Sonata Shines Among Large Sedans

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CHATHAM, Mass. – The last time I reviewed a Hyundai Sonata we were impressed by the overall competence, comfort and performance of the 2021 Sonata Limited Hybrid. My impressions have been fully reinforced following a week in the striking stormy sea (the color, deep metallic navy blue) 2021 Hyundai Sonata Limited.

Regardless of the powertrain, the Sonata is an impressive iteration of the mid-size (although the federal Environmental Protection Agency rates it as a large) sedan, one with excellent room for four passengers and reasonable space for a fifth in the middle of the second seat (if the trip is not lengthy).

The car is filled with the attributes mentioned above, but Ito me, the overwhelming attribute is value. Hyundai has packed virtually everything the sedan buyer would want into the Sonata, presented it in a modern, bold design, and priced the all-inclusive package at $35,000.

Related post:
Hyundai Sonata’s a World-Class Hybrid Sedan

Last year the average price of a vehicle in the U.S. hit $40,000, putting the value proposition of the Sonata into perspective. What about the notion sedans are passe? Nearly one million Americans did not think so in 2020 as they bought vehicles with, generally speaking, better driving dynamics and fuel economy than the hot-selling SUVs and pickup trucks. And as gasoline prices continue to rise, interest in vehicles like the Sonata will probably increase as well.

Efficient power at the heart of the Sonata

The internal-combustion engined (ICE) Sonata Limited variant comes with the automaker’s turbocharged 1.6-liter engine which produces 180 horsepower  at 5,500 rpm and 195 pounds-feet of torque at 1,500-4,500 rpm thanks to Hyundai’s Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) system.

An eight-speed automatic transmission facilitates getting the power to the front wheels and coupled with the CVVD system and other engineering feats, helps the car achieve an EPA fuel economy rating of 27 miles per gallon in city driving, 37 on the highway and 30 in combined, overall operation.

Like the last several Hyundai vehicles I sampled, my time with the Sonata resulted in fuel-economy numbers in everyday driving more like the EPA’s combined figure as I saw 38+ mpg in a week of pushing the sedan.

I pushed the Sonata on all types of roads because it felt good doing so. The car’s power was more than up to the task of comfortably cruising on all types of roads, merging into traffic on the highway and overtaking other vehicles there as well.

A well-sorted suspension system resulted in a smooth comfortable ride while allowing me to attack the twisty roads coming down the hills from the Atlantic Ocean into Wellfleet, Mass., with confidence

The components at work include MacPherson-type struts, stabilizer bar and gas shock absorbers in the front, with a multi-link setup, stabilizer bar and gas shocks working at the rear.

Bringing everything to a stop are a combination of power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes (12.8-inch ventilated rotors up front, 11.8-inch solid ones in the rear) with antilock (ABS), electronic-stability control (ESC) and brake assist along with 235/45R18 tires (mounted on 18-inch alloy wheels).

A full complement of advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS)

Befitting a top of the range model, the Sonata Limited comes with an extensive array of advanced driver-assist systems. Included are:

  • Blind-spot collision-avoidance
  • Rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance
  • Forward collision-avoidance
  • Rear parking collision-avoidance assist
  • Surround-view monitor/rearview monitor
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Highway driving assist
  • Lane-keeping assist
  • Smart cruise control with stop/start

In addition, there are a few somewhat unique ADAS:

The Blind-Spot View Monitor with the Sonata’s outside mirror-mounted cameras offers the driver an enhanced field of vision. The Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW) system helps scan for vehicles, bicyclists, etc. in the driver’s blind spot.

If the driver activates a turn signal, an image of the view from the corresponding wing mirror appears in the 12.3-inch instrument-cluster display. If a vehicle is detected in the blind spot, audible and visual alerts are provided.

Hyundai’s Smart Parking Assist (or as it was called in the Super Bowl 2020 commercial above Smaht Park) allows drivers to remotely park/un-park the Sonata from outside the vehicle, thus enabling the car to be parked in spots too tight to open a door.

Luxurious passenger amenities

The Sonata Limited’s cabin is filled with amenities and features designed to provide a comfortable, relaxing environment for driver and passengers. Electrically adjusted heated and ventilated leather covered seats (the driver’s with two-person memory including power-assisted outside rearview mirrors and lumbar support) for the front occupants are supportive during aggressive driving and comfortable at all times.

The view from those seats of the outside world is vast through expansive windows fore and aft and panoramic sunroof with power sunshade, while that of the dash and interior fittings is one of a well-designed and executed cabin.

The dash is well thought out with buttons and controls logically arranged (supplementing those of the 10.25-inch color touch screen and on the steering wheel) for the dual-zone climate control and infotainment systems.

Integrated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are part of the infotainment system which also includes SiriusXM satellite radio and Bluetooth-streaming audio. The sound is amplified through a Bose Premium Audio system with 12 speakers (one of which is a nine-inch subwoofer).

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A wireless-charging pad at the front of the center console along with USB ports front and rear allow all the passengers to keep their mobile devices fresh and ready to go.

The Sonata name has been part of the Hyundai lineup in the U.S. since late 1988 (as a 1989 model) when Hyundai products were known as high value with limited curb  or cabin appeal. Hyundai has spent the last several decades consistently improving and refining its vehicles. The result: today the 2021 Hyundai Sonata Limited is at the forefront of the sedan segment which includes the likes of Honda Accord, Subaru Legacy and Toyota Camry.

Next week TBR Drives the Mazda CX-30 small SUV.

Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.