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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Review: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate

      ...one surprisingly good crossover, with a slightly problematic engine...

    Hyundai can’t seem to stop itself from tinkering with the Santa Fe crossover. This is apparent when you consider the nameplate first debuted on compact crossover in the early 2000s before growing into a two-model family up until last year. Hyundai has made another drastic change to the Santa Fe by making it a single model again - the three-row Santa Fe XL has been replaced by the Palisade. Does this re-focus make the model competitive?

    The overall shape of the 2019 Santa Fe is more upright than the outgoing Santa Fe Sport. This solves one of the biggest issues I had with the Sport, poor visibility. The upright shape and flatter belt line allowed Hyundai designers to increase the amount of glass used. Not only does this improve overall visibility. This also makes the interior feel more airy. Up front, Hyundai uses a hexagonal grille that is flanked by a split headlight layout. Slim LED daytime running lights sit on either side of the grille, while a pod housing the headlights sit underneath.

    Where the Santa Fe really shines is the interior. It’s a modern and clean design with a two-tone dashboard, unique fabric covering the pillars and headliner; and the use of polygons in the seat pattern and speaker grilles. Materials for the most part are soft-touch plastics and leather on my Ultimate tester. There are some hard plastics used here and there, but it will not detract from the premium feel Hyundai is going for. The layout for the controls is excellent with all in easy reach for driver or passenger. Also earning top marks is the eight-inch infotainment system which is simple to use, provides snappy performance, and allows a driver to use either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

    For those sitting up front, the Santa Fe Ultimate provides power adjustments, heat, and ventilation. Getting settled in and finding the correct position, I found the seats to be quite comfortable with enough padding to tackle any trip length. Back seat passengers will find plenty of leg and headroom. Those sitting in the back will also appreciate the rear seats can recline along with heat during the cold winter months. Cargo space is about average with 35.9 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 71.3 when folded.

    Most Santa Fes will come with the base 2.4L inline-four with 185 horsepower. My Ultimate AWD tester featured the optional turbocharged 2.0L inline-four with 235 horsepower. Both engines come paired with an eight-speed automatic. Whenever a Hyundai vehicle is equipped with a turbo-four, it falls into one of two camps - works perfectly or there is a performance issue. The Santa Fe falls into the latter. There is a noticeable amount of turbo-lag when leaving from a stop. Once up to speed, the engine can sometimes be a bit too responsive with a jumpiness that makes smooth acceleration a difficult task. Whether this is something with the programming of the engine, transmission, or throttle, I cannot say. I hope this gets fixed with the 2020 model.

    EPA fuel economy figures for the turbo-four with AWD are 19 City/24 Highway/21 Combined. I saw an average of 20.7 mpg during my week of testing. It should be noted this is the same as the Honda Passport with its slightly more powerful 3.5L V6 producing 280 horsepower.

    The Santa Fe’s ride is still smooth and relaxing over many of the bumps and imperfections that dot the roads of Metro Detroit. It is also surprisingly quiet with barely any wind or road noise coming inside. Handling is where the Santa Fe really surprised me as it felt agile when driven around a bend. There was barely any body roll and steering provided excellent response. 

    On the surface, the 2019 Santa Fe is an improvement over the Santa Fe Sport. It features a fetching design, comfortable ride, simple tech, and a lot of equipment for the money. My Ultimate tester came with an as-tested price of $39,905 and that includes adaptive cruise control with stop & go; blind spot monitoring, Infinity premium audio system, panoramic sunroof, and much more. Build up one of the Santa Fe’s competition to similar specs and you’re looking at spending on average around $5,000 more.

    But the Santa Fe is soured by the turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine which appears to have two settings - slow off the line performance and unpredictable acceleration at higher speeds. Until Hyundai can figure out what is going on, stick with the base 2.4L four-cylinder. It may be a little bit underpowered, but at least it is more consistent in its power delivery.

    Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Santa Fe, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2019
    Make: Hyundai
    Model: Santa Fe
    Trim: Ultimate
    Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L GDI 16-Valve DOHC CVVT Four-Cylinder
    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 235 @ 6,000
    Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,450 - 3,500
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/24/21
    Curb Weight: 4,085 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, Alabama
    Base Price: $38,800
    As Tested Price: $39,905 (Includes $980.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00

    Edited by William Maley

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    They have a new 2.5L turbo 4 in the works, it will be on the Sonata N-line, around 290hp and a little more than 300lb ft torque.  Maybe a version of that will replace the underwhelming 2.0L in a few years, might get better fuel economy as well.

     

     

     

     

     

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    41 minutes ago, frogger said:

    They have a new 2.5L turbo 4 in the works, it will be on the Sonata N-line, around 290hp and a little more than 300lb ft torque.  Maybe a version of that will replace the underwhelming 2.0L in a few years, might get better fuel economy as well.

     

     

     

     

     

    Hopefully it will come sooner than later as a mid year update.

    They need that motor in this CUV.

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    22 hours ago, frogger said:

    They have a new 2.5L turbo 4 in the works, it will be on the Sonata N-line, around 290hp and a little more than 300lb ft torque.  Maybe a version of that will replace the underwhelming 2.0L in a few years, might get better fuel economy as well.

    even if they lightly turbo it like Dwight has made posts about, it could probably be good for mazda turbo like power. lots of torque and some more HP.
    https://www.thecarconnection.com/car-compare-results/hyundai_santa-fe_2019-vs-mazda_cx-9_2019  

    no 3rd seat row, it's shorter. but the mazda  is rated better MPG.

    Edited by loki
    saving space
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    I wonder if when people go into a Hyundai showroom (or any car dealership), the goal of the manufacturer is to have 9 SUVs there to pick from so the customer is just so overwhelmed, they just cave in and buy something there rather than going to a 2nd dealership to look at another SUV.

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    there is getting to be quite of few of these with dealer plates on them (just sold) driving around here now, I am sure Hyundai has opened the deals and credit tap on these things.  And then Chevy has the 50,000 dollar Blazer, and I don't see very many of them.

    Edited by regfootball
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    16 hours ago, regfootball said:

    there is getting to be quite of few of these with dealer plates on them (just sold) driving around here now, I am sure Hyundai has opened the deals and credit tap on these things.  And then Chevy has the 50,000 dollar Blazer, and I don't see very many of them.

    I honestly have only seen a few blazers on the dealer lots here and not a single one in the wild. So I have to say that for $50K people are buying other autos over it.

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    These are everywhere in the northeast, which is expected. Enjoyed a last model year last gen base model Santa Fe I had last year for a few thousand miles, so these are just better in every way.

    Still adjusting to the looks, but good ute. The 2.0T has gotten strange over the years, and isn't very well balanced, but the 2.4L is fine.

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    1 hour ago, frogger said:

    I've seen at least three Blazers on the road so far.  Caught a view of my first XT6 on the road yesterday, looked a little like a cheap copy of an XC90.

     

    Yea, still not seen a Blazer in the wild, see plenty of XT6 out and about, selling well here, but not impressed.

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    Mary and GM clearly want the poor people to stick to buying the Equinox and Terrain.  Then, the 'privileged' who really want a true mid size vehicle, the figured they could charge 55k for a loaded Blazer instead of the 40k Impala it functionally replaces.  In addition to that, make it in Mexico, too.

    Honestly the Blazer would sell big in volume at lower prices, but clearly volume is not the goal.  GM is fine with letting inventory sitting on their lots for a year or two before they get an actual clue that they might need to adjust prices to market.  

    I just think its sad that GM opens the door for competitors like Hyundai to gain volume in the market, and in this case even more and more.

     

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    ^ newsflash: Blazer starts at $28,800. Neither Mary nor anyone else is forcing anyone to buy a top-trim/fully loaded version of ANY vehicle.

    Same way hyundai isn’t forcing anyone to pay $40 grand for a $25K sante fe.

    Edited by balthazar
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    20 hours ago, dfelt said:

    Yea, still not seen a Blazer in the wild, see plenty of XT6 out and about, selling well here, but not impressed.

    Quite a few Blazers out my way but have not spotted one XT6 and don’t care if I ever do. 

    On 12/14/2019 at 10:14 AM, smk4565 said:

    I wonder if when people go into a Hyundai showroom (or any car dealership), the goal of the manufacturer is to have 9 SUVs there to pick from so the customer is just so overwhelmed, they just cave in and buy something there rather than going to a 2nd dealership to look at another SUV.

    You mean like Mercedes does with their cars? Sounds about right to me.

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    1 hour ago, balthazar said:

    ^ newsflash: Blazer starts at $28,800. Neither Mary nor anyone else is forcing anyone to buy a top-trim/fully loaded version of ANY vehicle.

    Same way hyundai isn’t forcing anyone to pay $40 grand for a $25K sante fe.

    I would like to add that the dealership, where I used to work, had a half a dozen in the mid 30s.

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    you will rarely find an AWD blazer for much less than 34-35 right now, and that's basically cloth seats.

    Enjoy that FWD blazer with 4 banger if you like.

    The Santa Fe has the size of the Blazer and admittedly with its 4 cylinders, but the truth is they can add lots of options to the Santa Fe that it will have at the 35k price that Chevy won't have.  So from a utlity standpoint the Santa Fe is the size of the Blazer and offers lots more options and amenities for a lower price.  The only advantage the Blazer would have is powertrain but in 2020 Chevy will load up the sales floor with much more of the new 2.0 turbo models at that price range than the v6's which they want to eventually only offer to those shopping in the 50k range.

    1 minute ago, dfelt said:

    My local dealer has 19 from mid 30's to mid 40's.

    https://www.leejohnsonchevrolet.com/search/new-camaro-kirkland-wa/?cy=98033&tp=new&md=541

    Not selling though.

    WHICH IS MY POINT EXACTLY.  those 19 blazers have likely sat on that lot since early this calendar year.  Hard to run a business with stagnant inventory.

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    If the Blazer sells 80-100k copies a year compared to 100-120k for the Santa Fe that is not too bad considering how awkward looking it is in comparison.  The Traverse will get more volume based on looks and value for families.

    Edited by frogger
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    2 hours ago, surreal1272 said:

    Quite a few Blazers out my way but have not spotted one XT6 and don’t care if I ever do. 

    You mean like Mercedes does with their cars? Sounds about right to me.

    They do have a lot but Mercedes 7 SUVs span $100k compared to the 7 at Hyundai that span $20k in base price.  But either way I think it is a method to overwhelm consumers.

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    1 hour ago, ccap41 said:

    None of the MSRP's are under 35k at my dealership(17 Blazers) but they're all discounted. 

    https://www.steveschmittauto.com/VehicleSearchResults?make=Chevrolet&model=Blazer

     

    the 35k i refer to is discounted price.  usually those msrps will be 40ish.

     

    there are Blazer Premiers out there, stickering for 55 grand.  That is stupid ludicrous expensive. In spring 2020 when some of those 19 premiers are still on lots (after 18 months), maybe then they will go out the door for 42,000.......

    Edited by regfootball
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    Honestly Hyundai can EAT GMs market share as GM is being Marketing Stupid in regards to proper prices and the 19 by me prove this.

    The funny part of the 19 in stock Blazers by me is they are all Premier or RS models. 

    2019 models get $7,400 off MSRP

    2020 Models get $2,725 off MSRP

    Clearly GM has this product priced way too high

    image.png

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      The interior of the Santa Cruz expresses a sophisticated and refined appearance. The contrasting rugged yet refined motif matches the boldness of the exterior, boasting a technical ambience that appeals to those who appreciate cutting-edge technologies in their daily lives. It features an enveloping dual-cockpit design that encapsulates each passenger. Design teams focused on ease of ingress and egress and ergonomic comfort on long drives. The premium center stack display features an edgeless infotainment screen appearance, with an impressive 10 inches of visibility. The optional center digital cluster display also measures 10 inches. Under the rear seats is convenient, in-cabin storage. Completing the premium ambience is an available Bose® audio system.
      Powerful and Efficient Powertrains
      Santa Cruz offers two powerful, flexible and efficient powertrains. The standard powertrain is a 2.5L direct-injected in-line four-cylinder engine with an estimated 190+ horsepower and 180+ lb.-ft. of torque. This engine couples to an eight-speed hydraulic automatic transmission for quick acceleration and superb efficiency. Santa Cruz also offers a 2.5L direct-injected turbocharged engine with an estimated 275+ horsepower and 310+ lb.-ft. of torque linked to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT). This DCT includes steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters for manual shifting control by the driver.
      Eight-Speed Automatic Transmission
      The eight-speed transmission for the standard 2.5-liter engine provides quick and crisp shifts for an engaging and efficient driving experience. This automatic transmission adds ratio range at both the top and bottom of output speeds allowing for extra thrust off-the-line and a quieter, more fuel-efficient trip on the interstate. A multi-disc and individually controlled hydraulic channel torque converter improves responsiveness by expanding the direct connection band, while a downsized oil pump and double ball bearings minimize frictional losses.
      Advanced HTRAC® AWD and Towing Capability
      Both 2.5L four-cylinder and 2.5L four-cylinder turbo models offer HTRAC® all-wheel drive capability for complete confidence when pursuing adventures of all kinds or for that extra peace of mind when driving in an unexpected snowfall. The HTRAC AWD system was developed as a multi-mode system, providing an electronic, variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control between the front and rear axles. The Sport setting gives a more agile feel by sending more torque to the rear wheels, for a sporty, dynamic experience. This system has a wide range of torque distribution variability, tuned for conditions such as straight-line acceleration, medium- and high-speed cornering, and hill starts. For those customers who like to tow their weekend gear with them, the 2.5L 4-cylinder is rated at 3,500 lbs. for towing and the 2.5L Turbo AWD model boasts a generous 5,000 lbs. of towing capability.
      Compact Dimensions Yield Superb Maneuverability
      Santa Cruz makes efficient use of its compact dimensions by offering high utility with excellent maneuverability. Its shorter wheelbase and smaller overall footprint make it a joy to maneuver and park in challenging urban parking, with an exceptional curb-to-curb turning radius of only 20.0 feet.
      Specification (in.)
      Santa Cruz
      Tacoma
      Ridgeline
      Frontier
      Length
      195.7
      212.2
      210.0
      205.5
      Width
      75.0
      75.2
      78.5
      72.8
      Height
      66.7
      70.7
      70.3
      70.1
      Wheelbase
      118.3
      127.4
      125.2
      126.0
      Bed Length
      Upper 48.4
      Lower 52.1
      60.4
      63.6
      59.4
      Footprint Area
      (sq. ft.)
      101.9
      109.7
      114.6
      103.9
                         
      Responsive and Refined Chassis Tuning
      Santa Cruz was developed with a focus on enhanced driving dynamics and responsive performance for a wide variety of urban and off-road, multi-surface driving conditions. The shorter wheelbase, short overhangs and wide track create a planted stance that results in exceptional agility in urban environments. These specifications also provide confident agility when traversing off-road terrain. Available 20-inch alloy wheels with wide, all-season, all-terrain tires give surefooted, agile handling character on a variety of road surfaces. Available 18-inch wheels with more voluminous tire sidewalls for off-road adventures are also available.
    • By William Maley
      I rarely get the opportunity to drive two different flavors of the same vehicle within a short timeframe. But that's what happened in the fall when I had the chance to drive the new Hyundai Sonata in its standard and hybrid forms. The Sonata has always been a favorite of mine as it offered a lot for a midsize sedan, with a surprising price tag. It has also come very close to being at the top of the class, but falling somewhat short due to one thing or another. This new version has the chance of changing that.
      Very Polarizing Design

      The consensus from several readers on Cheers & Gears and various social media sites on the Sonata's design was of dislike. Many found the design to be a bit much and overdone. I found myself in the minority as I was impressed by the lengths Hyundai went. The flowing lines and raked roofline reminded me of the 2012 Sonata which gave notice to other automakers to step up their game. Little details such as the bars the run along the outer edge of the hood to the headlights to a distinct rear-end treatment make the Sonata stand out.
      If there is an issue I have with the Sonata's design, it is the grille. I find it to be slightly cartoonish due to the large size and shape.
      Simple, Yet Elegant Interior
      If you're worried that the polarizing ideas from the exterior make their way inside, don't. The interior is surprisingly sedate with clean lines and a simple design. Hyundai should be commended for using a lot of soft-touch plastics and leather on various surfaces. It makes the Sonata look and feel more premium than its price tag may suggest.

      Despite the coupe-inspired roofline, the Sonata's interior space is quite spacious. Most no one will have any complaints sitting in the back as there is ample head and legroom. Taller passengers should be aware that the optional panoramic sunroof for the Sonata will take away some headroom. The Sonata Hybrid doesn't worry about that as it doesn't offer the sunroof.
      Tech Galore!
      Both of the Sonatas on test came in the Limited trim which means a bountiful selection of technology. It begins with a 10.2-inch TFT display for the instrument cluster which provides all of the key information needed at a glance. A clever trick is when you engage the turn signal, the respective 'dial' brings up a camera mounted underneath the side view mirrors to provide a blind-spot view. I found this system to be helpful as it gave me an extra set of eyes whenever I needed to change lanes.

      Next up is another 10.25-inch screen housing Hyundai's latest infotainment system. I like the three-window layout on the home screen that you can customize to your needs. Navigating around the system is a breeze with a response touchscreen and capacitive touch buttons sitting on either side. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
      The next two tech features are exclusive to the standard Sonata. First is what Hyundai calls a digital key. Using the BlueLink application on a compatible smartphone, you can use this instead of the key to start the car and drive away. At the time of this writing, this is only available on Android phones. Hyundai did provide a loner Samsung Note smartphone for the week to try this out. I did not have the best experience with this feature at first because I found you need to be pretty close to the vehicle to make a connection. Trying to connect from my room upstairs, just above where the vehicle was parked, the application would throw up a connection error. I found that if I moved to the living room or just outside the front door, the phone was able to make the connection. This sours some of the appeal of this feature. 
      At least using the phone as the vehicle's key does work a bit better. It only takes a few seconds for the phone to make the connection to the vehicle and you can start it up. Although, I found myself wondering wouldn't it be easier and faster to have the key. The only feature that makes any sense to me is the ability to share the key with other people, but lock down certain aspects.
      Second is Smart Park (or smart parkh as made famous by the Super Bowl commercial from last year). Using the key, you can have the Sonata move forward or back out of the parking spot to allow for easier access to get into the vehicle. It's simple to operate, just hold down one of two buttons for a few seconds; the Sonata starts up and goes into the correct gear to move in the desired direction. I can see the appeal in urban areas where space is limited. But in the current pandemic times all of us find ourselves in, this seems to be more of a gimmick.
      Power Selection
      Hyundai offers two engines for the regular Sonata; a naturally aspirated 2.5L four-cylinder or a turbocharged 1.6L four. A more potent turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder is available on the upcoming Sonata N Line. My tester featured the turbo 1.6 which produces 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That puts it in line with some of the base engines found in the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
      I wouldn't call this engine quick, but it handles most driving situations with aplomb. This comes down to most of the torque being situated at the lower end of the rpm band. The only area where you might be wishing for more power is merging onto a freeway or keeping up traffic. The eight-speed automatic does an excellent job of maximizing the engine's output.
      Under the Sonata Hybrid's hood is a system comprised of a 2.0L four-cylinder and electric motor to provide a total output of 192 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The Sonata Hybrid feels just as fast as the standard Sonata around town and on country roads. It does struggle slightly on the highway due to the smaller torque figure. The six-speed automatic doesn't stumble when the change over from electric-only to hybrid mode like I have experienced on other Hyundai/Kia hybrid models.

      Opting for Limited on the Sonata Hybrid brings a solar panel for the roof which acts as a trickle charger for both the 12-volt car battery and 1.6-kWh lithium-ion pack for the hybrid system. Hyundai says that the panel can add an extra two miles of range with adequate sunlight. I can't attest to this claim, but will say the solar panel did add an extra bit of charge to the battery, even on an overcast day.
      Fuel economy for both models are as followed,
      Sonata 1.6T: 27 City/36 Highway/31 Combined Sonata Hybrid: 45 City/51 Highway/47 Combined My week saw an average of 29 mpg in the Sonata and 39 mpg for the Sonata Hybrid.
      Calm and Collected
      Hyundai has done some work on the Sonata's chassis and suspension to make it more rewarding to drive. It shows on a winding road as both versions show little body roll and feel more agile than the outgoing model. Steering feels direct and has a decent amount of weight. I will say the Mazda6 is still the one to beat if driving pleasure is your key goal.
      But the Sonata has an ace up its sleeve. It is also one of the most comfortable cars in the class. Driving over some of the roughest roads in Metro Detroit, the Sonata's suspension soaks up most bumps and imperfections to provide a serene ride. The minimal amount of road and wind noise that comes inside also helps.
      Rising To The Top

      The previous generations of the Sonata were always so close to being at the top of the class. But there always something that held it back whether it was the design, handling, or powertrains. But this new model shows how much Hyundai has put in. There is a nice balance between ride and handling; powertrains are very competent, and the interior is best in the class. Plus, the Sonata still retains Hyundai's trademark of offering a lot for not much money.
      Where most people will stumble on the Sonata is the exterior. It is very much a love or hate it affair. Plus, some of the tech features feel more like a party trick to show to friends than something you'll use. 
      Nevertheless, I think Sonata moves up to the top of the midsize sedan pecking order. 
      But there is one more question to answer. Between the regular and hybrid versions, which one I would drive away with. The answer which surprised me is the hybrid. I found it to be a little bit more well-rounded and deliver some excellent fuel economy figures during my time.
      Alternative:
      Kia K5: Like the idea of the Hyundai Sonata, but not to sure on the design? Then the Kia K5 may be the answer. Based on the same bones as the Sonata, the K5 takes a more evolutionary approach to the design. The basic shape may remind you of the previous-generation Optima, but its the little details such as a new grille and revised rear deck lid that help it stand out. From reviews, the K5 proves to be a bit sportier. We hope to get our hands on this challenger in the near future. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata
      Trim: Limited 1.6T
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31
      Curb Weight: 3,336 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL
      Base Price: $33,300
      As Tested Price: $34,365 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata Hybrid
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four, Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 6,000 (gas); 51 @ 1,800 - 2,300 (electric motor); 192 (total output)
      Torque @ RPM: 139 @ 5,000 (gas); 151 @ 0 - 1,800 (electric motor)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 45/51/47
      Curb Weight: 3,530 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Asan, South Korea
      Base Price: $35,300
      As Tested Price: $36,430 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: 
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      I rarely get the opportunity to drive two different flavors of the same vehicle within a short timeframe. But that's what happened in the fall when I had the chance to drive the new Hyundai Sonata in its standard and hybrid forms. The Sonata has always been a favorite of mine as it offered a lot for a midsize sedan, with a surprising price tag. It has also come very close to being at the top of the class, but falling somewhat short due to one thing or another. This new version has the chance of changing that.
      Very Polarizing Design

      The consensus from several readers on Cheers & Gears and various social media sites on the Sonata's design was of dislike. Many found the design to be a bit much and overdone. I found myself in the minority as I was impressed by the lengths Hyundai went. The flowing lines and raked roofline reminded me of the 2012 Sonata which gave notice to other automakers to step up their game. Little details such as the bars the run along the outer edge of the hood to the headlights to a distinct rear-end treatment make the Sonata stand out.
      If there is an issue I have with the Sonata's design, it is the grille. I find it to be slightly cartoonish due to the large size and shape.
      Simple, Yet Elegant Interior
      If you're worried that the polarizing ideas from the exterior make their way inside, don't. The interior is surprisingly sedate with clean lines and a simple design. Hyundai should be commended for using a lot of soft-touch plastics and leather on various surfaces. It makes the Sonata look and feel more premium than its price tag may suggest.

      Despite the coupe-inspired roofline, the Sonata's interior space is quite spacious. Most no one will have any complaints sitting in the back as there is ample head and legroom. Taller passengers should be aware that the optional panoramic sunroof for the Sonata will take away some headroom. The Sonata Hybrid doesn't worry about that as it doesn't offer the sunroof.
      Tech Galore!
      Both of the Sonatas on test came in the Limited trim which means a bountiful selection of technology. It begins with a 10.2-inch TFT display for the instrument cluster which provides all of the key information needed at a glance. A clever trick is when you engage the turn signal, the respective 'dial' brings up a camera mounted underneath the side view mirrors to provide a blind-spot view. I found this system to be helpful as it gave me an extra set of eyes whenever I needed to change lanes.

      Next up is another 10.25-inch screen housing Hyundai's latest infotainment system. I like the three-window layout on the home screen that you can customize to your needs. Navigating around the system is a breeze with a response touchscreen and capacitive touch buttons sitting on either side. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
      The next two tech features are exclusive to the standard Sonata. First is what Hyundai calls a digital key. Using the BlueLink application on a compatible smartphone, you can use this instead of the key to start the car and drive away. At the time of this writing, this is only available on Android phones. Hyundai did provide a loner Samsung Note smartphone for the week to try this out. I did not have the best experience with this feature at first because I found you need to be pretty close to the vehicle to make a connection. Trying to connect from my room upstairs, just above where the vehicle was parked, the application would throw up a connection error. I found that if I moved to the living room or just outside the front door, the phone was able to make the connection. This sours some of the appeal of this feature. 
      At least using the phone as the vehicle's key does work a bit better. It only takes a few seconds for the phone to make the connection to the vehicle and you can start it up. Although, I found myself wondering wouldn't it be easier and faster to have the key. The only feature that makes any sense to me is the ability to share the key with other people, but lock down certain aspects.
      Second is Smart Park (or smart parkh as made famous by the Super Bowl commercial from last year). Using the key, you can have the Sonata move forward or back out of the parking spot to allow for easier access to get into the vehicle. It's simple to operate, just hold down one of two buttons for a few seconds; the Sonata starts up and goes into the correct gear to move in the desired direction. I can see the appeal in urban areas where space is limited. But in the current pandemic times all of us find ourselves in, this seems to be more of a gimmick.
      Power Selection
      Hyundai offers two engines for the regular Sonata; a naturally aspirated 2.5L four-cylinder or a turbocharged 1.6L four. A more potent turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder is available on the upcoming Sonata N Line. My tester featured the turbo 1.6 which produces 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That puts it in line with some of the base engines found in the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
      I wouldn't call this engine quick, but it handles most driving situations with aplomb. This comes down to most of the torque being situated at the lower end of the rpm band. The only area where you might be wishing for more power is merging onto a freeway or keeping up traffic. The eight-speed automatic does an excellent job of maximizing the engine's output.
      Under the Sonata Hybrid's hood is a system comprised of a 2.0L four-cylinder and electric motor to provide a total output of 192 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The Sonata Hybrid feels just as fast as the standard Sonata around town and on country roads. It does struggle slightly on the highway due to the smaller torque figure. The six-speed automatic doesn't stumble when the change over from electric-only to hybrid mode like I have experienced on other Hyundai/Kia hybrid models.

      Opting for Limited on the Sonata Hybrid brings a solar panel for the roof which acts as a trickle charger for both the 12-volt car battery and 1.6-kWh lithium-ion pack for the hybrid system. Hyundai says that the panel can add an extra two miles of range with adequate sunlight. I can't attest to this claim, but will say the solar panel did add an extra bit of charge to the battery, even on an overcast day.
      Fuel economy for both models are as followed,
      Sonata 1.6T: 27 City/36 Highway/31 Combined Sonata Hybrid: 45 City/51 Highway/47 Combined My week saw an average of 29 mpg in the Sonata and 39 mpg for the Sonata Hybrid.
      Calm and Collected
      Hyundai has done some work on the Sonata's chassis and suspension to make it more rewarding to drive. It shows on a winding road as both versions show little body roll and feel more agile than the outgoing model. Steering feels direct and has a decent amount of weight. I will say the Mazda6 is still the one to beat if driving pleasure is your key goal.
      But the Sonata has an ace up its sleeve. It is also one of the most comfortable cars in the class. Driving over some of the roughest roads in Metro Detroit, the Sonata's suspension soaks up most bumps and imperfections to provide a serene ride. The minimal amount of road and wind noise that comes inside also helps.
      Rising To The Top

      The previous generations of the Sonata were always so close to being at the top of the class. But there always something that held it back whether it was the design, handling, or powertrains. But this new model shows how much Hyundai has put in. There is a nice balance between ride and handling; powertrains are very competent, and the interior is best in the class. Plus, the Sonata still retains Hyundai's trademark of offering a lot for not much money.
      Where most people will stumble on the Sonata is the exterior. It is very much a love or hate it affair. Plus, some of the tech features feel more like a party trick to show to friends than something you'll use. 
      Nevertheless, I think Sonata moves up to the top of the midsize sedan pecking order. 
      But there is one more question to answer. Between the regular and hybrid versions, which one I would drive away with. The answer which surprised me is the hybrid. I found it to be a little bit more well-rounded and deliver some excellent fuel economy figures during my time.
      Alternative:
      Kia K5: Like the idea of the Hyundai Sonata, but not to sure on the design? Then the Kia K5 may be the answer. Based on the same bones as the Sonata, the K5 takes a more evolutionary approach to the design. The basic shape may remind you of the previous-generation Optima, but its the little details such as a new grille and revised rear deck lid that help it stand out. From reviews, the K5 proves to be a bit sportier. We hope to get our hands on this challenger in the near future. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata
      Trim: Limited 1.6T
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31
      Curb Weight: 3,336 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL
      Base Price: $33,300
      As Tested Price: $34,365 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata Hybrid
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four, Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 6,000 (gas); 51 @ 1,800 - 2,300 (electric motor); 192 (total output)
      Torque @ RPM: 139 @ 5,000 (gas); 151 @ 0 - 1,800 (electric motor)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 45/51/47
      Curb Weight: 3,530 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Asan, South Korea
      Base Price: $35,300
      As Tested Price: $36,430 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: 
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
  • Posts

    • • IDK... my friend with the Infinity doesn't have to "hose out" or vacuum it whenever he hauls something around. Mulch is bagged at the HomeDepot, not loose- why are people vacuuming up after bagged items? A few pieces drop off, you shake off the blanket (or tip out the cargo liner), fold it up & you're done. It's not a major calamity. Same with the 'spilled fuel' (don't you have an electric snow thrower yet??  ) - how is that readily happening?  • Full-size SUV's (say; a Suburban) has the interior length, but there are a number of things I mentioned earlier that it's not well suited for. Loose material is one, dumped material is another, actual dirt (for the 'dirty' aspect), leaking/significantly odiferous material, and anything involving -say- demo'd building materials studded with nails or vastly-irregular pieces - these pose actual damage hazards to the interior, whereas a lined pick-up bed can carry extreme lengths, dirt, garbage, stone, 90 cubic feet of brush/grass clippings, mouse-contaminated goods, propane tanks, etc etc. I would not peg the capability of an enclosed SUV vs. a pickup at anywhere "98% overlap". Maybe 70%. SUVs do offer 2 considerable aspects over pickups: security and weather protection. But this discussion (full-size pickups vs. full-size SUVs) seems to be another discussion. • The whole pitch about leaving the tailgate open is a rubber crutch for a 4-ft bed, no two ways around it. "Ledges", please. If dropping the gate means a 4-ft bed is practically a 6-ft bed, then the 6-ft bed is now practically an 8-ft bed and the 2 no longer compete.
    • -So we are back to pick ups, not SUVs? I say that because you sure are not hauling 4x8 plywood in most if not any SUV. BTW, with the tail gate down, the Santa Cruz gains two more feet back there, putting it pretty close to a short bed full size pick up. From an article regarding the tailgate.   "The bed is also 4 feet wide, designed specifically to be wide enough to carry home sheets of plywood from the big box store. That plywood rests on molded-in ledges above the wheelwells, and the tailgate can be adjusted to a half-open position level with the ledges to support the end of the plywood hanging out the back." Making it pretty damn useful for 95% of the population.   -Oh sure. Take the plastic tarp in and out when ever you think you'll need it while still having to vacuum your SUV of the dirt that will still find its way to other parts of said car (to say NOTHING of the smell of said mulch). Now, I throw few hundred pounds in the back of the Santa Fe and all I have to do afterwards is hose it down. Sorry but you can't tout pick ups on one hand and then $h! on them with the other when bringing up SUVs.   -And you go right on ahead and lay that fridge down in any SUV and wait 24-48 hours before you can plug in said fridge because of the freon. Me? I prefer to bring it home and plug it right away. Again, you are picking and choosing between full size pick ups and SUVs whenever it suits your argument. To a point, a full size SUV can do 98% of the stuff your HD can do yet we are not on here touting it over the other because the HD suits YOUR needs. See the problem her yet? BTW, don't even have to fold the handles down on the lawn mower or the snow blower to get it in the car or SUV and I don't have to worry about fuel/fluid spillage INSIDE may car or SUV.   -And of course its not competing with mid-size pick ups because it is not one itself. Not sure what argument you're trying to make here.   One last thing. Two weeks ago, I picked up a used duo grill (gas and charcoal) that was fully put together. As such, it was not going to fit inside my Flex without damaging the inside walls of the car (even with a tarp). Instead, I had to borrow a trailer to haul it. Now, if I had the Hyundai, it would have fit perfectly in the back standing upright, no fuss and no trailer or tarp needed. You have to stop seeing it like there isn't a use for one of these just because you wouldn't have a use for one.
    • mid-'80s : I can remember one of these in my favorite junkyard haunt, esp that peaked center section of the decklid. It was a '67 Fury 4-dr, very dark blue, and someone had painted (very well) 'BUILT TO' and 'BOOGIE' in the large flats to either side of that peaked center.  It was at the end of one of the 2 rows the arrows point to, nose facing 'south'.  Now ask me what I had for dinner last night. 
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