In The Key of H: Hyundai Sings a New Sonata
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.
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- Kwik_Shift I like, because I don't have to look at them. Just by feel and location while driving.
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- Matthew N Fanetti I bought a Silver1985 Corolla GTS Hatchback used in 1989 with 80k miles for $5000. I was kin struggling student and I had no idea how good the car really was. All I knew was on the test drive I got to 80 faster than I expected from a Corolla. Slowly I figured out how special it was. It handled like nothing I had driven before, tearing up backroads at speeds that were downright crazy. On the highway I had it to about 128mph on two occasions, though it took some time to get there, it just kept going until I chickened out. I was an irresponsible kids doing donuts in parking lots and coming of corners sideways. I really drove it hard, but it never needed engine repair even to the day I sold it in 1999 with 225000 miles on it, still running well - but rusty and things were beginning to crap out (Like AC, etc.). I smoked a same year Mustang GT - off the line - by revving up and dumping the clutch. Started to go sideways, but nothing broke or even needed attention. Daily driving, only needed the clutch into first. It was that smooth and well-synced. Super tight, but drivable LSD. Just awesome from daily chores to super-fun.To this day I wish I had kept it, because now I have the money to fix it. It is hard to explain how amazing this car was back in the day - and available to people with limited money - and still the highest quality.
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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.
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.