2021 Hyundai Sonata – doing it the right way
If there is any car that has seen it all, it’s the Hyundai Sonata. First out in the late 1980’s it wasn’t a particular good car, following in the footsteps of the Hyundai Excel. But as each new generation of the Sonata appeared, it improved. First, it became more reliable. Then its styling was addressed. By 2009, the sixth generation Hyundai Sonata was making a serious statement – it looked just as good as any Accord or Camry, was just as dependable, was packed with features, and came with a lower price tag.
Last year marked the debut of an all-new Sonata – the 7th in the car’s history. For 2021, Hyundai has added a new model to Sonata lineup – the N Line, which places its emphasis on performance.
The current Sonata is a strikingly good-looking car. Prior to 2009, Sonatas were as exciting to look at as a blank piece of paper. But once that sixth-generation appeared, everything changed – the Sonata became one of the best-looking mid-size sedans on the road. Last year’s redesign continued that trend with an attractive grille and headlights that make for a pretty face, sleek, smooth body and nicely tapered backside.
The 2021 Sonata is available in five trims: SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited and the new N Line. The base SE and SEL use a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (191 horsepower, 181 lb-ft of torque) while the SEL Plus and Limited get a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine (180 horsepower, 195 lb-ft of torque). The new N Line uses an all-new turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that cranks out 290 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque. Every Sonata uses an eight-speed automatic transmission, but the N Line is dual-clutch transmission that provides quicker shifts for added performance. Hyundai also offers a hybrid version of the Sonata.
Techno-geeks will get a kick out of the features found on the Sonata Limited. Cameras are everywhere – including surround-view cameras and cameras that show a rear-side view in the gauge cluster when the turn signals are activated. It has the typical blind-spot monitors, but the indicators are also displayed in the colored heads-up display. There are plenty of charging and storage options for smartphones and you’ll be happy to know that both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity are supported, although Hyundai’s digital key option is only compatible with Android phones.
The Sonata’s best gadget though, has to be the Smart Park feature. Only available on Limited models, it can automatically pull the car into or out of parking spaces without anyone behind the wheel. And it’s quite simple to use – just line up the Sonata in front of the spot, hit the auto park button on the center console, and then get out and close the door. Then, press and hold the appropriate button on the key fob (forward arrow to go forward, back arrow to go backwards) and the car will move in that direction. The moment you stop pressing the button, the Sonata stops. This is perfect for getting the Sonata in or out of tight stops that would possibly result in door dings.
Cruising around in the Sonata Limited, it easily achieves its goals – to provide good fuel economy and to do it in comfort. A 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen provides the vehicles infotainment, while a 12.3-inch color LCD screen cluster provides the driver with all of the vehicle’s information.
Driving the Sonata is a smooth and quiet experience. The turbo four delivers adequate power and still manages to get 27 mpg in town and 37 mpg on the highway. A Sport mode adds a little excitement to the Sonta’s drive, but for those who really want more performance should probably look more at the N Line.
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata starts at $25,184 for the SE, while the Limited that I was in carries a price tag of $34,980. That’s a heck of a lot of car for the money. Included with that is Hyundai’s impressive ten-year warranty.
Thirty years ago, the Sonata was a car that wouldn’t be given a second look, and comparing it to a Honda or Toyota was ludicrous. But oh, how things have changed. Both Hyundai and the Sonata have recently won a slew of awards and accolades for their achievements – and the 2021 Sonata is proof on just how far Hyundai as come.
— Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2021 Hyundai Sonata Limited
Base Price: $33,850.00
Price as Tested: $34,980.00
Layout: front-engine / front-wheel drive
Engine: 1.6 liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder
Transmission: 6 – speed automatic
Horsepower: 180 hp
Torque: 195 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 27 city / 37 highway mpg
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