Hyundai Mobis and Yandex reveal 2020 Sonata self-driving prototype

Hyundai Mobis and Yandex reveal 2020 Sonata self-driving prototype

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata isn't even out yet, but already, one company has created a self-driving development prototype out of one. It's nice to know people -- or, in this case, it's nice to know the parts and service arm of the greater Hyundai empire.

Russian internet giant Yandex and Hyundai Mobis on Thursday debuted their jointly developed 2020 Hyundai Sonata self-driving development prototype. Based on a regular ol' next-generation Sonata, the vehicle has been fitted with the hardware and software necessary to enable autonomy and continue development on the technology. The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding to create Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous vehicles, and this is the first step towards that end goal.

According to Yandex's Medium post, the company received its first 2020 Sonata at the end of May, just two months after inking the partnership with Hyundai Mobis. Engineers from both companies worked to adapt Yandex's tech to the Sonata, and the result looks surprisingly sleek. The majority of the car's hardware looks contained to the pod up top, which sports some recognizable lidar emitters. Cables run to the trunk, where there's more hardware responsible for crunching all the data its sensors receive. So far, testing has been limited to Yandex's testing grounds, but according to the company, it's been operating completely autonomously in that closed environment, coming up against things like simulated weather and traffic. Yandex said its prototype will start operating on public roads in Moscow "shortly."

This is just the beginning for their partnership. Eventually, Yandex wants to have a fleet of 100 development vehicles, a feat it hopes to achieve by the end of 2019. Future prototypes won't just be based on the Sonata, either. To prove its flexibility, Yandex wants to add its hardware and software to a multitude of Hyundai and Kia vehicles, although it declined to say which ones.

Volkswagen-Ford isn't just an alliance, it's an automotive earthquake

Volkswagen-Ford isn't just an alliance, it's an automotive earthquake

Although Ford CEO Jim Hackett has been criticized for being at times hyperbolic in his pronouncements, when he sat onstage in New York this morning, flanked on his right by Volkswagen CEO Dr. Herbert Diess and on his left by Argo AI CEO Bryan Salesky, and said that the auto industry is in the midst of “the biggest shift in transportation” since the time of Henry Ford, there was absolutely no exaggeration.

The announcement that Ford and Volkswagen AG are expanding their global alliance is one of the biggest events in the auto industry in modern times.


What makes this fundamentally different from, say, the original Renault-Nissan alliance: That deal allowed the continued existence of the two companies, but there was no substantive change in what the companies brought to market — the same sorts of cars, crossovers and commercial vehicles they’d long been producing, just with a bit more cost sharing.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance is not unlike the agreement that Ford and Volkswagen announced earlier this year regarding the collaboration on commercial vans and medium pickups for European and other markets.

Today’s announcement, however, is truly transformative in that Ford will be using the Volkswagen-developed electric vehicle platform — the Modular Electric Toolkit (MEB) — to produce some 600,000 vehicles in Europe over the next six years, a platform that Volkswagen intends to use for the production of some 15 million battery-electric vehicles on a global basis over the next 10 years.

What this part of the announcement underscores is that these two global automotive giants — the two companies combined had sales of 16.7 million vehicles in 2018 — are now creating something of a standard for an electric vehicle architecture.

As Diess explained, by opening up MEB to Ford, the companies can drive down production costs through scale economies. That leads to the ability to offer the vehicles to the consumer at a more attractive price. Which can conceivably increase demand, which, in turn, can further trim costs. And for the vehicle manufacturers, who are presently facing nothing but red ink regarding EVs, there can be, according to Diess, “sustainable and profitable growth.”

One could argue that this is simply a case of Ford buying the MEB from Volkswagen, sort of a straight-up purchase that has no further implication than in terms of a supplier-customer relationship.

But speaking of the development of the Ford electric vehicle for Europe that is to launch in 2023, Joe Hinrichs, Ford president, Automotive, said that it is helpful that the company has an advanced research and development center in Aachen, Germany, whose engineers can work with those of Volkswagen. “A lot of work goes on in developing a vehicle,” he said with understatement.

So here is a case where the two companies are going to be working together to develop and launch a product that is certainly non-traditional in the context of the vast majority of the aforementioned 16.7 million vehicles.

Then there is Argo AI, the company that is developing an autonomous vehicle platform, a startup that Ford invested in two years ago. The finances are a bit tricky, but the bottom line here is that Ford and Volkswagen will have an equal stake in Argo AI, which will account for a “substantial majority” of the privately held company. Volkswagen is putting in $1 billion in funding and wrapping in its Munich-based Autonomous Intelligent Driving (AID) company; AID will become Argo AI’s European operation.

Again, auto companies investing in autonomous vehicle companies is nothing new. In fact, Volkswagen had invested in Argo AI competitor Aurora until this past June; Aurora has investments by Hyundai-Kia and FCA.

But the difference here is that Volkswagen and Ford are looking to achieve a self-driving platform that can be scaled comparatively quickly. Argo AI’s Salesky emphasized that their objectives are to (1) build for scale, (2) architect the software to be production quality, (3) have automotive grade sensors and computers, and, perhaps most important, (4) fully integrate their product with OEMs.

Hackett said that one of the reasons Ford was initially interested in Argo AI was because of that company’s focus on working with a vehicle manufacturer  to make its products appropriate for use.

This, too, is a play of a platform that can be scaled. Not only is this somewhat analogous to the MEB in terms of the ability to reduce costs through volume, but there is the additional benefit that by having an Argo AI system on many more vehicles — both Volkswagen Group products and those of Ford — the system, by obtaining data through daily operation, can get smarter and better.

If the future is electric and autonomous, the arrangement between Ford, Volkswagen and Argo AI will define that future and transform the industry.

As Hackett pointed out: If you look at what has happened in the technology sector — think Microsoft and Apple, Facebook and Google — “there will only be a few winners.” By setting de facto standards, Volkswagen and Ford are likely to be among the few.

2020 Hyundai Palisade Second Drive Review | We finally try it on U.S. soil And find that it's a must-drive three-row family crossover

2020 Hyundai Palisade Second Drive Review | We finally try it on U.S. soil And find that it's a must-drive three-row family crossover

COUER d'ALENE, Idaho — You're going to hear the name 2020 Hyundai Palisade a lot in future three-row family crossover reviews. As in, "This interior just doesn't have the premium feel of the Hyundai Palisade" or, "This is more expensive than the Palisade, but you get less equipment." That's what comes from creating such a well-rounded entry that checks just about every box for would-be buyers of three-row crossovers.

Now, the Palisade may be new, but it's not like Hyundai has hit a home run in its first at-bat. The forgettable but reasonably competitive Veracruz hit the scene back in 2007, and was then replaced by the three-row Santa Fe (known as the XL for 2019). Both of those had common flaws: They were less spacious than their competitors, they weren't as good to drive, and their styling hardly made them stand out from the crowd.

All of that is corrected with the Palisade, but surpassing the bar set by Hyundais past was rightfully not the goal. Hyundai's newest three-row crossover is considerably bigger than the Santa Fe XL (3 inches longer, 3.6 inches wider, and there's 4.5 extra cubic feet behind the third row), but the more relevant feat is that it's now more spacious than many three-row competitors. It was something we noted when we compared its dimensions to the Subaru Ascent, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and Mazda CX-9, but it's readily obvious when experiencing it in person. You can fit someone taller than 6 feet in each row simultaneously (your kids will therefore be that much more comfortable), including in the third row. The rearmost row of seating provides plenty of headroom and under-leg support (unlike the new Ford Explorer) thanks to a seat bottom that was raised considerably from where it was in the Santa Fe XL.

That was one of that SUV's key flaws, but so was its six-person capacity when equipped with the popular second-row captain's chairs. Adding an extra seat belt to the third row (along with extra width) allows for seven — that the standard second-row bench seat results in an eight-person capacity was of secondary importance, according to product planning manager Trevor Lai.

Another goal was to provide an enlarged cargo area, especially behind the third row. Lai says he and other product planners distinctly remember seeing Honda advertise that its previous-generation Pilot could fit a 75-quart cooler behind its third row. As such, they requested that engineers provided enough space for an 80-quart one. They got 100 quarts instead. That equates to two jumbo golf bags and multiple carry-on roll-aboard suitcases. A removable floor panel opens up additional space, which can also be used to stow the rolling cargo cover.

It's also not just a matter of space in the Palisade's two rear rows. There are two cupholders beside each outboard seat, air vents in the ceiling, and two USB ports in each rear row (SEL and Limited). The second-row seats slide forward by pushing one of two redundant buttons on the seat shoulder and at the base of the seat cushion. The resulting gap to the third row could be bigger, but there's a unique grab handle integrated into the C pillar that helps climbing inside. The third row's square-ish cupholders were also purposely shaped that way to serve double duty as a second grab handle to be used when climbing out. Thoughtful.

2020 Hyundai Palisade

Actually, there's plenty differentiating it from the rest of Hyundai's SUV lineup, as well. Senior chief designer Chris Chapman equates the styling of most manufacturer lineups to Russian nesting dolls — increasingly larger versions of the same look. By contrast, Hyundai is going for something more akin to a chess set ­— each different, but sharing common elements. On this chess board, the Palisade is the king. You can see similarities in the grille shape and headlight cluster hidden within recesses below a thin strip of LED lighting. In the Palisade, though, that lighting cascades into that cluster and appears to slice behind body work. It's just one of several interconnecting elements, including the bright work surrounding the side windows and taillights.

Frankly, there's an awful lot going on in the Palisade — perhaps too much, especially with the chopped fender flares and the Limited's extra-shiny grille surround. The Palisade projects a premium vibe.

That's definitely the case inside, where there is a distinctly upmarket appearance that doesn't need to resort to giant swaths of fake wood trim to get the point across. There are handsome, textured trim pieces on the dash, doors and center console, along with soft-touch surfaces and high-quality switch gear. Now, there is "wood" trim in the Limited's tan interior, but it has lines seemingly etched into it to create a more modern look. Hyundai's designers say they were going for something that evoked "the serenity of a yacht." We don't own a yacht, so who knows if they succeeded, but at least the impressive Harman/Kardon audio system made Sirius XM's Yacht Rock Radio sound reasonably palatable.

The general dash layout is similar to what you'll find in the Telluride, as are the user-friendly tech interfaces. An 8-inch touchscreen is standard with a 10.25-inch one available (shown below), but unlike their placement in the Telluride, those adverse to the iPad-on-the-dash look will find the Palisade places them in a binnacle integrated with the instrument panel cowl. It's a classy look evocative of Mercedes' latest design, which is surely a matter of coincidence since Hyundai and Mercedes were simultaneously developing their respective looks. Classy minds think alike. You also don't lose much by opting for a lesser trim level — a Palisade should always seem a bit more stylish and ritzier inside than a comparably priced Pilot, Ascent or Explorer.

2020 Hyundai Palisade Interior

However, we wouldn't count on it being more responsive, comfortable or powerful when behind the wheel. Much like the Telluride, the Palisade offers a well-rounded driving experience free from bad habits, but also bereft of anything particularly memorable. Effectively, it reaches the bar set by the vast majority of buyers in the segment.

The 3.8-liter V6 engine produces plenty of power (291 horsepower, 262 pound-feet) and is reasonably efficient (an EPA-estimated 21 or 22 mpg combined) thanks to its ability to run on both the regular Otto and more efficient Atkinson cycles, but it ultimately produces acceleration on par with most other vehicles in the segment. The steering is precise and gains a little extra effort when in Sport mode, but it also doesn't keep you particularly engaged in the driving experience. Similarly, the suspension capably controls body motions, and the stock tires do a good job of gripping pavement (or even loose gravel), but again, those looking for more zest should seriously consider a Mazda CX-9 or the powerful new 2020 Ford Explorer.

During our first drive in northern Idaho, the suspension sopped up poor pavement well despite our test vehicle riding on 20-inch wheels. There was no impact harshness, and unlike similarly shod vehicles, the suspension wasn't overly springy to compensate for having less tire sidewall. Opting for a Limited or an SEL with the Tow Package brings a self-leveling rear suspension that compensates for extra-heavy loads or a towed trailer with special mechanically controlled rear shock absorbers. This is altogether another area where the Palisade eclipses the Santa Fe XL, which had a rather unsophisticated ride prone to crashing on its bump stops when loaded, and being thrown out of whack over mid-corner bumps.

Really, the Palisade is so completely superior to the Santa Fe XL that it doesn't actually seem like a replacement. Yet, it still possesses the same Hyundai hallmarks that have long attracted consumers to the brand: excellent value (you get more features at a price that starts at $32,595 and tops out at $47,445), a lengthy warranty (5-year limited, 10-year powertrain), excellent anticipated reliability (the old Santa Fe got top marks) and superior safety credentials (there's unmatched standard safety tech, and Hyundai says it anticipates a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS, which would be consistent with its other models).

Source: Autoblog

Magnificent seven - Isuzu D-Max wins Best Workhorse Pickup Award for the 7th. year in a row!

Magnificent seven - Isuzu D-Max wins Best Workhorse Pickup Award for the 7th. year in a row!

Continuing a successful 2019, the multi award-winning Isuzu D-Max picks up yet another award, this time at the Best Workhorse Pick-up 2019 award from Trade Van Driver, in fact this is the 7th year in a row that the Isuzu D-Max has won this award!

Trade Van Driver is the only magazine which caters for the owner-driver and small fleet operator and as such its awards are different from others as they are judged not only by the expert panel of journalists at the magazine but also by a panel of readers who use light commercial vehicles as part of their businesses.

The Trade Van Driver Awards celebrate the most reliable, capable and truly effective working vehicles available on the market. Vehicles are compared across several core criteria, including payload, safety, technology, running costs, fuel efficiency, reliability and aftersales service so it is a great accolade that, yet again the Isuzu D-Max emerged victorious, beating strong competition from rivals in the highly contested pick-up sector.

The Isuzu D-Max was praised for meeting Euro 6 standards without the need for AdBlue, unlike most of its competitors. It has a 3.5 tonne towing capacity, over 1 tonne payload and provides a quiet, economical driving experience. The breadth of the Isuzu D-Max range also impressed; with single, extended and double-cab formats available, as well as a wide choice of trim levels. Coupled with the attractive five-year/125,000-mile warranty package and 5 years’ roadside assistance (in the UK & Europe), the Isuzu D-Max proved it was truly built for the professionals who use it.

David Johns, Group Sales Manager at Trade Van Driver, handed over this coveted award to William Brown, Isuzu UK Managing Director, who commented: “The award for the Isuzu D-Max is a demonstration of the truck’s capability, practicality and reliability which meets the needs of customers, working hard for drivers and offering class leading durability. This award is another testament to that reputation, especially as the judging panel consisted of industry experts and professional pickup drivers alike.”

The award-winning Isuzu D-Max has already had a successful 2019, being crowned ‘Pick-Up of The Year’ at the 2019 WhatVan? Awards and in the Pick-up & 4x4 Pro Awards 2019 plus the Isuzu D-Max won best model in the 4x4 Magazine awards. This success follows on from 2018 where another seven awards were won by the Isuzu D-Max. It just keeps picking them up!

How Hyundai's New, More Fuel-Efficient Engine Tech Called CVVD Works

How Hyundai's New, More Fuel-Efficient Engine Tech Called CVVD Works

  • Hyundai claims it has created the world's first Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) engine technology, which it says increases engine performance by 4 percent and efficiency by 5 percent.
  • The first application will be in the company’s Smartstream G1.6 T-GDi inline-four engine, which makes 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque and is expected later this year in the new Sonata Turbo in the home market of South Korea.
  • Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) stretches or shortens the time the intake valves are open, depending on engine speed and load.

Engine building is an exercise in balancing efficiency with power. Much of that compromise involves the camshafts, which control the air that flows in and out of an engine’s cylinders. To minimize the trade-offs between competing priorities automakers use systems that are by now well known-variable valve timing, variable valve lift-and now Hyundai is announcing something new: variable valve duration. Hyundai calls the technology Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) and claims an increase in performance of 4 percent with 5 percent better efficiency, along with a 12 percent improvement in tailpipe emissions. The system works as a complement to existing variable-valve-timing systems, not as a replacement. It's just one more invention to make engines instantly able to adjust to any operating condition, and probably the final step short of a camless engine.

So what's going on here? First, let's back up to the basics for the uninitiated (experts skip ahead two paragraphs). Each piston in a four-stroke engine goes down, up, down, up-four strokes-in every combustion cycle. That's intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust. In simple terms, the intake valve(s) need to be open at the right time to pull air in, and the exhaust valve(s) need to be open to push those hot, post-combustion gases out to start the cycle all over again. In actual practice, the valves open at different times throughout the four-stroke cycle and even overlap at times.

The valves are pushed open by the eccentric lobes (think egg shaped) of a camshaft at a specific point in a 360-degree rotation. Adjust the shape of the camshaft lobe, and you can change when, how far, and how long a valve opens. The problem is that valve timing that works for high-rpm performance running might not work very well for idling or low-rpm cruising. Enter variable valve timing, which helps get closer to the best of both worlds.

Here’s a more detailed explanation, but the general idea uses a form of rotational black magic (cam phasing) to advance or delay the valve timing. Variable valve lift gets even more complicated.

Variable valve duration is not necessarily less complicated than variable timing or lift, but VCCD is an elegant solution. It works, as best as we can tell from patent drawings and Hyundai’s promotional video, with a rotating adjuster with a slot in the middle. The variable duration adjuster moves up and down, and shifts the contact point of the cam lobe. Where the duration adjuster is moved determines how long a valve is open.

The benefit is that you can have a long valve duration during low engine speeds and loads, allowing plenty of time for the air to enter the cylinder. At higher speeds, a short duration maximizes compression and thus power. Speaking of compression, VCCD can also be used to change the effective compression ratio, similar to how variable-valve-timing systems can close the intake valve late and effectively switch between Atkinson-cycle and Otto-cycle operation.

While the 1.6-liter debut of VCCD only uses adjustable duration on the intake valves, Hyundai’s patent applications state the system is not limited to a single camshaft. As this is a new derivative of the Gamma engine, used across the Hyundai and Kia lineups, it’s likely to see widespread use. Hyundai has not announced when we'll see this technology in the United States, however, or which vehicles will get the new engine.

2020 Hyundai Palisade First Drive: Great For Eight

2020 Hyundai Palisade First Drive: Great For Eight

Looking for a luxurious three-row crossover SUV? You might want to seek out a second mortgage while you’re at it. Many high-end manufacturers ask more than $70,000 for their most basic options. But you shouldn’t spend big dollars on a luxury-badged crossoverbased solely on brand power. At the very least, you should also check out more mainstream options like the new Hyundai Palisade, which is a competent, comfortable, near-lux three-row that won't break the bank.Sure, the Palisade isn't what we'd call “conventionally attractive,” but at a minimum, Hyundai deserves credit for taking a risk. The Palisade looks unique, and it’s almost pretty in the top-tier Limited trim. Almost. Overlook the oddly shaped, thickly framed cascading grille – the only feature we're not totally fond of – and you’ll see the Palisade has more appealing angles.

The slim upper LEDs, which act as both running lights and turn signals, give way to square lower lightboxes (dubbed “Crocodile Eyes” by designers). The combination looks aggressive. Separated by a thin piece of the front body panel, the two housings interlock via an LED running light that extends from the right-hand corner of the upper housing into the left side of the larger, lower box. The headlights, like those in the Kia Soul, make up the lower portion of the fixture, oddly enough.

The floating roof accent, while not itself uncommon, looks exceptionally stylish here and helps the side profile stand out. The inclusion of additional glass visually expands the rear greenhouse from the exterior, making the Palisade look airier. A silver trim piece wraps around the front two side windows, sinking into the sheet metal just shy of the third row, and accents the front two windows.

We appreciate the Palisade's unconventional exterior, but we like Hyundai's conventional cabin styling more. The long, vertical dash flows neatly across the front of the vehicle. Lined by high-quality materials like matte-finished wood, soft leather, and some shiny plastic, the top-trim Palisade Limited (with all the options) feels like an entry-level luxury vehicle, even though it wears a Hyundai badge.

The silver-painted center console, littered with dials, switches, and an unnecessarily convoluted button-operated gear selector, separates the two front leather seats down the center. Lift the lid of the storage compartment, located behind the shifter, and it hides a space large enough for cell phones and keys, not to mention a Qi wireless charging tray and a USB port. Open the larger center console and there's more room still. The deep tub (also equipped with a USB port) might be large enough to hold an iPad Mini. The Palisade has impressive organizational skills.

Opt for the eight-way adjustable quilted Nappa leather seats on the Limited model (the less-expensive leather on SE and SEL trims isn't as nice). You'll thank us. These units look superb in the bright white cowhide and are extremely comfortable. The third row is tight, but it’s more usable than most in this segment thanks in part to the Palisade's 196.1-inch length (a three-inch increase over the outgoing Santa Fe XL). The rear bench isn’t pinned to the floor, the large rear window reduces feelings of claustrophobia, and with a USB port and cupholder on either side, it’s a perfectly fine seating option in a pinch.

Motivated by a 3.8-liter V6 engine producing 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, the Palisade has power. On the steep mountain roads of northern Idaho, it offered enough oomph to move the 4,300-pound crossover uphill without a struggle. The automatic gearbox ticks through its eight gears decisively, while the optional HTRAC all-wheel-drive system provides tons of grip on the pavement (and the dirt, too, as we found out). Compared to its Kia Telluride cousin, the Palisade’s ride is better tuned, and thus more refined, resulting in a bit less body roll. The Palisade also has better steering feel due to its weightier tiller, which, inspires more confidence in the corners. And even while riding on optional 20-inch wheels (18-inch wheels are standard), the Palisade's suspension is absorbent, soaking up rocky roads with relative ease.

Palisade has a few different driving modes. Sport mode makes things interesting by tightening up the steering with additional weight (maybe too drastically) while also improving the responsiveness of the throttle at tip-in. Snow mode, on the other hand, limits dramatics, dulling throttle response, transferring torque to the tires that need it most, and relaxing steering weight in pursuit of grip. With an ambient temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit during our time with the Palisade, we quickly discovered that Snow mode acts as a makeshift dirt mode instead. A moderate gravel course with the occasional bump confirmed Snow mode’s grippy abilities.

Jutting up from the dash, the optional 10.3-inch touchscreen looks stunning (SE and SEL models get an 8.0-inch screen standard). The graphics of the infotainment system are crisp and clean, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard throughout the range, as does Hyundai BlueLink in the Limited model. BlueLink adds features like remote start, remote lock and unlock, and Apple Watch and Amazon Alexa connectivity.

But the home screen of the infotainment system is neither easy to navigate – due to its complicated layout – nor simple to access, because there's no tactile home button on the dash. The home screen is customizable, at least, making for quick accessibility to preferred features. But plugging your phone in to use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is a much simpler solution. And using the standard steering wheel controls with the optional 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster (standard on the top-range Limited trim) alleviates some of that frustration.

Switch the left or right turn signal on, and a mirror-mounted camera displays a view of the Palisade’s blind spot into the appropriate side of the digital instrument cluster. It makes changing lanes simpler and safer. And though it's similar to Honda's LaneWatch system, Hyundai's setup stands out due to its front-and-center positioning of the video feed (Honda’s is in the center console), and crystal clear video resolution.

Safety equipment like automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and parking assist sensors come standard throughout the Palisade range. But the Limited trim is loaded with more active safety kit, including “Highway Drive Assist,” essentially a fancy term for radar cruise control paired with a lane centering system. Think, a dulled version of Nissan ProPilot. It works wonderfully, for the most part, without ping-ponging from one side of the lane to the other.

For all that's mentioned, the Hyundai Palisade is a big step up from the Santa Fe XL it replaces, and a serious competitor in a crowded class. Love it or hate it, the Palisade looks unique. And with a long list of standard features, including advanced tech, better safety, impressive dynamics, and most notably, near-luxury comfort, Hyundai’s new three-row could be the break-out hit the brand’s looking for.



First drive review: Hyundai Sonata doubles down in sedan segment with style

First drive review: Hyundai Sonata doubles down in sedan segment with style

Pulling out of the 123-story Lotte World Tower into the crush of Seoul’s morning traffic in the 2020 Hyundai Sonata, the striking symbolism isn’t lost on me. The 1,819-foot tower is new, the fifth-tallest building in the world, and the tallest in Korea. This engineering marvel symbolizes the dramatic progress Korea has made in a short time just as the eighth-generation Sonata that will land in the U.S. later this year represents the dramatic leap Korea’s largest automaker has made in the automotive industry.

The 2020 Sonata isn’t just a good Korean car, it’ll tango with the best of the mid-size segment. It has a few strong cards to play to make it competitive. First, and most noticeably, is the styling. It’s stunning, and photos don’t quite capture the presence the Sonata has in person. But it’s also more dynamic, and it will feature a range of engines to satisfy a variety of buyers.

Slow-rolling out of Seoul in the crush of traffic, I’m in a Korean-spec car fitted with a sleepy 2.0-liter inline-4, paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The engine makes 158 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. The powertrain suffers from a noticeable lag between when I press the accelerator and when the engine actually starts to deliver power, generally about two seconds later. Thankfully, the U.S. will get a host of more powerful, and likely more responsive, engines. 
2020 Hyundai Sonata

A 2.5-liter naturally aspirated inline-4 will serve as the base engine, good for 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque, while a 1.6-liter turbo-4 will be the ever-so-slightly upmarket play. That engine boasts similar power figures, at 180 hp, and 195 lb-ft of torque. A more-powerful 2.5-liter turbo-4 will eventually come.

Albert Biermann, head of R&D for Hyundai (and former head of BMW M) says while he can’t elaborate, we can expect a significant power bump to come to Sonata soon. Not coincidentally, he also mentions that Hyundai will expand its N lineup, especially in the N-line, which is more of a trim. Expect a Sonata N-line with the 2.5-liter turbo-4 to follow, likely in 2021.

While the Korean-market powertrain would be wholly insufficient in the U.S., thankfully I get a little time with the 1.6 turbo-4 on Hyundai’s Namyang high-speed test track. The track is short, but it’s a good test for the Sonata’s new platform. It features several corners that are great for evaluating dynamics, its elevation changes will work the engine and transmission, and its long straight will let me get well past highway speeds and give the brakes a good test to boot.

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata is built on a new, third-generation platform that will be used by several future Hyundai and Kia car and crossover SUV models. Codenamed “N3” internally, the architecture makes strategic use of high-strength steel to make it lighter and safer, and to improve driving performance. The front-drive platform can facilitate all-wheel drive, which will not be offered for the Sonata at launch, but Hyundai’s product planners say it’s something they are considering.


2020 Hyundai Sonata

The Sonata I’m driving on the track is paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission, the same setup we’ll get in America. Acceleration from the 1.6 turbo-4 feels pleasingly quick, and the 8-speed auto—motivated by boost and more power to call upon—does a good job of channeling that power. In automatic, while not seamless, shifts occur quickly and smoothly. I took a second lap, this time opting for the paddles, second into third for the short corners, up into fifth and sixth before coming down hard on the left pedal. While the engine lacks a sporty engine note, I assume the N-line engine will handle those duties.

Turning into the short corners, the car remains planted even as the tires squeal. While it exhibits noticeable weight shift and body roll, they’re both less than you’d expect on a mid-size sedan.

I momentarily crest triple-digit speeds on the straightway on my second go before slamming on the brakes. The braking is excellent. The engineer riding with me swears the car doesn’t have Brembos or a special track setup, and I confirm he’s not pulling one over on me with a peek at the brakes after my run.

The brakes may be stock, but I do notice that the car is wearing Continental summer rubber. U.S. cars will get all-season tires, so they won’t grip as well as this one did.

The suspension damping will also change slightly. The Korean market generally prefers softer damping than North America, mostly to deal with a distressing amount of speed bumps. Nonetheless, this car feels about right for what we’ll get in the U.S. The steering is well-weighted—light, as this segment calls for—and consistent.

Despite Hyundai’s efforts to improve NVH, road noise and wind noise both make themselves known at highway speeds. They’re not distractingly loud, but they are noticeable at times in the background.

2020 Hyundai Sonata
2020 Hyundai Sonata
2020 Hyundai Sonata
Designed to attract in an SUV world

As improved as the dynamics may be, the Sonata’s trump card is its design. In a shrinking sedan market, Hyundai went bold and broke new ground with the Sonata’s design.

“It was a case of do we go the way of the Big Three, and begin to eliminate and go in an all-SUV direction? We decided to go a different way, to go bold, we think there will always be a place for the sedan.” SangYup Lee, head of Hyundai design (and a former Bentley and GM designer), tells Motor Authority.

The hood is long, and the nose pinches down low, like on an Aston Martin. That’s not a coincidence. "Astons are very expensive cars, and they have a lot of money to work with the sheet metal. But why can’t we bring some of that style to a car in this price range?,” Lee says.

2020 Hyundai Sonata

The standout design element is the Hidden Lighting Lamp, which employs a chromic strip that looks like it’s part of the chrome strip that runs from the headlight, along the hood, to the door. When the car is on, it illuminates and is an extension of the daytime running lights. It’s especially eye-catching when you see the Sonata in your rear-view mirror.

Two character lines draw the eye and break up volume in the profile view, while in the rear aero pins on the taillights add a sporty touch. The Sonata looks great to my eye, but it’s also a risky play that’s sure to polarize.

While the exterior is bold, the interior is decidedly modern. It’s designed around two screens. One is a curved-display, 12.3-inch touchscreen that is easy to use and controls navigation and infotainment functions. The second is a 10.2-inch digital skin for the instrument cluster. Its graphics and colors change depending on driving mode. Toggle into Sport mode, for example, and a blue splash momentarily overtakes the speedometer and tachometer, as they turn to red. Hyundai also offers a wireless charging pad—though I noticed my phone was on slow-roast after 30 minutes of resting on the charger.

2020 Hyundai Sonata
2020 Hyundai Sonata
2020 Hyundai Sonata
The cabin is roomy and luxurious, too. The center stack features tactile knobs for the temperature controls that could have been pinched from a German luxury car; the cushy headliner feels high-end; and piano black, chrome, and faux-leather trim accents complement the overall aesthetic. The available nappa leather-wrapped seats are comfortable, and higher-end models have a striking stitch-quilting pattern on the seats. The back seat has ample knee and leg room, and head room is sufficient for all but the tallest passengers.

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata boasts striking, elegant styling, and a modern, attractive, and cohesive interior to create a premium vibe usually reserved for pricier cars. Its range of engines will suit varying tastes, and its improved dynamics will satisfy more drivers. Hyundai has come a long way from the value brand of the 1990s, and the 2020 Sonata will be an alluring standout in a shrinking mid-size car segment.



Tony Hartman Kok

Sales Manager
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Johnny Milan

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T: 593-3778

Demis Thielman

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T: 739-1974

Lizzette Koolman

Sales Associate
T: 594-4900

Alex Dijkhoff

Sales Associate
T: 592-6075

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Jerald Winterdal

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About Garage Centraal

The goal of Garage Centraal Aruba is simple: that everyone that needs a vehicle is able to have a vehicle that satisfies their needs and expectations, with expert service and parts support.

That is why we offer brand new, award winning vehicles from the renowned Hyundai brand, as well as Isuzu pickups and trucks. We also offer an extensive catalog of commercial vehicles from Hyundai as well as Hyundai Construction.