015. If you can get past the catfish front end, and overly creased rear tail light section, the overall lines aren’t that bad. And while we were careful to capture the Sonata’s new visage, we all agreed that photographs don’t do it justice.
Once you get inside and find a large step forward in materials and surfaces for the bargain price that you’re used to with a Hyundai, your tune might start to change. Different textures and surfaces help disguise some of the materials, as well. The one design decision I don’t like was the ambitious use of piano black trim. Not only does this always look dirty or dusty, it scratches easily and always shows its age. We love the infotainment system, and it has been improved here with a larger touchscreen and some of the clearest graphics in the business. The blind view monitor that displays in the instrument cluster was our highlight safety feature. Unlike Honda’s system, it works on both sides of the car. Of course there’s just about everything else and the kitchen sink is present in terms of active and passive safety systems in our top-trim Sonata Limited. We can attest to the fact that they worked flawlessly on our 200-mile day trip to western NY.
Under the hood, our Limited trim has a 1.6L turbo motor with 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. That paired nicely with the eight speed automatic transmission, but you’re not going to be setting any speed records here. There is a strange omission of start/stop technology as well, but we still managed an impressive 32mpg for the week, which is better than some other mid-size sedans we’ve tested.
Dynamically, the steering is numb but the suspension allowed less body roll in the corners than you’d expect. Over rough roads, the Hyundai did well to keep things comfortable most of the time. The aforementioned eight speed transmission was responsive when using the paddle shifters and the different driving modes showed some change in the overall experience. We’re anticipating the upcoming N-Line to be something rather special, because this chassis has a lot of life left in it.
The quiet and comfortable interior, the abundance of safety features, and the warranty to for your peace of mind allow this new Sonata to quickly jump to the top of our mid-size sedan shopping list. If you can live with that face, there’s really not much downside. Besides, who doesn’t like standing out from the crowd?
|2020 Hyundai Sonata Limited
|Carpeted Floor Mats||$135|
|As Tested MSRP||$34,590|