For Hyundai’s revamped 2024 Sonata, the outside is what matters

Hyundai | Jason Chatterley Design

Vehicles from South Korea’s two automotive giants—Kia and Hyundai—are difficult to ignore in the U.S. these days. Some are simply becoming ubiquitous, like the Telluride (Kia) and the Palisade (Hyundai) SUVs, in upper-middle-class suburbs, or the Kona, stalwart of the subcompact class. Other models, especially from Hyundai, look … well, far weirder than most vehicles targeted at the mass market. That funny pickup truck, the Santa Cruz, is essentially the same concept as the Ford Maverick, but you’d never mistake one small truck for the other. The 2024 Santa Fe looks straight out of Minecraft and absolutely nothing like its milquetoast predecessor versions.

Then there’s the mid-size Sonata sedan, the first iteration to sell fewer than 100,000 units in the U.S. since 2005. It was completely redesigned for 2020, with the look of a squashed catfish with a droopy rear-end.

Well, it used to, anyway.

Welcome to the 2024 Sonata. It’s hard to think of a nameplate that has changed so much visually from generation to generation—blocky, then blobby, boring, and even bechromed. Finally, however, Hyundai seems to have struck a balance between the yawn-inducing seventh generation and 2020’s … interesting look. Hyundai also says this is the most aerodynamic Sonata ever, and we believe it.

2024 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited
Hyundai | Jason Chatterley Design

The visual changes for the 2024 model year are in tune with today’s automotive trends: Daytime running lights move from within the headlights to become a distinct element, here a light bar spanning the nose. (Seamless Horizon Lamp, in Hyundai-speak. Here’s hoping it comes with a free inspirational poster.) Main illumination duty is performed by a set of bulbs set under the cheekbones of the car’s “face,” which is less anthropomorphic than ever.

You may find the new Sonata unappealing for that exact reason, but wait until you see inside. There are more pixels than ever, showcased more boldly than before. Simple, geometric shapes are the name of the game: Gone is the five-sided binnacle that shaded the 2023 car’s instrument cluster, or the rounded trapezoidal frame of the dash-mounted entertainment screen. In their places are rectangles of pixelated real estate, like slim iPads mounted long-ways. The steering wheel ditches 2023’s funky four-spoke design for a three-spoke affair. Clean and unfussy, the mostly black cabin is accented with—oh my goodness, real buttons?!—brushed metallic brightwork. Simple really does look better.

The biggest changes are digital. For the first time, any and all Sonatas now come with wireless Apple CarPlay. (Until last year, only SE trims specced without on-board navigation could mirror a smartphone on their central display without a hard-line connection.) You can unlock your Sonata with your iPhone or Apple Watch, assuming each device is a new-enough model. The 2024 Sonata also accepts over-the-air (OTA) updates from its manufacturer, a technology that only arrived in the Hyundai portfolio recently, in the all-electric Ioniq 6 sedan.

The biggest news, when it comes to the drivetrain, is the arrival of all-wheel drive—a first for the Sonata, and only available with the naturally aspirated 2.5-liter engine. Engine choices remain the same: Most models get that 2.5-liter four-pot, the sporty N-Line gets a 2.5-liter turbocharged version, and the hybrid downsizes to 2.0 liters while adding the electric hardware. The hybrid now offers paddle shifters and a regen braking mode. The regen system’s presence on a hybrid should appeal to users who don’t want or can’t afford to buy an EV but still want a bit of that experience.

Hyundai isn’t talking prices yet, but the 2024 Sonata goes on sale this winter, so we expect the automaker to release that information in the next few months.

With the 2024 Sonata, Hyundai seems well-positioned to make the most of a market segment that is still shrinking. For as long as it lasts, we’ll venture this much: South Korea’s four-door car is looking better than ever.


2024 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited



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    The inside matters with Hyundai. The engines are not exactly showing how well they are built. My buddy is making good money on engine changes after they blow up.

    Sadly, the two people I know (who drive different Hyundai models) have both experienced engine failure (lubrication related) soon after hitting 100K miles. I once thought I would entertain the idea of buying a Hyundai or a Kia, but now? Why would I, with so many other alternatives?

    Hyundai has the worst customer service though these type of articles deals with the car only – one should look long term.
    For years they have been having issues with the cars with white paint (all over the internet) include lawsuits.
    Hyundai still refuses to deal with this issue and other from talking to customers.
    Would be nice to see what can be written about what happens when everything is not perfect!

    The car is better looking than the sad catfish from before but it’s just boring to look at in the front. The interior and the wall of screens looks so tacked on. At least it has buttons for ac, etc.

    I really liked that “catfish”, especially the rear end. They have really has some nice stylish Sonatas over the years, but with some boring designs interspersed, like the second generation.

    The new one still looks nice, but has lost most of its distinctiveness. Yes, I was one who liked the controversial front end, and the unusually-tapered back, of the previous edition.

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