2020 Hyundai Sonata Limited new car reviews

2020 has brought a new decade and new Sonata. The importance of these two events may not be on the same scale, but the point remains.

For this year, Hyundai has rolled out a whole new Sonata for the masses, with a version for every budget or taste. We had the chance to drive the top-tier Limited model, powered by a 1.6-liter turbo four, and filled with plenty of creature comforts. The price for all this? A hair over $33,000.

And did we mention it has Smark Park Assist?

Other staff views

J.G. Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

Interestingly enough, the most loaded Sonata trim level is not the most powerful Sonata trim level. The lower-end SE and SEL trim levels have a 191hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder vs the 180hp 1.6-liter turbo four of the SEL Plus and Limited. Also, all four cars have essentially identical EPA mileage ratings. So, uh, that’s weird.

Aside from that bit of option package mystery, there’s a lot to like in all of Hyundai’s lineup. Particularly the integration of technology into the overall package. Hyundai continues to be a segment leader in a clean, usable and thoroughly non-intrusive integration of technology into interiors, and I’m thoroughly here for it.

Okay, one minor quibble: The all-digital dash features a speedometer on the left that rotates counterclockwise, and a tach on the right that rotates clockwise. While my obsessive side appreciates the mirrored symmetry, my traditional side wants a tach that moves the way Lee Iacocca intended.

Also, the Smart Park feature is more novelty than function at this point. Actually, I guess I have to call it “Smaht Pahk since Captain America, Jack Ryan and Debbie Downer have now gifted American advertising culture with Southie talk. Smart park will pull the car forward or back while you stand comfortable outside the vehicle. It’s great for getting into tight parking spaces where you’d have trouble opening the doors, but by doing so you’ve now trapped two other motorists who may or may not be able to “unpahk” their “cahs” with the same cybernitc aids, and I’m sure they’d be happy to tell you to “fahk” off for pulling such a stunt.

Anway, operating the Sonata is a joy, and it’s among the most “livable” cars out there from a day-to-day standpoint. Ingress and egress is fantastic, the interior is roomy and useful, sightlines are great, and there’s even a little aggression in the package when you flip over to sport mode. You’ll never confuse it for a Civic Si from a performance standpoint, but I dare say that from a functional standpoint, Hyundai is currently outpacing both Honda and Toyota in both ergonomics and interior human factors design.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

Dang, Hyundai, nice job.

The touch points are spot-on. Some of the interior bits, dare I say it, have a BMW feel and look to them.

Styling? Yup. Looks good. Just the right touch of black accents.

Easy-to-operate controls? Hyundai is nailing it here: All of today’s expected tech is present, but you can easily change the radio station. Added bonus: Love the rear-view cameras that magically appear in the gauge display when the turn signals are engaged.

Usually I’m not a fan of push buttons for the transmission–unless we’re talking old Mopars–but here they work well.

How's it drive? Nicely. Very nicely. Hyundai’s steering has gone from vague to pretty spot-on. It’s still a front-drive passenger sedan, but now it’s one that’s not plagued with vague, over-boosted steering.

One thing, maybe: Kick it into Sport mode. In the standard drive mode, you can feel the car trying to be efficient. Okay, I get it. In Sport mode, the car gets some life.

Final thought: Before checking out the usual, take this one for a spin.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood
Associate Editor

I’m not sure when it happened, but Hyundai got really good at making cars (I’ve heard stories about how lackluster Hyundais of old used to be, but, thankfully, that was before my time). It’s gotten to the point that it’s making me question my automotive loyalties.

I often considered Hyundai to be a brand you settled for instead of getting the nicer car you actually wanted, but after spending a weekend with this Sonata, the opposite is starting to feel true.

For about $35,000, I had a quiet, comfortable sedan with all the convenience features I actually wanted: radar-assisted cruise control, heated and ventilated seats, a 360-degree camera, and Android Auto. Everything outside of that was a bonus.

I can only imagine how much more fun to drive the N-Line version is.

Style-wise, I think the Sonata goes into the “this will grow on me” category, but that’s not to say that it’s a bad-looking car. It's just not for me–yet.

In particular, there is something about the taillights that don’t do it for me. What I do like, though, is the strips of light that swoop under the headlights and then blend up into the chrome strips that flank the hood. It’s a unique styling choice that makes the car stand out.

And as for Smart Park Assist? I hate to admit it, but it’s a bit more like a clever party trick than something usable in the real world.

The Sonata takes a while to respond to inputs, and I don’t want to be the guy holding up the whole parking lot because I couldn’t get in my car like a normal person.

Also, there’s a time limit. I don’t know how long it is, but if you try to use Smart Park Assist for more than a few minutes (or leave the car idling), the Sonata will shut off on its own.

At any rate, it’s still a neat party trick.

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View comments on the GRM forums
z31maniac MegaDork
2/19/20 10:43 a.m.

That looks like an even uglier version of that Mercedes sedan that was all smushed like that. 

Serious underbite. Or maybe the angle just makes it look that way.

ProDarwin UltimaDork
2/19/20 10:47 a.m.

Yikes that is not attractive. 

The steering wheel offends me.

I hope they fixed the volume button functionality on the wheel.

The overall dash layout looks really clean and simple and I like that, although I'm not a fan of LCD clusters (yet).



Sonic UltraDork
2/19/20 10:54 a.m.

It is even more horribly hideous in person, especially in dark colors with the chrome and LED strip that runs across the hood from the headlights to the doors.   So many divergent angles and odd shapes, none of it works together at all.  

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/19/20 11:08 a.m.

So there's a highly entertaining Facebook group called "Unnecessary automobile nose swaps." It's full of cars with the wrong nose photoshopped on.

I seriously thought the lead picture in this article was one of them.

1988RedT2 MegaDork
2/19/20 11:13 a.m.

It's notably an uglier car than my wife's 2012 Sonata Limited, which was powered by an impressive 2.0T GDI engine.  It was a compelling package then too, but far too many issues (transmission and electrical) resulted in far too many trips to the dealer on a rollback and a brief and unpleasant ownership experience.

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