2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited Review by David Colman +VIDEO
Vavoom and Zoom...It's stunning and fast
By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Have you ever left your turn signal on? And on and on? Well, if you purchase Hyundai's 2020 Sonata Hybrid Limited, you will never again suffer those withering looks from exasperated motorists stacked up in your mirror. That's because the Limited, which tops the Sonata food chain, comes with a wonderful device known as the "12.3 inch Digital Gauge Cluster." This intriguing item consists of two large circular speed and engine performance gauges. But when you signal a left turn, the left gauge face transforms itself into a camera view of the left side of the Sonata. Likewise, the right gauge televises your right flank when you signal a right turn. Since these oversize displays remain active until you cancel your turn indicator, it is impossible to ignore the blatant display in front of you.
The Limited is chock full of such ingratiating features. Take, for example, the standard "Around View Monitor" which activates warning beeps when you're parking in tight spaces. Or how about the Hybrid's unique claim to mileage fame, its solar panel roof? This delicately structured membrane will increase the Sonata's mileage by as much as 2MPG, provides you drive or park it in the sun and don't cover the car. Considering that the Hybrid already records 45MPG in city operation and 51MPG on the highway, you could find yourself with a travel range of 561 miles on the Sonata's 11 gallon fuel tank. Then throw in a bonus of 22 miles thanks to the electricity generated by your roof panel.
The nifty technical wizardry wouldn't mean that much if the Sonata weren't a fun sedan to drive. But due to the happy amalgamation of its 150hp, 2 liter gas engine and its 39kW permanent magnet synchronous electric motor, the Hybrid acquits itself with distinction in throttle response, passing power, and quiet operation. The Atkinson Cycle 4 cylinder gas engine makes peak torque of just 139lb.-ft. at 5000rpm. That output would be insufficient without the instant torque boost of the electric motor, which comes into play with a pleasing whine when you floor the accelerator. Combined power of both units is 192hp at 6000rpm. The intelligently distributed ratios of the 6-speed Shiftronic gearbox manage your power needs with precision. Hyundai has included a manual override feature with shift paddles at the steering wheel. We especially liked the layout of operational buttons on the center console for the Shiftronic. Unlike the mind bending complexity of so many hide and seek gear control pads today, the Sonata's is a marvel of simplicity and ease of operation.
The same can be said for the logical simplicity of the infotainment and HVAC layouts. If I can program my favorite SiriusXM Satellite radio stations while on the fly , without consulting a manual, and without losing track of adjacent traffic, then anyone can do the same. The Limited loads the deck with comfort features like 3 stage heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a color head-up display in the windshield, and a Bose Premium Audio system with 12 speakers and a 9 inch subwoofer. The foldable back seats are spacious and designed for full size adults, and the trunk holds 16 cubic feet of cargo. Rain-sensing wipers are standard on this Limited, as are leather seats, a leatherette wrapped dash, LED interior lights, and dual USB ports. The driver's seat also offers a 2 position memory for mirror and seat position, plus a valet seat slide to ease entry and exit.
All these niceties are wrapped in a fetchingly styled package that looks stunning from any angle. Thanks in part to a front grill with active aero flaps that reduce wind drag at freeway speed, the Sonata posts a phenomenal coefficient of drag of 0.24. Top speed runners at Bonneville would kill to have that number attached to their entries. Even the wheel design carries out the streamlined eco-centric theme with "Eco-Spoke Aluminum Alloy Rims" that mount durable (TW 540) Michelin Primacy AS radials (215/55R17). Not only is the Sonata Hybrid Limited a dream to operate, but a vision to behold as well.
2020 HYUNDA SONATA HYBRID LIMITED
ENGINE: 2 liter inline 4, DOHC, 16 valves, dual VVT, GDI, plus 39kW electric motor
HORSEPOWER: 192@6000rpm TORQUE: N/A
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 45MPG City/51MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $36,430
HYPES: Fuel Efficient and Fast, Handsome, Luxurious
GRIPES: Sensitive Regenerative Brakes
STAR RATING: 9 Stars out of 10