The Hyundai Sonata is one of the brand’s best-selling vehicles. It’s also a tried-and-true midsize sedan that has endured for decades. The 2019 Sonata occupies that sweet spot of almost-new yet affordably priced. However, it appears there’s a big problem that cannot be ignored. And Sonata owners say it’s a dangerous one.
The 2019 Hyundai Sonata appears to have a dangerous problem
The 2019 Hyundai Sonata is fairly new. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has already amassed plenty of owner complaints. According to the NHTSA, 2019 Sonata owners have lodged 27 official complaints. And the vast majority fall into one category: exterior lighting.
It appears the complaints aren’t limited to just one problem, either. Some owners complain their Sonata’s low-beam headlights don’t illuminate nearly enough. But others cite spots in the headlights, blackout areas/shadows, and/or light distortion.
How serious is the 2019 Hyundai Sonata’s headlight issue?
CarComplaints.com verifies that exterior lighting/headlights are the biggest problems for 2019 Hyundai Sonata owners. The site gives the exterior lighting problem a “Severity Rating” of 8.9 out of 10, or “Pretty Bad.”
Luckily, the exterior lighting issues haven’t caused any known injuries or crashes. But owners say these problems are happening early. The NHTSA shows complaints coming in as early as spring 2019. And CarComplaints.com estimates owners are experiencing this issue around only 2,300 miles.
Owner complaints show the headlight problem begins as early as 15 miles into the Sonata‘s life, with many owners saying this is a “very dangerous situation.” Though personal experiences may vary, owner experiences are very similar. The 2019 Sonata’s headlights appear to create “blackout spots in the beam,” offer “limited visibility,” “make dark shadows,” and do “not project correctly.” The Sonata’s apparently inadequate headlights could pose a “significant safety hazard.”
What’s worse is that several owners also say Hyundai and its dealerships “have heard of the complaints” but refuse to acknowledge or fix the headlights. A year after owner complaints began rolling in, Hyundai issued only one manufacturer communication about the 2019 Sonata’s headlights. But this official bulletin addresses possible condensation in the headlamp, not visibility issues.
Is it worth the risky headlights?
The 2019 Hyundai Sonata is officially a used car now, and according to U.S. News, the average listing price is around $17,000. That’s good for a late-model midsize car, which U.S. News gives a good overall score of 8.3/10. There are six trim levels and three engine choices available with the 2019 Sonata. The base model comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 185 hp. There’s also a 178-hp turbocharged engine and another turbocharged four-cylinder making 245 hp.
Most trim levels, including the base model, come equipped with halogen projector headlights. But LED headlights are available on higher trims or as available features. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2019 Hyundai Sonata’s halogen headlights aren’t the safest option. In all safety testing categories, the halogen headlights performed the worst. They earned a “Poor” rating for only fair visibility on straightaways, “inadequate” visibility on curves, and glare.
So if you’re thinking of buying the 2019 Hyundai Sonata, opt for the upgraded headlights or replace them with an aftermarket option.