Tuesday, 23 July 2024

2021 Hyundai Sonata sedan delivers upscale experience, advanced tech Featured

Posted On Monday, 06 September 2021 22:08 Written by
Rate this item
(0 votes)
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata offers an attractive design and quality tech offerings, along with a new and more powerful N Line trim level. The 2021 Hyundai Sonata offers an attractive design and quality tech offerings, along with a new and more powerful N Line trim level. Photos courtesy of Hyundai


While smaller car options are slowly disappearing in this country, the midsize sedan is one segment that continues to maintain a level of popularity. And those who have remained in the battle are stepping up with new weapons in the battle for relevance in this segment.

For example, let’s talk about the 2021 Hyundai Sonata, one of the top competitors in the segment who is looking to grow its presence while battling heavy hitters like the Mazda6, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

After a redesign in 2020, the 2021 Sonata brings one major upgrade — the brand new N Line trim level offering more power, unique styling and better handling — along with other more subtle updates across the lineup.

I recently spent some time in a 2021 Hyundai Sonata Limited model, and I’m back with a full report on how well it competes.


The exterior design on 2021 Sonata features a bold, muscular design that is distinct — including a wide and oversized grille, sharp headlight design, attractive wheels, and an attractive ellipse-shaped window design. It’s not a stretch to call this vehicle one of the best looking sedans available. The Sonata features 18-inch alloy wheels, LED lighting, and heated side mirrors with turn signal indicators.

In terms of practicality, you get a ton of trunk space. Travelers will be happy to hear that they can fit several large luggages comfortably in the massive boot area.

Moving inside the Sonata, you’ll find a surprisingly upscale design for the price range. My Limited model featured extremely comfortable leather seating, and tons of head and leg room all around. Nothing feels cheap. It almost feels like luxury-lite, and better than the interior setups you get from most sedan rivals.

The vehicle also features a panoramic sunroof, plus heated and ventilated front seats.



Several powertrain options are offered on the 2021 Hyundai Sonata.

My test vehicle featured the 1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine, which offers 180 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque.

There is also a non-turbo 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, with 191 horses and 181 lb.-ft.

Last but not least is the addition of a more powerful engine option on the N-Line trim level. The N Line features a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine boasting an impressive 290 horsepower and 311 lb.-ft., strong numbers for the segment. Opting for the N Line means you’ll get all the comforts of the standard Sonata, with a bold edge in terms of power, handling and design — including dual exhaust pipes, and sport front seats with red stitching.

There is also a hybrid version of the Sonata for those focused on fuel economy. All versions of the Sonata are Front-wheel drive (with no AWD options) — AWD is something you can get on most rivals, so this is an area where it’s lacking.

The Sonata features an automatic transmission with paddle shifters, and its Drive Mode Select lets you choose between Custom, Sport, Normal and Smart modes.

While the numbers on the Sonata power plants are not overly impressive outside of the N Line, the Sonata Limited that I tested was still quite impressive in terms of overall drive quality, especially in Sport mode.

Zero to 60 times are not fantastic in the 1.6 turbo engine, approaching 8 seconds, but the N-Line numbers are closer to 5 seconds.

In my experience driving the vehicle, the Sonata’s handling, braking and responsiveness to driver input was more than adequate, making it a worthy competitor to its main rivals. Include the N Line option in the discussion, and the Sonata has much of its competition beat.

There is a unique shifting system that saves space in the center (with push buttons for  P-R-N-D instead of a shifter). And the Sonata offers a quiet and smooth ride with limited noise intrusion.

Also, it’s worth noting that the Sonata’s electronic parking brake won’t release and allow the vehicle to move until you fasten your seat belt.


From the moment you step into the 2021 Sonata, you’ll be impressed with the technology setup. The vehicle features a well-designed and easy-to-use center screen and infotainment system.

The 10.25-inch touchscreen can show three different informational segments at once — such as Navigation, radio and weather. The Navigation system was very accurate in my experience, getting me where I needed to be expeditiously.

My test vehicle also featured a booming sound system — specifically a Bose Premium Audio 12-speaker setup including a 9-inch subwoofer. From deep bass to the highest notes, everything was crystal clear and sounded great at all volume levels.

Also available is wireless phone charging, conveniently located up front.

Voice commands in the Sonata (for radio, phone and navigation) worked well for me, working on my first attempts nearly every time, and the simple commands are easy to master. 

Other tech features in the Sonata included a 12.3-inch color LCD cluster with custom settings on the dashboard, offering lots of great info about the car.  It features AM, FM and HD radio;  USB and auxiliary input jacks; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration; and a 90-day trial of satellite radio. 

BlueLink Connected Services are also complimentary for 3 years — with features including Automatic Collision Notification and SOS Emergency Assistance, teen driving monitors such as Curfew Alert and Speed Alert, Remote Door Lock/Unlock, and maintenance reminders. 

The Sonata comes with excellent safety ratings, nearly perfect in fact, especially important for families looking for a safe vehicle. It features Smart Cruise control, with stop/start capability, and has a ton of standard tech features.

Among the safety features on the 2021 Sonata are:
— Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist
— Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist
— Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, with Pedestrian Detection
— Parking Collision Avoidance Assist, Rear
— Surround View Monitor with Front and Rear Parking Sensors
— Safe Exit Warning

Smart Park is an advanced feature that is standard on the Limited trim, and allows the Sonata to pull itself into a parking spot, and pull out of the parking spot, in some circumstances. It’s not a feature you’ll need every time you go out, but it’s one of those touches that makes the Sonata stand out, and a sign of what the future holds.


The official fuel mileage numbers on the 2021 Hyundai Sonata come in at 27 city/37 highway/30 combined. I averaged around 27 mpg … right on target, as most of my driving was in the city.

While fuel efficient, these numbers were slightly less impressive than some of the competition, but the differences were minor and not enough to be a deciding factor against the Sonata. 

The hybrid variation of the Sonata gets 45 city/51 highway/47 average … which are very impressive numbers. If you are in the market for a hybrid, the Sonata hybrid should definitely be on your list of vehicles to test.


The 2021 Sonata is available in multiple trims: SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited and the new N Line performance option. There is also the Sonata hybrid option.

My test vehicle, a Sonata Limited model, was one of the more high-end offerings and was priced at $35,000, but the Sonata base price starts around $24K if you want to skip some of the bells and whistles and save. The N Line starts around $33K.

Most of the key competitors in this midsize sedan segment start around this same price, so it’s really a matter of looking at what features are included with the Sonata vs. the competition at various trim levels. Head-to-head, the Sonata comes out quite well in these comparisons, making it a strong value in the segment.

To sweeten the deal and give you peace of mind regarding repair costs, Hyundai continues to have some the best warranties in the business, including:

— 5-year, 60K new vehicle warranty
— 10-year, 100K powertrain warranty
— 3-year, 36K complimentary maintenance
— 5-year, unlimited mile roadside assistance


With a state-of-the-art technology setup, strong safety features, and a spacious and upscale interior, the 2021 Hyundai Sonata finds itself firmly in the discussion of best midsize sedans available today.

The addition of the N Line offering can only help the Sonata grow its following, by attracting buyers who are looking for a more powerful and sporty sedan.



AutoTechReviews.com can be found
on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2021 Hyundai Sonata    
  • Price as tested: $35,000 (starts around $24K)   
  • Best feature: Strong safety and tech offerings, roomy and upscale interior
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars   
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Sedan shoppers who want a tech-savvy, modern and upscale vehicle at a reasonable price 
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.

Search Reviews by Make

AutoTechReviews  is your home for In-depth reviews of the latest cars, trucks, and SUVs; information on all the emerging vehicle technology; and breaking news from the world of NASCAR and other motorsports.