What Is It?
In 2019 Hyundai introduced an all-new version of its Sonata midsize sedan with a completely fresh look as well as a new platform that is both stronger and lighter. Now the Korean automaker follows up with a more fuel-efficient version — the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. With styling that sets it apart from the non-hybrid version, the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid retains the Sonata’s roomy, comfortable interior and offers impressive fuel efficiency for a plug-free hybrid.
Hyundai provided a 2020 Sonata Hybrid Limited in Shimmering Silver. As the top-level trim in the Sonata Hybrid lineup, the Limited possesses a very long list of standard features that includes leather trim, heated and cooled front seats, full LED headlights, a head-up display, ambient lighting, a solar roof panel and 17-inch alloy wheels. The only factory option listed: carpeted floor mats. This 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid has a total MSRP of $36,275. Competitors include the Toyota Camry Hybrid, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Honda Accord Hybrid and Kia Optima Hybrid.
When the new Sonata debuted last year, it premiered a design considered an evolution of new Hyundai design language that the Korean automaker calls Sensuous Sportiness. A favorite element would have to be the unique lighting for the daytime running lights. The DRLs sit underneath chrome strips that trace the inner edge of the headlight, shining through tiny perforations in the chrome when lit yet, hidden by the chrome when turned off. This new fuel-efficient model stands out from the standard Sonata with a cross-hole grille featuring active air flaps, a rear spoiler and aerodynamic alloy wheels.
Hyundai’s Solar Roof System is a functional design feature of the Sonata Hybrid. Not only does the solar panel add a high-tech appearance to the sedan, it also helps charge the hybrid’s batteries. According to Hyundai, the solar roof adds a couple miles of driving per day — more than 700 extra miles of gas-free driving each year.
Featuring an updated interior, the 2020 Sonata Hybrid has a 10.25-inch display screen that nicely integrates into the dashboard. Instead of simply squaring off the corners of the display, designers made sure the corners match the angles of the dashboard — a nice touch. The display can be split for instant access to multiple features, and the soft-touch buttons offer easy access to audio and navigation controls. Climate control is kept completely separate, and even offers the option to select the fan for the driver only.
Front seats are big and comfortable as expected of a large family sedan. The shift-by-wire transmission allows a much cleaner center console design; buttons replace the typical gearshift selector.
Power to Charge
The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid offers multiple charging options for devices. Up front are two USB ports, a 12-volt plug and a wireless charging pad; the rear seat offers an additional USB charge point.
With plenty of headroom and legroom, the rear seat of the 2020 Sonata Hybrid is surprisingly comfortable for two adults. Although the center spot is less comfortable, three adults could easily fit if necessary.
For the 2020 Sonata Hybrid, Hyundai engineers adjusted the placement of the high-voltage battery pack so the trunk gains 2.5 cubic feet over the previous generation.
Under the Hood
Motivating the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine teamed with an electric motor for total output of 192 horsepower. Unlike most hybrids on the market, the Sonata Hybrid forgoes the CVT and employs a 6-speed automatic transmission. The EPA rates the Sonata Hybrid Limited at 45 mpg city / 51 mpg hwy / 47 mpg combined. These figures seem conservative — during our drive we averaged around 55 mpg.
On the Road
After only a few miles behind the wheel, drivers will discover that the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is a pleasure to drive. The new version has a smooth, solid ride, and although gas-engine sound is noticeable when it kicks in, it isn’t particularly loud or annoying. The transition from electric to hybrid operation is seamless, and with the audio system turned up it is almost impossible detect.
Power As Necessary
Even though the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is designed for fuel efficiency rather than performance, power is plentiful and available when needed. Pulling onto a busy road presents no problems — the Sonata Hybrid quickly accelerates to 60 mph. The engine does get a bit buzzy at full throttle, but in most situations the ride is fairly serene.
A big surprise is how much time the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is able to spend in EV-only mode — common for a plug-in hybrid, although most hybrids without a plug can only go short distances at slow speeds without the gas engine starting up. The Sonata Hybrid can accelerate — albeit slowly — to 40 mph on electric power alone, and during our drive there were even occasions when the gas engine would power down at highways speeds.
Thanks to its ability to keep the engine off for long periods of time, the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid has great fuel efficiency. By driving smoothly and conservatively during our first 20 miles, the trip computer revealed we were averaging more than 70 mpg. The battery recharges quickly with any downhill coasting or application of the brakes, and the solar roof means there is always a trickle charge adding oomph to the batteries.
Public demand for family sedans has dwindled over the years as crossovers become the preferred mode of transportation, but the new Sonata Hybrid proves there’s still some life left in the time-honored sedan. With standout styling and a roomy, comfortable interior, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid works well as an everyday car. Add impressive fuel efficiency and a smooth ride and the new 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid keeps the family car alive.