Pros-Sleek. High economy. Roomy. Stabile handling. Fairly fast. Advanced safety features.
Cons-Comfortable for just four adults. Sport mode not for town driving. Lazy paddle shifters.
Bottom Line-Lots of car for the money.
The sleek, redesigned 2020 Hyundai Sonata
Hybrid may lure folks from crossovers and small SUVs to this large four-door sedan. It's got coupe-like styling, high economy and advanced safety features and is reasonably priced in its class, which includes the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord hybrids.
The front-drive Sonata Hybrid has a large front/rear cabin with comfortable seats and good space for various items-although there's good room for only four adults-or five in a pinch. An impressive nicely shaped 16-cubic-foot cargo area can be made larger by flip-down rear setbacks, operated by trunk levers for security's sake.
The revised interior is upscale, and controls are easy to use. The console-mounted gear selectors are handy. Even the well-organized 10.2-inch infotainment system is easy to use, as are the small, clearly marked dashboard controls.
Offered are the super-economy $27,750 "Blue" model, the mid-range $29,900 SEL model and the top-line $35,300 model, which I tested.
Estimated fuel economy for the Blue model is 50 miles per gallon in the city and 54 on highways. The Limited and SEL get an estimated 45 in the city and 51 on highways.
Performance is pretty good. All models have 192 combined horsepower from a 2-liter 150-horsepower gas engine and 51 horsepower electric motor that shoots power through a smooth six-speed automatic transmission. (Forget the sloppy paddle shifters which you don't need anyway.)
There's a 12-speaker sound system and plenty of safety and convenience features, including forward collision and blind spot collision avoidance and advanced smart cruise control.
You can even get optional, futuristic-looking roof-mounted solar panels to charge the batteries to gain a few extra miles of travel.
There's no problem staying with fast traffic in the city or on highways. There's no lag time off the line. And the 0-60 m.p.h. time-often quoted at 7.8-8.8 seconds-seems conservatively rated. It seemed more like a flat 7 seconds to me, which is more than adequate for a big family sedan that weighs 3,325 to 3,530 pounds with a 111.8-inch wheelbase and a length of 192.2 inches.
The 16-17-inch wheels look a little small for this big sedan, especially the 16 inches for the "Blue" model. Larger wheels and wider tires would help cornering ability and handling, but larger ones would hurt fuel economy, which is one of the Sonata Hybrid's main charms. Still, handling is pretty good despite some noticeable sway when curves are taken swiftly. This is no sports sedan, despite such items as front/rear anti-sway bars, responsive steering and linear brake action.
Front seats offer good thigh support but just so-so lateral support, which wouldn't be accepted in a sports sedan.
Still, a "Sport" driving mode can be activated by a console switch near the gear-selector switches meant for what Hyundai causes "dynamic" driving. Sport mode does such things as controlling the ride, steering, engine response and transmission operation. But it's too aggressive for normal driving. It's best to stick with "Eco," Smart" or "Custom" driving modes, which also can be easily selected, although the Sport mode makes the Eco mode seem lackadaisical.
The ride is generally supple, although some bumps can be felt, and undulating pavement causes some body "float."
Sonata Hybrid owners probably won't spend much time at gas stations filling the car's 13.2-gallon-capacity tank. A large sedan once was considered a gas hog. Look what's happened.