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2021 Hyundai Sonata Review: Expected Release Date, Price, MPG and Performance

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John Bedrow

Automotive Journalist July 09, 2020 at 12:46 PM
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata is rumored to be a minor update and is said to launch next year while still being a trendsetting flagship sedan from the Korean carmaker. The high-riding crossovers and SUVs continue to conquer the market and hence the 2021 Sonata will be Hyundai’s attempt to draw attention back to the sedan segment. Even though the midsize sedan market is as competitive as ever, the current Sonata has already displayed its capabilities with great driving dynamics, features, safety, and a lot more, that too for a bargain compared to the high riders on road today. Having said that, some might say that the sedans are slowly dying. Well, Hyundai does not seem to be thinking that, and here is why.

All the sedan lovers were glad to take note when Hyundai gave its flagship sedan a complete overhaul from ground up for the 2020 model year. As per the 2021 Hyundai Sonata, it has not been showcased at any avenue now but dealerships might receive some news regarding its update very soon. The car drove into its seventh generation with a stunning new exterior look and an interior flooded with luxury and features that looked ready to take on the likes of Toyotas and Hondas.

2021 Hyundai Sonata will remain largely unchanged

Looking at the 2020 model, we do not doubt that Hyundai is looking up to shake its competition. There are rumors of the performance variant wearing the N Line badge is slated for launch later this year. While we would certainly recommend waiting for it to roll out from a dealership near you, let us see what more you can expect from the 2021 Hyundai Sonata sedan.

What to expect in the engine department?

Since the 2021 Hyundai Sonata would most likely be carrying everything forward from the newly redone 2020 model, Hence the engines offered with the 2021 model will be similar to the same as the once as seen in the outgoing model. So for the 2021 model year, the Sonata will continue to get a choice of two gasoline engines and for those who want the best efficiency, there's also a hybrid version available.

Powering the 2021 Hyundai Sonata is a 1.6 Turbo GDi engine

The two entry models, SE and SEL get the base 2.5 liter naturally aspirated engines that put down 191 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque. As boring as that would sound, you should check out the engine fitted in the higher trims. The SEL Plus and top of the range Limited models get a smaller force induction engine that pumps out less power at just 180 horsepower but a little bump in torque making 195 lb-ft. While they do look similar you might wonder what is Hyundai trying to do here? Well once you test drive both these engines everything becomes clear. The turbo variant produces its torque at a very low RPM which gives the sedan a much stronger accelerating feel while sacrificing itself on the MPG charts. Both engines send power through an 8-speed tranny that puts down only through the front wheels.

2021 Hyundai Sonata will continue to stand out thanks to its one-of-a-kind design

If you are looking for a performance variant for the Sonata, the N Line version is just around the corner for the 2021 model line-up. According to spy shots recently, the Sonata N line was spotted wearing some heavy camouflage all over the body, which only suggests that the N Line variant would be having some serious cosmetic upgrades that Hyundai has tried to hide with excessive camo. Speculations also suggest that Hyundai plans on dropping a turbo variant of the 2.5-liter found in their base models for the 2021 trims.

Models

2021 Hyundai Sonata (expected)*

2020 Toyota Camry

2020 Honda Accord

2020 Mazda6

Base MSRP

$24,555 est

$24,425

$24,020

$24,920

Engine

2.5 liter Naturally Aspirated Inline four

2.5 liter Naturally Aspirated Inline four

1.5 liter turbocharged inline 4

2.5 liter Naturally Aspirated Inline four

Transmission

Eight-speed automatic

Eight-speed automatic

CVT w/OD

Six-speed automatic

Power (hp @RPM)

191 @6,100

184 @5,000

192 @5,500

187 @6,000

Torque (lb-ft @RPM)

181 @4,000

184 @5,000

192 @1,600

186 @4,000

*2020 Figures used for reference.

In terms of the driving pleasure and persona, the Sonata does not have the engaging and sporty character like the Honda Accord or the Toyota Camry. Having said that, it is still very direct and responsive on-road, although it leans towards a firmer ride than comfort. The 2021 model will offer the same performance and handling characteristics. However, comparing it to the previous Hyundai models, the 2020 Sonata was a big leap ahead.

How many miles to the gallon will the 2021 Hyundai Sonata get?

We anticipate the 2021 Hyundai Sonata to offer the same levels of fuel efficiency as the engine line-up is expected to remain the same. However, the fuel economy with the current 2020 Sonata isn’t too bad considering its two engines were forced on refinement and delivering a balance of performance and economy from the very beginning. The fuel saver folks would be more interested in the hybrid model of the Sonata which Hyundai dropped in recently. The base engine gets the best mpg rating of 32mpg combined for the 2.5-liter engine and the force induction smaller engine gets a light dent in the ratings at 31mpg combined for the 1.6T motor. 

Models

2021 Hyundai Sonata (expected)*

2020 Toyota Camry

2020 Honda Accord

2020 Mazda6

MPG (city)

28

29

30

26

MPG (highway)

38

41

38

35

MPG (combined)

31

34

33

29

Fuel Capacity (gallons)

15.9

15.8

14.8

16.4

Range (city/highway) (miles)

445/604

458/647

444/562

426/574

*2020 Figures used for reference.

Just as Toyota Camry dominated the whole segment in the MPG battle, it would be most likely that Toyota retains the crown for 2021 as there hasn’t been any news around the engine department. On the other hand, the Honda Accord is not far behind managing to beat the 2020 Sonata. The Mazda6 sedan still remains the heaviest on the pocket to run while offering the biggest fuel tank.

What to expect from the Hyundai Sonata’s interior?

Just like the brand-new exterior of the 2020 Hyundai Sonata, the interior went through a thorough refresh in 2020 as well. Hence we do not expect big changes with the 2021 model but there shall be some updates. The recently updated modernized interior shows how far Hyundai has come in terms of interior aesthetics and refinement inside a generously spaced cabin. This was achieved thanks to the growth in body length for the new generation model. As expected, some of the materials found in the base models do cheap out on you, but the Sonata really does impress us all by its mixture of practicality and quality. The only gripe is the all-around visibility is a bit poor for its class.

2021 Hyundai Sonata will get a high-quality interior loaded with best-in-class features

However, like any car in its class, the Sonata sits five adults inside, but the second row might not be all that comfortable to seat three full-sized adults in the back comfortably. Surprisingly the sloping roofline design of the exterior does not impact the headroom, especially in the rear seats. This was done by Hyundai lowering the height of the seats, a simple solution to a big problem. The driving position is great with a wide view of outwards and a multi-adjustable steering column. Overall, the cabin of the Sonata does not beg for any updates and will still remain modern and relevant in 2021.

Models

2021 Hyundai Sonata (expected)*

2020 Toyota Camry

2020 Honda Accord

2020 Mazda6

Seating capacity

5

5

5

5

Front Row (Headroom, Shoulder room, Legroom)

40/57.9/46.1

38.3/57.7/42.1

37.5/58.3/42.3

38.4/55.9/42.2

Rear Row (Headroom, Shoulder room, Legroom)

38.4/56.1/34.8

37.6/55.7/38

37.2/55/40.4

37.1/55.1/38.7

*2020 Figures used for reference.

The interior of the Hyundai Sonata has ample amounts of space to even go up against the dominators of spacious cabins like the Honda Accord. However, it is certainly not the most spacious car in its segment. What it exceeds at is the sheer tech on offer on the inside and not detest those Teslas for offering some ultra-advanced features.

Does it come loaded with tech inside?

The list of features and tech inside the cabin is just as long as the line outside a pub on a Saturday night. So yes, the cabin is flooded with loads of tech especially in the ones that come as standard. Let’s start off with the standard 8-inch infotainment system found in the SE and SEL that hosts plenty of features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard along with many more. Upgrade to the 10.25-inch infotainment system with the Limited trim, and you get everything from navigation with traffic flow to a 12-speaker Bose sound system all as standard.

2021 Hyundai Sonata gets a brilliant 10.25-inch infotainment setup

Some outstanding features for the Sonata are the Digital Key technology that uses Near Field Communication to control many of the functions remotely. With it you can do things like pulling the car out of a parking space autonomously just like how Hyundai teased during the Super Bowl commercial. 

Just like the currently outgoing model, the 2021 Sonata is expected to carry forward the same tech onboard

  • 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
  • Wireless charging
  • HD Radio
  • Bluetooth
  • Apple Carplay and Google Android Auto
  • 8-inch cloured touchscreen display
  • Bluelink connected technology

Will there be any changes to the exterior of the 2021 Hyundai Sonata?

After Hyundai’s gave the Sonata a complete overhaul in 2020 for its all-new eight-generation, we highly doubt they have any plans in changing any cosmetic features on their sedan for 2021. The designers in Hyundai were completely invested in designing the car for the new decade. Like a typical Hyundai Sonata, you will notice the long striking lines and edges running across the whole side profile of the sedan. The new body style showcases a bold new direction in design for the brand and it has surely worked in Hyundai's favor.

2021 Hyundai Sonata will remain cosmetically identical to the outgoing model

The front fascia of the sedan receives a pair of headlights that stretch along the crease of the hood which appears as chrome when not in use. The ‘Sensuous Sportiness’ design language of the sedan is a huge step up from the predecessors’ looks with a more angular grille and the sloping hood. The roofline slopes down to the rear of the car where it meets with a set of beautiful ‘C’ shaped LED taillights that run across the trunk of the rear.

Standard features of the sedan will most likely include the set of LED headlights and taillights, solar glass control while sitting on 16-inch alloy rims for the base and 18-inches for the top trims. You can expect Hyundai to add some chrome and other minor elements to the 2021 Hyundai Sonata and hence nothing major.

Models

2021 Hyundai Sonata (expected)*

2020 Toyota Camry

2020 Honda Accord

2020 Mazda6

Curb weight (lbs)

3120

3241

3373

3437

Length (inches)

192.9

192.1

192.2

192.7

Width (inches)

73.2

72.4

73.3

72.4

Height (inches)

56.9

56.9

57.1

57.1

Ground Clearance (inches)

5.3

5.7

5.8

6.5

Wheelbase (inches)

111.8

111.2

5.8

111.4

Track Width (inches) F/R

63.5

63

63

62.8

*2020 Figures used for reference.

The N Line variant of the Sonata would be an interesting model to look forward to bearing in mind the amount of camo Hyundai had on which were seen in the recent spy shots of what possibly could be the 2021 Sonata N Line. It is certainly going to be the best and the most sporty Sonata we would have seen so far.

Will the 2021 Hyundai Sonata be worth my money and time?

Yes, without a doubt. Hyundai has done a remarkable job in modernizing its flagship sedan for the new decade and new generation. There isn’t any department that the Sonata would fall down, except in driving engagement which others like Honda offer plenty of. To add to it, Toyota stands tall in the MPG charts and performance figures. Nevertheless, for an expected starting price tag of $24,500, the Sonata comes generously equipped as standard while offering ample amounts of luxury as well. Keeping all these factors in mind, the 2021 Hyundai Sonata sure is going to be wonderful and worth the wait, but you should also take a look at Toyota Camry as it does offer better driving dynamic performance and fuel economy. However, if you want the most striking sedan and the most tech on offer, the Hyundai Sonata will not disappoint you a bit.

Also Read:

Read our in-depth review of the 2021 Honda Accord.

Here's everything you need to know about the upcoming 2021 Mazda 6.

2021 Hyundai Sonata FAQs

Will the 2021 Hyundai Sonata be safe?

Yes, absolutely. The 2020 Hyundai Sonata was the top safety pick for IIHS in the midsize car / 4-door sedan category. Its Crash-test scores have excelled and it has received at five stars overall and for both frontal and side-impact.

What will be the warranty offered with the 2021 Hyundai Sonata?

Hyundai will offer 10-Year / 100,000-Mile warranty for the Powertrain and 5-Year / 60,000-Mile as the New Vehicle Limited Warranty with the 2021 Hyundai Sonata.

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