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.

The Vision T is likely a look at the design language of the new Hyundai Tucson.

Image courtesy of Hyundai

Next week, Hyundai will unveil a new plug-in hybrid SUV concept car. The model is the seventh in the automaker's series of Hyundai Design Center concepts that combines "emotional value" with "sensuous sportiness" in an application of the company's new design language.

"We pursue innovative solutions in design and add emotional value to our product experience through sensuous sportiness design language," said SangYup Lee, Senior Vice President and Head of Hyundai Global Design Center. The SUV concept is powered by a plug-in hybrid powertrain indicating its eco-lifestyle focus and its inherent balance with the environment in which it is driven.

Hyundai Vision T concept SUV car front PHEV The side profile of the design shows off a new vision for Hyundai's compact SUV.Image courtesy of Hyundai

The SUV has a theme of parametric fantasy and transcendent connectivity. All of the concept SUV's body structures are connected from the body to light or trim features. The overall look is a seamless take on design boundaries, perhaps signifying the future seamlessness of home, vehicle, entertainment, and transportation spaces.

Ambient light reflects off concave and convex surfaces to create a sense of tension, according to Hyundai.

The vehicle features an evolution of the Hidden Signature Lamp (as seen on the new Sonata) and features a parametric air shutter that deploys to help adjust aerodynamics and design. The shutter is closed when the vehicle is stationary then moves to effect airflow, aerodynamics, and fuel efficiency.

Why might it be the next Tucson? Hyundai has already disclosed that this concept has the dimensions of a compact SUV. That ticks the Tucson box. There's also the name of the vehicle "Vision T" and the fact that nearly every SUV in the Hyundai lineup has either debuted or undergone a significant redesign in the last 18 months except Tucson. It's logical that Tucson would be up next and that it would evolve Hyundai's powertrain offerings given the success of the Kona EV.

Earlier, Hyundai announced that 13 new products would be making their way into the company's portfolio in the coming years including the Hyundai Santa Cruz truck.

No details about the car's plug-in hybrid powertrain are yet available. The full concept car will be revealed during AutoMobility LA.

Thule's accessories fit Hyundai's entire line of SUVs and crossovers.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai

Beginning today, Thule accessories are available for sale at participating Hyundai dealerships across the U.S.

Included as part of the available lineup are bike racks, roof racks, winter and water sports racks, cargo carriers, and basket accessories. The selection is curated from the entire Thule catalogue.

2019 Hyundai Kona Thule accessoris roof rack Thule accessories are made for beach-goers and mountain-seekers.Photo courtesy of Hyundai

"This partnership with Thule proves to be great timing as we simultaneously grow our line of SUVs, including newcomers such as the Hyundai Palisade and Hyundai Venue," said Mike O'Brien, vice president of Product, Corporate and Digital Planning for Hyundai Motor America. "Whether you go camping every weekend or need some extra space for your kid's soccer gear, Thule and Hyundai are making it simpler than ever for you to maximize your lifestyle with this new accessory partnership. Thule is the leader in this space and their lifetime warranty is a good match to our brand aspirations."

Hyundai has grown its lineup to include the hot-selling subcompact Kona SUV, new Hyundai Venue, and three-row Palisade SUV in the last 18 months. Last week the company announced plans to expand its portfolio even more in the coming years by adding 13 new products, including the Hyundai Santa Cruz utility vehicle.

Hyundai has also recently begun targeted advertising for adventure seekers, specifically with its Palisade campaign, which champions road tripping.

2019 Hyundai Kona Thule accessoris roof rack Thule's accesses are designed to help surfers, swimmers, and snowboarders (and everyone in between).Photo courtesy of Hyundai

"We are thrilled about our new partnership with Hyundai this year," said Tom Chimenti, director of original equipment sales, North America for Thule Group. "Our industry leading rack products are a perfect match for Hyundai's expanding line, and Thule's award winning offering of solutions to help transport your gear, regardless of activity, will be a great addition for any Hyundai owner looking to live an active lifestyle."

In addition to the products available at Hyundai dealerships, Thule designs and manufactures luggage, computer and camera bags, sports bags and backpacks, and child-related products such as baby joggers, child bike seats and bike trailers. The products are sold in more than 140 countries worldwide.