In so many ways, we as a society generally don’t just root for a person because of who they are, but where they’ve come from. We never root for the entitled brat born with a silver spoon in their mouth. We love the rags to riches stories — Rocky Balboa came from the mean streets of Philadelphia, fighting in dirty gyms, waking up in freezing weather to run outside in ill-fitting sweat-suits, and let’s not forget the raw eggs thing … or better yet, let’s actually forget that part. Notorious B.I.G. started out as Christopher Wallace, a heavy set kid that came from a poor neighborhood in Brooklyn, sold drugs on street corners to make a buck. Then he went on to become one of the most famous rappers of all time, and just made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
So when we see a car company like Hyundai today, we can’t help but be proud. They debuted on US soil back in 1986 with affordable and reliable cars that always had a knack for delivering more than promised. Slowly but surely Hyundai has continued to improve the quality of their product over the years without price gouging consumers along the way. Specifically, the Sonata has been the centerpiece of the company’s meteoric climb from nothing to what they are today. In 1988, the Sonata was a family friendly, economically affordable sedan, and more than three decades later, the 2020 Sonata Limited 1.6T is exactly the same as it used to be, and also completely different.
The new eighth generation of this car is the most luxurious looking yet. It seems evident that Hyundai utilized design cues from Audi, Aston Martin, and maybe even a little Bimmer. It’s new sleek looks are not just skin deep. As the trim hints at, the Sonata is powered by a 1.6-liter DOHC turbocharged inline-4 that produces a serious 180-horsepower at 6,000 RPM and equally impressive 195 lb-ft of torque at a crazy low 1,500 RPM. That impressive torque curve makes for a very punchy low end and a nice seat-of-your-pants feel off the line. Helping get that power to the ground is an 8-speed automatic transmission that is both decisive and linear in its execution. Hopefully Hyundai has remedied an issue they had a couple years back with new transmissions self destructing with less than 50k on the odometer.
That power gets routed to the front wheels and helps the peppy Sonata run from 0-60 mph in 7.3 seconds, through the quarter mile in 15.6 seconds at 90 mph and then on to a governor limited top speed of 135 mph. Braking back down from 70-0 mph takes just 167 feet — not bad for a five-passenger 3,328 pound sedan. It also hustles around the skidpad to the tune of an impressive 0.89g. That mighty mouse motor also sips fuel like a boxer trying to make weight. Posting a very frugal 27/36/31 city/highway/combined MPG, the new Sonata does not forget its economical roots.
Also keeping with its family-oriented origins, the new Sonata features plenty of safety … features. Things like Advanced Smart Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Follow Assist, Automatic High Beam Assist, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Smart Parking Assist, an Around View Monitor, and LED lights both up front and out back. Inside, the Sonata does its best to keep that family entertained as well as protected. A large 10.25 inch navigation infotainment screen is complimented by the even larger 12.3-inch LCD instrument screen. There is also a heads-up display, a premium Bose sound system, as well as Hyundai Blue Link tech, and the requisite Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. All of this for a car that has a true base price of $23,600, and our Limited 1.6T comes in at about ten grand more with all the bells and whistles.
It’s in our DNA to root for these underdog success stories. Maybe because that’s the story of America itself. A bunch of castaways from a monarchy that decided they wanted to be their own bosses and should have been crushed, but somehow succeeded and went on to become the most powerful nation in the world. So when we see the embodiment of that story in a car like the Hyundai Sonata, it makes it easy to see ourselves in it, especially when we can literally see ourselves in it.