The Honda Accord has been Edmunds’ top-rated midsize sedan since this latest generation launched for the 2018 model year. But a new challenger has arrived on the scene: the redesigned 2020 Hyundai Sonata.
The previous Sonata exhibited a quiet competence in most fields, though it played it safe in the styling department. The 2020 Sonata, in contrast, has a sleek and bold new look. It also debuts several features that are rare for this class of car, including the ability to use your phone as a key.
Are the changes enough to dethrone the reigning champion? Edmunds’ team of expert reviewers compare the 2020 Accord and the 2020 Sonata to determine a winner.
One of the primary reasons to buy a midsize sedan instead of a small sedan such as the Honda Civic or Hyundai Elantra is increased passenger room. Both the Accord and the Sonata feature abundant legroom in the front and back, allowing a 6-foot-tall passenger to sit behind a similarly sized driver without issue.
There are minor differences, however. The Accord’s tapered roofline reduces headroom in the back relative to the Sonata, and taller rear occupants might feel the pinch. The driver’s footwell is also a little tight, and some might rub their knees against the hard plastic of the center tunnel.
The Sonata offers more headroom than the Accord in both rows, even in models equipped with a panoramic sunroof. And unlike the Accord, our drivers had no problem fitting in the Sonata.
COMFORT AND REFINEMENT
The Accord does a nice job of keeping you comfortable on the road. Its suspension ably filters out large bumps and cracks in the pavement, and the front seats are supportive for long drives. It’s also well insulated against traffic noise.
The Sonata’s seats are less comfortable and offer fewer adjustments. It also has a firmer ride, and you’ll feel more road imperfections than in the Accord. Exterior noise is more intrusive in the Sonata, too; a driver might have to raise his or her voice to converse with rear-seat passengers on the highway.
INFOTAINMENT AND DRIVING AIDS
The 2020 Sonata’s system features a logical on-screen menus and large virtual buttons that don’t require much attention to operate accurately. We also like that the Sonata’s advanced safety systems — such as traffic-adaptive cruise control and lane-centering assist — work well on the road and are available on the majority of trim levels.
The Accord’s driver aids also work well, though the forward collision warning system can sometimes be overly sensitive and issue warnings when they’re not really warranted. Its infotainment system is trickier to use, too. The layout is more cluttered, the on-screen buttons are too small, and the menu structure is confusing.
While performance isn’t necessarily at the top of every buyer’s mind, a midsize sedan has to have enough power to move a car full of people when you need it. Though the Sonata with its optional upgraded 180-horsepower engine beats the 192-horsepower Accord in an outright 0-60 mph test, the Honda responds more quickly when you step on the accelerator pedal.
The Accord also possesses excellent handling in tight corners. The Sonata is merely competent. For additional fun, the Accord offers a larger engine with much more power, and it can even be paired to a manual transmission. A similar engine upgrade does not exist for the Sonata.
As with most Hyundais, the Sonata is notable for its value. Its starting price of $24,555 including destination undercuts most rivals, yet it is equipped with features you often pay extra for in competitors. Higher trims add features that are rare for this class, such as driverless parking controlled via the key fob. Rounding out the value proposition is the most comprehensive warranty in the business.
While the Sonata seems stronger on paper, the Accord, which starts at $24,975, offers a different kind of value. Strip away the badge on the steering wheel, and the cabin looks like one you’d find in a luxury sedan. The control knobs and stalks operate with satisfying precision, and the overall look borrows heavily from Acura’s sedans. You still get plenty of features for your money with the Accord, yet it also goes a little further than the Sonata in making you feel like you bought something special.
EDMUNDS SAYS: The 2020 Honda Accord and 2020 Hyundai Sonata both offer their own unique strengths in the midsize sedan category. The Accord is more desirable overall thanks to its luxurious cabin, comfortable ride and strong performance.