The Hyundai Sonata is all-new for 2020 and emerges slightly larger than the previous generation. A product of Hyundai’s new ‘Sensuous Sportiness’ design language, this advanced four-door sedan exhibits the sleek look of a coupe and a more sophisticated overall persona, showing Hyundai’s commitment to offering more compelling passenger cars in an era where many automakers are abandoning cars in favor of crossovers and SUVs. This all-new sedan’s availability in the U.S. will include two gasoline-powered models and a hybrid, though a plug-in hybrid is said to be in the works. It’s offered in S, SE, SEL, SEL Plus and Limited trims.
The Sonata’s two engines include a new naturally aspirated, 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder making 191 horsepower, plus the carryover turbocharged, 1.6-liter four-cylinder producing 180 horsepower. The new 2.5 liter four has features like split cooling circuits, an exhaust manifold integrated with the cylinder head, and both port and direct fuel injection, resulting in somewhat higher fuel economy than the turbo four-cylinder engine. Both drive the front wheels through a new eight-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel paddles.
The Hyundai Sonata hybrid is powered by a new 150 horsepower, 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine and a 51 horsepower electric motor. This gives a combined output of 192 horsepower. It uses a new six-speed automatic transmission with Active Shift Control that aligns engine and transmission speeds, improving both acceleration and fuel efficiency. The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid will be the first Hyundai to feature a solar panel roof.
An 8-inch touchscreen is standard with a 10.25-inch touchscreen available. A 12.3-inch virtual instrument cluster is standard on the Limited and SEL Plus and optional on the SEL. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is standard and Bluetooth pairing allows phone use while streaming music. A head-up display is optional.
Sonata is outfitted with three radar sensors, five cameras, and 13 ultrasonic sensors to enable the latest advanced driver assist systems. All models come with forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, driver-attention monitor, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, and lane-follow assist.
Also available is blind spot warning, which displays an image of the left rear side of the car when the left turn signal is activated, and the right side when the right indicator is activated. These images appear in place of the speedometer or tachometer display, respectively. Also available is reverse automatic braking and a 360-degree camera system. Remote Smart Parking Assist is used to guide the car into, or out of, a tight parking space and is remotely controlled by a driver outside the car via the key fob.
The price of entry for the 2020 Sonata is $23,400 with the top-of-the-line Limited commanding $33,300. Hyundai has not yet announced cost for the Sonata Hybrid that will be coming soon.
The all-new, seventh-generation Hyundai Sonata that emerged in the 2015 model year proved this automaker’s ability to offer increasingly sophisticated and compelling models. It featured a more exciting design, improved road manners, and greater use of advanced on-board electronics. What it didn’t offer was a new hybrid variant.
Hyundai strategically retained its previous-generation hybrid Sonata for an additional year as it prepared to add new hybrid and plug-in hybrid models to round out the 2016 Sonata lineup. As Green Car Journal editors found during a recent 500 mile road trip in a 2016 Sonata Plug-In Hybrid Limited, the wait has been worth it. Simply, this efficient plug-in sedan is a joy to drive.
Powering both the standard hybrid and plug-in variants is a 2.0-liter, direct-injected four-cylinder engine producing 154 horsepower and 140 lb-ft torque. This engine is augmented by a 51 horsepower electric motor in the hybrid and a more powerful 67 horsepower motor in the plug-in, with torque output the same at 151 lb-ft.
The primary difference between the two hybrid variants is the size of their lithium-polymer battery. The hybrid we’ve driven before used a 1.6 kilowatt-hour battery, while the plug-in we drove this time uses a much larger 9.8 kilowatt-hour battery pack to provide extended electric driving range of up to 27 miles in electric-only mode. Once battery power is depleted the plug-in variant operates just like the Sonata Hybrid.
An ability to travel those electric miles does come with a bit of trade-off since the plug-in’s larger battery takes up additional space beneath the trunk floor. For comparison, the standard Sonata has 16.3 cubic feet of trunk space versus 13.3 in the hybrid and 9.9 in the plug-in. Still, there’s plenty of trunk space available in our judgment. Charging the plug-in takes about three hours with an available 220 volt Level 2 charger or nine hours with a 120-volt recharging unit that plugs into a standard household outlet.
The plug-in hybrid is distinguished from the standard Sonata with styling ques that include an aero kit, unique front fascia and rear diffuser, and model-specific aluminum wheels. Part of this sedan’s welcome fuel economy comes from enhanced aerodynamics that result in a very impressive 0.24 drag coefficient.
Inside, the five-passenger plug-in hybrid is essentially the same as the conventional Sonata except for a modified gauge cluster with a new color LCD multi-purpose display showing operating data on the hybrid system.
Fuel efficiency is impressive, with the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid rated at an EPA estimated 40 mpg combined fuel efficiency and 99 MPGe while driving on battery power. It features a total driving range of some 600 miles, a welcome feature during our daily drives and our road trip from California’s Central Coast to Los Angeles.
The Sonata Plug-In uses MacPherson strut suspension with a 24.2 mm stabilizer bar up front and an independent multi-link design with coil springs and a 17 mm stabilizer bar at the rear. High performance shocks are used at all four corners. During our drives on highways and twisty canyon roads we came to appreciate the Sonata Plug-In’s comfortable ride and handling dynamics that found us firmly planted through sweeping turns and switchbacks alike. The Sonata’s engine rpm-sensing power rack-and-pinion steering is pleasing and responsive.
While you can get a standard Sonata or Sonata Hybrid at Hyundai dealers nationwide starting at $21,750 and $26,000, respectively, the $34,600 Sonata Plug-In Hybrid is a bit more exclusive and available in just 10 California emissions states.
Five exceptional ‘green’ cars have just been identified by Green Car Journal as its finalists for the coveted 2016 Green Car of the Year® award. These 2016 models include the Audi A3 e-tron, Chevrolet Volt, Honda Civic, Hyundai Sonata, and Toyota Prius.
The magazine points out that this is the strongest field of finalists the annual Green Car of the Year® program has considered, with each nominee making a strong environmental statement in distinctly different ways. All share a common strategy of recognizing what’s most important to today’s drivers through the use of diverse powertrain technologies and their own brand of ‘green’ features. The bottom line: All approaches are essential to achieving today’s important environmental goals, including greater fuel efficiency, lower tailpipe emissions, reduced carbon emissions, and overall environmental improvement while providing satisfying performance and retaining the joy of driving.
FINALIST: AUDI A3 E-TRON
The A3 Sportback e-tron is Audi's entry in the hot plug-in hybrid vehicle market. This five-door hatchback uses lithium-ion batteries and a 102 hp electric motor to deliver up to 19 miles of all-electric driving, after which its 150 hp, 1.4-liter gasoline TFSI engine provides power for extended driving in efficient hybrid mode.
FINALIST: CHEVROLET VOLT
Chevrolet’s second generation Volt features sportier styling, better performance, and a lighter and more powerful two-motor drive system. The five-passenger, extended range electric now drives up to 53 miles on batteries alone, with its 1.5-liter gasoline powered generator creating on-board electricity to deliver an overall 420 mile range.
FINALIST: HONDA CIVIC
Now in its tenth generation, the all-new Honda Civic delivers exemplary fuel efficiency in an affordable, conventionally-powered model. The Civic thoughtfully blends hybrid-like fuel economy and appealing style, with an array of desired amenities and advanced electronics that meets the needs of a great many drivers.
FINALIST: HYUNDAI SONATA
Hyundai’s stylish 2016 Sonata offers it all with efficient gasoline, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid choices within the Sonata lineup. New this year, the hybrid delivers up to 43 highway mpg and features distinctive styling cues. The Sonata Plug-In Hybrid drives up to 24 miles on batteries with additional range on conventional hybrid power.
The Toyota Prius emerges in 2016 a completely redesigned model, faithfully delivering the attributes expected of an industry-leading hybrid with important design, technology, and efficiency updates. It features a familiar yet bolder exterior and incorporates suspension and other improvements to deliver improved driving dynamics.
GREEN CAR AWARD PROGRAM
Since 1992, Green Car Journal has been recognized as the leading authority on the intersection of automobiles, energy, and environment. The GCOY award is an important part of Green Car Journal’s mission to showcase environmental progress in the automotive field.
The auto industry’s expanding efforts in offering new vehicles with higher efficiency and improved environmental impact mean there is an increasing number of vehicle models to be considered for the Green Car of the Year® program. This is a significant departure from when just a limited number of new car models were considered for the inaugural Green Car of the Year® program, which Green Car Journal first presented at the LA Auto Show in 2005.
During the award’s vetting process, Green Car Journal editors consider all vehicles, fuels, and technologies as an expansive field of potential candidates is narrowed down to a final five. Finalists are selected for their achievements in raising the bar in environmental performance. Many factors are considered including efficiency, EPA and CARB emissions certification, performance characteristics, ‘newness,’ and affordability. Availability to the mass market is important to ensure honored models have the potential to make a real difference in environmental impact.
The Green Car of the Year® is selected through a majority vote by a jury that includes leaders of noted environmental and efficiency organizations including Jean-Michel Cousteau, president of Ocean Futures Society; Matt Petersen, board member of Global Green USA; Dr. Alan Lloyd, President Emeritus of the International Council on Clean Transportation; Mindy Lubber, President of CERES; and Kateri Callahan, President of the Alliance to Save Energy. Green Car Journal editors and celebrity auto enthusiast Jay Leno round out the award jury.
Green Car Journal will announced the winner of the 2016 Green Car of the Year award during press days at the L.A. Auto Show on November 19.
Hyundai Sonata fans have expanded choices this year with the addition of a more efficient eco model. The 2015 Hyundai Sonata offers three four-cylinder powerplants including a standard 185 horsepower, 2.4-liter GDI (gasoline direct injection) engine in the Sonata SE and an optional 245 horsepower, 2.0-liter GDI engine in the Sonata 2.0T. The new Sonata Eco brings a 177 horsepower, 1-6 liter turbocharged Gamma engine to the party, a powerplant already available in the Hyundai Veloster. A hybrid version of the Sonata will come later.
Like Ford’s EcoBoost technology, the 1.6 T GDI Gamma engine uses a turbocharger, direct fuel injection, and CVVT (continuous variable valve timing) to achieve its high mpg goals. In the Sonata Eco, the exhaust manifold-integrated, twin scroll turbocharger features an air guided intercooler. The Sonata Eco is the first Hyundai to use a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
All this adds up to an estimated 28 mpg city/38 mpg highway fuel efficiency rating, a 10 percent improvement over a 2.4 liter powered Sonata SE. Correspondingly, the Eco model costs about 10 percent more than the base Sonata 2.4-liter version as well. The Eco engine meets California’s ULEV-2 (Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle) and Euro 5 emissions standards.
The Sonata Eco comes standard with all the features of a Sonata SE plus a chrome grille, side mirror-mounted turn signal indicators, and automatic headlights. Inside, Eco drivers also get stitching on the instrument cluster hood, chrome interior door handles, 5-inch color touchscreen audio, rearview backup camera, 10-way power driver seat with lumbar support, and a Blue Link telematics system. The only option is the Technology package that includes a Blind Spot Detection System with Rear-Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist, leather upholstery, heated front seats, voice-controlled navigation system with an eight-inch screen, and more.
The 2015 Sonata Eco will go into production at the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama plant later this summer.