Road Test: 2020 Hyundai Sonata Limited

Hyundai had great success with the previous generation Sonata and kept that great formula in the new, eighth generation 2020 Sonata. The 2020 Hyundai Sonata is the first sedan designed with Hyundai’s Sensuous Sportiness design language, and we love it!

The sporty four-door-coupe look brings a whole new meaning to midsize sedan. Hyundai says the 2020 Sonata represents Hyundai’s new focus on creating emotional value using proportion, styling and technology.

And of course, there’s “smaht pahk” for anyone who missed the big Super Bowl ad last year. We can attest this feature worked perfectly and the neighbors were blown away!


From the front, the 2020 Sonata is unlike any other Hyundai. The design is all-new, with cues that don’t immediately appear Hyundai-like and made us do a double-take.

A newly designed Digital Pulse Cascading Grille spans the front of the new Sonata, finishing at the innermost points of new combination headlamps that feature a distinctive and innovative new lighting architecture.

A chrome line flows from the wing mirror, right around the side passenger windows, and returns to the front of the car by running down the length of the hood and ending at a sharp right angle beneath each headlight. This chrome strip features graduated LED Daytime Running Lights embedded with Hidden Lighting Lamps.

A first for a Hyundai vehicle, Hidden Lighting Lamps are a design innovation that incorporates state-of-the-art lighting technology, forming the Sonata’s light architecture. The Hidden Lighting Lamps appear to be chrome when switched off and become dramatically lit when turned on. 

The side sections of the Sonata are accentuated by the light architecture, which connects two chrome lines that seamlessly link the windows and daytime running lights. Through these two character lines, the Sonata effuses a flowing and refined charm.

From the side, sleek forms combine with sensual lines to accentuate the car’s sportiness and clear coupe-like silhouette. Eye-catching sporty details include a trunk spoiler and black side skirts along the lower flanks. The car’s overall height has been lowered an inch to enhance the sporty profile even further.

At the rear, a wide horizontal line extends across the center of the trunk, stretching to the edges of the car. This line is actually a long LED strip that connects each brake light, creating a striking visual impression at night. The high-tech appearance of the rear is intentionally suggestive of the Sonata’s advanced safety systems and technology-packed interior.


The cabin conforms to a “Beautifully Smart” theme, aligned with the expectations of Sonata customers seeking advanced technologies applied naturally and intuitively. The signature aesthetic of the exterior lighting is echoed inside in the form of ambient mood lighting featured across the dashboard and doors.

Spanning the full width of the cabin, the slim dashboard features a first-in-class, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, which is customizable to suit different driving modes and preferences. At the center of the dashboard, a large, 10.25-inch HD screen enables driver and passenger to interact easily with the audio-video and navigation (AVN) functions. This screen can also accommodate a split-screen function that allows audio and navigation to be displayed simultaneously. Sonata Limited include three years of complimentary Blue Link services. 

The instrument panel is rich and modern, in the shape of spread wings, inspired by a stealth aircraft. This shape presents a levitating effect, and this philosophy carries into the long armrests. The satin chrome accents enhance this effect even further.

Designers compressed the height of the dashboard and HVAC vents as much as possible to emphasize the lightweight feeling, while modern, light fabric colors and leathers provide a fresh and unconstrained ambience for the driver.

Maximizing the sense of a spacious interior was a key focus for Hyundai’s designers and engineers. Alongside visual devices that create an impression of greater room, we fell in love with the massive panoramic sunroof that amplifies the light and an airy ambiance.

The new shift by Wire (SBW) gear selector is a prime example, as the new interface not only is sleek and technologically advanced but also takes up a lot less space than a traditional shifter.


Our 2020 Sonata Limited came with a 1.6 T-GDI engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Rated for 180 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 195 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,500–4,500 rpm, power delivery feels strong and much more than the numbers lead to believe.

On the road, the driving dynamics match the sporty exterior design, and the steering and handling are nimble. The highway ride is smooth and comfortable, but not sleepy in the least. It’s fully engaging and perfect in every sense.

We averaged 32 mpg after a week of mixed driving. The EPA rates it 27 city, 36 highway, 31 combined.


The 2020 Hyundai Sonata easily aces all the crash tests, but does an event better job from the advanced driver assist tech front. Forward collision avoidance assist is standard, lane keeping is standard, and advanced smart cruise control with stop and go is standard too.

The only option is highway driving assist, an amazing piece of technology that helps maintain lane centering and reduces fatigue on long drivers. We evaluated it on several highway driving trips and loved it.

With a projected image size of eight inches and super-bright clarity, the Sonata’s HUD provides improved visibility in different lighting conditions. The HUD can be adjusted in both angle and height to provide optimum visibility. The HUD supports driving safety by displaying information such as speed and navigation commands, as well as alerts from active safety and driving assistance features.


The Bose Premium sound system is equipped with 12 speakers that synchronize to deliver crisp and rich sounds for a high-quality audio experience. Audio and EQ adjustments are made automatically, depending on the vehicle’s speed, while Bose Centerpoint surround technology and Bose SurroundStage signal processing put every occupant at the center of the audio experience, regardless of where they are positioned in the cabin.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard and work beautifully, with Dual Bluetooth support so two devices can be active simultaneously

Continuing to promote the latest advances in technology, the new Sonata supports Hyundai Digital Key via a dedicated smartphone app. We didnt get to try it out with an iPhone, but Hyundai Digital Key utilizes Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, which exhibits a high level of security. The NFC wireless data communication takes place only when the device and the reader are within several centimeters of each other. The Hyundai Digital Key app also allows smartphones to control selected vehicle systems remotely.

Not only does Hyundai Digital Key allow owners to leave traditional keys at home, it also allows secure sharing of keys with family and friends. The level of access to different vehicle functions can be tailored to each shared key user for a defined period.


The 2020 Hyundai Sonata does everything it used to do well, and now does it even better. It has the looks, tech, and key details that make it stand apart from the rest, with a price that can’t be beat.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling9
Powertrain and Fuel Economy10
Interior Fit and Finish10
Gauges and Controls10
Total Score95

Make: Hyundai
Model: Sonata
Trim Level: Limited
Engine: 1.6L Turbo
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic
Options: Carpet floor mats

Base Price: $33,500
As-Tested Price: $34,590

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