Why Buy a Lexus When You Can Buy a 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid?

Have you ever had a craving for steak from a fine dining restaurant knowing full-well that you could easily buy the same cut at the store and cook it home for a fraction of the cost? That’s the comparison that I would always think of during my time spent with the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

It’s a nice car, but it’s hard not to think of the nicer Lexus cars, like the ES 300h, that I’ve had in the past and long for something more than what the Sonata has to offer. But then reality hits, and I remember that I – like most people – really don’t need “something more.” So what’s the point of buying a Lexus anyway?

The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid has come a long way

If you’re familiar with the Hyundai Sonata, then you’ll know that it’s the automaker’s mid-size sedan, which competes in the same category as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. However, you might still have the stain in your mind that Hyundais are cheap and unreliable, but nowadays, they are not. Especially not this all-new Sonata.

A 2011 Hyundai Sonata on display at an auto show
A 2011 Hyundai Sonata and its “fluidic sculpture” design | Charley Gallay/WireImage

The Hyundai Sonata was redesigned for the 2020 model year and whether or not you like the catfish-looking front fascia or angular rear-end, I’m almost certain that you’ll like the features it has to offer. It’s a far departure from the older Hyundais that you’re used to and the new design even sets the car pretty far from the “fluidic sculpture” design that broke the Sonata mold around 10 years ago.

2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid | Hyundai

It’s what’s on the inside that counts

You spend way more time on the inside of a car than the outside of it, so before you go shopping for a fancy Lexus, I highly suggest you check out this Hyundai first. And if you do, then you’ll need to skip straight to the top-trim Limited version because you’ll want the full-leather seats and all of the luxurious amenities that this car has to offer. And, believe it or not, the Sonata Hybrid Limited has quite the roster of features.

For starters, you’ll not only enjoy the plush comfort of the power-adjustable leather front seats, but you’ll love the fact that they’re heated and ventilated, and while the leather-wrapped steering wheel does look weird, you’ll like that it’s heated, too. When you get comfortable in the seat, be sure to switch on the radio and get a load of the “Sound of Nature” feature in which you can listen to six different sound scenarios through the premium Bose audio system that features 12 speakers. I highly recommend the “open-air café” scene.

interior of the 2020 Hyundai Sonata hybrid
Hyundai Sonata hybrid | Hyundai

Don’t worry, navigating your way around the 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system is easy, and if you’re looking for more pertinent information like your gas mileage or speed, then you can locate it on the large 12.3-inch digital display in front of you. You’ll like the futuristic design and crisp graphics. And in case you’re still thinking about a Lexus, just know that the ES 300h comes with all those same features, but at a higher price point.

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid | Hyundai

Drive the Sonata to understand it

But if the interior doesn’t do it for you, then you’ll need to take the car for a drive in order to understand it a little better. The 192-hp, 2.0-liter hybrid powertrain is smooth enough to impress you, that is until you notice that the six-speed automatic transmission isn’t as smooth as should be. But ultimately, you probably won’t mind once you learn that it can achieve up to an EPA-estimated 47 mpg in combined driving. Try doing that in a Lexus ES 300h, and you’ll come up short by around 3 mpg on average, according to the EPA.

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid driving through the mountain
2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid | Hyundai

Is the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Trying Too Hard?

It all comes down to value

So if you can get the same type of features in a Hyundai Sonata Hybrid that you would in a Lexus, not to mention a comfortable and tech-savvy interior and stellar fuel economy, would you really long for anything more? Maybe, but at that point, you would have admitted to yourself that you’re really just paying for the luxury badge.

And that will really hit home when you realize that the luxury badge costs $10,000 more (for the Lexus ES 300h Luxury) than the top-trim price of the Sonata Hybrid Limited. So, why buy a Lexus, when you can buy a Hyundai Sonata instead?