By on March 6, 2019

Korean’s automaker is known for many things, not the least of which is providing a great feature-to-dollar ratio. Attentive gearheads will also know they tend to make massive changes to their Sonata sedan with speed and alacrity unknown to any other automaker. Each iteration of the mid-size sedan looks – for better or worse – wildly different than the one before it.

They’re at it again, releasing images of an eighth-gen Sonata just two years after the current seventh-gen machine went on sale. This new rig takes more than a few cues from the wild 2020 Genesis G90, especially its set of all-the-way-across tail lights.

And, oh yeah, we dug up images of every Sonata sedan from the 1990s until now to prove our point.

Hyundai says this new Sonata embodies a design language called “Sensuous Sportiness,” which sounds like an amateur strip club theme, but is actually ushering in yet another entrant into the sedan-as-a-coupe segment.

“A short overhang, sloping roofline and low deck lid create a balanced feel, and Hyundai’s signature chrome accent now goes all the way into the hood, making it look even longer,” said Sang Yup Lee, senior vice president and head of the Hyundai Design Center. “It also has LED lighting built in. These cues bring the Sensuous Sportiness design to life.”

Very well, then. It cannot be debated that the new Sonata has a much sportier look than its predecessor, with a 1.2 inch lower height and a width extended by one inch. Its wheelbase is enlarged by 1.4 inches, while the whole length is up by almost two inches. A sharp body crease runs the length of its flank, terminating at a set of flared tail lights that incorporate a strip of red spanning the entire trunklid, not unlike the units that appeared on the new 2020 G90. Concave and convex surfaces abound.

It’s tough to tell using these press images, but Hyundai says the daytime running lights are embedded in the car using something called Hidden Lighting Lamps, a first for Hyundai. It creates a dramatic light signature, appearing to be of a chromic material when switched off and dramatically lit when flicked on. Here’s hoping they play well with American safety rules and make it to this side of the pond.

The interior also gets a rethink, deploying a winged shape that makes the works of it appear to float inside the car. Hyundai says designers compressed the height of the dashboard and HVAC vents as much as possible to aid the lightweight feeling, deploying light-colored materials to provide a fresh and freeing ambience for the driver. Any move towards a less bunkerlike interior is fine by this author. That touchscreen looks a lot bigger than the current unit as well.

Prices, release dates, and selling markets all go unmentioned in the press materials. If Hyundai’s past is any indication, however, the lead time between this machine being shown and production models seeing the light of day will be very short indeed.

Meanwhile, please enjoy these archived images which prove that Hyundai shovels a great deal of effort into changing the appearance of its midsize sedan.

[Images: Hyundai]

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50 Comments on “In The Key of H: Hyundai Sings a New Sonata...”


  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I like the front end… the rear uh… no so much. Very modern Lincoln-esque.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    Wow. Audi.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I am tiring of “Coupe” roof-lines on sedans (therefore only accelerating their demise) but I like the design overall.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Agreed. What’s the point of a sedan where adults can’t sit in the back.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Strangely enough it’s why I like the few modern wagons that still exist better than their sedan brethren. The wagon shape requires different rear doors with a more adult friendly roof-line.

        Some would argue that it also supports the popularity of compact and midsize CUVs. At least you get a nice fairly square door opening.

        • 0 avatar
          Dilrod

          Having banged my head multiple times getting in our ’13 Sonata, as my wife likes the driver’s seat high, I painfully concur. I can’t believe they shaved another inch plus off the thing.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I’d say that if there was a practicality war between sedans and CUVs, it’s over, and the CUVs won. If sedans are going to sell, it’ll be on style.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            When speed limits fail to keep up with advances in attainable handling and tire grip for long enough, you do eventually end up with four wheeled condo towers being the most practical choice for traveling down the highway.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            stuki, nobody is buying midsize sedans to explore their dynamic limits. It’s all about style at this point.

    • 0 avatar
      NiceCar

      I generally agree, but I really like the looks of this. Also, aren’t coupe roof lines, just like egg-shaped CUVs, essentially the result of CAFE? Gotta get those extra MPH due to streamlining/less wind resistance. I always appreciate Hyundai’s straightforward interiors.

  • avatar

    I quite like the new look. I doubt it will be the midsize sedan savior, but it should sell well. While I quite like the drive of the Camry, the styling is a mess.

    My spouse and I both drive previous generation Elantras (13 coupe and 16 GT) after driving Hondas and Acuras. We bought both of them used and two years old. The price was too good to resist. So far I have been very impressed with both. They might not have the finesse of the Hondas, but they are cheerful little cars that do most things well.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Spot on. In addition to nice exterior the interior looks fantastic. My parents owned a Sonata turbo for awhile before my mother’s hip forced them into a CUV (Ford Escape). Any time I am trolling the rental car isle I tend to grab H/K products as I find them pleasant and easy to adapt to. They do want a car needs to do without anything annoying getting in the way.

      • 0 avatar
        PSX 5k Ultra Platinum Triple Black

        I owned a ’12 Sonata Turbo and traded it for a ’13 Escape Titanium AWD after the Sonata had $6000 in hail damage. The difference in build quality is shocking, the Sonata paint quality, interior fit/finish and just sense of quality throughout the entire interior and trunk was far superior.

        Yet, the Ford is way more fun to drive with a more fun to drive handling factor. It doesn’t absolutely handle as well as the Sonata turbo according to the numbers, yet the more you abuse the Escape in putting it through its paces, the more it encourages you to abuse it. So I do.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Those 7th gen Sonatas dont look half bad, they’ve aged well compared to the others. The 6-gens arent bad cars beyond the silly Mercedes headlights. Last year I took a 150k mileage example over a brick road, still pretty solid.

    I never liked the 8th gen though, cheap interior color coating and the roof is way too low.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      I’ve always admired the boringness of the 7th. To the point, very Honda Accord-like for the time. The new one, and most new ones, have styling that dates quicker than a 90’s Pontiac. Not liking.

    • 0 avatar
      PSX 5k Ultra Platinum Triple Black

      I sold the 6th generation from 2000 to 2003. The 99-01 Sonata wasn’t a bad car, but we didn’t sell many. When the 2002 with the Mercedes headlights came out, we couldn’t keep them in stock. It was the easiest sale in the world, after the Santa Fe and the Elantra.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    That’s VERY tasty. A “N” version would be even tastier.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I’d have to say the current gen and this upcoming Sonata are at the top or near in looks alone. If they made an AWD version they’d easily hunt near luxury class sedans,which would be bad for Genesis though.I’ve looked at NA 2.4l Limiteds online, but never driven.If I can get 34-35mpg without needing turbo maintenance that’d be a plus.

  • avatar
    make_light

    Very Audi, but I like it a lot. I also like Audis a lot. The DRL treatment is a little odd, but I guess you need to do something to stand out.
    Between this and the upcoming Legacy, I’m really impressed with the new midsize interiors. Journos can say that new Civics and Camrys have luxury-level interiors all they want, but the truth is they don’t come close in richness. However this and the Legacy might actually stand a chance.

  • avatar

    I wish Detroit could build products this good at a decent price. What has happened to our once great auto industry?

    Soon the Fusion will join the Chrysler 200 into automotive oblivion. Why are the Korean so much better?

  • avatar
    Jaeger

    Wow – top on the mainstream midsize segment in terms of exterior design. I see a LOT of A7 here – and that’s a very good thing.

  • avatar
    Dale Houston

    I’d like it better if they smoothed out those character lines (or whatever they are called) on the sides.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Love the front end. Falls apart at the rear. Side profile looks pretty good. Overall though, sort of a busy design.

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    It’s interesting. Gotta admire Hyundai for always changing it up, although sometimes there’s no harm in leaving well enough alone…it sort of looks like the 1st gen Azera from the side!

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I don’t see a radical difference between 2nd and 3rd gen

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Some of those images are of facelifts (including the last one) and not entirely new gen models.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Ok. But in case of #2 and #3 I can see some generational change. However, I can easily recognize #2 in #3. #3 is just a bit more polished. Premise of this article was that each next looked as radical departure from the previous.

  • avatar
    kenwood

    Very happy for these guys. They continually present new ideas and aren’t afraid to try new things. Some work and some don’t but they don’t stop trying. I like this one very much. If only domestic automakers were this bold. Nice job, Hyundai!

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    As an Audi A5 owner, I give this a thumbs up. Good job, Hyundai!

  • avatar
    Russycle

    “And, oh yeah, we dug up images of every Sonata sedan from the 1990s until now to prove our point.”

    If this is in response to my comment a few days ago, thanks. If not, don’t tell me, I’m taking credit anyway. Gold star for showing not only the previous gen but all the previous models, you over-achiever.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Nice, but its yet another manufacturer failing to understand that swoopy rooflines don’t match the expectation of midsize family sedan. I guess this is destined to become a niche vehicle rather than a volume seller.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    If a time traveler had told me this was what the 2009 Azera would look like in a decade, I would have believed them.

  • avatar
    bd2

    “They’re at it again, releasing images of an eighth-gen Sonata just two years after the current seventh-gen machine went on sale. This new rig takes more than a few cues from the wild 2020 Genesis G90, especially its set of all-the-way-across tail lights.”

    Matthew is incorrect here – the 7G Sonata went on into production in 2014 and had a fairly heavy cosmetic refresh in 2017.

    Should have included the image of the taillight lit up – looks better than day-time images.

    The interior design borrows heavily from the Palisade and has gone a bit upmarket as the Sonata will replace the i40 in Europe.

    Based on info. about the next Optima, the powertrain for the US market will likely comprise of the 1.5T and 2.5T tied to 1 of 3 transmissions.

    Supposedly, the next Optima will get available AWD, so if that’s the case, would be surprised if the 8G Sonata doesn’t end up getting it as well.

    As for the sloping/coupe-like roofline, the 6G Sonata was the 1st to have that and its roofline sloped down more aggressively – which cut into rear passenger headroom).

    The new Sonata mitigates that issues somewhat w/ a more gently sloping roofline, aided by increased length.

    • 0 avatar
      aquaticko

      From what I’ve read, we can probably expect a 2.5 NA I4 with direct and port fuel injection, a new 1.6 turbo (different from the current one, though possibly not in North America), the Theta III 2.5 turbo for the N model, and a hybrid. I sincerely hope that the hybrid system has been redone to compete with the newest efforts of the Accord and Camry hybrids. Unless the Sonata’s hybrid powertrain is wildly uncompetitive with those two–that is to say, if it’s unchanged from the current model’s–this new Sonata hybrid will be my present to myself for graduating nursing school next year. It has, at least, turned out to look almost exactly as I pictured it.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Yet another automaker comes infinitely close to making a cool, useful liftback… only to weld the damn thing shut leaving a useless mail-slot trunk.

    It’s like they want sedans to fail.

  • avatar
    Gedrven

    “Korean’s automaker is known for many things”

    Not the least of which is quality control!

    Do I finally see some light at the end of the tunnel of hideous, bloated, and overwrought car styles? We’re not quite there yet, but this new Sonata looks like a hopeful step in the right direction of cleaner looks. Toyota, are you paying attention?

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    The new ‘Nata’s great looking, at least in pictures, except for the unfortunate real fascia looking out of place on such a smooth design. Also, to make best use of its cargo volume, Hyundai really needs to make a sportback version of this car STAT!

    What will really be telling is how many of those design elements will make it to the lower trim levels. I don’t expect neither the handlebar mustache chrome trim on the front bumper nor the trick DRL lighting to make it to the SE/SEL/Eco, and if Hyundai follows Honda, those trim levels and possibly the Sport will thankfully make do with a traditional PRND+- sport stick instead of a push button shifter.

    Speaking of Honda, that Sonata taillight design would’ve been a great fit on the current Accord and made it look less like an Odyssey sedan.

  • avatar
    Raevoxx

    The “illuminated chrome” is actually on the pre-facelift Avante already, has been since the debut of the AD platform. The headlamp swoosh on the pre-facelift ’17-’18 Elantras is chrome here, but in Korea, it’s illuminated.

    As well as the lower bumper LED DRLs in our market, being truncated to three and sit atop round driving lamps, there. Almost swapped them on my car.

    I’m really digging this Sonata. A little lukewarm on the rear (lighting sits a bit too too low and slightly Civic-derivative in outer shape), but it follows current design trends anyhow and I love the trunk design and especially the side profile. It’s distinct. The rest of it looks way hotter than the current design, and more daring in it’s own way, than the 6th gen.


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