Gorgeous design. Midsize sedans aren’t known for having elegant designs, but the 2021 Hyundai Sonata certainly puts that adage to rest with an exquisite design. Recently, Hyundai’s designers have taken the lead with gorgeous styling on all of its vehicles. With its long, low, and wide body, the Sonata certainly looks better than its predecessor and is one of the better looking sedans on the market.
The same attention to detail has been taken on the inside, where the Sonata’s design has an elegant and upscale look that mirrors ones found on true luxury vehicles. While the materials on base trims may be a step below ones found on higher trim levels, the overall high-end design remains the same. We’re especially smitten with the stylish steering wheel and simplistic look of the center console.
Excellent value. Just like every other Hyundai on the market, the Sonata is an incredible value option. The midsize sedan comes packed with all sorts of standard equipment, including an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a USB port, and Bluetooth.
The base model also comes with cloth upholstery, LED headlights and taillights, a six-way manually-adjustable driver’s seat, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering column. With a starting price tag of $24,595, the base SE trim is an excellent value proposition.
The most value-forward trim in the lineup is the SEL Plus. It adds leatherette upholstery, a wireless smartphone charger, a 12.3-inch digital instrument display, heated front seats, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Ticking the box for the Tech Package brings a 10.25-inch touchscreen, navigation, a panoramic sunroof, and a 12-speaker Bose audio system. At $2,700, the package isn’t cheap, but it brings a lot of high-end elements.
Impressive standard safety features. Official crash test scores for the 2021 Sonata aren’t available from the IIHS yet, but last year’s model was named a Top Safety Pick. We expect that rating to carry over for the new model year. In the NHTSA’s tests, the Sonata earned a five-star overall safety rating.
In addition to great crash-test scores, the Sonata comes packed with all sorts of standard safety features. Adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, driver attention monitoring, and automatic high beams are standard.
Blind-spot monitoring, a surround-view camera system, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane change assist are all available.
Comfort over performance. Hyundai is set to introduce a performance-oriented version of the Sonata with the upcoming N Line trim. Unfortunately, it’s not on sale at the time of writing. Regardless of which one of the current engines you go with, the Sonata clearly isn’t a performance vehicle.
While the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is currently the most powerful in the lineup with 191 horsepower on tap, it’s certainly well behind other rivals in terms of outright power. The available turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder only produces 180 hp, but makes 14 more pound-feet of torque than the base engine. The turbo engine may be down on power, but it feels peppier thanks to its higher torque rating.
Around corners, the Sonata doesn’t thrill in the same way as some of its rivals, but its supremely plush ride results in all-day comfort. It’s a trade-off we’re sure some consumers won’t mind making.
Additionally, the most efficient Sonata with the base four-cylinder engine is rated at a competitive 32 miles per gallon combined, according to the EPA.
Final thoughts. Midsize sedans have been having a hard time trying to keep up with crossovers and SUVs in the sales department. The 2021 Hyundai Sonata’s stunning design, strong value, great crash test scores, and comfortable ride quality may stop some consumers from making the switch. These qualities help the Sonata be one of the better options in the midsize segment.
The Sonata is only missing one attribute that puts it behind its rivals: its lack of performance. Both four-cylinder engines in the Sonata are underpowered and struggle to match engines found in rivals. This issue will be fixed with the arrival of the Sonata N, but, at the moment, it's in desperate need of a more powerful engine.
In terms of the competition, the Mazda Mazda6 feels more upscale and has a more powerful turbo engine. The Honda Accord is more of an athlete around corners and is available with a more powerful turbo engine, but doesn’t have the same handsome styling and isn’t available with the same technology. The Toyota Camry is offered with a far more powerful V6 engine, offers better handling, and has a more aggressive design.
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