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2021 Hyundai Sonata Review

The 2021 Hyundai Sonata finishes in the top half of our midsize car rankings. It has an upscale interior with spacious seats, but it isn't as fun to drive as some class rivals.

Pros & Cons

  • Good gas mileage
  • Upscale interior with spacious seats
  • User-friendly tech features
  • Good predicted reliability rating and long warranty
  • Less athletic than rivals
  • So-so engine power

New for 2021

  • Some feature shuffling between trims
  • N Line model debuts later in model year

Rankings & Research

The 2021 Hyundai Sonata's #3 ranking is based on its score within the Midsize Cars category. Currently the Hyundai Sonata has a score of 8.2 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 18 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.2

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.6
Performance: 6.8
Interior: 7.4
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 9.8 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Hyundai Sonata?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

Is the Hyundai Sonata a Good Car?

Yes, the Hyundai Sonata is a good car. It gets good gas mileage and has an upscale interior with two rows of roomy, comfortable seats. Trunk space is decent for the class, and there are plenty of standard features, including an easy-to-use infotainment system. Additionally, the Sonata has a good predicted reliability rating. It doesn't quite match the performance abilities of some rivals, but the Sonata still has a comfortable ride.

There is also a Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, which we cover in a separate review.

Why You Can Trust Us: 18 Reviews Analyzed

We don’t base our car reviews on our personal opinions. Instead, we combine the findings of professional test drivers with data such as reliability ratings and safety scores to give you a complete overview of every vehicle we rank.

This 2021 Sonata review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2020.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking vehicles since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. Our car reviews are objective. To keep them that way, our editorial staff doesn’t accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers, and a third party handles all the advertising on our site.

Should I Buy the Hyundai Sonata?

The Sonata will undoubtedly appeal to a wide swath of midsize car buyers, and it should because it's a strong pick in the class. It's a good car for all of the reasons listed above, and it has a price tag a bit below many class rivals, making it a good value.

Find a 2021 Hyundai Sonata for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Hyundai Sonata: What's the Difference?

There's only one noteworthy change for the 2021 Sonata. For 2021, a brand-new N Line trim will join the lineup at some point during the model year.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 Sonata »

Here are the key changes for the Hyundai Sonata over the last few years:

  • 2018: retuned suspension and added standard features
  • 2019: no notable changes
  • 2020: completely redesigned with revamped interior and exterior styling, more standard safety features and powertrain options, and a newly available 10.25-inch touch screen
  • 2021: N Line trim debuts

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Sonata, 2019 Sonata, and 2020 Sonata reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Hyundai Sonata Cost?

The Sonata's base price sits at $23,600, which is a bit lower than many other cars in the class. At the top end of the trim lineup sits the Sonata Limited, which starts at $33,850. That, too, is a bit less than many other midsize cars.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Hyundai dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Hyundai deals page.

Hyundai Sonata Versus the Competition

Hyundai Sonata vs. Toyota Camry

The Toyota Camry is a top choice in the midsize car class because it has few noteworthy weaknesses. It has better handling than the Sonata, excellent mpg ratings, and two powerful engine options, including a 301-horsepower V6 that is much stronger than any of the Sonata's available engines. Both cars have similarly impressive interiors with ample passenger space and a comparable list of standard safety and infotainment features. However, the Sonata has a larger trunk and a longer warranty.

Compare the Sonata and Camry »

Hyundai Sonata vs. Kia K5

The Kia K5 has a lot in common with the Sonata. These two have similar amounts of space for passengers and cargo, and the features lists are nearly identical. However, the K5 is a little more fun to drive, and it offers a turbocharged engine that's more powerful than any Sonata offering. The K5 also offers all-wheel drive.

Compare the Sonata and K5 »

Compare the Sonata, Camry, and K5 »

Sonata Interior: Almost Everything You Could Hope For

Sonata Cargo Space

Cargo space is respectable in the Sonata, as it has a 16-cubic-foot trunk. That's in the middle of the pack among midsize cars, and it's plenty of room for the family's weekend luggage.

How Many People Does the Sonata Seat?

The Sonata seats five people. The cabin is spacious and airy, and the seats are supportive and comfortable. Both rows of seats have ample room for adult occupants, though a few rivals have more rear-seat legroom.

Sonata and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats and a tether anchor for the rear middle seat.

Sonata Interior Quality

Soft-touch materials line much of the Sonata's cabin, and they combine with the attractive styling to create one of the most inviting, well-built interiors in the class.

Sonata Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Sonata's touch-screen system is easy to use and boasts crisp graphics. A shortage of physical buttons and knobs on the dashboard may take some time to get used to, as you even have to use the touch screen for functions like changing the radio station.

  • Standard infotainment features: an 8-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a USB port, and Bluetooth
  • Available infotainment features: a 10.25-inch touch screen, HD Radio, satellite radio, a second-row USB port, the Blue Link telematics system, a 12.3-inch digital instrument display, wireless device charging, navigation, and a 12-speaker Bose premium stereo
  • Other available features: remote start, proximity keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, Digital Key, and a panoramic sunroof

Read more about interior »

Sonata Performance: It'll Get You from A to B

Sonata Engine

The Sonata comes standard with a 191-horsepower four-cylinder engine and offers a 180-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder. Both are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The base engine is adequate, and the turbocharged option provides decent acceleration, but it still doesn't make the Sonata feel overly quick despite its additional torque. A standard eight-speed automatic transmission delivers smooth, timely shifts that make the most of each engine's power.

Sonata Gas Mileage

With either engine, this Hyundai gets 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. Those aren't class-leading ratings, but they're a tick or two better than many rivals' mpg estimates.

Hyundai also offers the Sonata Hybrid, which we review separately.

Sonata Ride and Handling

The Sonata has composed handling and maintains a comfortable ride over most types of pavement. However, it's far from sporty, and the ride feels a bit firm at times.

Read more about performance »

Sonata Reliability

Is the Hyundai Sonata Reliable?

The 2021 Hyundai Sonata has a good predicted reliability rating of four out of five.

Hyundai Sonata Warranty

Hyundai covers the Sonata with a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Sonata Safety

Sonata Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Hyundai Sonata an overall safety rating of five out of five stars, with four stars in the frontal crash test and five stars in the side crash and rollover tests.

At the time of writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash tested the 2021 Sonata.

Sonata Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Forward collision warning
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Forward automatic emergency braking
  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keep assist
  • Lane tracing assist
  • Driver drowsiness monitoring
  • Rearview camera

Available advanced safety features:

  • Reverse automatic emergency braking
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Safe exit warning
  • Surround-view parking camera system
  • Remote parking assist
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Head-up display

Read more about safety »

Sonata Dimensions and Weight

The Hyundai Sonata is 16.1 feet long, and its curb weight ranges from 3,120 to 3,336 pounds.

Where Is the Hyundai Sonata Built?

Hyundai builds the 2021 Sonata in Alabama.

Which Hyundai Sonata Model Is Right for Me?

The Sonata comes in four trims: SE, SEL, SEL Plus, and Limited (an all-new sport-tuned N Line trim will join the lineup later in the model year). SE and SEL models come standard with a 191-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. SEL Plus and Limited trims feature a 180-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. All trims come with front-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The base model has a good number of standard features, including a long list of driver assistance technologies. However, it's worth stepping up to at least the SEL trim for its added conveniences such as a power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, blind spot monitoring, and dual-zone automatic climate control. You can also upgrade to the 10.25-inch touch screen in the SEL and SEL Plus trims; it comes standard in the Limited.

There’s also the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, which we review separately.

Hyundai Sonata SE

The Hyundai Sonata SE starts at $23,600 and comes standard with cloth upholstery, a six-way manually adjustable driver's seat, a four-way manually adjustable passenger seat, and an 8-inch touch-screen infotainment system with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a USB port, and Bluetooth.

Standard driver assistance features include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, forward automatic emergency braking, automatic high-beam headlights, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, lane tracing assist, driver attention monitoring, and a rearview camera.

Hyundai Sonata SEL

The Hyundai Sonata SEL has a starting MSRP of $25,700. The SEL adds an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, heated outside mirrors, and a hands-free power trunk lid. It also comes with proximity keyless entry, blind spot monitoring, safe exit warning, dual-zone automatic climate control, HD Radio, satellite radio, the Blue Link telematics system, and remote start.

Available features in this trim include a panoramic sunroof, a 12.3-inch digital instrument display, Digital Key, wireless device charging, a second-row USB port, a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system, leather upholstery, and a heated steering wheel.

Hyundai Sonata SEL Plus

The Sonata SEL Plus starts at $28,200. Additional standard features in this trim include synthetic leather and suede upholstery, a 12.3-inch digital instrument display, wireless device charging, and paddle shifters.

Hyundai Sonata Limited

The range-topping Sonata Limited starts at $33,850 and comes with genuine leather upholstery, a power-adjustable passenger seat, ventilated front seats, a leather-wrapped dashboard, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Digital Key, a panoramic sunroof, a 10.25-inch touch screen, navigation, and a 12-speaker Bose premium stereo.

Additional active safety features include reverse automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, a surround-view parking camera system, remote parking assist, front and rear parking sensors, and a head-up display.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Hyundai dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Hyundai deals page.

See 2021 Hyundai Sonata specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2021 Hyundai Sonata won't win you any drag races, but it's a great car that hits all of the notes many buyers care about. It has a quiet, upscale interior with spacious seats and lots of tech features. The ride is generally smooth, and the Sonata has a good predicted reliability rating and a long warranty. It's no wonder this Hyundai finishes in the top half of our midsize car rankings.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "For the vast majority of family sedan buyers, of course, driving finesse isn't nearly as high on the shopping list as comfort, tech and safety. And the 2020 Hyundai Sonata feels set to ace the competition in these important disciplines." -- CNET (2020)
  • "The 2020 redesigned Sonata has distinctive design and cutting-edge technology and should set the new Sonata apart from its rivals." -- Consumer Reports (2020)
  • "Overall, the Sonata is quiet, comfortable and as satisfying to drive as any car in its class, which includes some formidable competitors like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima." -- Kelley Blue Book (2020)

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: October 8, 2020

Declining Sales: Hyundai Sonata sales currently rank in the middle of the midsize car class. Despite a complete redesign for 2020, dealerships have sold 22.3 percent fewer Sonata models to date this year compared to the same period in 2019. The class-leading Toyota Camry is outselling the Sonata about 4 to 1.

Research more buying advice »
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