When Hyundai first unveiled the sixth generation Sonata several years ago, it was immediately apparent that this new sedan was willing to take risks, and go places where its bland and drab predecessor was just unwilling to go. The rest of the industry noticed, and immediately did a double take when they saw just how far the Sonata was willing to go to try and woo over buyers that might have otherwise walked into the nearby Toyota or Honda dealer to buy benchmarks like the Camry and the Accord. However, like a one hit wonder that fails to solidify their ascent up the pop charts, Hyundai did not do a successful follow up album for the Sonata, despite several attempts at keeping things fresh over this years. This did little to woo buyers that flocked to SUVs and CUVS in droves. Hyundai aims to bring the Sonata back to its innovative roots, and has introduced the 2020 Sonata ahead of its official debut at the 2019 New York Auto Show.
This redesign aims to make the world pay attention to the Sonata once again, and it certainly has captured our attention. But what has Hyundai exactly done? Let’s take a moment to dissect some of the finer elements that have gone into this generation’s renaissance. The first major change that many buyers will notice is the basic silhouette of the 2020 model, which ditches the traditional sedan shape, and instead embraces the sportback design that has recently become a trend among many automakers. It does not quite have the same appeal as say a more luxurious entry like the Audi A7, but it certainly has its own unique appeal, and it is refreshing to see that Hyundai designers even managed to retain a traditional trunk lid with this radical redesign.
The front fascia however, is the item that will certainly draw stares for better or for worse. While we will have to wait until we see the car in person to determine if it succeeds or not, the way the DRLs run up alongside the hood is certainly a unique touch. First appearing on the Grandmaster SUV concept, the lights are disguised as “chromic material” when they are not in use, and only appear when they are turned on. This trick helps ensure that there aren’t any weird looking conventional light fixtures extending into the hood, and it looks great too. The novel lights themselves only extend part way into the hood, with non illuminated trim picking up the remaining real estate before extending into the window sills. Hyundai claims that the “light architecture defines the future design identity of future Hyundai cars” so detractors will have to grit their teeth and play along. The front grille plays second fiddle, but it still manages to look sharp in its own right especially with the new silver accent that extends from one end of the front bumper to the other.
It’s interesting to note that the Sonata grows considerably in many dimensions with the new car featuring a 1,4 inch stretch in wheelbase, as well as a 1,7 inch boost in overall length. The rear of the Sonata features boomerang shaped taillights, and while they are not quite as extreme as those on the Honda Civic, the Sonata’s spin on it manages to look far more elegant especially since they extend into the trunk. An LED strip splits the middle of the trunk, and a small duck tail spoiler adds a pinch of sportiness to the design.
The interior of the 2020 Sonata also gets heavily redone, and was designed to look as sleek and advanced as possible. The strange four spoke designed steering wheel is a slight reminder of its more upscale Genesis cousins, and the gear lever gets scrapped for a push button style layout. The air vents are smaller than before, but we will give them some points for flowing with the design, and being not too out of place in the cabin. Hyundai chose to only release one photo of the interior, but we look forward to seeing more when we have the chance to formally spend time inside it in the near future. Look for the 2020 Sonata to also steal a few pages out of the Genesis playbook, and offer a few novel extras to really help make its occupants feel special.
Hyundai is keeping a few key details (i.e performance hardware) close to the cuff until its New York debut, but look for the new model to continue the engine lineup that is seen in the current Sonata, with a naturally aspirated four cylinder engine being the standard offering, and a more potent turbocharged engine being the key upgrade. It’s currently unknown if the N-brand treatment will waft its way to the Sonata for 2020, but we suspect that an N-line variant could indeed be in the works, but it will most likely not appear until sometime after its standard sibling launches. While the notion of a performance tinged Sonata may seem like a silly idea at first, it would give the Camry TRD a bit of a headache in its quest to lure in more enthusiast minded sedan buyers that want more fun in their daily commute.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.