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The solar panel roof prevents the 12-volt battery from being drained and adds an average of two miles of range a day.

COURTEY HYUNDAI - The dazzling 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited has a unique grill and other touches that sets it apart from the other models.The Hyundai Sonata may be considered an affordable midsize sedan, but it is available with more advanced technologies than most luxury cars. For 2020 they include a Remote Smart Parking Assist feature and a hybrid version with an optional solar panel roof that charges the batteries and boosts mileage by around 700 miles a year.

Even more remarkable, Hyundai doesn't need to do this. Even in its base trim, the 2020 Sonata is a striking and comfortable car with a long list of standard features that beats practically everything else in its category. But the company has apparently decided to treat the Sonata as the kind of flagship model that luxury manufacturers use to showcase their prowess. The truth is, the top-of-the-line Sonata with all the goodies can even compete against them for tens of thousands less.

COURTESY HYUNDAI - Even the rear end of the redesigned Sonata Hybrid is beautifully styled.

The Sonata was redesigned for 2020 with more aggressive exterior styling and an ungraded interior featuring a large display screen across the top of the dash. I tested a new version with a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine shortly after it was released. It had plenty of power, was EPA rated at 31 miles per gallon, and the Remote Smart Parking Assist feature worked flawlessly, allowing me to back the car out of a parking space after being boxed in on both sides by other vehicles before I got in.

Despite that recent experience, I was struck anew by the beauty of the redesigned Sonata when it showed up in my driveway. The glistening black solar panels on the roof contrasting with the dazzling silver paint job, giving it a wider and lower look that emphasized its sharp exterior lines and wide grill. The rear end features what I can only describe as a spiky spoiler looks unbelieveable. And the hybrid version has a uninque grill that looks great.

COURTESY HYUNDAI - The solar panels on the charge charge both the 12-vote battery and hybrid battery pack.

The hybrid version drove even better than the turbo model thanks to a boost in power — it has 12 more horsepower and 15 more foot pounds of torque. And thanks to the electric motor, the torque is available sooner, increasing acceleration.

And, of course, the mileage is much better. It is EPA rated at 47 miles per gallon, which is 16 more than the turbo model.

The Sonata Hybrid's solar roof consists of two panels with a total system output of 205 watts. Electricity generated by the solar panels first charges the car's 12-volt battery and then is high-voltage hybrid battery pack. That prevents the onboard electronics from draining the battery and then increases adds an average of two more miles of range a day, Hyundai says. That's a neat trick.

COURTESY HYUNDAI - The interiors of all 2020 Sonata versions are thoroughly modern, roomy and comfortable.

Other than those improvements, both models drove about the same, which is to say very well for an affordable mid-size family car. The 2020 Sonata may not be a genuine sport sedan, but it is comfortable and athletic enough that you won't dwell too long of the difference.

The solar panel roof is only available on the top of the line Limited version, which means you get the other bells and whistles when you buy it. But even then, the price was only $36,430. To put that in perspective, our test Sonata Hybrid Limited competed very well against the similarly styled 2020 Lexus ES 300h midsize sedan that we recently tested. The Lexus hybrid was more refined and faster, but the Hyundai gets better mileage and cost over $17,000 less.

COURTESY HYUNDAI - The energy flow from the solar roof to the battery pack to the hybrid powerplant is displayed on the dash.

Hyundai has continued to impress automotive writers in recent years with its improving designs, engineering and quality. The 2020 Sonata Hybrid Limited is the company's crowning achievement so far, but I am prepared to be dazzled again by what comes next.

You can read the review of the turbocharged 2020 Hyunda Sonata Limited here.

COURTESY HYUNDAI - The front seats are wide and comfortable enough for long trips.

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited

Base price: $35,300 (base SE)

Price as tested: $36,430

Type: Midsize sedan

Engine: 2.0-liter and electric motor (192 hp, 210 lbs-ft)

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Drive modes: Eco, Normal, Sport, Smart

EPA estimated mileage: 45/51

Overall length: 192.9 inches

Curb weight: 3,120 to 3,336 pounds

Final assembly: Montgomery, Alabama

COURTESY HYUNDAI - The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited is EPA rated at 47 miles per gallon.


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