Old and new. Midsize sedans may not be the bread and butter of the market anymore, but nobody told Hyundai. The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is an old-fashioned sedan that’s distinctly modern. The Sonata got a full redesign this year, and the Sonata Hybrid is arguably even better than its gas-powered sibling (covered separately).
Both models share an exterior, which is much improved from the outgoing Sonata. The windshield is raked more steeply, and although the dimensions have stayed nearly the same, the new model looks lower and wider. Sleek curves and a low nose tie everything together.
The looks aren’t the only futuristic elements. Some trims come with a smartphone-linked key system, and the top Limited trim adds an autonomous parking system and charges its batteries from roof-mounted solar panels. For those who want cutting-edge tech in an eco-friendly body, look no further.
Hybrid performance. Of course, at the heart of the Sonata Hybrid’s credentials is its powertrain. A 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine meets a 51-horsepower electric motor for a total of 192 hp. That’s more power than any gas-powered Sonata, and Hyundai’s Active Shift Control tech makes the car feel like an everyday driver.
All the same, don’t expect blistering performance. At anywhere from 3,404 to 3,530 pounds, the Sonata Hybrid is no lightweight. The suspension is responsive but relaxed, tuned for comfort rather than corner-carving. Steering is accurate but feels a little light.
Fuel economy is the star of the show. The Blue trim, with its low-resistance tires, gets an EPA-estimated 52 miles per gallon combined, which is among the best on the market. Upper trims drop slightly to 47 mpg combined.
Premium interior. The Sonata Hybrid’s interior is another high point. Like the exterior, it looks and feels more premium than the price would suggest.
That’s especially true of the Limited trim, which gets quilted seating and soft surfaces throughout. The cabin is exceptionally quiet, and the pliant ride filters out any discomfort from rough surfaces. A push-button shift selector and gloss-black accents complete the impression of luxury.
The sloping roofline had us worried that head room would suffer, but it doesn’t. The rear seats are set low, but every seat is comfortable and spacious. Even cargo capacity is excellent, with 16 cubic feet of space in the trunk. That’s just shy of the Honda Accord’s 16.7, but it’s better than most midsize sedans.
Our only bother is the capacitive touch “buttons” that surround the infotainment screen. They work fine, but seem a needless addition.
Features galore. That infotainment system is just the start of a comprehensive basic feature set, one of Hyundai’s biggest selling points. Blue and SEL trims get a competent 8-inch screen, while the Limited uses a 10.25-inch unit with navigation.
Every model comes with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and a sterling safety record. Combined with the car’s interior space and fuel efficiency, the Sonata Hybrid makes a compelling case for the return of the midsize sedan as a family vehicle. As a commuter, it excels.
Rounding out the value is Hyundai’s strong five-year/60,000-mile warranty. Our pick of the lineup is the middle SEL trim, which feels like a luxury vehicle but doesn’t push too far past $30,000.
Final thoughts. It’s hard to dislike the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Performance enthusiasts will have to look elsewhere, but the Sonata has something for nearly everyone else.
The Sonata Hybrid surely won’t be as big a seller as the brand’s many crossovers. In our opinion, many buyers would be well served by looking to a sedan instead. With a spacious cabin, stellar efficiency, and strong value throughout, the Sonata Hybrid is what we hope the future looks like.
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