A more powerful Sonata N Line is coming.
Prior to the car’s reveal at the 2019 New York Auto Show, I was disappointed with the 2020 Hyundai Sonata. No, not because of the way it looks. I know some of you think it looks like a weird fish, but I actually like the way it looks. At least it’s different. No, my complaint had to do with the power.
Or, rather, the lack of it. The 2020 Hyundai Sonata is launching with two available engines, neither of which is the 2.0-liter turbocharged unit from the outgoing model. Instead, the most powerful engine at launch is a 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated engine with 191 horsepower. That falls well short of the 245 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque that the old Sonata 2.0T provided.
Fortunately, Hyundai rectified that issue during their press conference at the New York Auto Show. In that, the company confirmed there would be a performance variant — the 2020 Hyundai Sonata N Line — with more than 275 horsepower. Possibly more, as Hyundai Motor America director Jim Trainor told Autoblog.
That’s great in my book. Yes, the looks may split opinions (and I understand why you may not like its new styling). But, at least the prospect of a Sonata with an N badge might help balance the scales a bit. What engine it will have remains unclear, but it’s not a stretch to imagine the Sonata will have a tuned up version of the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine in the Veloster N.
How does that power compare to the competition?
While sedans aren’t flying off dealer lots like they used to, you can still get some pretty good bang for your buck. While Hyundai hasn’t announced pricing for the 2020 Sonata at all yet, an N Line performance version likely won’t break the bank. The old Limited 2.0T topped out at just over $30,000, and that’s where most of the competition is priced too.
That got me thinking: How does 275 (or more) horsepower compare to the competition? There are a few different options to choose from in the Sonata’s class. Mind you, these are sedans with some sporty flavor and a decent amount of power. While cars like the new Nissan Altima VC-Turbo or the Chevy Malibu may offer decent grunt, they aren’t quite in the same ball park as the cars below.
|2020 Hyundai Sonata N Line||275+ hp||???|
|Toyota Camry XSE V6||301 hp||267 lb-ft|
|Honda Accord Sport 2.0T||252 hp||273 lb-ft|
|Mazda6 Grand Touring||250 hp||310 lb-ft|
|Subaru Legacy XT||260 hp||277 lb-ft|
|Ford Fusion V6 Sport||325 hp||380 lb-ft|
Toyota Camry XSE V6
The Toyota Camry is the most obvious candidate, since it’s the best-selling midsize sedan around right now. The V6-powered XSE version is pretty nice to drive, even for what’s otherwise an ordinary family sedan. You get 301 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque from the 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated engine. It’s mated up to an 8-speed automatic transmission.
You can get an XLE V6 version as well, but the sporty XSE looks more like a performance model. It starts at $35,630 after a $930 destination fee. The 2020 Hyundai Sonata N Line may not have as much power, but it may have more torque with a turbocharged engine.
Honda Accord Sport 2.0T
While the Camry has more power, it’s not quite as fast as the Honda Accord at altitude. We learned that fact in a drag race last year. The 2.0-liter Honda Accord has a de-tuned Civic Type R engine, which adds to its performance credentials. It makes 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the Camry, you can also get this model with a 6-speed manual transmission. However, the usual take for most people will be the 10-speed automatic instead.
The turbocharged engine is just part of the equation, as the Honda Accord feels well-planted on the road. It also looks more daring than the more conservative Camry. On style and its driving experience, the Accord may be the closest direct competitor to a Hyundai Sonata N Line. The Accord is extremely well-priced too, tipping the scales at just over $30,000. Although, we suspect the Sonata N Line will have more power and torque, so it will be interesting to see how the two compare in a drag race.
Mazda6 Grand Touring
Yes, I’ll still say it: the Mazda6 is probably the most driver-focused sedan of the bunch. However, given our experience with the Veloster, the 2020 Hyundai Sonata N Line may give the Mazda a run for its money. As it stands, the 2.5-liter turbocharged engine making 250 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque is a winning combination. The only down side: its 6-speed automatic transmission. It handles the power well, but it’s a bit archaic by today’s standards.
Springing for the Grand Touring model will get you the turbo engine — lesser models just have the 187 horsepower naturally-aspirated unit. It starts at $30,420, but higher level trims will raise that price north of $36,000. It’s likely the 2020 Hyundai Sonata N Line will offer a better value proposition, as well as more horsepower.
Subaru Legacy XT
The 2020 Subaru Legacy ups the power from the previous model. Thanks to its 2.4-liter turbocharged Boxer engine, it makes 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. That’s a bit more oomph than the old 3.6R models, with their six-cylinder engines. It has the power to duke it out with the Hyundai Sonata N Line, at least on paper. So far as performance is concerned, its main Achilles heel lies with its Lineartronic CVT. Continuously variable transmissions are a plus for fuel economy, but not so much for out-and-out performance. Still, the upcoming Legacy may exceed expectations.
Whether it would beat the 2020 Hyundai Sonata N Line if the Sonata has 275 or more horsepower is a mystery. Even still, They may end up competing on price. While Subaru has not announced 2020 pricing yet, the current Legacy 3.6R starts at $32,430 with an $885 destination charge.
Ford Fusion V6 Sport
Okay, so I’m cheating a bit here. Technically, the Ford Fusion’s days are numbered. However, the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 in the Sport model has surprised many with just how quick it is. That’s little surprise, bearing in mind it has 325 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. Unlike most of the others — save the Legacy — it’s also all-wheel drive. Its six-speed automatic transmission may hold it back against the more modern 8- and 10-speed automatics, though.
Really, this nearly-deceased car may be the one that best holds a candle to the potential power of the 2020 Hyundai Sonata N Line. Of course, that depends on how much power it ends up having when it reaches production. If it’s 275 horsepower, then it’s closer to Honda Accord and Mazda6 territory. If it’s more…it may be the new class leader. One thing is certain, though: The performance Hyundai Sonata will cost a lot less than the Fusion V6 Sport’s $41,010 asking price. Soon, though, you’ll probably find some good deals on used examples of the Fusion.