Driven

Adagio: 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited is a midsize sedan tuned for maximum fuel efficiency without sacrificing power, tech, or style in order to do so. Rated at up to 50 mpg city and up to 54 mpg highway, we looked forward to spending a week with the Sonata Hybrid Limited to see if it could live up to those impressive numbers.

The Sonata was totally redesigned for the 2020 model year. By now, you’ve probably made up your mind about how the new Hyundai Sonata looks. The Sonata Hybrid shares the same controversial elements with its siblings, with some unique touches. The Hybrid has its own unique grille and wheels, and the Limited trim level adds a large solar panel to the roof. The solar panel can extend electric driving range, help to recharge the battery systems in the car, and run the accessories. Likewise, the unique wheels are functional, helping to reduce drag and improve economy on 17-inch low rolling-resistance tires. With its dramatic LED running lights up front and light bar taillight, the Sonata looks strikingly modern, if not beautiful. Love it or hate it, you can’t say it looks like anything else (save for other Sonatas).

The interior looks refreshingly modern without being incomprehensible. The materials are reasonably nice, but don’t quite match the best-in-class Mazda 6. Some plastics are noticeably hard and lackluster, but there weren’t any rattles in our tester. The Limited trim brings an impressive suite of gizmos and gadgets to the Sonata, but there were a few that really stood out to me: the sheer amount of and resolution of the cameras, and the excellent sound system. The Sonata Hybrid Limited has 360 degree cameras, allowing you to see the car from any angle or perspective you desire. The cameras were exceptionally clear and did not distort your sense of perspective. Additionally, when you use the turn signal, the gauge cluster displays a real time camera feed of the lane next to you. This particular feature was somewhat distracting at first, but after a few days, it truly did add an extra layer of confidence when turning or making a lane change. confidence The excellent sound-system, branded by Bose, is exclusive to the Limited and has 12 speakers. It both surprised and impressed with it well balanced and clean sound. In particular, you could crank the volume and be rewarded with powerfully loud and clear sound, with an impressively immersive field of sound. This system would be a treat in a bonafide luxury car.

Driving the Sonata Hybrid Limited is a surefire way to relax and get comfortable behind the wheel, because nothing about the experience will have you feeling sporty. The handling feels less athletic and nimble than it is; it’s perfectly capable, as much as any other sedan in its class, but simply does not feel so. The numb and indifferent steering does not help; there is a slight dead spot on center where the steering does not respond immediately once turned, but then does, and does so in a slightly erratic way. The brakes are odd to modulate, with a touchy initial response that anyone who has dealt with regenerative braking before will recognize. From behind the wheel, its clear that this Sonata wants you to calm down, relax, and enjoy the ride. When driven as though you were impersonating your 88 year old grandmother, the Sonata shines with its comfortable seats and ride which seemed to be able to absorb any bump in the way with tranquil aplomb.

The Sonata Hybrid truly shines brightest at delivering efficiency, even when driven with our bank-robber driving style , averaging 43 mpg in our not-so-gentle hands. Therefore, if you are in the market for an exceptionally economical midsize sedan with an outstanding sound-system, plenty of tech, and distinctive style inside and out, the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited needs to be on your shortlist.

-Ken Wilson

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited$35,300
Carpeted Floor Mats$155
Destination Charges$975
As-Tested MSRP$36,430

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