Mid-size sedans may no longer be the flavor of the day, but the Hyundai Sonata would like to remind you that its sleek styling, spacious interior, frugal or powerful engine lineup, and reasonable price tag may be the antidote to bland SUVs.
This year, the Sonata sees few tweaks following a revamp for 2020. The SEL Plus trim level adds a big sunroof and a 10.3-inch touchscreen paired with Bose speakers, while the N Line is newly available with a Night Edition package with 19-inch black wheels and other darkened accents.
Sonatas come in both gas and hybrid forms in SE, SEL, SEL Plus, and Limited trims, plus a sporty N Line with 290 horsepower. Sonata Hybrids can be had in Blue, SEL, and Limited trims.
With a five-star crash-test rating from the NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS, the Sonata is a safe choice. Standard equipment includes automatic emergency braking, while adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, and a surround-view camera system are on the options list.
Fuel economy ratings run the gamut, though there’s no thirsty model in this lineup. Hybrids come out on top with ratings as high as 50 mpg city, 54 highway, 52 combined for the special Blue trim level. Models with the standard 4-cylinder engine rate 28/38/32, while the turbocharger adds power but dents economy to the tune of 27/37/31 mpg. The zippy N-Line checks in at 23/33/27 mpg thanks to its big power boost.
The Sonata range starts off in SE trim for $25,395. Included at that price point are an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED headlights, 16-inch alloy wheels, and cloth upholstery.
The SEL bumps the price by about $1,800 in exchange for bigger wheels, a hands-free trunk release, and heated seats, plus shoppers can add a panoramic sunroof, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and a few other convenience features for $2,000.
The SEL Plus builds on a well-equipped SEL, but with a turbocharged engine, leather seats, Bose audio, and 19-inch wheels for about $32,400. Limited versions cost another $3,000 and add navigation, cooled front seats, and the ability for the driver to move it forward and backward from the key fob to aid in parking.
Hybrid versions start off at about $28,300 in Blue trim with the basics, plus special wheels and tires that allow for a spectacular fuel-economy rating. The SEL bumps the price by about $2,500 for a digital key, a wireless charging pad, Bose speakers, and a few other items. The Limited commands nearly $37,000 but comes outfitted with leather trim and a solar roof panel that can add a little charge to the battery when parked outside on a sunny day.
Enthusiasts should look to the Sonata N Line, which costs about $36,000 and includes the most powerful turbocharged engine plus a sport-tuned suspension and special interior and exterior trim.
The Sonata has a sleek shape with a low front end, deep side strakes, and finned taillights connected by a narrow strip that runs the length of the trunklid. Certainly not a wallflower, the Sonata is a standout among mid-size sedans.
N Line versions are especially dressy this year thanks to a standard Night package that blacks out most exterior trim including the wheels. Hybrid versions are nearly identical to their gas-only counterparts, aside from badging and wheel designs.
Hyundai didn’t skimp on the Sonata’s interior. A panel housing the touchscreen infotainment system sprouts elegantly from the dash, which can be trimmed in black or contrasting tan. An 8.0-inch screen is standard, while a 10.3-inch display is fitted to higher-end versions.
Limited versions are especially luxurious with quilted leather upholstery draping their seats.
Front passengers will find terrific leg and head room, plus seats with a good range of adjustment and a choice between woven fabric, synthetic leather, and real hides. The seats can be power-adjusted, heated, and cooled, depending on the trim level.
The back seat can handle three medium-sized passengers abreast, although its 35 inches of leg room is tighter than some rivals. The rear seatbacks can be dropped to expand the 16 cubic-foot trunk.
Sonatas offer several tiers of performance, beginning with a 191-hp 2.5-liter inline-4 linked to an 8-speed automatic transmission that provides more than adequate acceleration for most needs. SEL Plus and Limited versions swap in a 180-hp turbo-4 that is down on power on paper but actually furnishes better acceleration in real-world use.
Hybrids have a total system output of 192 hp thanks to a 2.0-liter inline-4 linked to an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery. They’re plenty peppy, plus they provide near-silent motoring in many situations.
The N Line pairs a powerful 290-hp turbo-4 with a snappy 8-speed dual-clutch automatic, a combination good for a 6-second 0-60-mph sprint. Opt for summer tires – and plan on buying winter tires if you live in the snow belt – and you’ll find that the N Line takes advantage of this balanced chassis.
With a package for just about every type of buyer, the stylish Hyundai Sonata is a winner among mid-size sedans. The Hybrid checks the efficiency box and still has the sleek, winning shape; it’s our pick.