For a name that’s been around since the mid 90s, the 2021 Hyundai Sonata up the automaker’s game in every way; but is it good enough?
With a base price of $23,700 – even the base model 2021 Hyundai Sonata gives you a lot of bang for the buck. The Sonata is available as a hybrid, and there’s a high-powered, sporty N-Line available as well. Its main competitors are the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord and its cousin, the Kia K5. The Sonata holds its own against all of these players, but it’s not perfect.
Our 2021 Hyundai Sonata Limited test vehicle has an MSRP of $35,000 – that’s fully loaded. This modes has the torquey 180 horsepower 1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder, that makes 195 lbs-feet of torque. It also comes standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission. On other trims (N-Line) you can get a manual. With this setup, it gets 27 mpg city, 37 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined. That is impressive.
The lower-end models have a slightly more frugal (but, less powerful) 2.5-liter engine. If higher fuel-mileage is your bag, the tHyundai Sonata Hybrid is capable of getting up tp 54 mpg highway.
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata – The likes:
Simply put, I like the styling – a lot. Not that it is better looking than all of the competition, but it’s unique in this space – and that’s a good thing in my book. You get an absolute ton of standard content for the money (including, a killer warranty).
It’s a great riding and handling vehicles, one of the better all-around driving experiences in this class. Finally, I adore the interior design and layout. Even on the base models, it is great – but on this Limited, it is outstanding with fit, finish, tech and overall design.
What I don’t like:
Man, are these brakes super touchy, or what? It takes some patience and a soft touch really get a proper feel dialed in. As unique as the design of the Sonata is, it still looks too much like its less expensive brethren, the Elantra. Almost all of the main competitors (other than Honda) offer an all-wheel drive (AWD) option.
There are a few additional issues: one is the price. I know, I know, it is a bargain for its overall content; however – is $35,000 too much? You can get its cousin, the Kia K5 GT-Line, with AWD, and nearly all of the same components for around $31,000. That includes an outstanding interior, great looks and the same warranty.
Finally, there’s Smart Park. I drank the Kool-Aid too; I thought it was so cool — until I realized how little I’d actually use it in real life. Honestly, all of that tech, all of those sensors and R&D to build a feature that basically does one thing. Smart Park cannot turn into a parking space (it only makes minor steering adjustments), and it cannot parallel park either. Its sole use is to place your car between two others directly in front of you.
Or, like you’ll see in this video: you can walk alongside it, like walking the dog. It might make a good conversation starter at the park, but a puppy works better.
It may seem like I’m nitpicking — and, for the most part I am. The 2021 Hyundai Sonata is a solid choice and gives you a lot for the money. I simply like its cousin, the Kia K5 a bit better all around.