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2022 Hyundai Sonata Test Drive Review

Polarizing exterior design notwithstanding, the Hyundai Sonata exudes quality and provides exceptional value.

8 /10
Overall Score

Despite having the onerous task of competing against segment mainstays like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord—and combating waning consumer interest in midsize sedans—the Hyundai Sonata continues to play to its strengths. By offering tremendous value, exceptional quality, an outstanding warranty, and a surprisingly sporty N Line variant, the Sonata can more than hold its own against the segment favorites.

Look and Feel

7/ 10

In the early years of the Sonata's existence, it was evident that Hyundai was doing its best to mimic the leaders in the midsize car segment, in particular the Honda Accord. Indeed, the two cars looked so much alike, right down to the capital "H" badge on the hood and trunk, that they could easily be mistaken for one another. As a result, one could argue that the Sonata lacked originality. Quality was a sore spot, as well.

But, as the saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. By wisely benchmarking the Accord, Hyundai learned valuable lessons and applied them to its midsize sedan, improving it along the way while undercutting the competition on price and slowly, steadily improving quality. With each passing generation, Hyundai has given the Sonata a little more flair—and a little more personality—giving the car a look all its own, further differentiating it from the Accord and the rest of the competition.

This brings us to the current, seventh-generation Sonata, redesigned for the 2020 model year. The Sonata features a wide grille, rounded front fascia, and a sloped rear roofline. While the look is distinctive, not everyone will love it. As they say, design is subjective; what one person finds attractive, another may find repulsive. One look at the car's exterior and shoppers will know right away whether the Sonata is a beauty or a beast.

Step inside the 2022 Sonata and a functional, spacious cabin with seating for five passengers greets you. Gauges and dials are clearly marked and easy to read, and material quality is about average for the segment. Our Limited trim test car had leather seats that were comfortable and supportive, but we weren't crazy about the tan upholstery color, which seemed a bit too orange for our tastes. It's a good thing our test car had a tan and black two-tone interior to break things up; otherwise we'd have felt like we were stranded in the desert, awash in a vast landscape of unending tan.

For shoppers looking for a more aggressively styled midsize sedan, Hyundai offers the Sonata N Line. Sporty touches include a body kit with revised front and rear fascias, gloss black side mirrors and window surrounds, a rear spoiler, and N badging on the grille, front fenders, and wheel center caps. The N Line also sports full LED taillights and dual exhaust with four outlets. Together, the upgrades transform the Sonata's look from mild to wild.

The N Line's cabin has dark chrome trim and red stitching on the steering wheel and seats, which gives the car some added personality. Front-seat occupants nestle into unique N-brand sport seats with premium leather bolsters and simulated suede inserts. At the same time, drivers enjoy a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel with an N logo, as well as aluminum sport pedals.

Performance

8/ 10

When it comes to performance, the 2022 Hyundai Sonata has a split personality. On one side, there's a quiet, non-threatening, almost docile midsize sedan that never acts out. On the other side, there's the Sonata N Line. If personified, the Sonata would undoubtedly be the spitting image of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

The Sonata's base engine, a direct-injected 2.5-liter four-cylinder (standard on SE and SEL), produces 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. Like Dr. Jekyll, there's nothing flashy about it. It goes about its business and doesn't complain. A turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder making 180 hp and 195 lb-ft paces the SEL Plus and Limited. Like the 2.5-liter, it, too, is adequate and would also be an ideal choice for the good doctor.

Both engines pair with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are standard with the 1.6-liter turbo engine, but like most people, Dr. Jekyll would likely never use them. The Sonata also comes standard with a drive mode selector.

In stark contrast to all the other Sonata trims, the N Line is an edgy, boisterous, almost mysterious car with seemingly sinister intentions. While Dr. Jekyll would certainly disapprove, the Sonata N Line's 290-hp, turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, eight-speed wet dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT), sport suspension, and tuned exhaust would surely put a sly grin on Mr. Hyde's face.

All Sonatas are front-wheel drive (FWD); all-wheel drive (AWD) is not available. It's too bad because, like Cousin Eddie, we think an N Line with the sport suspension, wet DCT, and AWD would be "real nice, Clark."

In terms of ride, handling, and noise abatement, the Hyundai Sonata is competent in all departments. The car offers a smooth ride in town and on the highway, it handles competently if not pushed too hard, and the cabin is a very serene place to be, offering near Genesis-like levels of quiet.

Form and Function

7/ 10

Offering 104.4 cubic feet of passenger space, the Sonata's cabin is among the most spacious in the midsize sedan segment. It's so large, in fact, that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies it as a "Large Car" along with the likes of the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Honda Accord, Kia K5, Subaru Legacy, and the Volkswagen Arteon. Of course, the EPA also classifies the Honda Civic five-door hatchback as a large car, so go figure. In fairness to the EPA, its size classifications are based on total interior volume, which doesn't always jive with real-life market dynamics.

As you might expect, front-seat headroom and legroom in the Sonata are at the top of the class, but shoulder room is about average. Likewise, rear-seat space is adequate but not particularly commodious. Two normal-sized adults can sit comfortably in the back seat, but adding a third will likely cause some grumbling from the unlucky individual in the middle. If you do find yourself stuck in the middle rear seat, take solace in the fact that there's no driveshaft tunnel further cannibalizing your personal space.

The Sonata's 16-cubic-foot trunk is also quite spacious and is partly responsible for the Sonata's EPA size rating (120 or more cubic feet total interior volume qualifies as a Large Car). Though not quite as large as the Honda Accord's trunk, which measures 16.7 cubic feet, the Sonata's holds a complete three-piece set of rolling luggage with plenty of room to spare.

One feature we found particularly amusing was the Remote Smart Parking Assist. Standard on our Limited test car, it makes getting in and out of tight parking spots more manageable and can be operated from outside the vehicle. With the simple press of a button on the key fob, the Sonata can drive itself forward or backward until there's enough room to open the doors and climb in. We didn't use it once in a real-world parking situation, but we did demo the feature several times, eliciting oohs and ahhs from spectators of all ages.

Tech Level

7/ 10

As one might expect, the level of infotainment technology in the Sonata is directly proportional to the sticker price. Base SE versions come standard with an 8-inch touchscreen display, six speakers, HD Radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, USB port, 12-volt outlet, and a rearview camera. The SEL adds SiriusXM satellite radio and Blue Link connected services.

Building on those items, the SEL Plus, Limited, and both N Line trims upgrade to a 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation, a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system, wireless device charging, and dynamic voice recognition.

For 2022, Hyundai makes last year's Tech package equipment standard on the SEL trim. Features include the 10.25-inch nav system, 12-speaker Bose audio system, Highway Driving Assist, dynamic voice recognition, LED interior lights, and a panoramic sunroof.

Pairing an iPhone via Bluetooth was quick and easy, Making and receiving calls and sending text messages via Apple CarPlay was drama-free. We loved the Bose audio system that came in our test car. It's one of the better audio systems on the market, providing unexpected power and clarity. And you simply can't beat it for the price—yet another example of Hyundai delivering unexpected value.

Safety

9/ 10

Like most other modern Hyundai models, the Sonata comes equipped with a comprehensive safety package, even on the base trim. Standard features on all 2022 Sonatas include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, driver-attention warning, automatic high-beam headlights, rearview monitor, and a Rear Occupant Alert system designed to prevent children or groceries from being left behind in the car.

Blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-centering assistance are standard on SEL trim, as is Hyundai's Safe Exit Assist, which alerts occupants that traffic is approaching from behind and it might not be safe to open the doors. Limited trim comes with a blind-spot view monitor, rear park assist, and surround-view monitor.

With such a healthy menu of advanced driving assistance aids, we expected at least one of them to harsh our mellow when we least expected it. On the contrary, all the systems worked behind the scenes, and the car sounded nary a false alarm during our week of testing.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2022 Hyundai Sonata gets five stars (out of a possible five) for overall crash protection. The Sonata gets a combined four stars for front crash protection and five stars for both side crash protection and rollover resistance in the individual tests.

Meanwhile, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not rated the 2022 Hyundai Sonata for crashworthiness. However, the IIHS gave the structurally similar 2021 Sonata top "Good" ratings in all six crash tests, including driver and front-passenger small overlap, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints and seats.

Regarding crash avoidance and mitigation, the IIHS gave the 2021 Sonata Limited with LED projector headlights a "Good" rating, but all other trims—equipped with LED reflector headlights—received a "Marginal" rating. The 2021 Sonata received the highest-possible "Superior" rating for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention. Additionally, the Sonata's child-seat anchors received an "Acceptable" rating (testers found the lower anchors too deep in the seat for their liking).

Cost-Effectiveness

10/ 10

The 2022 Hyundai Sonata caters to a wide range of buyers, from economy-minded to driving enthusiasts and everything in between. In all, there are six trim levels from which to choose: SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited, N Line, and—new for 2022—the N Line Night Edition. There's also a Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, which is reviewed separately.

The Hyundai Sonata is a relative bargain among midsize sedans. The Sonata's main competitors, including the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry, are priced higher than Hyundai's midsize sedan. Factor in Hyundai's excellent warranty coverage, and the Sonata's value proposition is even stronger.

Pricing for the entry-level Sonata SE starts at $25,155, including the $1,005 destination charge. It comes standard with LED headlights, daytime running lights, and taillights, automatic high-beam headlights, premium cloth seats, an 8-inch touchscreen display, a 6-speaker audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, Bluetooth, adaptive cruise control, rearview monitor, and 16-inch alloy wheels.

Stepping up to SEL trim ($26,955) nets you, among other items, revised front and rear fascias, a 4.2-inch color LCD instrument display, power driver's seat, dual automatic climate control, heated front seats, satellite radio, hands-free smart trunk, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Advanced driving assistance aids such as blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, Safe Exit Assist, and Blue Link connected services are also included on the SEL.

SEL Plus ($32,155) highlights include a panoramic sunroof, gloss black side mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, upgraded seat trim, navigation system with 10.25-inch touchscreen, a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system, Highway Drive Assist, a 12.3-inch gauge display, wireless phone charging, and 19-inch machine-finish gloss black alloy wheels.

Limited trim ($35,105) adds items such as Matrix-type LED headlights, leather seats, power passenger seat, ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, head-up display, rain-sensing wipers, Remote Smart Parking Assist, rear parking-collision avoidance, and argent-finish 18-inch alloy wheels.

In addition to the powertrain and styling-related items mentioned earlier, the sport-oriented Sonata N Line ($34,455) builds on the SEL's equipment by adding a panoramic sunroof, gloss black side mirrors, LED taillights, a 12.3-inch gauge display, wireless phone charging, Hyundai Digital Key, a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system, navigation system with 10.25-inch touchscreen, Highway Drive Assist, and N unique 19-inch alloy wheels.

The new N Line Night Edition ($35,755) ups the sportiness even more with a carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic rear lip spoiler, matte black 19-inch unique alloy wheels, red brake calipers, dark chrome front and rear badging, and matte black mirror and upper door handle covers.

The Convenience package, a $2,200 option only available on the SEL trim, adds items such as a 12.3-inch gauge display, Hyundai Digital Key, wireless phone charging, panoramic sunroof, and LED interior lights, among others. Also available is a 19-inch summer tire package for the N Line, which costs an extra $200.

Our test car, a 2022 Sonata Limited with floor mats—a $169 option—had an MSRP of $35,135, including the $1,005 destination charge.

According to the EPA, combined city/highway fuel economy for the 2022 Sonata ranges from a high of 32 mpg for the SE to a low of 27 mpg for the N Line. The SEL, SEL Plus, and Limited trims all get 31 mpg combined. These numbers are right in line with the competition. During our test of the Sonata Limited, we averaged 30.7 mpg. Based on the Sonata's 15.9-gallon fuel tank, this equates to a range of nearly 500 miles on a single tank of gas.

While fuel economy may not be a competitive advantage for the Sonata compared to its main rivals, Hyundai's new-vehicle warranty is a different story entirely. Indeed, Hyundai equips every new 2022 Sonata with bumper-to-bumper coverage for five years or 60,000 miles, powertrain coverage for 10 years or 100,000 miles, anti-perforation (corrosion) protection for seven years/unlimited miles, and it provides three years or 36,000 miles of complimentary maintenance. That's tough to beat.

Updated by Jeff Youngs

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