By on June 18, 2018

Image: Brian Williams/Spiedbilde

If sales stats tell us anything, it’s that Hyundai’s latest refresh of the Sonata sedan didn’t seem to resonate with buyers. Despite the addition of a large and aggressive new grille for the 2018 model year, complimented by a sharper rear deck and nicely canted taillights, Sonata sales — like that of so many other traditional passenger cars — continued a downward path. So much for fixing the styling issues of the previous refresh.

After hitting a high water mark of 230,605 vehicles sold in 2012, Sonata volume sunk to 131,803 units in 2017. Sales over the first five months of 2018 fell 33.8 percent.

Given the sales trajectory, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see Hyundai drop the model after the current generation runs its course, but the automaker seems intent on generating as many sales as it can across the segment spectrum. Thanks to these spy shots from Las Vegas, it looks like there’s a new Sonata in our future.

Image: Brian Williams/Spiedbilde

Photographed alongside rival midsizers on a rooftop parking deck, this 2020 Sonata appears longer than the current generation. Gone is the sharp-edged look of the previous model, though there might be a few creases lurking under that camo.

Image: Brian Williams/Spiedbilde

The Accord-like (or is it Malibu-like?) roofline flows gracefully into the trunklid, below which little detail can be seen of the taillights. Up front, it looks like Hyundai eschewed a Kona-esque over/under headlight arrangement in favor of conventional peepers. A large grille is a given, though its exact shape remains to be seen. V-shaped side vents flank the front opening.

Image: Brian Williams/Spiedbilde

The automaker wants its models to remain somewhat distinct from one another in terms of styling, but carryover design elements will surely tip viewers off to the presence of a Hyundai. For power, the current Sonata makes do with three four-cylinder engine options: a standard Theta II 2.4-liter,  a turbocharged 2.0-liter unit, and a fuel-sipping 1.6-liter turbo. It’s likely we’ll see at least the 2.0T make its way into the new model.

A public debut will likely take place in early 2019, with the next-gen Sonata going on sale later next year as a 2020 model.

Image: Brian Williams/Spiedbilde

[Images: Brian Williams/Spiedbilde]

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33 Comments on “Spied: 2020 Hyundai Sonata, Looking Larger and Definitely Rounder...”


  • avatar
    readallover

    No way to tell under all the camo, but it gives a somewhat Azera-ish profile.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      The Azera has been cut for this market, I believe, so perhaps this is designed to replace it and the current Sonata, kinda like how the Mazda6 replaced both the 626 and Millenia.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      The old Azera maybe, but the new one that we didn’t get doesn’t really look much like this.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Mostly resembles the outgoing Sonata, but one could say that the C-pillar treatment/rear window panel is kinda a mix of the old Sonata and the current Grandeur.

      https://www.autoguide.com/blog/wp-content/gallery/2020-hyundai-sonata-spied/2020-Hyundai-Sonata-Spied-9.jpg

      Which makes for a resemblance to the Lacrosse.

  • avatar
    Dan R

    It’s a stretch Taurus!

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Jack it up 5 inches, put on some lower body cladding that looks “tough”, put on some mud and snow tires and a few “off-road” buttons on the dashboard, and they won’t be able to make enough of them.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    The outgoing model carried the most bland and forgettable styling of the segment, and it did so in a clumsy, cheap and awkward way rather than a clean timeless VW/Audi way. Odd turn for them to take after the striking (and successful) 2011 generation. What was the selling point, particularly when compared to the Optima?

    Maybe this new one will help, the end of the Fusion will create a bit of headspace in the segment. Even with the camo I like it better than the current one.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      I cross-shopped the Sonata and Optima in late 2014. At that point the Optima was on the older platform, and the Sonata was several notches beyond it in general quality, and even now that they’re on the same platform, the Sonata feels just a bit better put together, especially the interior.

      I returned my Sonata last fall and considered both the new one and the Optima, but ended up getting a barely-used, heavily-equipped 2015 Genesis for less money than a mid-spec Sonoptima.

      Part of the reason for that is that H/K has set their options up in such a way that if you want nav and a non-tinny sound system, you have to go all the way to the top trim with options, at which point they’re not super cheap anymore. In 2015 you could buy a Sonata with nav and reasonable sound for $23k; getting the same options in a Sonata now will run you $31k. Not sure how many other people were influenced by that shift, but it’s probably not zero. The irony is that Hyundai’s long warranty and my familiarity with the Sonata is what drove me into the waiting arms of a used Genesis that won’t help corporate’s bottom line!

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Thanks, Peri, that makes sense from a customer’s perspective. Enjoy your Genesis. That’s quite a nice upgrade from the CamCord class!

        • 0 avatar
          PeriSoft

          Yeah, the Genesis is a nice car. Biggest gripe is creaking from the pano roof on particularly bad roads, apparently an issue across brands with the things. Aside from that, quality is superb; not only is it quiet itself but it silences outside noise amazingly, and every bit of the interior is high quality right down to really nice careful finishing on stuff you never see like under-seat air vents and seat rails. Every touch point is soft and well made, every button and control is specific to the car, every piece of trim is made of nice stuff.

          All it really needs is more low rev torque (addressed with the G80 Sport) for in-gear squirt, newer infotainment (IP map ala Audi, 3D nav) and another notch in suspension tune for rough roads; it feels just a tad unsettled to me. But these are all gripes vs. a putative perfect car, not complaints within its price class (I’d be interested to see how the 5, A6, and E stack up for ride quality but they’re all effectively $20k pricier).

          Thing is, in terms of experience the Sonata isn’t so far off. It was built to a price point, but one of the things that impressed me was how well they distributed the money the spent on each part of the car relative to how often you interacted with that part. Sure, it wasn’t inspiring – but it was a fantastic car to live with and use on a daily basis.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        I guess I’ve had the opposite experience in terms of interior quality and design: I think the Optima is a clear cut winner. The Sonata’s tacky key-on chime and some of the parts of the center stack leave a less than favorable impression. The Optima has some pseudo-Audi influence in the inteior from that Schreyer guy. Aside from that I think both are perfectly competent and good entries in the midsize class. My last Optima LX-FE rental got some unreal MPG: 43.5 mpg driving from Ithaca NY to LaGuardia in NYC, holding speeds of 70-75mph and some stop and go near the GWB driving into NYC. The other standout feature was the fantastic ride over bad roads. At least some of that was from the 205/65R16 tires. If I just wanted a comfy and nice driving, affordable and efficient commuter/family sedan, I’d have no qualms about going with an Optima.

        • 0 avatar
          PeriSoft

          gtem, the key-on chime was one of the first things to get turned off! The center stack bezel was cheap-ish in my ’15, but then again, the car was cheap-ish. One of the things that bugs me about the current-gen Optima vs the Sonata is that the Optima’s engine start button is just kinda punched into a raw hole in the dash material, whereas the Sonata has a nice bezel around it, and it all feels and looks good. It’s a little thing, but it’s a little thing you touch and look at a lot.

          That said, the 2.0T SXL Optima is a damned nice car, and at actual street prices similar to a top-spec 2.4 Sonata, I feel like it’s a no-brainer while it’s on the same platform. I very nearly got an SXL Turbo Optima last spring, and while it’s not the car that the Genesis is by any stretch, I doubt I would have regretted it.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      While the outgoing (pre-fresh) was “too safe”, wasn’t any more bland than the Fusion, Accord or Passat and still better looking than the outgoing Altima or old Camry.

      The changes to the sheetmetal for the facelift was an improvement, but interior also needed work.

      Even more so, Kia messed up the Optima compared to the previous gen.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        bd, I’ll very respectively disagree, particularly in regards to the Fusion. Altima’s ugly as sin, though.

        Funny thing, the more of the new Optima I see the more I like it. Lost a bit of the prior’s sleekness, but I still think it is one of the better looking in the segment. It was on my cross-shop list last year but I found too good of a deal on something else before I located an Optima to try.

  • avatar
    redapple

    YAWN

    Just say no to Hyundai / Kia.

    Spend the extra $3000 and buy the vastly superior Camry accord buru.

    You ll more than get it back on resale.

    Simple. No Brainer.

    • 0 avatar
      nels0300

      It’s not that simple.

      I bought an Elantra Sport for about $6K less than a Civic Si.

      Will the Civic Si still be worth $6K more 5 years from now when my Hyundai bumper to bumper warranty expires?

      Maybe.

      But even if it was worth $7K more 5 years from now, so what?

      I never spent the $6K extra to begin with, kept it in my pocket so to say, AND I drove a much nicer looking car for 5 years, with a full warranty the whole time.

      It’s not a “no brainer”, you actually do have to use your brain.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I wouldn’t quite say the Elantra Sport is a Civic Si competitor, but it’s a real gem all the same and can often be had (manual or automatic) for well under $20K. I’d buy it.

        And to me, a Civic Si isn’t worth much because, while it’s a quality car, it’s one that often get ridden hard and put away wet by previous owners, no to mention retrofitted with a slew of questionable aftermarket parts.

        • 0 avatar
          nels0300

          It’s pretty close to an Si competitor.

          It has more similarities with the Si than differences. The biggest differences are real world price and styling. I don’t notice the LSD in every day driving.

          I’m a Honda/Mazda/Subaru guy that’s old enough to have major biases against Hyundai. The Civic Si isn’t $6K better than an Elantra Sport. It’s just not.

          And it won’t be worth $6K more than my Elantra when I’m done with it in 5-8 years.

    • 0 avatar
      junkandfrunk

      Another “no brainer” is to not care about the resale on your car, and instead drive it until it makes no economical sense to repair it.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    RedApple-
    Except as proven by the average age of vehicles on the road-resale is really a non-issue.

  • avatar

    Is it a new Sonata or yet another rehash of 2011 model?

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      2015 was a new (*drastically* better) platform, 2018 was a refresh; presumably 2020 is another platform.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        “2015 was a new (*drastically* better) platform”

        Wow I was totally convinced it was just a heavy refresh, but sure enough it looks like it went from the YF (H/K Y6) to LF (H/K Y7). Back in 2012 the refreshed Camry was still a better balanced and more refined car than the H/K twins with a better tuned suspension. With the latest iteration of 2018 Camry vs H/K, The Camry is ahead in power with a snappier motor/transmission, but I honestly prefer the interior of the Optima. Camry might have a slight edge in ride/handling but both are excellent IMO. I’m not seeing really heavy discounts on the ’18 Camry locally (a few listed for $21k on cars.com from a $23kish MSRP for an LE) but Optima LX/FEs can be found for around $17k NEW. That’d be enough for me to go with the Korean to be honest.

        • 0 avatar
          PeriSoft

          Yeah, Optimas are discounted crazily where I am – 7k on the hood of top-spec ones, 4 to 5 on everything else. Go look at an Accord or a Camry and you’ll be lucky if they throw you 500 bucks. And, bizarrely, Sonatas (at least where I am) aren’t discounted much if you want one in a higher trim. You can get strippers with rubber steering wheels for $17k all day, but jeez, seriously?

          In late 2014 when I got my Sonata the Accord and Camry were on their previous generations and weren’t super attractive (The Accord I test drove had their horrid dual display center stack, had wind whistle from a window, and was expensive to boot) and weren’t much better to drive. Right now if someone gave me $30k to spend on a new midsize, it’d be the Accord; the new one is so far ahead of the previous one it’s not even funny. And at $25k the Accord Sport is vastly better-spec’d than a $25k Sonata.

          Seems like everyone just kinda twirls around one another, so it’ll be interesting to see whether the new Sonata can leapfrog (or at least regain parity with) the 2018-platform Camcords.

        • 0 avatar
          arach

          2015 was WAY better.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    What we can see of it looks pretty handsome. I like the clean arrangement around the A-pillars, with the sail windows and stalk-mounted mirrors (a la Fusion and Legacy).

    Between this, the current Elantra, and the new two-row Santa Fe (three rows if you get the diesel), I think Hyundai is on a roll styling-wise.

  • avatar
    arach

    I get so confused by this!

    I bought a 2015 because it was FINALLY a good looking Hyundai. the car is amazing, and its the best car I’ve ever owned.

    I hated the 2014 and below, from low build quality to a silly feminine girly look, to the ridiculous HVAC controls.

    I felt like finally in 2015 they “got it right”. I even like the 2015-2017 better than the refresh. This new one is starting to look too much like a taurus.

    I’m just thoroughly surprised that others don’t agree with me! haha. I love the 2015+ and get compliments on it. I find that funny because its a hyundai, and who compliments a hyundai?

    I get more compliments on the hyundai than I do on our porsche, truck, or other more expensive cars.

    I just find it interesting that I can find the 2015 one of the best sedans on the market, and then I read an article discussing how its been a bit of a failure… then I’m sure they will come out with some silly looking car I hate and it will be a glaring success!

    • 0 avatar
      junkandfrunk

      FWIW I like the pre-refresh front end better, and the post-refresh rear better. The pre has a more refined looking front end to me, the post is trying too hard to be sporty. I see a lot of Buick LaCrosse in the greenhouse of this new model, so hopefully they go back to the more restrained styling.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      If it helps, I think the 2015 is better looking in person than it is in photos. And the interior is much nicer. It’s just not the game changer that the previous version was, which signaled the arrival of Hyundai as a serious car maker.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        I always thought of the 2002 Sonata and 2001 Elantra as the beginning of serious contender Hyundai. In Lutz’s “Car Guys vs Bean Counters” when they lined up a bunch of competing midsizers in the early 2000s to compare exterior fit and finish/panel gaps, it was the Sonata that he picked as the best of the bunch for GM to emulate. The XD Elantra was also quite competitive in the compact class back then by offering a slightly larger car with a slightly more powerful engine with good interior quality and decent performance and economy, with a lot of features, for slightly less than Corolla/Civic money. the NF Sonata with its unrestricted 150mph top speed in V6 guise and handsome styling cemented that “arrival” as a serious car maker. Never mind that suspension tuning and interior durability was still kind of lack-luster (no worse than the US domestics anyways).

        • 0 avatar
          arach

          The 2002 – despite the fact that I didn’t love it- really was the first time I thought, “Oh thats a decent car”.

          Before then it was just a super cheap import.


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