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2020 Hyundai Elantra vs 2020 Hyundai Sonata: Specifications, MPG and Comparision

Aaron Smith's image
Aaron Smith

Automotive Journalist

May 30, 2020 at 11:37 AM

The Hyundai Elantra and the Sonata have both been one of the highest selling vehicles in the segment. A segment that is shrinking day by day with the increase in the popularity of SUVs. However, both these vehicles offer a great value for money and tons and tons of comfort. They also offer better driving dynamics and more fun when compared to SUVs. Let's dive into the two and find out which one is better.

2020 had been quite an optimistic year for Hyundai (at least until the pandemic struck) and Hyundai had chalked quite a strategy to acquire a larger market share in the American market. Not only was the Sonata due for an entire model change, but even the Elantra also needed an updated design to stand up to its competitors. This is when Hyundai came up with the “Sensuous Sportiness” design philosophy and designed the all-new Sonata and Elantra, and these cars definitely do make a bold statement. However, with some overlap in both of their pricing, most people are having a tough time deciding between the two. We’re here to compare both the cars and find out which car would suit you the best.

2020 Hyundai Elantra front view

So, how do these cars stack up?

While the Elantra and Sonata compete in two very different segments, the sedan market as a whole has shrunk by a lot lately, since most people have been gravitating towards SUVs and crossovers. This has reduced the customer bases for both vehicles and Hyundai is now trying to give the same customer more choices by offering two different cars that appeal to different buyers in terms of size, looks, features, and fuel efficiency. While both of these vehicles come from the same brand, they couldn’t be any more different, offering a different experience to customers.

2020 Hyundai Sonata front design

2020 Hyundai Elantra Trims and Features

The 2020 Elantra is offered across five different variants, each of which have their own set of feature sets and price points. While the base SE is just too sparse to be considered at its price point, the better equipped SEL and Value Edition trim makes a great case for themselves, since they offer quite a lot of equipment for the price.

Trim

SE

SEL

Value Edition

Limited

Sport

MSRP (CVT/DCT)

$ 19,150

$ 20,790

$ 21,130

$ 22,760

$ 24,410

Key Features

15 -inch Steel wheels

In addition to the equipment available with the SE trim:

In addition to the equipment available with the SEL trim:

In addition to the equipment available with the Value trim:

In addition to the equipment available with the Limited trim:

 

60-40 split-folding rear seat

16-inch alloy wheels

Sunroof

17-inch alloy wheels

18-inch alloy wheels

 

Bluetooth Connectivity

7-inch touchscreen display

Proximity lock and unlock

LED Headlights

Multilink rear suspension with sport tuning

 

Apple Carplay

Satellite radio

Push-button start

Leather upholstery

8-inch touchscreen with Navigation and Bluelink

 

5-inch touchscreen infotainment with Six speaker music system

Blind-spot monitoring

Heated seats

Wireless charging pad

 
 

Automatic emergency braking

Lane departure warning

Leather-wrapped steering wheel

Eight speaker Infinity music system

 
 

Lane-keeping assist

Rear cross-traffic alert

     

2020 Hyundai Sonata Trims and Features

The 2020 Sonata is offered across four variants which are the SE, SEL, SEL Plus, and the Limited. The Sonata gets quite a lot of kit as standard fitment from the base trim itself, which makes it excellent value for money, especially when you consider its size. While we wouldn’t suggest springing for the top of the line limited, the SEL Plus makes a decent compromise between price and features, making it the pick of the lineup.

Trim

SE

SEL

SEL Plus

Limited

MSRP (Automatic)

$ 23,650

$ 26,370

$ 29,710

$ 33,500

Key Features

LED headlights

In addition to the equipment available with the SE trim:

In addition to the equipment available with the SEL trim:

In addition to the equipment available with the SEL Plus trim:

 

60-40 split-folding rear seat

Power adjustable driver seat with heating

Sunroof

10.25-inch touchscreen system with navigation

 

8-inch touchscreen with a six-speaker music system

Heated mirrors

Digital instrument cluster

Panoramic sunroof

 

Apple Carplay and Android Auto

Handsfree trunk opener

Wireless charging

Leather upholstery with ventilated front seats

 

Adaptive cruise control

Blindspot monitor

Rear charging USB port

Radar guided cruise control

 

Automatic emergency braking

Keyless entry with push-button start

Heated steering wheel

Digital key with Automated remote parking system

 

Lane-keeping assist

Rear cross-traffic alert

Bose 12 speaker music system

360-degree parking camera

Engine and Performance

The 2020 Elantra is offered with three different engine options, depending on the trim opted for. Lower variants get a naturally aspirated 2-liter engine that produces 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque and comes paired to a CVT transmission, while the Sport variant receives a more powerful 1.6-liter engine that produces 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque and comes paired to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. The 1.6-liter engine is obviously the sportier one and feels more engaging to drive than the 2-liter unit. The Sonata on the other hand offers the same 1.6-liter turbocharged engine on the SEL Plus and Limited trims with slightly lesser power and torque on offer(180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque).

2020 Hyundai Elantra 2.0L engine

Lower variants of the Sonata are offered with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that actually produces more power than the former, which stands at 191 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque. Both engines come paired to an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission that shifts really well and also saves on fuel.

How does the engine feel?

Both cars are offered across three different engine choices with varying power levels. The base 2-liter engine on the Elantra is the laziest motor in this comparison and doesn’t feel too sporty. If you try accelerating with this engine, you’ll most certainly feel the Elantra struggle. The 1.6-liter turbo engine on the Elantra ups the performance ante by quite a bit and offers excellent feel and feedback, without compromising on sportiness. The same engine on the Sonata does feel a bit bogged down by the vehicle’s weight, especially since it's down on weight, but the eight-speed automatic does a good job at hiding the turbo lag. The base 2.5-liter engine on the Sonata does feature the highest amount of power on paper, but feels laidback to drive, especially when switched to its Comfort mode setting.

Models

2020 Hyundai Elantra

2020 Hyundai Sonata

MSRP

$ 19,150 - $ 24,410

$ 23,650 - $ 33,500

Engine

2.0-liter inline four-cylinder/ 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder

2.5-liter inline four-cylinder/ 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder

Drivetrain

FWD

FWD

Transmission

CVT/7-speed DCT

8 speed automatic

Power (hp @ rpm)

147 @ 6,700 / 201 @ 5,600

191 @ 7,000 / 180 @ 6,000

Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)

132 @ 4,400 / 195 @ 2,200

181 @ 4,400 / 195 @ 2,200

The 2020 Hyundai Elantra and Sonata offer two different engine choices, giving customers the choice to opt for the engine that best suits their requirements. While there is a sportier version of the Sonata in the pipeline, the current 1.6-liter turbo engine is decently powerful and only feels a smidge slower than the Elantra’s 1.6-liter unit. Both units also produce the same amount of torque, so unless you’re accelerating very hard, you’ll be hard-pressed to tell the difference. The base engines on both cars are smooth and reliable, while also being quite economical in terms of fuel costs, and this is more apparent with the Elantra’s 2-liter unit which feels extremely lazy and efficiency-focused.

Which one of these cars is faster? 

Comfort has always been the basis for every Hyundai vehicle manufactured to date and speed seems to have taken a back seat with either of the vehicles. Both vehicles do feature very capable transmission offerings in their sportier trims, which do shift really well, but their engines are the ones to blame for their lackluster performance.

Models

2020 Hyundai Elantra

2020 Hyundai Sonata

0-60 MPH (seconds)

9.8 / 7.6

9.1 / 8.2

Quarter-Mile (seconds)

15.8

16.2

Top-Speed (MPH)

155

180

Engine

2.0-liter inline four-cylinder/ 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder

2.5-liter inline four-cylinder/ 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder

Emissions (Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15k mi/yr)

2,581

2,712

While the base engines on both vehicles feel nearly lifeless, the 1.6-liter turbo does throw in some excitement, but this excitement is very short-lived since the turbo lag really bogs these cars down and prevents them from being any faster. That said, the Elantra is clearly the faster option here, since it comes with more power from the same turbo engine while weighing a lot less.

How do these cars handle?

While handling has also never been a priority for Hyundai, both cars feature well-weighted steering wheels, that become extremely light at city speeds and weigh up when one increases their speed. The steering setups on both vehicles might not be as good as the units found on similarly priced Fords or Hondas, but they do pack quite a punch since steering feel is nearly perfect and there’s almost no feeling of disconnectedness that some modern vehicles feel like. This makes these vehicles quite fun to chuck into corners, but the Sonata might show some signs of body roll since its suspension setup isn’t as sophisticated as the one found on the Elantra Sport.

How well do these cars stop?

Weight plays a huge role in how a car comes to a stop from a certain speed, and while the Sonata weighs quite a lot more, it still does manage to come to a stop within a lesser distance than the Elantra. The Elantra features a slightly older brake setup which does work really well but doesn’t feel as sure-footed as the Sonata’s braking system. Sonata’s ABS module also feels better calibrated than the Elantra’s which does get a little confused during high-speed emergency braking situations.

Models

2020 Hyundai Elantra

2020 Hyundai Sonata

Brake Rotors: Front (inches)

11

12.6

Brake Rotors: Rear (inches)

10.1

11.7

Curb Weight (lbs)

2844

3336

60-0 (feet)

125

121

Which one of these cars offers more miles per gallon?

Hyundai’s vehicles weren’t really known for their efficiency in the past, but the Elantra and Sonata have made massive improvements ever since and now feature among the most efficient vehicles in their respective classes. Both engines return similar economy figures, with the base engines on either model returning slightly more efficiently.

Models

2020 Hyundai Elantra

2020 Hyundai Sonata

MPG (City)

31

27

MPG (Highway)

41

36

MPG (Combined)

35

31

Fuel Capacity (Gallons)

14

15.9

Range (City/Highway/Combined, in Miles)

490

483.6

While the Elantra gets the smaller fuel tank in this comparison, its high-efficiency figure helps it have a slight advantage in terms of range. The Sonata does come very close in terms of range and its efficiency figure is still among the best in its class. However, between these two vehicles, the Elantra is the one that will be cheaper to run on a daily basis.

Which one of these cars offers a better interior?

The Elantra and Sonata feature modern cabins with interiors that look decent and feature good quality materials on the top of the dashboard and door pads. The Elantra does skimp on overall material quality when it comes to the bottom part of the dashboard, which feels scratchy and low rent. But, both cars feature relatively silent cabins, which don’t allow much of road and wind noise to filter through, thus making the cars feel much more comfortable than its competitors. Overall, the Sonata being the more expensive car is the nicer one to be in.

2020 Hyundai Sonata dashboard design

Are the seats comfortable?

Both the Sonata and the Elantra feature similar seating configurations, that consists of a standard five-seater layout, as is the case with most sedans. Both cars get cloth upholstery as standard, and while the Sonata gets more legroom in the rear bench, the Elantra’s front seats are wider and more accommodating. The Elantra and Sonata also get heated seats as standard in its higher variants along with leather upholstery from the Limited trim onwards. The only differences between these cars are that the Elantra only gets manually adjusted seats across all variants and the Sonata gets power adjustment for the front driver seat from the SEL trim and adds ventilated seats to its top of the line Limited trim.

Models

2020 Hyundai Elantra

2020 Hyundai Sonata

Seating Capacity

5

5

Front Row (Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches)

40.3/56.2/42.2

40/57.9/46.1

Rear Row (Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches)

37.3/55.3/35.7

38.4/56.1/34.8

Trunk Capacity (cubic feet)

14.4

16.0

What’s there to keep you entertained?

Both cars offer touchscreen systems as standard fitment, but the sizes of the displays vary by a great margin. The Elantra gets a 5-inch display as standard fitment, which looks ancient and outdated. The 7-inch and 8-inch variations do make the cabin look and feel better and are offered on all trims, except for the base. The Sonata kicks off with the larger 8-inch screen as standard fitment, which did look good on the Elantra, but doesn’t look as good on the Sonata since Hyundai has given it massive borders to fill up space. The larger 10.25-inch display looks far more modern and futuristic, especially when paired with the digital driver’s display.

2020 Hyundai Elantra infotainment system

In terms of usability, the smaller screens on the Elantra are the only screens that showcase some forms of lag, and the larger screens are much easier to use. In terms of music systems on offer, the Elantra and Sonata feature basic six-speaker setups which sound okay. The 12 speaker Bose system on the Sonata, however, outclasses the Elantra’s eight-speaker Infinity sound system and would definitely appeal to audiophiles who demand good quality audio setups in their vehicles.

Are the cars looks enough to attract buyers?

The sixth generation of the Elantra was introduced in 2017 and was a very handsome looking sedan. However, Hyundai decided to give the car a facelift in mid-2018, which really botched up the design and made it look quite polarising when compared to its competitors. Hyundai expected people to lap up the new angular design, but people didn’t like it as much and Hyundai is expected to release a redesign very soon.

Models

2020 Hyundai Elantra

2020 Hyundai Sonata

Curb Weight (lb)

2844

3336

Length (inches)

181.9

192.9

Width (inches)

70.9

73.2

Height (inches)

56.5

56.9

Ground Clearance (inches)

5.3

5.3

Wheelbase (inches)

106.3

111.8

The Sonata on the other hand also features quite a polarizing design and looks very quirky. But this new design has actually been accepted really well, since its quite different from the regular options you get in the market. Details like the DRLs extending into the bonnet and a lot of creases and cuts have definitely struck the right chord with its customers, and the new Elantra is expected to borrow some of these design highlights.

Safety features of the cars

Hyundai has worked quite a lot to improve the safety of both vehicles and we’re happy to report that both the Elantra and the Sonata have been able to score a full five out of five-star rating in the NHTSA’s stringent tests, thus making them excellent choices for family buyers. In terms of active safety features, while the Elantra gets Adaptive cruise control, Lane-keeping assist and automatic emergency braking as standard fitment, the Elantra also adds on blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and rear cross-traffic alert, thus making the car really well equipped in terms of active safety features. The Sonata further adds radar-guided cruise control, a remote parking feature and a 360-degree camera for enhanced safety, but only on its top of the line Limited trim.

2020 Hyundai Elantra Safety highlights

  • Reversing Camera
  • A Blind Spot monitoring system
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane-keeping assist
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Automatic emergency braking

2020 Hyundai Sonata Safety highlights

  • Reversing Camera
  • A Blind Spot monitoring system
  • Radar guided cruise control
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane-keeping assist
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • 360-degree parking camera
  • Remote self-parking with remote key control

Which one to go for?

Hyundai’s vehicles have come a long way since their humble beginnings and the Elantra and Sonata are proof of how Hyundai is capable of packaging a decent equipment list, loads of safety technology, a decent drive feel and jaw-dropping looks without asking for an arm and leg on either of these models. The Elantra is smaller than the Sonata and features lesser interior space, but it gets quite a lot of equipment as standard, which makes it a deal, especially in its SEL and Value Edition trims. However, the Elantra does miss out on some equipment to get to its price point, and if you really want these additional features, we’d suggest opting for the larger Sonata which does start near about where the Elantra range tops out. While the base engines on either car are not going to win any performance awards, they sure do manage daily commutes really well, without tiring their occupants. The midsized Sonata might consume more fuel than the Elantra, but its roomier cabin and well-laid interiors make it the better car in this comparison, especially if you have the extra cash to spend on it.

Also Read:

Our take on the 2020 Hyundai Elantra

2020 Kia Forte: Review, MPG Figures, Safety and Performance

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