New Sonata N Line with more power, sharper handling
Minor revisions to standard feature availability
Part of the seventh Sonata generation introduced for 2020
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata is a midsize sedan that competes against all-stars such as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry and newcomers such as the Kia K5 (which is mechanically related to the Sonata). The Sonata does all the typical sedan things well — the cabin is spacious, trunk space is massive, and it's quicker than you might expect. But it's the abundant tech features, such as the easy-to-use infotainment system and available high-res surround-view parking camera, that truly impress.
The big news for 2021 is a new range-topping performance trim. The Hyundai Sonata N Line is oriented toward buyers who want a family-friendly sedan with an edge. Power for the N Line comes from an all-new turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that cranks out 290 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque. This is one of the more powerful upgrade engines you'll find in a midsize sedan. It also comes with slightly sharper handling, a special black-painted grille, dual exhaust pipes, and sport front seats with red accent stitching.
Overall, we like the Sonata, but a few things keep it from being our top-rated midsize sedan. Want to know more? Check out the categories of our Sonata Expert Rating.
The Sonata has the aura of a more expensive vehicle. It's stylish and it overdelivers in key areas, including its great-looking and easy-to-use infotainment system display, cool parking camera system and long warranty coverage. But in other areas, the Sonata merely matches what you'd expect from a midsize sedan, and it falters slightly when it comes to ride quality and seat comfort.
How does the Sonata drive?
We tested a Sonata Limited with the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine. While not exceptionally quick, the Sonata can edge out similarly powered family sedans, with a 0-60 mph time of 7.6 seconds. It doesn't have trouble keeping pace with traffic or accelerating on freeway on-ramps, but doing so requires more pressure on the gas pedal than you might be used to.
Steering, handling and braking are matter-of-fact, though there are some strange traits. The firm overall ride doesn't net a worthwhile handling balance. And the brake pedal emits a slight pulsation under light, constant application, like when you're heading down a gentle grade. There's nothing particular to object to, but there isn't much to praise either.
How comfortable is the Sonata?
The Sonata gives the appearance of refinement, but its interior comfort comes up short of expectations. The seats are firm and lack the supple comfort and adjustment ranges found in segment leaders. The ride also falls on the firm side. It's far from uncomfortable, but it transmits bumps and impacts into the cabin that other similarly priced family sedans wouldn't. The interior is a touch louder too.
On the upside, the climate controls, including heated and ventilated front seats, are quiet and effective. Overall the interior gets the job done, but it doesn't go any further.
How’s the interior?
Nearly all of the controls are simple to intuit, which is impressive considering the abundance of interior features. A push-button shifter remains the biggest wart. The layout requires extra attention to make sure you're selecting the right gear, which can add needless anxiety to a quick three-point turn.
The size of the interior is excellent, matching interiors of larger vehicles in the segment and ensuring there's plenty of room for occupants of all sizes. On the other hand, even those of average height have to duck slightly while getting in and out. We'd like more driver's seat adjustment range, especially in seat height.
How’s the tech?
The Sonata's available 10.3-inch touchscreen looks crisp and is quick to respond to your touch. The excellent voice controls understand most natural language commands for stereo, navigation and phone. Smartphone integration was flawless in our car, and it supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in widescreen format.
The Sonata, like most family sedans, has a suite of advanced safety features. But some of these features — such as blind-spot cameras that appear in the digital gauge cluster and the driver-free Smart Park — are mostly gimmicks. They're neat to show to your friends but don't have much practical value.
How’s the storage?
The trunk opening is large, and the reasonable liftover height allows plenty of space to load items. We also like the rear-seat flip-down switches that are easy to access in the trunk.
The Sonata's center console is deceivingly capable. What looks like a mere open flat area has clever touches, such as a textured surface and a partition between the cupholders for a spare phone. The front passenger also has access to a small but nice storage area on the right side of the tunnel. When it comes to car seats, the lower car-seat anchor points are squished between seat bottoms and seatbacks, so you have to dig a bit to reach them.
How economical is the Sonata?
The EPA fuel economy rating for the Sonata with the turbo 1.6-liter four-cylinder and eight-speed automatic is 30 mpg combined (27 city/37 highway). These figures fall right in line with those of similarly priced and equipped midsize sedans, though we were not able to match it. We averaged 26.4 mpg over about 400 miles of mixed city driving. It's worth noting that the base engine — a 2.5-liter four-cylinder — holds a slightly better combined rating of 32 mpg.
Is the Sonata a good value?
A ton of technology features, a large interior, a class-leading warranty and strong ownership perks give the Sonata killer value on paper. If you prioritize advanced safety features and look-at-me style, the Sonata provides your money's worth.
The trade-off is a driving experience and interior that don't relay the sense of quality promised by the style. Top performers in the segment do both better. The Sonata's interior has some non-uniform panel gaps and occasional cheap-looking bits of trim that stand out against the otherwise stellar appearance.
If it only drove as neat as it looks. The exterior style causes double takes, and many people we talked to during our test assumed the Sonata was a luxury car. It's distinct on the road and in a crowded parking lot, but not in an ostentatious way. Big credit to Hyundai for making a family sedan that stands out.
While riding the boost of a turbocharged engine is always enjoyable, there's little else in the Sonata to muster enthusiasm. Ride, steering and handling get the job done but lack the tactile satisfaction you'll find in more enjoyable sedans. Also, similarly priced sedans offer more powerful and entertaining engines, making them more compelling propositions.
Which Sonata does Edmunds recommend?
All versions of the 2021 Sonata come so well equipped that it's tempting to recommend the base model. However, the SEL simply adds too much good stuff to ignore. With a more comfortable cabin and unique style, the SEL delivers on the inside and looks the part on the outside. Consider adding the Convenience package for truly impressive features such as a wireless charging station, larger instrument display and panoramic sunroof.
Hyundai Sonata models
The 2021 Sonata is available in five trims: SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited and the new N Line. Hyundai also offers the Sonata Hybrid variant, which is reviewed separately.
This base trim comes respectably well equipped with:
2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (191 horsepower, 181 lb-ft of torque)
Eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive
16-inch alloy wheels
8-inch central touchscreen
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration
Six-speaker sound system
Standard safety equipment on all Sonatas includes:
Forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection (warns you of an impending collision and applies the brakes in certain scenarios)
Adaptive cruise control (adjusts speed to maintain a constant distance between the vehicle and the car in front)
Lane keeping assist (steers the Sonata back into its lane if it begins to drift over the lane marker)
Driver attention warning (issues an alert if sensors determine you are becoming fatigued)
The next model up keeps the 2.5-liter engine and adds the following:
Keyless entry and push-button start
Blue Link connectivity and remote services
Power-adjustable driver's seat
Heated front seats
Dual-zone automatic climate control
Hands-free trunk opener
Safety exit warning (can prevent a rear passenger from opening a door into traffic approaching from behind)
Blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert (warns you if a vehicle is in your blind spot during a lane change or while reversing)
This assortment of technology features adds a lot to the SEL trim with:
12.3-inch digital instrument display
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
Rear climate vents
Auto-dimming rearview mirror
Wireless smartphone charging pad
Hyundai Digital Key (allows you to operate the vehicle while carrying your Android smartphone instead of the physical key)
This upgraded trim introduces a turbocharged engine, plus:
Convenience package from the SEL (minus the panoramic sunroof)
5/5 stars, 2021 Sonata N Line. I didn't want to like it..
N Line 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 8AM)
When it comes to a daily driver, I have several parameters. I won't spend over 40G. I won't lease. And at 6ft 2 with nerve damaged legs from my battle with cancer, legroom and seat comfort are paramount. Comfort is also an extremely subjective category. What works for you might not work for me, and vice versa. Accord Sport/Touring seats don't work for me. Camry in TRD trim is too "Fast & Furious" for me. Altima has a CVT trans.
I was considering a K5 GT but none to be found locally. Figured I'd drive a Sonata N Line to get a feel for the package and scratch it off my list. I was not a huge fan of the 2020 exterior redesign although it slowly grew on me. And it does look better in N Line trim. I had a few cars on my list to spend a few days looking at and driving. The N Line was the closest so I started there. Sat in it for a bit and the driver's seat worked for me.
Salesman threw a tag on it and told me to go have fun. Within a mile I was impressed. Twenty minutes later when I returned, I told the salesman to make me an offer I couldn't refuse. I drive it home 90 minutes later. The ride is firm but not harsh. It's definitely quieter than the previous generation Sonata. Handles great. Faster than a Hyundai should be allowed to be. The dual clutch transmission is fantastic. I've owned two dozen or so cars over the years, several German. I've never been approached about any of them the way I've been with this car. Seven weeks with it as I write this and I've been approached by strangers nearly two dozen times. Some knowing what the N Line is. Some asking if it's a Genesis or an Audi. Some genuinely not knowing what it could be.
Gripes? Wish it had memory settings for the driver's seat. Wish it had ventilated seats although so far I really don't miss them. The light sensor for the auto headlights is beyond sensitive. I can barely clear going under an average overpass at highway speeds without the lights coming on in barely two seconds. Honestly, that's it. I don't regret my decision and I look forward to driving it every day.
5/5 stars, Love my Hyundai
SE 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 8A)
It’s a great car with tons of features
5/5 stars, Great Car
SE 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 8A)
This car is amazing! 5 star safety rating and has everything to assist you arrive safely.
5/5 stars, Bought an N-Line a month ago - Great car
Bob from Georgia,
N Line 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 8AM)
I research my cars for a year or so before buying, and was particularly interested in the Sonata N-Line and the KIA K5 GT, both built on the same platform and mechanically identical. The KIA GT has a lower MSRP but all the cars I found for sale came with the $4000 GT1 package, which jumps the MSRP up over $35K compared to 33K for the Sonata N-Line that includes all the GT1 features in the MSRP. Those 12 BOSE speakers are very nice!
The question: Is this a family sedan or a muscle car? My answer is that it's family sedan with teeth. The first impression of the car, riding high on the 19-inch tires, is that it's big. My previous car was a 2017 Sonata Eco, and when I told my wife that the N-Line was identical in length and width, she said, "No way, this is a much bigger car." It was only when she saw that it fit into the same space in the garage as my 2017 that she believed the dimensions were the same.
I've owned some muscle cars in the past and most of them made you drive them hard. They just weren't that smooth at low speeds. The N-Line is not that way at all. Drive it with a light touch and you'll get 28 MPG combined and it's just as smooth and elegant as can be.
But when you want the power, it's there. This car won't ever be described as tossable but you can take it into a curve fast and it will hold the line. I frankly don't plan to try to beat others off the line all that often, as the car burns rubber easily and I plan to hold onto to those expensive 19-inchers for a while. But the temptation can be hard to resist. Yesterday a guy with a tricked-out Mercedes came up beside me at a light and started gunning his engine. I didn't bother switching to Sport mode and started off the line lightly to avoid burning rubber. He got out a little ahead but I blew him away easily. Get the N Line up to 1650 RPM gently and then step on it and it will fly. The Mercedes chased me around for awhile trying to do it again and I just ignored him. Guess he just couldn't believe his hot car was clobbered by a Hyundai.
But where the N-Line is particular impressive is in mid-range acceleration. Its goes from 60 to 100 so quickly, quietly and smoothly that you almost don't believe it's that fast. I really like the sleeper aspect of the car. I like to use the power just occasionally, like when you're cruising down an on-ramp to the interstate with a nice fat space waiting for you, and some jerk decides to speed up and cut you off. Or when someone is doing 55 in the fast lane in a 70 MPH zone and you need to go around. Or just pulling out and passing on a one-lane highway. The N-Line gets the job done easily and smoothly.
Look at the cars with equivalent horsepower, DCT, brakes, suspension, safety features and amenities, and you'll find most of them run $20 to $30 K more. If you need baby-butt leather and wood paneling, you'll have to buy the more expensive car. The N line, despite nice seats and red stitching, looks like a Hyundai inside. But the exterior is beautiful and the features are awesome. It's the right car for someone like me who wants the power and comfort but doesn't believe in paying $20K for the hood ornament.
[MUSIC PLAYING] CARLOS: The Honda Accord has long been our favorite family sedan. It's spacious, smart, and nice to drive. It even won our best sedan award two years in a row.
SPEAKER: If anything is going to challenge it, it would be the 2020 Hyundai Sonata. It's entirely new and packed with usable features. Mostly usable.
CARLOS: We've spent a lot of time evaluating these vehicles. We've done performance testing, static measurements. We've even taken them on our standardized road test loop. We've also lived with the cars, and commuted in rush hour, and ran all the family errands.
SPEAKER: All of that sounds pretty thorough, so which one should you buy?
CARLOS: That's what we're going to tell you in this video. But before we do, make sure you hit subscribe and visit Edmunds.com to find your perfect car.
Yeah, these cars aren't evenly matched with regard to pricing and powertrain. But with that in mind, remember we've tested every variety of Accord over the past few years. We even had a 2018 as a long-term test car. So think of this red touring as a representative of our experience.
SPEAKER: Mid-sized sedans have a reputation for being boring, but both the Sonata and the Accord are clearly making efforts design-wise. Now, it's pretty difficult to say which one has the best design because that is so subjective. But I think we can tell you which one has the most design. Carlos, do you have a giant grill?
CARLOS: I have a chrome unibrow.
SPEAKER: Not as good. Do you have light-up chrome strips?
CARLOS: I have chrome, but they don't light up.
SPEAKER: I'm taking that point. What about a full chrome greenhouse surround?
CARLOS: Partial chrome?
SPEAKER: Chrome door handles?
CARLOS: Again, partial chrome.
SPEAKER: Do you have speed nubbings on the tail lights?
CARLOS: Are those fake vortex generators?
SPEAKER: Do I look like an aerodynamicist?
CARLOS: No, I don't have speed nubbings.
SPEAKER: How cool is your hidden trunk release?
CARLOS: Uh, not as cool, and my trunk's a little flaccid.
SPEAKER: I think it's fair to say that these Sonata wins for most style. Whether you like it or not is up to you.
CARLOS: Obviously the interior of a midsize sedan should be functional answer of the duties of a family commuter or both. But because you'll be spending a lot of time inside, it should make you feel good, too.
SPEAKER: Based on specs, the interior dimensions are similar, but the Sonata has a few small advantages. It appears to favor the front seats more, especially with regard to leg room. The Sonata is currently telling me that my attention level is high, I think. I don't know. Also, it's saying that it's sunny, which is something I could have figured out by looking out the window.
CARLOS: I think so, yeah. Yeah.
SPEAKER: What do you think of the interior in the Sonata?
CARLOS: I think this design is really strong, but it's ultimately let down by the materials. Like, the layout's really cool, and modern, and pleasant. But then you look at some of the materials they used to put it all together and the way it's kind of assembled, and it just doesn't match the design. The dash material right here and some of the gaps just aren't as uniform or as pleasant as they are in the Accord.
SPEAKER: Yeah, I can't argue with that. I like the way that they laid out, like, these door handles that are insert in the door, like a 911 or something. And this is kind of cool and Star-Trekky. But you would never have this much hard black plastic in a real luxury car.
CARLOS: Piano black trim across all cars-- this goes for luxury cars, too-- is the worst. It looks great when it's clean. But as soon as I put my gross oily hands on the shifter area, which I would do because I'm shifting while driving the car, look. Now, it's covered with my gross oil hand oil.
SPEAKER: That is so gross.
CARLOS: And now, you have to touch that.
SPEAKER: I'm not touching.
CARLOS: OK. But design aside, the Sonata actually does some really nice things with storage, like this front cubby, right?
SPEAKER: The cubby is so much better than the one in the Honda. And I'm actually very surprised to ever let a Honda lose in terms of small storage, because they normally do such a good job.
But this cubby has more options for more different size phones. You could put things that aren't phones there. You can see what's there and reach it while you're driving without having to dig inside. And all of that cleverness applies all the way back, too. This is really nice in the cup holder.
CARLOS: Yeah, yeah. It's really cool that you can have multiple phones in multiple places in the center console and have it not interrupt the functionality, whether you're in the wireless charger, whether you're in the center of the cup holders. Really nice, clever stuff.
And then on the right here, I have an additional little cubby that you don't have on that side and the Accord doesn't have it all. And that's really nice just to have more options to put your things.
SPEAKER: The other thing about the Sonata has over the Accord is charging ports in the back seat.
CARLOS: At least one, yeah. At least one. It doesn't have heated back seats, but I think the power options for rear passengers is more important. And the car seat situation is more traditional, where the anchor points are just sort of wedged in between the seat bottom and the seat cushion. So you do have to reach into them. It's not bad. It's not something to not buy the car over. But just know the Accord pays a little bit more attention to that.
SPEAKER: Yeah. I mean, Honda is just really good about thinking about moms and dads, you know, what they might need.
CARLOS: Families, yeah.
I cannot reach the dead pedal in this car.
CARLOS: And how tall are you with your shoes on?
SPEAKER: Like 5'5" with these shoes on. So that's a normal height. I should be able to reach it. And it's, like, two, three inches away from me. So I don't know who their test driver is over at Hyundai, but they are very long-legged.
I really like the way that the digital gauge cluster looks, even if it does give me information that I don't necessarily need.
CARLOS: Like it's sunny?
SPEAKER: Yeah, I know.
CARLOS: Yeah, thank you.
SPEAKER: And I absolutely adore the way that they integrated this into the dash. It just looks so pretty, and it's really easy to use. Even if you've never been in one before, you'll be able to figure it out.
CARLOS: This is like 10.3 inches or something. It is the top of the line system in the Sonata, but you can option it on most Sonata trim levels, and it's just nice. It's powerful. It's high-resolution, definitely a higher resolution than the Accord, and it moves more fluidly, too.
And it's a little bit easier to use. Not only that, but when you have Android Auto or Apple CarPlay in use, you get the widescreen version of both those systems. And that's a really nice advantage when you have it, because that's the way I'd like to use those systems.
SPEAKER: Yeah. There's a lot of little things in the Sonata that make it kind of cool or quirky.
CARLOS: Accord's definitely more comfortable, but this has a lot more tech. Before we move on to functionality and all that, let's talk about overall style of the Accord.
SPEAKER: OK. I think it's boring, but nice.
CARLOS: Well, here's the thing. When I hop in the Accord, I get a very obvious but kind of undefinable sense of quality. And I think that it has to relate to how the interior is assembled, and just sort of the quality of materials. It just seems nicer than most vehicles in this segment.
SPEAKER: Yeah. I mean, if I was just looking into each of the vehicles that we have here, I think that the Sonata actually is a cooler interior. But once I get in, this one feels better put together.
CARLOS: Yeah. Now, the backseat, you get heated seats in this car, for sure. But no power ports for backseat passengers?
SPEAKER: Yeah, it's interesting. When you think about why people might choose a small SUV over a mid-sized sedan, I think that a lot of that has to do with the design of the seats behind the driver.
CARLOS: Let's talk about the car seat hook-up. The upper anchor points are easy to find. You have the lower tether anchor points. I think that's the right term. They're kind of by little fabric blankets that you can fold in. And once you do, the anchor points are right there. You don't have to reach your fingers in and squeeze them in between seat cushions. That's a nice little touch on that in the Accord.
SPEAKER: Yeah. Then, you don't have to fight your way through year old Cheerios to find the tethers. I think that if you were looking for a more family-friendly car, unsurprisingly, once again, Honda is the way to go.
CARLOS: Now, up front, we can talk about the entertainment system, but I think you want to talk about seats, right?
SPEAKER: I mean, I want to take a nap, because this is an extremely comfortable seat, and I'm enjoying sitting in it.
CARLOS: The Accord has a nicer front seats, for sure. I mean, I've got a 12-way adjustable seat in the driver's seat. I think year is eight-way adjustable. And they are obviously so much more comfortable than the Sonata's. The Sonata's aren't bad. But for long driving, these are the seats I want to be in. And what's nice are these are the seats that you get across most Accord models, too.
SPEAKER: Yeah. I think that there's, like, without question, the Accord has more comfortable. Really just across the board, but especially in terms of the seats.
CARLOS: Now, the entertainment display, this is the biggest and nicest screen you can get in the Accord.
SPEAKER: It's not that big and it's not that nice.
CARLOS: It's an adequate screen. Like, it gets the job done. But the upgraded screen in the Sonata, which you can option on most Sonata trim levels, is just not only bigger, but it's nicer to look at and it's nicer to use, too.
SPEAKER: Yeah. It's glossy, and it's really clear, and the cameras are really clear, and it doesn't have these little fiddly buttons.
CARLOS: The Accord is definitely the more comfortable car and the one that feels more nicely put together. But it does have some key disadvantages with, again, the entertainment display and interior storage.
SPEAKER: Yeah It's also just less interesting, you know? Like, it doesn't have neat digital gauges or anything like that.
CARLOS: When it comes to performance measurements, we don't really care about outright speed. What we care about is how well you can keep pace with the flow of traction, control your position within traffic and make it up freeway on-ramps. But we can talk about overall drivability, too.
SPEAKER: Just for the record, I do care about outright speed. But these things are surprisingly decent.
CARLOS: Even for mid-sized sedans. This Accord is significantly faster than the Sonata and more enjoyable to drive because its turbo two-liter engine is simply more powerful than the Sonata's 1.6-liter four-cylinder. We should note, however, that the less expensive and more comparable Accord EXL comes with a 1 and 1/2-liter engine that's closer in performance to the Sonata's.
On the other hand, you can option the two-liter turbo engine in the EXL Accord for about the same money as this Sonata Limited. It's a worthwhile upgrade. Also, currently the Sonata isn't available with a more powerful engine.
Now, the big difference between the two is definitely ride quality.
SPEAKER: It's not even a question. The Accord has so much more comfortable in every way. I mean, we already talked about how the seats are more comfortable. But it's also quieter, and smoother, and just feels more refined in every input.
CARLOS: Absolutely. The Sonata's suspension is way more firm, not uncomfortably so. But in that car driving back-to-back with the Accord over the same stretch of road, you certainly noticed bumps and hear bumps in the Sonata that you didn't even notice in the Accord.
And that adds to that Accord's overall sense of refinement that the Sonata just doesn't have when it comes to ride quality. And you're right about the noise, too. The Sonata is just louder inside, both wind, tire, and engine noise.
SPEAKER: Yeah. I mean, it's not insane or anything, but it's noticeable. One place where the Sonata does have it over the Accord is turning radius, though. On paper, it doesn't look like a whole lot. But it was dramatic on the street.
CARLOS: Yeah. I want to say the difference was, like, four or five feet. And that makes the difference on a tight busy street between making a three-point turn, not making the U-turn at all, just not attempting it, or making it like you can in the Sonata. I mean, on the same stretch of road, we could make tighter turns in the Sonata than you can in the Accord, and that's a real plus when you're commuting or running errands.
SPEAKER: Definitely a better getaway car, if you're planning on committing some crimes.
CARLOS: When you talk about value, you often get into safety features. And the truth is it's pretty much the same between these two. They both have similar features.
SPEAKER: Yeah. They pretty much match up feature for feature. I mean, they both have blind spot monitoring and collision mitigation.
CARLOS: Adaptive cruise, and so on and so on.
CARLOS: But the Sonata does have some advantages when it comes to tech features. A lot of them, though, we've classified as why tech.
SPEAKER: Why do you call it why tech?
CARLOS: We'll show you.
SPEAKER: All right, why tech number one blind spot monitoring cameras in the digital gauges. Oh, look. It's showing me what's behind me in here. Except if I'm turning, I need to be looking over there. So, like, neat trick, Hyundai, but why?
Why tech number two, sounds of nature. I mean, I like nature, but don't really need--
--the sound of a snowy village while I'm driving. And even worse--
--I have to pee.
Now, I really have to pee. Can we cut?
CARLOS: You have the ability to record voice memos in the Sonata. It's nice, but it makes you wonder-- why would I ever use this feature? Smart Park is a neat idea that kind of falls apart in execution. You can drive the car forward and backwards with just the key fob, but it doesn't steer that much. And any parking spot that type is just a place where you're going to get a bunch of door dings.
So unless you have a really tight garage, why? We have to point out the Sonata's his biggest feature, and that is warranty coverage. It simply has longer powertrain and basic coverage.
SPEAKER: While we're on the topic of features, though, I just kind of want to remind everybody that a nice seat is a feature. A good engine is a feature. Ride quality is a feature. And I think they might be the most important features.
CARLOS: Agreed, and that brings us quite nicely to our conclusion. The Sonata has some real advantages on paper. It has great tech features, a really cool surround system. We love the entertainment display and we really like the digital gauge cluster.
SPEAKER: The Sonata is more fun, or at least it wants to be more fun. It's doing some kind of cool, silly things. But in the end, it might be more sprinkle than cake.
CARLOS: The Accord wins this comparison. And that's because it has priority on the things that matter when you're driving. These are cars. You have to drive them. So we consider more carefully how comfortable the seats are, what the ride quality is like, what it's like from behind the wheel.
And while there are some shortcomings versus the Sonata, like the entertainment system and a couple of other things, they don't add up to outweigh the upsides. And that's why the Accord is our best midsize sedan.
Hyundai vs. Honda: How the New Sonata Stacks Up Against the Accord Dollar for Dollar
NOTE: This video is about the 2020 Hyundai Sonata, but since the 2021 Hyundai Sonata is part of the same generation, our earlier analysis still applies.
In this video, Edmunds' Carlos Lago and Elana Scherr find out how the new Hyundai Sonata compares to the Honda Accord. The Honda Accord has been Edmunds’ top recommendation to most shoppers looking for a midsize sedan, but the new Hyundai Sonata looks to be a competent challenger on style, value and features. In this comparison, we determine which one is worth your dollar.
Maintains a driver-selectable distance between the Sonata and the car in front.
Surround View Monitor
Provides a bird's-eye view of the car for ultimate parking precision.
Remote Smart Parking Assist
Allows the driver to exit the vehicle and remotely guide it into a parking spot using a smartphone app.
NHTSA Overall Rating 5 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
4 / 5
4 / 5
5 / 5
Side Crash Rating
5 / 5
Side Barrier Rating
5 / 5
5 / 5
5 / 5
Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
5 / 5
5 / 5
5 / 5
Dynamic Test Result
Risk Of Rollover
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
Side Impact Test
Roof Strength Test
Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
Moderate Overlap Front Test
Hyundai Sonata vs. the competition
2021 Hyundai Sonata
2020 Kia K5
Hyundai Sonata vs. Kia K5
The Sonata and the K5 are corporate cousins, but the new Kia separates itself in a few key areas. First, the Kia K5 is quiet and comfortable, on par with or even better than some luxury cars. It also has available all-wheel drive and the same optional 290-horsepower engine in the Sonata N Line. For these reasons, the K5 tops our recommendations for the class.
The Accord is the ubiquitous fun-to-drive family sedan thanks to its sharp handling and roomy cabin. The new Sonata closes the gap, but the Accord is still very responsive for the class. This year it also debuts a new look and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to keep things fresh. Read Edmunds' long-term road test of the Honda Accord.
Toyota prefers to bring the Camry along gradually — it doesn't have soul-stirring performance or glitzy tech features. But that suits the Camry well — it's a comfortable sedan that's easy to use above all else. Recent updates to driving aids are a big plus. Read Edmunds' long-term road test of the Toyota Camry.
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata is a midsize sedan that competes against heavy hitters such as the Honda Accord, Kia Optima and Toyota Camry. The Sonata does all the typical sedan stuff well — the cabin is terrifically spacious, trunk space is massive, and it's quicker than you might expect. Technology plays a significant role in this Sonata as well. Some, such as the driverless Smart Park feature, feel a little gimmicky in practice. It's the less attention-grabbing features — the easy-to-use infotainment system, giant touchscreen display, excellent voice controls and high-res surround-view parking camera — that truly impress.
After the Hyundai Sonata's full redesign last year, there are only a few minor changes to the core vehicle for 2021. For instance, the SEL comes with a safe-exit warning feature that alerts you if you're about to open your door into traffic. And the Limited trim receives a height-adjustable, power-adjustable front passenger seat. The big news for 2021, however, is a new range-topping trim with a sporty edge.
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line is oriented toward buyers who want a family-friendly sedan with an edge. Power comes from an all-new turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that cranks out 290 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque. It's meant to rival the related Kia K5 GT (which has the same engine) and the Toyota Camry TRD. The N Line also comes with a special black-painted grille, dual exhaust pipes and sport front seats with red accent stitching.
How does the Sonata N Line drive?
The regular Sonata's suspension feels firm but doesn't give you much of a payoff for handling. The N Line, however, is definitely more fun to drive. Steering and handling are sharper, and the turbocharged engine provides quick acceleration. It sounds pretty good when you're revving it out too.
Braking power is good and the pedal is easy to control to stop smoothly in traffic. The sport front seats offer ample comfort with more substantial bolstering to keep you in place during cornering.
Stylish and well equipped, the Sonata should be a front-running contender if you're shopping for a midsize sedan. Last year's car lacked some sporting personality, but Hyundai has addressed this by coming out with the new Sonata N Line.
Is the Hyundai Sonata a good car?
The Edmunds experts tested the 2021 Sonata both on the road and at the track, giving it a 8.0 out of 10. You probably care about Hyundai Sonata fuel economy, so it's important to know that the Sonata gets an EPA-estimated 27 mpg to 32 mpg, depending on the configuration. What about cargo capacity? When you're thinking about carrying stuff in your new car, keep in mind that the Sonata has 16.0 cubic feet of trunk space. And then there's safety and reliability. Edmunds has all the latest NHTSA and IIHS crash-test scores, plus industry-leading expert and consumer reviews to help you understand what it's like to own and maintain a Hyundai Sonata. Learn more
What's new in the 2021 Hyundai Sonata?
According to Edmunds’ car experts, here’s what’s new for the 2021 Hyundai Sonata:
New Sonata N Line with more power, sharper handling
Minor revisions to standard feature availability
Part of the seventh Sonata generation introduced for 2020
To determine whether the Hyundai Sonata is reliable, read Edmunds' authentic consumer reviews, which come from real owners and reveal what it's like to live with the Sonata. Look for specific complaints that keep popping up in the reviews, and be sure to compare the Sonata's average consumer rating to that of competing vehicles. Learn more
Is the 2021 Hyundai Sonata a good car?
There's a lot to consider if you're wondering whether the 2021 Hyundai Sonata is a good car. Edmunds' expert testing team reviewed the 2021 Sonata and gave it a 8.0 out of 10. Safety scores, fuel economy, cargo capacity and feature availability should all be factors in determining whether the 2021 Sonata is a good car for you. Learn more
How much should I pay for a 2021 Hyundai Sonata?
The least-expensive 2021 Hyundai Sonata is the 2021 Hyundai Sonata SE 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 8A). Including destination charge, it arrives with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $23,950.
Other versions include:
Limited 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 8A) which starts at $33,950
SEL Plus 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 8A) which starts at $28,300
SEL 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 8A) which starts at $25,800
SE 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 8A) which starts at $23,950
N Line 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 8AM) which starts at $33,300
If you're interested in the Hyundai Sonata, the next question is, which Sonata model is right for you? Sonata variants include Limited 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 8A), SEL Plus 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 8A), SEL 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 8A), and SE 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 8A). For a full list of Sonata models, check out Edmunds’ Features & Specs page. Learn more
More about the 2021 Hyundai Sonata
2021 Hyundai Sonata Overview
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata is offered in the following submodels: Sonata Sedan, Sonata N Line. Available styles include Limited 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 8A), SEL Plus 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 8A), SEL 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 8A), SE 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 8A), and N Line 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 8AM).
Hyundai Sonata models are available with a 1.6 L-liter gas engine or a 2.5 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 191 hp, depending on engine type.
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata comes with front wheel drive.
Available transmissions include: 8-speed shiftable automatic.
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata comes with a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. basic warranty, a 5 yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 10 yr./ 100000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What do people think of the 2021 Hyundai Sonata?
Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for
the 2021 Hyundai Sonata and all its trim types.
Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2021 Sonata
4.7 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars.
Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what
other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database.
Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior,
exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a
comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2021 Sonata.
Edmunds Expert Reviews
Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2021 Hyundai Sonata and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2021 Sonata featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
What's a good price for a New 2021 Hyundai Sonata?
2021 Hyundai Sonata SE 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 8A)
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata SE 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 8A) can be purchased for less than the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (aka MSRP) of $25,254. The average price paid for a new 2021 Hyundai Sonata SE 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 8A) is trending $664 below the manufacturer’s MSRP.
Edmunds members save an average of $664 by getting upfront special offers. The estimated special offer price in your area is $24,590.
The average savings for the 2021 Hyundai Sonata SE 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 8A) is 2.6% below the MSRP.
2021 Hyundai Sonata SEL 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 8A)
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata SEL 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 8A) can be purchased for less than the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (aka MSRP) of $27,429. The average price paid for a new 2021 Hyundai Sonata SEL 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 8A) is trending $892 below the manufacturer’s MSRP.
Edmunds members save an average of $892 by getting upfront special offers. The estimated special offer price in your area is $26,537.
The average savings for the 2021 Hyundai Sonata SEL 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 8A) is 3.3% below the MSRP.
2021 Hyundai Sonata SEL Plus 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 8A)
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata SEL Plus 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 8A) can be purchased for less than the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (aka MSRP) of $29,305. The average price paid for a new 2021 Hyundai Sonata SEL Plus 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 8A) is trending $910 below the manufacturer’s MSRP.
Edmunds members save an average of $910 by getting upfront special offers. The estimated special offer price in your area is $28,395.
The average savings for the 2021 Hyundai Sonata SEL Plus 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 8A) is 3.1% below the MSRP.
2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 8AM)
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 8AM) can be purchased for less than the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (aka MSRP) of $34,814. The average price paid for a new 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 8AM) is trending $1,039 below the manufacturer’s MSRP.
Edmunds members save an average of $1,039 by getting upfront special offers. The estimated special offer price in your area is $33,775.
The average savings for the 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 8AM) is 3% below the MSRP.
2021 Hyundai Sonata Limited 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 8A)
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata Limited 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 8A) can be purchased for less than the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (aka MSRP) of $35,434. The average price paid for a new 2021 Hyundai Sonata Limited 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 8A) is trending $1,087 below the manufacturer’s MSRP.
Edmunds members save an average of $1,087 by getting upfront special offers. The estimated special offer price in your area is $34,347.
The average savings for the 2021 Hyundai Sonata Limited 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 8A) is 3.1% below the MSRP.
Which 2021 Hyundai Sonatas are available in my area?
Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings
of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2021 Hyundai Sonata for
sale near. Simply research the
type of car you're interested in and then select a car from our massive database to
find cheap vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle
you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find
out what other owners paid for the 2021 Hyundai Sonata.
Can't find a new 2021 Hyundai Sonatas you
want in your area? Consider a broader search.
Find a new Hyundai for sale - 11 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $17,191.
Why trust Edmunds?
Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color.
2021 Hyundai Sonata SEL Plus 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 8A), 8-speed shiftable automatic,regular unleaded 30 compined MPG, 27 city MPG/37 highway MPG
2021 Hyundai Sonata SEL 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 8A), 8-speed shiftable automatic,regular unleaded 31 compined MPG, 27 city MPG/37 highway MPG
EPA Est. MPG
8-speed shiftable automatic
front wheel drive
Should I lease or buy a 2021 Hyundai Sonata?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you
that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make
higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand,
can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a
new car every three years or so.