One-Day Drive

First Drive Review: Next-Gen 2020 Hyundai Sonata sings a high-tech song

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata is chocked full of high-tech features and new engine technology that makes it even more fuel efficient.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai's most family-friendly sedan is singing an updated song; its lyrics encompass a more sensuous design, with new body architecture, powertrain elements, safety and technology features.

The eighth-generation 2020 Hyundai Sonata (only seven have been sold in the U.S.) slots into the small-but-significant midsized segment and competes with the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima.

This Korean automaker remains bullish on sedans and the Sonata saying that they Hyundai expects an equilibrium in the marketplace, with a shift in trends in the coming years. Their research shows that 59 percent of sedan owners say they will stay in the segment.

2020 Hyundai Sonata The rear of the Sonata is more familiar to brand enthusiasts than its new face.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The 2020 Sonata was designed to appeal to a spectrum of younger, tech-savvy buyers, who appreciate the low cost of ownership and improved fuel economy the sedan offers. The model front-wheel drive-only sedan is available in four trims; SE, SEL, SEL Plus, and Limited.

Sonata benefits from Hyundai's new four-door coupe silhouette design, which gives the exterior a next-gen, fastback appearance with a longer wheelbase, shorter overhangs and rear spoiler. The company's digital pulse grille adorns the front, punctuated by state-of-the-art lighting; standard on the Limited is a ribboned-chrome line that brings a light path of eye candy that slingshots from the winged mirrors though the beltline and angles back to the front hood and headlamps. Wheels range from 16- to 18-inch alloys.

2020 Hyundai Sonata The Sonata's headlights features a new design that you won't see on any other cars sold in the U.S.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Sonata is the first model to benefit from Hyundai's third-generation vehicle platform that is engineered with an improved front and rear suspension for more refined driving and an optimized undercarriage for safety and efficiency.

Two four-cylinder engines include a naturally aspirated, retooled 2.5-liter on base models that brings 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque and a new 1.6-liter turbo with 180 horsepower and 195 pound-foot of torque (reserved for SEL Plus and Limited trim levels). Both engines are paired with have an eight-speed automatic transmission and all models have four drive modes- Smart, Normal, Sport and Custom, for individual steering, throttle, and transmission mapping.

2020 Hyundai Sonata The Sonata delivers a smooth ride and it has balanced handling.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Sonatas powered by the 1.6 go on sale soon now and will likely appeal to buyers looking for more vigorous turbo power; 2.5-liter models go on sale in December and will bring slightly better fuel economy. Available the spring, a hybrid version will attract city dwellers and others looking for more fuel-efficient driving.

Crafted with a "Beautifully Smart" theme, Sonata's interior has more premium materials and amenities than in its previous generation, such as available powered front leather seats, with heating and ventilation. A slimmed dashboard and recessed center stack keep driver attention on the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and the road ahead; a head up display adds safety and eyes-up ease.

2020 Hyundai Sonata Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all but base models.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

A wide-aspect ratio, split-10.25-inch infotainment touch screen integrates audio, video and optional navigation functions. Wireless charging speed has been boosted by 30 percent in the new model. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and three years of Blue Link connectivity are standard on all but the Sonata base model. A 12-speaker Bose Premium sound system is available.

The Sonata is spacious, especially its third row, and the available panoramic sunroof emphasizes that fact. The roomy trunk swallows gear and goods with ease.

Hyundai's standard Advanced Driver Assistance System bundles forward collision-avoidance assist, lane keeping and lane follow assist, driver attention warning, automatic high beam assist, forward collision avoidance, advanced smart and cruise control.

2020 Hyundai Sonata The Hyundai Sonata is filled with high-quality materials, especially in higher trim levels.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

A first-in-class remote parking assist feature maneuvers the Sonata into or out of parking spaces to load passengers or luggage. Accessed through the smart key, it allows the vehicle to move independently up to 30 feet.

On the surface, it is compelling. Sonata's standard equipment, quiet ride, good road manners, and innovative new features, along with competitive pricing, an industry-leading warranty, and high marks in J.D. Power's Initial Quality surveys give buyers a reason to take it for a test drive.

Cadillac is moving the car buying experience into an interactive video-based platform as the brand works to gain new customers.

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Edmunds.com is predicting hat sales of used cars will rise through 2020. At the same time, used car prices are expected to decline. That's a recipe for success for used car buyers according to Carvana. The online used vehicle retailer is predicting four trends for used car shoppers.

Mainstream Cars Stay Hot

Carvana believes that demand for used cars from mass-market brands like Honda, Toyota, and Nissan will continue. In 2019 small and mid-sized cars showed the strongest price appreciation in the used-vehicle market, a trend that is expected to continue in 2020.

Consumers Choose Quality Over Everything

According to Carvana, "A recent study from Brandwatch asked consumers what attributes were most important for brands in the auto industry, quality was the most popular option with 30% of the vote. Affordability followed, with 21% of respondents choosing it as the most important attribute. Carvana has more than 8,000 cars available on their site for local buyers priced under $15,000."

Customers Continue to Get Comfortable Shopping Online

If there's one thing America can agree on, it's not politics. It's that they generally hate going to car dealerships. Shopping for vehicles online has grown tremendously over the past decade and Carvana expects that to continue, a trend driven by the ability for customers to "do it all" from financing to browsing to scheduling delivery without ever having to talk to a salesperson.

According to Carvana, 75% of car buyers are willing to purchase a car online and 97% of car buyers do online research before a purchase.

The Digital Economy Will Continue to Transform Car Buying

Technology is making it easier than ever to buy a car. New online initiatives like Cadillac Live allow customers to talk to a salesperson without leaving their couch. Getting a 360-degree view of the vehicle is possible thanks to sights from most manufacturers, and CarFax offers reports on used vehicles.

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is one of the winners of the U.S. News & World Report 2020 Best Cars for the Money awards.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

It isn't just about which cars are good. For many buyers, it's about reaching the perfect blend of good, fuel efficient, and bang for your buck. The annual U.S. News & World Report Best Cars for the Money awards rates many of those factors, and more.

"Cars with low price tags aren't always good values," said Jamie Page Deaton, executive editor of U.S. News Best Cars. "A cheap car can have high ownership costs, making it more expensive in the long run. Plus, a lot of inexpensive cars don't give you a great ownership experience; it's not a good deal if it's not a good car. Every Best Car for the Money winner is a pleasure to own and a good value overall."

Within each class, the award winner has the best combination of quality and value. U.S. News & World Report measured quality using a car's overall score in the U.S. News Best Car Rankings. The overall score is based on safety and reliability data, as well as the collective opinion of the automotive press on a given model's performance and interior and how strongly each reviewer recommends the car. They measured value by looking at each model's real-time transaction prices, provided by TrueCar, and five-year total cost of ownership data, calculated by Vincentric.

Covering 11 categories, the awards highlight the cars, SUVs ,and minivans that give drivers the best combination of quality and value in their respective classes.

Here are the winners.

Best 2-Row SUV for the Money: 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe

2020 Hyundai Santa Fe

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Best 3-Row SUV for the Money: 2020 Kia Sorento

2020 Kia Sorento

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Best Compact Car for the Money: 2020 Kia Forte

2020 Kia Forte

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Best Compact SUV for the Money: 2020 Honda CR-V

2020 Honda CR-V

American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Best Hybrid and Electric Car for the Money: 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Best Hybrid and Electric SUV for the Money: 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Best Large Car for the Money: 2020 Chevrolet Impala

2020 Chevrolet Impala

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Best Midsize Car for the Money: 2020 Toyota Camry

2020 Toyota Camry

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Best Minivan for the Money: 2020 Kia Sedona

2020 Kia Sedona

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Best Subcompact Car for the Money: Honda Fit

2020 Honda Fit

American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Best Subcompact SUV for the Money: 2020 Kia Soul

2020 Kia Soul GT-Line Turbo Photo courtesy of Kia Motors