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2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited First Drive

This stylish hybrid sedan might just be the one for you.

Ed TahaneyWriter, Photographer

EAST LOS ANGELES, California—We already know the 2020 Hyundai Sonata is a class act, but did you know the new hybrid version is even classier? It is, and this mid-size marvel offers up to 686 miles of range. That means I can drive from East Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back—and still have about 148 miles of range remaining before having to stop to fill up.

But instead of taking my chances in Sin City, I kept my drive local and put the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid through its paces on my favorite roads from downtown L.A. to Malibu, across Mulholland Drive, down Sunset, through the Santa Monica Mountains, and even managed to cruise a decent stretch of Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley. Traffic was light, I had a full tank of gas, and driving the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid was a dream.

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited Is a Gas Sipper

The latest gas-electric hybrid from Hyundai sips fuel lightly. The car I tested had an optional solar roof that adds a smidgen of extra range and helps keep the batteries topped up. The high-tech roof on our tester looked pretty slick too—way cooler than a carbon-fiber roof, any day—and on sunny days it can provide up to two miles of additional range. The Hyundia Sonata Hybrid Limited trim is good for 51 mpg on the highway if you can keep it in Eco mode; otherwise a relatively heavy foot like mine averaged about 39.1 mpg around town. The Sonata Hybrid can actually achieve an EPA-rated 45 mpg in the city, and competes in the same class as the Honda Accord Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid. Get the Sonata Blue Hybrid if you want 50/54 mpg city/highway miles.

Despite relatively low gas prices at the pump these days (I saw prices around $2 a gallon in Arizona recently), great fuel economy and stellar range can make all the difference when the rest of the world seems so unpredictable. The Sonata Hybrid sports a cascading grille, sporty wheels, and a tasteful rear spoiler. If you removed the badging, it might remind you somewhat of a Mercedes-Benz CLA. The front-wheel-drive sedan (an all-wheel-drive model and an N-Line variant are in the works) is a fairly capable corner carver in Smart and Sport modes—not so much in Eco, but there is also a Custom mode to mess around with, too, enabling you to tune various systems to your liking. It has chrome paddle shifters, though they tend to be more annoying than useful, and I preferred toggling in and out of Sport and Smart modes as I hightailed it around interesting canyon roads. The brakes feel grabby and take a little time to get used to. The suspension feels best when you roll around in Eco mode; it can get a tad jumpy in Sport.

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited Powertrain and Features

Hyundai's hybrid sedan packs a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder and a 39-kW electric motor; combined output is 192 hp and 139 lb-ft of torque. The hybrid drivetrain mates to a smooth six-speed automatic transmission. The Sonata Hybrid also features a 270-volt lithium-ion polymer battery and a hybrid starter-generator. It all sounds fairly quiet on the road, with a faint but pleasing hum when it runs in all-electric mode.

Inside the cabin there are heated and ventilated leather-trimmed front seats, a heated steering wheel, and like most Hyundai and Kia vehicles, a cool 12.3-inch color LCD cluster on the dash with dual-camera blind-spot monitors. There's also a 12.3-inch touchscreen navigation system with a volume-control knob, and a wireless phone charger on this trim level.

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Safety Dance

Standard safety nannies include blind-spot assist, rear cross-traffic assist, forward-collision assist with pedestrian detection, parking-collision avoidance assist, and more. The Sonata Hybrid also comes with a digital key for your phone in addition to a fob, which makes it easier to get into a locked car if your hands are full. Ditto for the hands-free trunk. Sadly, you can't get Smart Park on the Sonata Hybrid, but only on the normal gasoline versions.

Pricing for a Blue trim model starts at $28,725, SEL starts at $30,875, and the top of the line Limited version is $36,275.

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Quick Facts:

  • Powertrain: 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder and hybrid electric motor
  • Fuel economy: 45/51 mpg (city/hwy)
  • Pro: Looks great and gets great gas mileage
  • Con: No Smart Park option on the hybrid
  • Best competitors: Honda Accord Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid

 

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited Specifications
ON SALE April 2020
PRICES $36,275
ENGINE 2.0L turbo DOHC 16-valve inline-4, 39-kW electric motor/combined 192 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 139 lb-ft @ 1,500-4,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD sedan
EPA MILEAGE 45/51 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 192.9 x 73.2 x 56.9 in
WHEELBASE 111.8 in
WEIGHT 3,500 lb (est)
0-60 MPH: 6.8 sec (est)
TOP SPEED: 135 mph