2021 Hyundai Sonata
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata is a really good way to get attention while driving a family sedan. Its dramatic styling includes exaggerated proportions, a prominent grille, and a quirky design cue featuring a spear of bright trim that flows along the front fenders and into the headlights to create what designers call a “lighting signature.” Inside, the Sonata flaunts a sophisticated, attractive space loaded with upscale features and plenty of passenger room. While the Sonata isn’t quick or engaging to drive, it has a trio of efficient powertrains, including a hybrid option that has higher government fuel-economy ratings than the Toyota Camry hybrid. Still, the Hyundai is less about numbers and more about value, thanks to its affordable pricing and impressive amount of content.
What’s New for 2021?
Hyundai gives the 2021 Sonata a new wheel-and-tire combo and additional features. The SEL Plus model now comes with Pirelli P Zero all-season tires mounted on 19-inch wheels. The SEL, SEL Plus, and the Limited have a clever, standard safe-exit warning that alerts passengers to oncoming traffic when the car is parallel parked. The fanciest Sonata model now comes standard with a six-way, power-adjustable front passenger seat.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
- SE: $25,000 (est.)
- SEL: $27,000 (est.)
- SEL Plus: $29,000 (est.)
- Blue hybrid: $29,000 (est.)
- SEL hybrid: $31,000 (est.)
- Limited: $35,000 (est.)
- Limited hybrid: $37,000 (est.)
Not only is the SEL Plus model the most affordable way to get the upgraded 180-hp turbo-four engine, it’s also the only Sonata that currently comes with 19-inch rims and enhanced all-season tires. Although Hyundai hasn’t officially released pricing for the 2021 lineup, we expect the SEL Plus to sticker for less than $30,000. That sum buys you a car with a 12.3-inch fully digital gauge cluster, leatherette and microsuede upholstery, back-seat air vents and USB port, and wireless charging. We’d option our preferred Sonata with the Tech package, too. It adds a 12-speaker Bose stereo, a 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a panoramic sunroof, and a semi-autonomous drive mode.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Sonata is not the sharpest handler in its class—we like the Honda Accord and the Nissan Altima better—but it’s still composed and responsive on the road. The ride is a little more unsettled than we’d like and firmer than most cars in this category, but the Sonata is at least reasonably quick with its turbocharged 1.6-liter engine. During our testing, a Sonata with that powertrain made it to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds—an acceptable result in this class. The shifts from the eight-speed automatic are smooth and well-timed. We’d also like to commend Hyundai for continuing to offer a conventional automatic transmission in its family sedan. Much of the class has gone over to droning (but efficient) continuously variable automatic transmissions (CVTs). We haven’t tested the Sonata hybrid, but we expect that model to offer slower acceleration than the turbocharged model.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The Sonata has a set of highly fuel-efficient powertrains, with the hybrid versions owning the highest EPA estimates. The Blue hybrid is rated up to 50 mpg in the city and 54 on the highway, and the other hybrid Sonatas are expected to achieve 45 mpg in the city and 51 on the highway. The base 2.5-liter engine has estimates of up to 28/38 mpg city/highway; the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine sacrifices 1 mpg in both categories. On our 200-mile highway route, the turbocharged Sonata we tested saw 31 mpg in the real world. That’s 6 mpg below the EPA’s estimate, but about on par with several similar sedans we’ve tested. We haven’t had a chance to run the numbers on the rest of the Sonata’s lineup, so it remains to be seen whether the non-turbo engine or the hybrid model do a better job living up to the government’s expectations.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Sonata’s interior is attractive and feels like it’s worth more than the sedan’s sticker prices suggest. The back seat is comfortable and spacious, the materials look and feel upscale, and the dashboard layout is simple and ergonomic. The Sonata’s 16 cubic feet of cargo space is about what we expect from mid-size sedans—neither the best nor the worst in its set. Still, we fit seven of our carry-on suitcases inside its trunk, which is plenty of space for a long road trip with the family.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The infotainment system relies on an 8.0-inch center touchscreen. In SEL models with the Convenience package, SEL Plus, and Limited models, there’s also a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. Hyundai’s new tech pièce de resistance is the feature it calls Digital Key, which allows owners to use Hyundai’s app and their smartphone to unlock the car using near-field communication (NFC) and operate certain vehicle functions remotely. This would allow drivers to leave the key fob behind if and when their active lifestyles made carrying one inconvenient.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The Sonata earned a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It was also named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Hyundai’s SmartSense package of driver-assistance features is standard, and includes automatic high-beam assist, adaptive cruise control, and a driver-attention warning that can sense drowsy or distracted driving. The Sonata can even pull in and out of a parking space while you wait for it from outside. However, that feature is reserved for the top-level Limited trim. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Hyundai’s warranty coverage is legendary, thanks largely to the 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The company also offers complimentary scheduled maintenance that bests mainstream rivals such as Toyota.
- Limited warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for three years or 36,000 miles
More Features and Specs
Published at Tue, 04 Aug 2020 15:24:00 +0000