Perhaps feeling that this would be its last opportunity to woo American midsize sedan buyers, Hyundai pulled out all the styling stops when it crafted the current-generation Sonata. Heavy on lines and curves and sporting some impressive front-end lighting, the Sonata makes the Camry and Accord look stodgy by comparison.
But the automaker didn’t stop there. It went to work crafting a hotter Sonata — a variant that’s almost here. And thanks to someone’s mistake and another person’s quick reflexes, we can see what that sedan will look like.
The idea of Honda and Toyota slugging it out for midsize sedan supremacy, with every other contender — from the very good to the mediocre to the also-rans — fighting it out for sales scraps, is pretty much an auto-journalism cliché at this point.
Other contenders dance in and out of the ring, but never quite stay part of the conversation. Hyundai’s Sonata has long been one of those. Certain generations of the Sonata were very much a part of the mix at the top of the class. Others were forgettable, hanging out in the muddled middle.
Near the start of this decade, I thought the Hyundai Sonata was perhaps the most attractive mid-size sedan on the market.
I also thought it drove like crap.
The steering was disconnected from the road, it felt slower than its rivals, et cetera.
Hyundai’s next Sonata was better in terms of driving dynamics and on-road behavior, but its styling was conservative to the point of boring. It felt like Hyundai was flailing about, unsure how to build a car that both drove well and looked good, while its rivals were having no problem doing the same. Even its corporate sibling, Kia, was offering up an engaging and handsome Optima.
Enter the 2020 Sonata. It looks good (better from certain angles and with certain colors), but does it drive well? Can it walk and chew gum at the same time?
In April, Hyundai confirmed it would introduce a performance-oriented Sonata sometime in 2020. The model was supposed to yield over 275 horsepower, leaving many wondering if it would hail from the brand’s N Division. Hyundai later said it would actually be supplying an N-Line car, placing it a step below the fully fledged N. But this turned out to be good news — because it leaves room for a more powerful Sonata in the lineup.
While the vehicle’s existence is still speculative, albeit probable, Korean Car Blog reports that a midsize N is actually in development. It claims the Sonata N will be be released next fall, with the N-Line debuting at this year’s LA Auto Show.
Staying true to its tradition of extremely bold styling revamps, Hyundai’s 2020 Sonata looks like something penned by a team of French and Italian designers. We explored the next-generation midsizer’s many styling highlights earlier this year.
Now that the upcoming Sonata has had its official New York debut, there’s more information to get across. Specifically, power, but also efficiency. The same engine technology that went into the pint-sized Venue unveiled Wednesday also makes an appearance in the Sonata, though the automaker hasn’t forgotten that horsepower (sometimes) sells.
The Sonata will be the second North American model to undergo the N Line treatment.
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.
Over the years, the Hyundai Sonata has gone through more changes than the White House duty roster. Technically, there have been seven generations of the sedan, six of which have been sold on our shores. Even during those generations, frequent and extensive styling tweaks have been the norm. Hyundai takes the mid-cycle refresh very seriously. Click through to see what I mean.
For 2019, a year in which most shoppers rush past sedans to look at tall crossovers, the Sonata remains on the High Value list. They’re probably getting ready to introduce fresh styling as we speak.
In 2011, Hyundai was flying high. No longer the butt of reliability jokes, and buoyed by the ten-year 100k mile warranty, Hyundais no longer needed to be sold as the “value” choice. Thus, the stunning 2011 Sonata, which flaunted eye-catching styling to generate plenty of showroom traffic.
Fast-forward seven years, and every midsize sedan has bold styling features. Big grilles and swoopy C-pillars are the name of the game as automakers try and eke out bigger slices of the ever-shrinking midsize sedan pie. Hyundai has, surprisingly, been conservative when restyling their entry. The 2018 Hyundai Sonata SEL may not be a big hit like its predecessor, but it’s no mere B-side.
Exclusivity is not a word often associated with Hyundai, and with good reason. Like Nissan (but even more so), Hyundai’s reputation is built on a foundation of mass-produced vehicles with inherent value. And, even in the world of green cars, it seems that game plan can’t change.
So, it’s no surprise to see Hyundai take a hatchet to the price of its 2018 Sonata Plug-in Hybrid. In dropping the model’s entry price by $1,350 and adding one mile of electric driving range, Hyundai hopes it’s enough to attract the attention of would-be buyers. It needs to. In June, the model sat at 21st place on the public’s PHEV shopping list.
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.
After the forgotten third-generation car, the odd and bulbous fourth-generation car, and the dull fifth-generation car, the sixth Hyundai Sonata was unveiled at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show. It was surprising, even shocking, that Hyundai so dramatically transformed its staid midsize car into a radical “fluidic sculpture” sedan.
In the United States, after averaging 132,000 sales over the previous half-decade, the Hyundai Sonata exploded. By 2012, Hyundai sold more than 230,000 copies, and the Sonata averaged 215,000 U.S. sales between 2010 and 2014, a 63-percent increase compared with the previous half-decade average.
The momentum was not sustained. The seventh-generation Hyundai Sonata debuted in the United States at 2014’s New York International Auto Show. Where did the fun go? Where was the drama, the cat-like headlamps, the desire to stand out from the pack?
“We went from a very striking design, to a very beautiful car, but it just didn’t turn heads like the car before it did,” Hyundai Motor America’s vice president of product planning, Mike O’Brien, tells Automotive News.
Hyundai is issuing a recall for 977,778 Sonatas because some seat belts could detach from the anchor pretensioner.
The recall includes 2011-2014 model year Sonatas and 2011-2015 Sonata Hybrids.
According to NHTSA’s recall report, the pretensioner is attached to the sill before the seat belt linkage is connected to it. “If, during vehicle assembly, the connector does not fully latch when the linkage is pressed onto the connector, the seat belt can detach from the anchor pretensioner.”
Hyundai, looking down the barrel of a class-action lawsuit, has finally agreed to recall 2011 and 2012 model year Sonatas for engine issues resulting from metallic debris.
According to Automotive News, the issue affects Sonatas equipped with both naturally aspirated 2.4-liter and turbocharged 2.0-liter engines due to debris not being properly removed from crankshafts when they were manufactured.
Hyundai will also extend powertrain warranties on the engine sub-assembly for affected models.
2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited
2.0-liter, DOHC I-4, CVVT, hybrid (Gas engine: 154 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 140 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm, Electric motor: 51 horsepower @ 1,770-2,000; 151 lb-ft @ 0-1,770 rpm)
Lithium polymer battery
40 city/44 highway/42 combined (Hybrid SE, EPA Rating, MPG)
39 city/43 highway/41 combined (Hybrid Limited, EPA Rating, MPG)
40.8 mpg (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: Limited trim, Ultimate Package
* Prices include $825 destination charge.
Hyundai hit the styling ball out of the park with the last generation Sonata. The 2009 model was as dramatic and exciting as the previous models were drab and boring. Although the 2009 didn’t alter Hyundai’s value proposition, nor did it really break any new ground in the family car segment, the sexy curves were responsible for nearly doubling the Sonata’s sales from a middling 120,000 a year to well over 200,000. The design is widely credited for putting Hyundai firmly in the top 5 for midsized sedans and #8 on the car sales chart in general.
With the new seventh generation Sonata, Hyundai is working to prove that they are more than a one-hit wonder. The 2015 model launched their latest school of design and a new turbocharged “Eco” model that uses a 1.6L engine and a 7-speed dual clutch transmission to net 32 combined MPGs. Just one thing was missing in 2015: a hybrid model to compete with the big hitters from Ford, Honda and Toyota.
That’s where the 2016 Sonata Hybrid and the 2016 Sonata Plug-In come in.
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