Expert Reviews

2024 Hyundai Sonata Review

7.5
10
AutoTrader SCORE
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • STYLING
    7/10
  • Safety
    8/10
  • PRACTICALITY
    7/10
  • USER-FRIENDLINESS
    7/10
  • FEATURES
    8/10
  • POWER
    7/10
  • COMFORT
    8/10
  • DRIVING FEEL
    7/10
  • FUEL ECONOMY
    7/10
  • VALUE
    9/10

Natural selection is a key part of ongoing life on this planet.

Those that are strongest and best-suited to their environment thrive, while the weaker disappear. It applies to the automotive industry, too, where we’ve seen the once-mighty sedan segment that used to appeal to all walks of life dwindle to its current state. Where once we had dozens of mainstream models to choose from, there are now only a few remaining. 

Fortunately for those who appreciate a good sedan, the ones that are left are very good. Honda’s current Accord has won plenty of accolades, and Toyota has just pulled the wraps off its redesigned Camry that features a hybrid-only powertrain. But there’s another great option in the segment that’s been quietly updated: the 2024 Hyundai Sonata. It might not share the same sterling reputation as those key rivals, but it represents quite the bargain in this shrinking segment.

Styling: 7/10

Hyundai’s midsize sedan has never been a looker. Arguably its best generation, from 2005 through 2010, was at least innocuous and inoffensive, while some others have been downright – well, weird. The current version showed up for 2020 with catfish-like looks that certainly stood out. Fortunately, Hyundai’s design team changes directions more frequently than a housefly, and we didn’t need to wait long for an update. 

Because this is a refresh and not a full redesign, the profile remains mostly the same. The car has been gussied up with dramatic 18-inch wheels and signal lights integrated into the fenders, just like its upmarket Genesis cousin.

The rear sees some funky geometric design motifs, similar to those that first showed up on the Hyundai Ioniq 5 electric vehicle (EV), while the strip of LEDs across the leading edge of the hood mimics the latest Hyundai Kona. If you want your Sonata painted anything other than black, white, or grey, you’ll need to splash out for the pricier N Line trim that unlocks a red paint option.

Inside, the availability of the lovely two-tone black-and-tan interior option is no more. Instead, shoppers are limited to a stark black interior, or, with the N Line, a stark black interior with some red accents. 

User-Friendliness: 7.5/10

As with other contemporary Hyundai models, the Sonata’s biggest interior update is the addition of twin 12.3-inch screens that dominate the dashboard behind a single glass surface. The central infotainment touchscreen offers good responsiveness to inputs and a sensible menu system. Better still, Hyundai has finally made wireless smartphone connectivity available with this widescreen display.

Disappointingly, the instrument panel offers minimal adjustment, allowing the driver to cycle the central portion information between a few different readouts, while the flanking large-digit speedometer and tachometer only allow the colour to change on the rings around them. 

The rest of the cockpit utilizes a mix of knobs, buttons, and a small climate system display that makes most frequent inputs easy to find and operate, even at speed. Hyundai has also done away with the obtuse push-button gear selector in favour of the steering column-mounted stalk that requires a twist forward to go forward, and a twist backward to go back. Easy-peasy, and better still, it frees up console space. 

Comfort: 8/10

The Sonata’s driving position allows good outward visibility, and the seats, while a little on the firm side, provide good support and comfort even during long stints behind the wheel. Front-seat space is decent, and rear legroom is also generous, although taller occupants may find the headroom in the back a bit snug.

What we weren’t expecting was the Sonata’s great ride. With the fashion trend for ever-increasing wheel sizes, this sedan’s sensible setup affords it some actual sidewall on its tires. The suspension also does an impressive job of soaking up bumps. Add to the supple ride some very good sound deadening to minimize road, engine, and wind noise, and the Sonata quickly endears itself as a great highway cruiser.

Features: 8/10

Hyundai has pared down the Sonata lineup to a pair of choices: the N Line, and the Preferred tested here. Despite being the most affordable Sonata, it still comes standard with leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel, and adaptive cruise control, among other niceties.

Safety: 8/10

Hyundai hasn’t skimped on the safety front, either. There’s a comprehensive suite of advanced features including forward collision avoidance with pedestrian, cyclist, and junction detection, driver attention warning, lane-keeping assist, and automated high-beam control. Meanwhile, the N Line trim adds a highway driving assist feature that chips in with some steering help.

Practicality: 7/10

A large part of the migration away from sedans has been for the perceived practicality offered by SUVs. And while there’s no denying the interior and cargo space is superior in a sport utility, the Sonata still provides a comfortable cabin. Its trunk measures 473 L, putting it ahead of its direct competition from Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, while optional all-wheel drive is sure to help ease minds in winter driving. 

Driving Feel: 7/10

The supple suspension that gives the Sonata such a pleasing ride for touring means it’s not exactly ready for track days, although nobody should expect it to be. The Sonata manages itself well enough when driven spiritedly, but it never feels as engaging as Honda‘s Accord, exhibiting significant body roll and steering that’s lacking in feel. Braking is good, offering decent bite and ample stopping power for this type of car.

Power: 7/10

The Sonata Preferred comes only with a 2.5L four-cylinder engine. Delivering 191 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque, it’s aligned with its direct competitors in terms of output. Acceleration is adequate, and the Sonata manages highway merging and passing without having to be caned mercilessly, but it’s never what one would call exciting. 

An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission offered, and it delivers decently smooth shifts most of the time, only occasionally getting frazzled with a quick jab of the throttle as it hunts for the right gear in a hurry. While all-wheel drive is available as a $2,000 option on the Preferred trim, the 290-hp N Line version is front-wheel drive-only. 

Fuel Economy: 7/10

On paper, the Sonata falls behind its direct competitors when it comes to fuel consumption. When comparing all-wheel-drive setups, the Sonata’s 9.9 L/100 km city rating, 7.0 for the highway, and 8.6 combined are each roughly half a litre more than the all-wheel-drive Nissan Altima. The redesigned Camry, meanwhile,consumes barely more than half the Sonata’s city rate thanks to its hybrid powertrain.

Even still, with somewhat more highway driving than city during our test week, the Sonata easily managed mid-7s, which is respectable, and certainly better than most compact SUVs. The front-wheel-drive Sonata shaves about a half-litre off of each measure.

Value: 9.5/10

Starting at $32,599 before freight, the Sonata offers impressive value. Tack on the $2,000 all-wheel drive and $250 for optional paint, and this tester didn’t even touch $37,000 before tax (but with the $1,925 freight charge included), undercutting a similarly-equipped Altima, Accord, and Camry by significant margins.

The Verdict

Automotive natural selection hasn’t been kind to the midsize sedan segment. Everyone from Ford to Volkswagen, Mazda, and soon Subaru have made their exits in recent years. The remaining offerings are all very good machines, but prices have snuck up quickly. Hyundai has refined the Sonata over the years and by dramatically streamlining its trims, has made it a sensational value, positioning it in a very favourable spot to remain a midsize survivor for years to come.

 

 

 

Competitors
Specifications
Engine Displacement 2.5L
Engine Cylinders I4
Peak Horsepower 191 hp @ 6,100 rpm
Peak Torque 181 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Fuel Economy 9.9 / 7.0 / 8.6 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space 453 L
Model Tested 2024 Hyundai Sonata Preferred w/Trend package
Base Price $32,599
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,925
Price as Tested $36,874
Optional Equipment
$2,250 — All-wheel-drive, $2,000; Nocturne Grey paint, $250