Possibly Hyundai's biggest headache, for a company that thriving in everything that they are putting its hands on, Sonata is being terminated sooner than its normal life span, with a planned introduction of the all-new model in 2023. Find out why this is happening.
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Of all the new Hyundai models expected in the next little while, no other model is more anticipated than Hyundai’s bread and butter Sonata. Although Korea’s answer to Japanese family sedans that dominate the market, has lost its luster in the recent years due to the general decline in the popularity of the family sedans, as well as the design fiasco that resulted in the plummeting in the sales, Sonata still remains to be one of the most important models for the Korean automaker.
And for that reason, Hyundai is bringing out an entirely new version of Sonata, way ahead of the schedule to turn things around for the quintessential family sedan to gain back its former glory.
Let's explore what we can expect in terms of the new exciting design as well as the new technology that will be employed in the new Hyundai sedan.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Hyundai made a drastic move to cancel the midcycle refresh that was to take place in 2022 .
Sonata has been Hyundai’s most popular model for the longest time since its first introduction to the US in 1996. It became an instant hit, as Hyundai managed to sell over 100,000 units in 2004, eventually breaking 200,000 units annually in 2011, when the first Sonata posed a true challenge to the Japanese household name sedans such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, the 6th generation Sonata, also known by its codename Y-F, was introduced and buck the trend for the boxy and boring sedan, by featuring a sleek coupe-like design themed called fluidic sculpture that stormed the market, paving the way for family sedans that actually stir up excitement, eventually forcing all others to follow. The strong sales continued while the Y-F prevailed as the trendsetter and a benchmark, by even offering its first-ever hybrid model in the company’s history.
However, came the subsequent seventh-generation model codenamed LF in 2015, and the sales cog started to fall apart, with the disastrous-looking new design that was pretty much a step backward in terms of the overall presentation. The new design featured an uninspiring straight-line theme while maintaining the overall proportion of the former 4-door coupe, dominated by curved sculpted lines, with the intention of simply refreshing the older design that was highly successful. However, the end result was considered a big failure, and the sales rush slowed down drastically since the introduction of the new model. In 2016, the sales slipped down to under 200,000 units for the first time since 2010, a position that Hyundai was not able to recover even until now. Sales continue to plummet to less than 100,000 units in 2019, and it was a wake-up call for Hyundai, as it announced its ambitious plan to retake the market with the introduction of the Le Fil Rouge concept, which was to be the basis for the new 8th generation Sonata.
Le Fil Rouge concept was to be the basis for the new 8th-generation Sonata (For More Info: https://youtu.be/hoHGrW8NAWg)
The bold new concept was directed by the none other than Luc Donkewolke of the Bentley Flying Spur, and the Lamborghini Murciélago and Gallardo fame, and it was to be the revolution of the new sedan design that was supposed to replicate the success of the 6th generation YF Sonata, by featuring never been seen sports car design elements in a sedan that was truly revolutionary.
However, something really got lost in the translation and when the production version was unveiled, it was proven to be an utter disappointment and a repeat of another design catastrophe. The 8th generation Sonata was heavily criticized and ridiculed for its catfish-like front fascia as well as for the convoluted lines that made the sedan look droopy and uninspiring. In an attempt to create excitement for the new car, Hyundai offered the high-performance N-line version for the first time on the family sedan and was highly praised for its athleticism represented by its 0-60 mph time of blistering 5.2 seconds, but many felt that it was overkill for a family sedan, and understandably, $35,000 sedan really didn’t help to turn things around for the failing model, and compounded by effects of the pandemic, sales continue to suffer, and now it’s one of the slowest moving models in the lineup, outsold even by the equally esthetically-challenged Santa Fe SUV, which sold over 112,000 units in 2021 versus Sonata’s 83,000 units.
Catfish-mouthed 8th-generation Sonata is considered a sales flop (N-line shown). (For More Info: https://youtu.be/hoHGrW8NAWg)
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Hyundai made a drastic move to cancel the midcycle refresh that was to take place in 2022, instead, the Korean company that seems to be on a roll with everything except for its family sedan program, will have another go at bringing out an entirely new Sonata in 2023.
Known as DN9 to denote the 9th generation model, the all-new Sonata will be a highly significant model for a few different reasons.
First, it will be the first all-new model that will be based on the exact same platform and the drivetrain as the outgoing model that it replaces in Hyundai’s history. This means it will use the same 3rd generation platform, renowned for its lightness and strength for safety and the performance potential, as well as the same powerplants that include the base 180-hp 195 pound-feet of torque 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, that manages 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of just 7.3 seconds, and the optional hybrid engine, which produces a combined 192-hp and 290-pound-feet of torque from 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, and an electric motor to render 54 mpg and 0-60 time of 8.3 seconds. It’s not certain if the aforementioned N-line with a 290-hp 311 pound-feet of torque 2.5-liter turbocharged engine from Genesis will be retained, but most people won’t miss it, since the plug-in hybrid version is expected to make a comeback for the new 9th generation Sonata. The plug-in engine will basically be the same as the hybrid engine but with a few more horsepowers at 202, and offer 50 km or 32 miles of pure EV range.
The 9th-generation Sonata (artist's impression) is to feature the same platform and a similar powertrain as the current Sonata (For More Info: https://youtu.be/hoHGrW8NAWg)
Furthermore, utilizing the highly versatile 3rd generation platform, entirely new powerplants are expected to be offered. This brings us to the 2nd reason for its significance. Hyundai’s 3rd generation platform, which now underpins all of the newly developed cars, along with the E-GMP platform for the dedicated EVs from Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis, could support a variety of different types of the powerplant that includes not only the ICE, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid as we have mentioned, but is also capable of taking on a pure battery-electric system, as well as a hydrogen fuel cell electric powerplant, Sonata could be the first Hyundai sedan to receive the electrification to become BEV Sonata.
The Sonata EV is expected to feature a similar drivetrain as the Kia Niro EV, which offers 201 hp, and 253 miles or 407 km of EPA-certified range. Since it’s still a 400-volt system, it won’t charge at the 800-volt E-GMP’s 18 minutes, but it will still manage it in respectable 40 minutes 10 to 80%. As well, there is a talk of Sonata receiving the new third-generation FCEV fuel stack, which is developed for the next generation Nexo, expected in a couple of years. The hydrogen-powered Sonata will be more efficient than the current Nexo and help to proliferate hydrogen usage in passenger vehicles. For more information on the Sonata FCEV, please check out our feature video on the subject.
The all-new Sonata is also rumored to receive the new 3rd-generation fuel cell stack developed for the next Nexo FCEV. (For More Info: https://youtu.be/hoHGrW8NAWg)
So, with the same platform and the same drivetrain, you might be wondering if this so-called 9th generation model is just a facelift. No, it will be an entirely new car with no part of the old car retained. That means all of its nearly 5-meter-long body will be treated to the all-new sheet metal, restyled to bring back its glory, as seen in the predictive rendering. The new body will be influenced by the other successful sedan design in Hyundai’s global arsenal, which includes Elantra’s new ‘Parametric Dynamics’ design language that gets its inspiration from polyhedral geometric shapes where three surface lines meet at one place, resulting in the end product is an angular design with a lot of sharp cuts and crease lines all over the bodywork.
Another vehicle that will influence the new Sonata will be its bigger brother Grandeur, which is actually a derivative of Sonata. Also known as Azera in North America, before it was discontinued a couple of iterations ago, the slightly bigger and more luxurious Grandeur has now replaced Sonata as the most sold family sedan in the native Korean market. As it’s being replaced with the all-new model this year, the new Grandeur's new spaceship-like front fascia, which now dominates everything from the Staria minivan to the SEVEN Concept in the Hyundai lineup, is also expected to be found in the new Sonata coming next year. Finally, the overall shape is to resemble the Chinese-market Sonata, known as La-Festa that's a bit smaller than the global Sonata, which sports a very dynamic and appealing design.
The all-new 2024 Sonata is expected to be influenced by the next-generation Hyundai Grandeur (aka Azera) (For more info: https://youtu.be/hoHGrW8NAWg)
The interior will be reworked as well, of course, to offer a more sporting ambiance, consistent with the new exterior. The highlight of the interior will be the new dual 12.3-inch display similar to the IONIQ 5 and IONIQ 6 EVs and expected to feature the latest Advanced driver-assistance systems including the level 3 self-driving autonomy, which would make Sonata one of the most advanced sedans for the mass market in the world.
Lastly, the feature that Hyundai claims will be the integral part of all future vehicles, the lighting grille, which is expected to debut on the upcoming IONIQ 6 electric sedan, will also be offered on the newest Sonata. Lighting grille is a technology that makes use of the front grille area as it becomes obsolete with the advent of the electric cars, where LED board and lighting elements are placed to show a variety of information such as the battery charging status, safety info, as well as other customizable messages and graphics.
The estimated starting price is expected to go up slightly to $27,000 with the hybrid starting from $30,000. If the EV is released, the price is expected to be $40,000, which would be a great value for a large family sedan, especially when compared to the IONIQ 6 dedicated electric sedan with the expected starting price of around $50,000.
The all-new 9th-generation Sonata (DN9) should feature the dual 12.3-inch panoramic screens as seen in the Hyundai Mistra sedan (Chinese market exclusive) (For More Info: https://youtu.be/hoHGrW8NAWg)
Whether the fully electric version will be made, will largely depend on the supply chain issues and the battery price, both of which are causing great constraints on the availability of the electrified vehicles currently.
A question. If the new Sonata EV was to become available at a lower price, albeit with a lower range and slower charging speed, would you choose it over the IONIQ 6, which is already being criticized for its disappointing appearance?
WATCH THE FULL VIDEO: https://youtu.be/hoHGrW8NAWg