• Generations

Hyundai Sonata Generations

By Autolist Editorial | December 9, 2022

The Hyundai Sonata was introduced to the US market for 1989 as the Korean company's foray into the competitive midsize sedan market. Hyundai built its reputation on offering a lot of value, and the Sonata didn't differ from that. But over the years, it has been developed to add more refinement, style, and technology.

2020 – Present Hyundai Sonata (7th Generation)


The latest generation Sonata was introduced for 2020 that returned to a more progressive look from the fifth generation. A large grille dominated the front, with long LED strips for running lights as Hyundai tried to stand out in a shrinking sedan market.

A 2.5-liter 191-horsepower four-cylinder engine went into the base models, while a 1.6-liter 180-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine powered the higher two trims. A 192-horsepower gas-electric hybrid was also offered, with some models providing solar cells on the roof for extra fuel economy.

The 2020 Sonata also added Hyundai's remote parking assist, which allowed users to navigate the car forward or in reverse without entering the vehicle. A new digital key allowed some smart devices to unlock or even start the car. Features such as automatic emergency braking were now standard.

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2015 – 2019 Hyundai Sonata 6th Generation


Hyundai introduced another new Sonata for 2015. The appearance was similar to the previous model but more severe and upright. That was the theme, focusing on refinement and a reflection Hyundai as a brand was just as grown up as the leading companies.

Across three trim levels, there was a 2.4-liter 185-horsepower four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, 2.0-liter 245-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder, both with six-speed automatic transmissions only.

A new, separate Eco trim carries a 1.6-liter 177-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automated transmission.

The 2016 models were among the first new vehicles to offer full smartphone integration, first with Android Auto and then with Apple CarPlay, which quickly spread throughout the Hyundai line and the industry.

And for 2018, the Sonata got a refresh to put back some of the aggressive styling it lost in the redesign. There were more ways to get the turbocharged, 2.0-liter engine, and the Eco model was discontinued. But as sales slid for the old model, Hyundai mostly added features or reduced prices until a new, radical model appeared.

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2011 – 2014 Hyundai Sonata (5th Generation)


An extreme styling update made audiences notice the 2011 Sonata, with a sleek body and aggressive-looking front end. It was radical among midsize sedans, and its dramatically sloping roofline was favorably compared to the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class.

It was another step forward inside, where the functional if staid format of the previous model was replaced with an equally sweeping dash and upgraded materials. Despite all of this, it was roomier than the outgoing model.

Things were more conventional under the skin. The fifth-generation Sonata came standard with a 2.4-liter 198-horsepower four-cylinder engine. A five-speed manual was briefly available, so most models came with a six-speed automatic.

For the first time, there was no V6 option. In its place was a 2.0-liter 274-horsepower turbocharged four. These new engines are also impressive in fuel efficiency, with the standard engine reaching 28 mpg combined. The turbocharged engine was estimated at 26 mpg combined, both stellar numbers for a midsize sedan at the time.

In 2012, Hyundai added the BlueLink emergency telematics system to all models that included automatic crash notification and assistance, SOS emergency assistance, and enhanced roadside assistance. It was the company's first foray into an OnStar-like system and a step toward adding advanced technology to its vehicles.

There was another technological step in 2014 with the first Sonata Hybrid variant. Available on the GLS and Limited trims, it used a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor for a total output of 199 horsepower.

The Sonata became a desirable midsize sedan that challenged the best-sellers and introduced a new daring design emulated by rivals. It would be a tough act for Hyundai to follow up.

View 5th Generations Listings

2006 – 2010 Hyundai Sonata (4th Generation)


The fourth-generation Sonata was introduced for 2006 and was the first Hyundai model produced in the US. This new car was evenly sized with its competition and also resembled the best-selling midsize sedans in the hopes of broadening the Sonata's appeal. Many standard features were added, including anti-lock brakes, cruise control, and stability and traction control.

Engine options were a new, a 2.4-liter 162-horsepower four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission, or a 3.3-liter 235-horsepower V6 engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. All of that was in line or even a step ahead of competitors, putting Hyundai in the sights of Ford, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota.

While the next two years brought minor changes, 2009 brought a fresh interior that pushed the Sonata to the top of its class for cabin quality by redesigning the center stack, center console, and gauges – all having been updated for aesthetics and ergonomics. Both engines receive minor updates as well to increase power output by 10-horsepower each.

The fourth-generation Sonata served Hyundai well, boosting its sales and establishing it as a significant player in the midsize sedan class. But the company would take a dramatic step for its next act.

View 4th Generations Listings

1999 – 2005 Hyundai Sonata (3rd Generation)


In 1999, Hyundai introduced the third generation Sonata with a new look, moving to a sleeker, more modern design removed from the squarer predecessor. Special attention was paid to refinement and design as Hyundai tried to compete with the top family sedans.

There was a 2.4-liter 149-horsepower four-cylinder engine, a 2.5-liter 170-horsepower V6 engine, and a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. To give the Sonata a leg up in the competitive market, Hyundai also introduced a 10-year 10,000-mile powertrain warranty to put aside an image that the brand did not make quality cars. It also helped boost Sonata sales.

In 2002, the Sonata's styling was revised to be bolder. The mid-generation facelift also provided a refined suspension, optional manual control for the automatic transmission, and a high-end LX model. After a decade of making the Sonata more advanced and better equipped, Hyundai would make even more significant strides with a Sonata even better suited for the American market.

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1995 – 1998 Hyundai Sonata (2nd Generation)


A new Sonata was introduced for 1995. It had a much more rounded design that was more in line with the current trends for family sedans in the US as Hyundai tried to climb back and take sales in the competitive market. The base GL model could be equipped with either a new 2.0-liter 137-horsepower four-cylinder engine or a 3.0-liter 142-horsepower V6 engine.

The four-cylinder option could be mated to a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission, while the V6 was mated standard to a four-speed automatic. A better-equipped GLS came only with the V6 and automatic transmission. Newly standard equipment on all models included dual airbags, air conditioning, and a cassette stereo system.

For 1997, the Sonata received a styling update wearing a sheet-metal body that featured new designs for the grille, mirrors, rear-end, and fascia. Cab noise and vibrations were dampened significantly in 1996 and 1997 with the addition of insulation and flush-fitting doors, increasing the allure of an already spacious and comfortable interior. Hyundai was learning to make a more refined car, and those steps would go into the new model for 1999.

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1989 – 1994 Hyundai Sonata (1st Generation)


The 1989 Sonata entered the US market with a lower GL trim and higher GLS trim, each with one of two powertrain configurations. First was a 2.4-liter 116-horsepower four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission. The second was a 3.0-liter 142-horsepower V6 engine mated to a four-speed automatic transmission.

In 1991 Hyundai tweaked the trim level lineup to offer GL, GLS, and GLS SE trims. The GL and GLS received the four-cylinder engine configuration while the GLS SE received the V6.

In 1992 the line was reduced to the GL and GLS only, both sporting a 2.0-liter 128-horsepower four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission. But Hyundai made few revisions to the first Sonata in the US, and a new model would be more in line with midsize sedans of the 1990s.

View 1st Generations Listings