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Review: 2020 Hyundai Sonata Limited

Published on Sat, Nov 14, 2020

By: Doug Stokes

Smooth design, advanced technology, and surprisingly crisp - the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Limited has earned some appreciation.

Hey Ed: We could save tons of editorial space and quite a few electrons here if I simply listed the things that I really didn’t like, or didn’t find any use for, or found that was really wanting about this machine*. - Stokes

NOTE:  My first reaction after my first day at the wheel of this new Hyundai, reminded me of a similar sensation at the end of my first day behind the wheel of the first Lexus that I ever drove (it was a 1990 LS400).  I had driven the car maybe 70-80 miles total at that point.  Sitting quietly in my driveway, engine running (which was only verifiable by looking at the tachometer) that early evening, I just thought Whoa this is different” (good different). 

Same deal here, and this review proves it.

2020 Hyundai Sonata Limited
2020 Hyundai Sonata Limited

First of all, there’s just a sense of just plain old overall good design here with the Sonata. The inside of this one matches the outside. 

Both are sleek without being overstated (or worse yet, slinky) and everything (that we tried) worked as stated in the TV ads.  This is a very smart-looking automobile, with clean styling cues and character lines that work harmoniously from stem to stern. I’ll go out on a limb and postulate that one design team was responsible for both ends of this one (praise intended because that is not always the case).

Let’s do this … I’m going to print the full list of standard features here and you (dear reader) are invited to see it the Hyundai people have left anything out.  OK?

Only 85% of the parts on this car are accounted for...
2020 Hyundai Sonata Limited

The beginning MSRP at the top of this list is $33,500 and the total price (with $975 in inland freight and handling … and $155 for carpeted floor mats) is $34,630.   All the of other 39 above features are standard on the 2020 Limited.

Among the best and the brightest of features in this handsome “Stormy Sea” blue is the sort of instant response that this fairly large 4-door sedan gives when asked.  If you were never told (I knew, and I still had to open the hood to personally confirm the numbers after my first 40-50 miles in this one). 

This fully-fitted out, smooth-riding, elegant, 192.9 inch long, 73.2 inch wide, 4,000-pound, 5-passenger sedan is powered by a 1.6 Liter, 4-cylinder engine, that produces 180 horsepower and 195 (very athletic) pounds-foot of torque in such a way that I really did have to look under the hood after my first drive.

The tech involved that makes the Sonata Limited scoot like a high-powered sports car is an almost flawless application of engine control and power transmission technology that’s as seamless as it is invisible.  GDI (gasoline direct injection) puts precisely the amount of fuel directly into this car’s engine cylinders at the precise time that it is called for by the driver. Idling or full throttle the fuel delivery is always exact. 

2020 Hyundai Sonata Limited
2020 Hyundai Sonata Limited. Photo courtesy of Hyundai.

And then there’s this one’s almost magical CVVD valve timing.  Like the direct fuel injection, the old saying about “timing” is just as important (everything) today as it ever has been. 

The systems remarkable ability to change when the engine’s valves open and close on the run means even more control and much bigger/better response across the board.  Economy when appropriate, and power when that’s important.  Uncle Sam says to expect 27 City 36 Highway miles-per-gallon. The Limited’s on-board info system said that we got 28.2 over a weeks time logging just a few past 400 miles of varied driving.

Adding to the way that the power is produce and applied in the Limited, there’s a (very) smart 8-speed automatic transmission that always keeps this Hyundai running in the appropriate sweet spot for the driver’s needs.  For us frustrated Formula drivers (the damn team managers are really missing a bet here) there are a set of paddle shifters integrated into the steering wheel for emulating one’s favorite racing star.

The ride here is on the good side of crisp, in other words there’s no slop.  This is  comfortable/alert car to drive and the front seats have the firmness that I always recognize as something that Mercedes long ago showed people was better (and as I said more comfortable) to drive any distance at all.  The Sonata’s seats work as good as they look, and the two front ones are heated and feature supple leather seating surfaces. 

The interior is full of helpful gadgets
The interior is full of helpful gadgets

No blood-n-the-eye hard core sports sedan, the new Sonata is quite stable and well-centered when it comes to quick/spirited “touring” with handling and braking that were well in keeping with the more-than-adequate engine power curve we spoke of above,

And then there’s the safety features … got a couple hours? 

Suffice it to say that the Sonata is ready willing and able to give its driver a full report about what’s going on outside, around the car.  A lighted/transparent heads-up speedometer reading at the base of the driver’s side of the windshield is very handy for not mistaking 85 for 70 miles per hour in this one, and wonderful (… go to a dealer and see for yourself) electronic rear view mirrors that pop in place of the tachometer and speedometer on the dash readout show what’s behind and to the side with razor sharpness with a quick glance.

Of course there are (rapidly becoming standard) lane-stay (maybe “stray” would be a better word) indicators and both fore and aft braking assist systems here as well.

There’s been a lot of TV time spent lately (at least in Hyundai commercials) showing off their new remote parking assist that can fire up the car and back it out of a parking spot that’s too tight for one to open the car’s doors.  It’s very cool to have a remote starter (… I remember a time when only people who thought that their car might explode when they cranked it over had them, with the Limited anyone can fire up their car from their own front porch or walk-up apartment … hey, this is America, that’s progress/egalitarianism.) 

The overhead view is some engineering wizardry...
The overhead view is some engineering wizardry...

In this case I did not try that e-perk, but really appreciated the “overhead” view that comes on the 10.25-inch center NAV system screen when backing up that shows a (how do they do that?) OVERHEAD view of your car and its relationship to obstructions on both sides of the car.

And then there's the full-size elephant in the room with Hyundai’s segment-leading 10-year / 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.  Both Hyundai and its stepsister Kia offer warranties that show the confidence that those two Korean companies have in their products engineering and build quality. They’ve upped the ante.


Only 85% of the parts on this car are accounted for...
Only 85% of the parts on this car are accounted for...

This Sonata was assembled in picturesque Montgomery, Alabama, and the country of origin for both the (neat) engine and the (cool) transmission is the good old U.S.A.  But in other (doubtless troubling for some) news, the parts content sources listed on this one’s Monroney (window sticker) are: U.S./Canadian: 45% and Korean: 40%. That adds up to 85% on my solar-powered desk calculator.  There’s some small print disclaimer jargon printed below that indicates: “Parts content does not include final assembly, distribution, or other non-parts costs”.  Our “lawyer” is looking into the discrepancy now, and I really want to know where the missing 15% are sourced out of. 

By now I’m pretty sure that you’ve sensed that this car hit at the old: “really righteous ride” sobriquet right in the center of its meaning … my own surprise gave way to appreciation and respect by day two here.  -DS

*Let’s see (OK … yeah, right, this is one for sure):  A scant week after they dropped this brilliant blue beauty off, they came back and (calmly, with a low-wattage smile) took the keys from me and drove away, heading for parts unknown, leaving me sans my Sonata.

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