Sedans & Coupes

Does the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Have Enough to Boost Sales and Dethrone the Honda Accord?

The newly redesigned 2020 Hyundai Sonata kicks off the eighth generation of the model. MotorTrend previously named the Honda Accord the best car of its class, so it wanted to see how the new Sonata stacks up. While the Sonata hasn’t had the best sales numbers in recent years, this new design may be able to lure buyers away from the Honda Accord or the Toyota Camry.

The 2020 Sonata definitely has enough to simply compete with the Accord, but is it good enough to be a true winner at the top of the class? Here’s a look at the pros and cons of the 2020 Hyundai Sonata as compared to the Accord.

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata is peppy, and the Honda Accord is smooth

When traveling straight, MotorTrend found the 2020 Hyundai Sonata felt surprisingly “peppy.” It tested the turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, which produces 180 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. The base engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, which generates 191 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque. The engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The 2020 Honda Accord has a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and a 2.0-liter hybrid, both producing 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. It also offers a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, generating 192 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. The Accord’s 1.5-liter turbocharged engine is paired with a CVT. MotorTrend felt that transmission “was a bit too relaxed,” but it provided great smoothness for everyday driving.

The 2020 Honda Accord usually has better fuel efficiency

MotorTrend compared affordable trims of both cars and found that the 2020 Accord with the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine beat the fuel efficiency of both of the 2020 Sonata’s engine options. That Accord is rated for 30 MPG in the city and 38 MPG on the highway.

Meanwhile, the Sonata is rated for 27 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway with the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine and rated for 27-28 MPG in the city and 37-38 MPG on the highway with the 2.5-liter engine. The Accord’s 2.0-liter engine is rated for 23 MPG in the city and 34 MPG on the highway.

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata has great screen space

MotorTrend feels that the Sonata has the best screen space of any midsize sedan. It offers a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. While standard on the highest Limited trim, the larger touchscreen is optional on the SEL and SEL Plus trims. The base SE trim has an 8.0-inch screen. The digital instrument cluster is standard on the SEL Plus and Limited trims and available on the SEL trim.

The Honda Accord includes either a 7-inch or an 8-inch touchscreen. The Accord’s instrument cluster does include a screen, but MotorTrend says it “lacks the wow-factor of the Sonata.”

The two have tradeoffs in style and design

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MotorTrend gushes over the Sonata’s style, saying it has “beautiful angles” from the side and rear. The Limited trim of the Sonata includes a 360-degree camera system, a feature not available in the Accord.

Although the Sonata has a sleek design, the Accord benefits from having more knobs in the center stack, making it easy to adjust the volume or the temperature without looking. And, while the Sonata has a good-sized rear seat, the Accord’s is still larger.

Limited Sonata sales in recent years

Given the positive reviews of the new eighth-generation 2020 Sonata, it may be possible for the Sonata to reverse its fortunes. After strong sales for the 2011 and 2012 model years, the Hyundai Sonata’s sales began to slip.

While sales of many midsize cars have been down in recent years, the Sonata’s dropped more than the Accord or Camry. The Sonata had made some headway against the Accord’s sales, but the Accord has sold between 250,000 and 388,000 units annually during the past 15 years, according to GoodCarBadCar. 

GoodCarBadCar attributes some of the Sonata’s declining sales to conservative design, engine recalls, and limited active safety features. The sixth-generation Sonata had strong sales, which peaked in 2012 at 230,605 cars sold in the U.S. By 2016, during the seventh generation, sales dropped below 200,000, and by 2019, sales had dropped below 100,000. Will the eighth generation be able to reverse this trend?

MotorTrend says the 2020 Hyundai Sonata now shows “great potential” and looks forward to comparing it more against other midsize sedans. Time will tell whether it’s able to dethrone the Honda Accord.