2022 Hyundai Sonata Review | A bold sedan beats a boring one

If you’re just looking for sensible, A-to-B transport at a good price, the 2022 Hyundai Sonata is a terrific choice that checks off all the boxes. It’s a family sedan that offers abundant passenger and cargo space, tons of well-executed technology, a lineup of efficient engines and a competitive price that includes a lengthy warranty and ample feature content.

Yet, Hyundai is at its best when it not only delivers the A-to-B basics, but goes that extra mile by pushing the envelope and getting attention with a bold, if sometimes outlandish, design. And there’s no denying the Sonata falls into that category with its coupe-like shape, unique accent lighting and prominent grille. There’s absolutely no mistaking it for an Accord or Camry. Maybe it’ll be too out-there for some, but we’ll take bold over anonymous any day. The interior isn’t quite as unusual, but it’s sleek and modern while still providing usable storage, sensible controls and easy-to-use tech. In short, the Sonata delivers function and fashion, and we consider it one of the best cars under $30,000.

Interior & Technology   |   Passenger & Cargo Space   |   Performance & Fuel Economy

What it’s like to drive   |   Pricing & Features   |   Crash Ratings & Safety Features

What’s new for 2022?

The SEL Plus trim now comes standard with its previous Tech package content: panoramic sunroof, 10.25-inch touchscreen, navigation, Bose stereo and Highway Driving Assist. The Glowing Yellow paint option was dropped, so there goes our spiffy pictures of the Sonata painted in it. There’s also a new N Line Night Edition (because of course there is) with the ubiquitous dark trim pieces, wheels and badging added. It is pictured below.

What are the Sonata interior and in-car technology like?

The 2022 Hyundai Sonata boasts a sleek, modern cabin with minimal clutter and high-quality materials. Like most new cars, its infotainment control screen is featured prominently atop the dash. The SE and SEL trims get an 8-inch screen, while a 10.25-inch touchscreen is standard on the SEL Plus and up. No other midsize sedan (aside from the mechanically related Kia K5) offers such a large screen, and as we describe in our Sonata infotainment review and video below, we think its functionality is terrific. Behind the wheel sits a customizable 12.3-inch virtual cluster display (optional on SEL, standard on SEL Plus and Limited), and the top-of-the-line Limited also offers a full-color head-up display.

There are some nice touches for tech junkies, too, including Hyundai’s “Digital Key,” which allows the owner to unlock the Sonata by waving an authorized smartphone over the exterior door handles. Hyundai also offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration as standard equipment. There are three USB ports, and wireless charging is refreshingly not exclusive to the highest trim level.

N Line buyers are treated to more aggressively bolstered seats, a sport steering wheel and unique red-accented stitching. Hybrid buyers get an entirely different special treat, as those who opt for the range-topping SEL Plus also get a solar roof. In sunny conditions, these panels can replenish as many as 2 miles of additional range per day, or approximately 700 miles per year. More practically, they can power accessories while the engine itself is off, like the air conditioning on a sunny day.

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How big is the Sonata?

The Sonata doesn’t have as much backseat legroom as the palatial Honda Accord. The gap isn’t as massive as the spec sheet suggests (we think there are differences in the way Hyundai measures interiors), and people taller than 6 feet can still sit one behind the other. You should also be able to fit a rear-facing child seat in the back without moving a front seat forward. Headroom is plentiful despite that sleek roofline, even more than the Accord and Camry, both on the spec sheet and in person.

The trunk offers 16.3 cubic feet, which makes it bigger than every midsize sedan except the Accord. As we discovered in our Sonata luggage test, that figure translates into similarly impressive stuff-carrying ability. Indeed, only the Accord trunk has been able to hold more stuff in our midsize sedan luggage tests.

What are the Sonata fuel economy and performance specs?

The 2022 Sonata is available with a choice of four powertrains. The base engine in the SE and SEL is a 2.5-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder making 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. These figures are typical for entry-level engines in the midsize segment. This engine is rated at 28 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined in the SE model and 27/37/31 in the SEL.

Stepping up to the SEL Plus and Limited models means switching to the 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. This engine produces less power (180 horses) than the base 2.5, but more torque (195 lb-ft). It likewise offers similar numbers to other lower-end turbocharged engines offered by the competition, such as the Honda Accord’s 1.5-liter. This engine is also rated at 27/37/31.

The most potent engine offering is the 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder under the hood of the Sonata N Line. It spins out 290 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the other Sonatas, the N Line uses a dual-wet-clutch automated manual that also provides rev-matching and launch control. The N Line’s turbo-four can’t quite match the horsepower of the Toyota Camry’s V6, though it does offer more torque. EPA estimates for the N Line are 23/33/27.

The fuel-economy champ is a 2022 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. It utilizes a 150-horsepower, 2.0-liter naturally aspirated inline-four and a 39-kW electric motor. Combined, they produce a total of 192 hp. This is good for 45 mpg city, 51 mpg highway and 47 mpg combined in the SEL and Limited, and 50/54/52 in the Blue. This might seem like a big jump, but it really amounts to only $100 in estimated annual fuel costs. Similarly, the real-world efficiency differences between the Sonata Hybrid and its family sedan competitors is similarly negligible.

Unfortunately, no Sonata offers all-wheel drive, a feature available on an increasing number of family sedans, including the Sonata’s mechanically related cousin, the Kia K5.

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

What’s the Sonata like to drive?

We’ve driven every version of the Sonata apart from one with the base 2.5-liter, and we’ve found each to be surprisingly engaging to drive compared to Sonatas of that past. That even applies to the hybrid, which in the past, was synonymous with dull. Although the Honda Accord is the superior athlete in this class (RIP Mazda6), the Sonata isn’t far behind, striking a competent balance between comfort and handling prowess for a daily driver. You probably won’t have fun in it, but it’s vice free and it won’t bore you to death with completely anesthetized controls. Take the steering, which has linear, consistent effort and is sufficiently responsive to your inputs. We’re also fans of Hyundai’s new, nicely contoured four-spoke steering wheel.

The Sonata Hybrid (above right) drives more like a regular gas-only car than its rivals thanks to its traditional transmission. The Accord Hybrid feels more like an electric car (with an engine that occasionally whirs independently of what your right foot is doing), while the Toyota Camry drones on due to its e-CVT. If you’re put off by the typical weirdness of a hybrid, this is the one to get. At the same time, you can definitely notice the electric boost given to the engine when accelerating.

The 1.6-liter turbo features Hyundai’s new CVVD engine technology, but you wouldn’t know anything special is happening had you not been warned. It’s a torquey little four-cylinder with enough grunt to get off the line in a hurry. There’s plenty of torque throughout the rev band; lag is minimal, and it’s pleasant enough to listen to. It’s just not a substantial performance upgrade.

The N Line, however, is much quicker (pictured above left in new Night Edition guise). Acceleration is strong enough to cause the steering wheel to squirm in your hands, particularly at lower speeds. With stiffer suspension components and bigger brakes, there’s more to the N Line than just extra power. The car is more responsive in corners but the ride doesn’t beat up occupants over bad pavement. More about it below.

What other Hyundai Sonata reviews can I read?

2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line First Drive Review

Our review of the new-for-2021 Sonata N Line, which boasts more horsepower than any other family sedan. We wouldn’t call it a full-on sport model, however, as it’s smartly not hardcore enough to put off those who just want extra thrust and sharpened responses without a punishing ride or hyperactive nature.

2020 Hyundai Sonata First Drive Review

Our first drive of the current-generation Hyundai Sonata was in a Korean-spec car overseas, but apart from the powertrain, it’s the car the U.S. eventually got. This review dives deeper into the car’s design and engineering.

2020 Hyundai Sonata Safety and Driver Assistance Tech Review

We break down the Sonata’s well-executed and expansive array of safety and driver assistance tech.

2020 Hyundai Sonata Driveway Test | Infotainment features and 10.25-inch touchscreen

In this review with video, we break down the Sonata’s excellent widescreen infotainment system.

2020 Hyundai Sonata Luggage Test | How much fits in the trunk?

The official trunk volume is 16.3 cubic-feet. Great, but how much does that mean in terms of actual stuff? This answers that. 

How much is the 2022 Sonata price, and what features are available?

The Sonata SE is robustly equipped for a base-model vehicle, but the true value leader is the SEL Plus, which includes the 1.6-liter turbo engine, 18-inch alloy wheels, suede and leatherette seating surfaces, Qi wireless device charging, an additional USB charge port and thanks to an influx of extra equipment for 2022, a panoramic sunroof, 10.25-inch touchscreen, navigation, Bose stereo and Highway Driving Assist. Yes, it’s now priced over $31,000 due to that influx of equipment, but it’s a tremendous value. We would also strongly suggest going with the hybrid given its exceptional fuel economy and minimal downside compared to its gas-only siblings.

All prices below include a reasonable $1,025 destination charge.

SE: $25,375
SEL: $26,975
SEL Plus: $32,175
Limited: $35,125

N Line: $34,475
N Line Night Edition: $35,775

Hybrid Blue: $28,075
Hybrid SEL: $30,825
Hybrid Limited: $36,425

What are the Sonata safety ratings and driver assistance features?

Standard safety equipment on the 2022 Sonata includes forward collision warning with pedestrian and cyclist detection, automatic emergency braking, a driver inattention warning system, lane keeping assist with lane centering, a rear occupant alert system, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control. All but the base SE get a blind-spot warning system, which is upgraded in the Limited with the complete, multi-faceted array of blind-spot tech that we named Autoblog Technology of the Year several years ago.

Besides the sheer volume of these safety and driver assistance features, we’ve found them to be among the best-executed on the segment. They do their job well without annoying you.

The Sonata Limited received an IIHS Top Safety Pick rating, falling short of the coveted Top Safety Pick+ due to the weaknesses of the headlights offered as standard equipment on the SE, SEL and SEL Plus trims. All other scores are exceptional. The government (NHTSA) gives the 2022 Sonata an overall safety rating of five stars out of five.

Related video:

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