When we first took stock of our 2020 Hyundai Sonata Limited, we were impressed by its slick screens, comfortable leather seats, and stylish exterior. A year later, does the Sonata continue to charm, or has it lost its luster?
The midsize sedan rolled into our garage wearing a striking sapphire blue paint color and all the trimmings of the top-tier Limited model. At $34,630, our test car looks almost like a luxury sedan. Its plush caramel leather seats held up well over a year of passengers shuffling into seats, loading and unloading tons of baby gear, car seats installations, and baby spit-ups. The leather didn’t pucker over time like it did on one of my previous long-term vehicles, which happened to be a luxury vehicle.
The Sonata’s interior earned high praise for its uncluttered, elegant design. I enjoyed the easy-to-use 10.3-inch touchscreen, though I didn’t fully appreciate how crisp it was until I downgraded to a duller 8.0-inch screen in my latest test car. The Sonata’s infotainment screen complements the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and a sharp Bose sound system sweetens the deal.
Passengers enjoyed the panoramic sunroof, but my favorite feature is Highway Driving Assist. A semi-autonomous system that combines adaptive cruise control and lane centering tech, this feature makes highway commuting less stressful. Although it has a tendency to steer the Sonata to the left side of the lane within the lane markings, it works better than some other systems we’ve tested. The 360-degree camera system is another winner, providing a clear view on all sides of the car and making it easy to park this long sedan. The only real tech hiccup we encountered was with the keyless entry system. It often wouldn’t register when I touched the door and had the key in my pocket, forcing me to dig out the key and press the unlock button.
I had no illusions about the Sonata’s performance going into the year. Our car features the Sonata’s upgraded engine option: a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 180 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. As I quickly found out, it has just enough power for merging and passing other cars on the highway. Given how well it handles, I didn’t mind its lack of power. What became more and more bothersome over time was how the power is delivered. There’s a noticeable lag off the line when you jam the accelerator, so making quick maneuvers in traffic can get a little tricky.
No maintenance problems plagued our Sonata through the year, but the car visited the dealership twice for routine servicing. Our first service trip was free, but Hyundai charged $92.01 for our second visit. These costs will look quite different for typical retail customers of newer Sonatas, however. For retail vehicles sold on or after February 1, 2020, Hyundai offers complimentary maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Subaru also offers free maintenance, which is why our long-term 2017 Subaru Legacy cost $0 over three service visits and 20,460 miles. Free maintenance hasn’t been the norm among the Sonata’s competitors we’ve tested for a year, though. We spent $178.96 for two service visits on our long-term 2014 Mazda 6, which logged 24,316 miles, and $204.92 on two services for our 2013 Nissan Altima, which finished its run at 21,774 miles. Surprisingly, our long-term 2013 Honda Accord cost more than all of these sedans, racking up a bill of $209.42 for two service visits over a course of 22,856 miles.
Driving the Sonata for a year revealed more about the sedan’s quality and maintenance costs, but what will the ownership experience look like over the course of five years? Our colleagues at IntelliChoice have some insights. Although we enjoy all the fancy features that come with the top Limited trim, it might not be the choice if you’re looking to maximize value. The lower SE trim gets a Good value rating, but the other trims earn Mediocre or Average scores. The 2020 Sonata Limited has been deemed an Average value when taking into account depreciation, insurance, fuel costs, state fees, financing, maintenance, and repairs.
The Honda Accord remains our top pick for a midsize sedan because of its superior driving dynamics and its spacious, well-packaged interior. That said, our yearlong test confirms the Sonata is a solid pick. Among its rather conservative, plain-looking competitors, the Sonata stands out with its sharp design. More important, its tech-forward cabin continues to delight over time, speaking to its strong feature-per-dollar value. Its playful handling never gets old on a twisty road. For the practical-minded, free maintenance and a generous warranty make a strong case for the Sonata.
Looks good! More details?
|POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS||2020 Hyundai Sonata Limited 1.6T|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||Turbocharged I-4, alum block/head|
|VALVETRAIN||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||97.5 cu in/1,598 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||180 hp @ 5,500 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||195 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||18.4 lb/hp|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F; R||12.8-in vented disc; 11.8-in disc, ABS|
|WHEELS||7.5 x 18-in cast aluminum|
|TIRES||235/45R18 94V Michelin Primacy Tour A/S (M+S)|
|TRACK, F/R||63.1/63.3 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||192.9 x 73.2 x 56.9 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||35.9 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,316 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST, F/R||60/40%|
|HEADROOM, F/R||38.4/37.4 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||46.1/34.8 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||57.9/56.1 in|
|CARGO VOLUME||16.0 cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||3.8|
|QUARTER MILE||15.7 sec @ 90.1 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||115 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.89 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.6 sec @ 0.66 g (avg)|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||1,800 rpm|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$34,630|
|AIRBAGS||9: Dual front, f/r side, f/r curtain, driver knee|
|BASIC WARRANTY||5 yrs/60,000 miles|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||10 yrs/100,000 miles|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||5 yrs/Unlimited miles|
|FUEL CAPACITY||15.9 gal|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||27/37/30 mpg|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded regular|
|SERVICE LIFE||12 mo / 11,734 mi|
|OPTIONS||Carpeted floor mats ($155)|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$34,630|
|AVG ECON||24.4 mpg|
|MAINTENANCE COST||$0 (oil change, inspection)|
|3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE*||$27,700 (80%)|
*IntelliChoice data; assumes 42,000 miles at the end of 3-years