Hyundai Elantra vs. Hyundai Sonata

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Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - March 13, 2020

Like nearly every other automaker in the market, Hyundai is doubling down on crossovers and SUVs. But that doesn’t mean the South Korean automaker has left its sedans out to dry. Instead, Hyundai introduced an all-new version of the midsize Sonata and an updated version of the compact Elantra for the 2020 model year.

With both models receiving updates, it might be confusing to choose between one of them if you find yourself at a Hyundai dealership. While the Elantra and Sonata have quite a lot of differences – like size, pricing, and performance – both cars have a lot in common. They're value-packed options, backed by extensive warranties, and come with long lists of advanced safety features.

If you’re looking to get into a sedan from Hyundai, should you go with the Elantra or the Sonata? That’s what we’ll answer below.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Elantra & Sonata »

What the Elantra Gets Right

Budget-minded shoppers will find that the Elantra has a major advantage in pricing over the Sonata, which makes sense as it’s the smaller car. The Elantra starts at $19,870 including destination, while the Sonata is $4,460 more at $24,330. You could opt for the range-topping Elantra Sport and only spend $390 more than the base Sonata.

As a smaller car, the Elantra also gets the win when it comes to fuel economy. When properly equipped, the Elantra is rated by the EPA to get 36 miles per gallon combined. Non-hybrid Sonatas are rated at 32 mpg combined.

The Elantra, surprisingly, can also be fitted with a more powerful engine. The Sport trim comes with a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 201 horsepower. The most powerful engine in the Sonata range only makes 191 hp.

What the Sonata Gets Right

While the Sonata costs more than the Elantra, it comes with more features. In the safety department, the Sonata gets adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams over the Elantra.

The Sonata also comes with more tech features, including an 8-inch touchscreen, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay as standard. The Elantra, by comparison, comes standard with a 5-inch touchscreen. The Sonata can also be fitted with more high-tech features as options, including Hyundai’s Digital Key, a 12.3-inch LCD display in the instrument cluster, a head-up display, and remote smart parking assist.

As the larger car, the Sonata has more overall interior space than the Elantra. Total interior volume in the Sonata measures in at 120.4 cubic feet, while the Elantra has 95.8 cubic feet of passenger volume. When it comes to cargo space, the Sonata can hold up to 16 cubic feet compared to the Elantra's 14.4.

Styling may be subjective, but the Sonata is one of the better-looking cars on the market in our opinion. With the major redesign, Hyundai turned the Sonata into a head-turner on the outside and inside. It’s not that the Elantra’s design is bad, but it’s nowhere near as stylish or as lush as the Sonata.

Looking for Something Affordable and Efficient?

When it comes to the compact segment, the Elantra is a great option. It’s affordable, gets excellent fuel economy, and is packed with standard features. For buyers on a budget, you can do a lot worse than the Elantra. One of the largest issues holding the Elantra back in this comparison is the fact that it’s old, while the Sonata is all-new.

Our Verdict: Hyundai Sonata

With the redesigned Hyundai Sonata, the automaker combined a stunning design with high-tech features to create a well-rounded sedan. The fact that it's priced affordably also helps its case. Some consumers may believe that midsize sedans are dead, but the new Sonata proves that they still have a lot to offer.

Take a closer look at the Hyundai Elantra »

Take a closer look at the Hyundai Sonata »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

Follow On: Twitter

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