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2023 Hyundai Sonata vs. 2023 Hyundai Elantra


1. Exterior Design

The exterior design of a vehicle is the first thing that is noticed by a customer, as it is the most visible. With the Hyundai Motor Company's investment and concentration on the exterior design of the Elantra and Sonata, Hyundai has once again come out shining in terms of style and elegance. The design on both cars truly represents a new age for Hyundai aesthetics. The Sonata, drawing its influence from the second generation Fluidic Sculpture design philosophy, is a sleek and sophisticated looking vehicle. The surface is without doubt one of the most refined designs when compared to any other car in this segment. Its most prominent feature is the sporty yet elegant front fascia featuring a new interpretation of the company's signature hexagonal front grille, new slim line headlights and a reconfigured air dam. Moving along the side of the vehicle, the use of a slightly up-swept belt line and chrome accent runs along the entire length of the car, culminating into a more muscular looking rear end featuring large tail lights and an integrated twin exhaust; truly confirming the expression of a sports sedan. Because of this, the Hyundai Sonata is regarded as one of the most stylistically designed vehicles in its class. [1][2]

1.1. Sonata's sleek and sophisticated styling

Moving on to the first topic, "1.1. Sonata's sleek and sophisticated styling," the newly designed Hyundai Sonata has changed its image as a mid/large-size car. In the past, every time you heard the word Hyundai Sonata, the image of a boring and unattractive family car would come to mind. Now, it is just a totally different story. The YF Sonata brings the aspect of luxury and futurism into the world of Hyundai vehicles. The YF has received a lot of positive responses from the public as Hyundai has successfully changed the view of Sonata to become a luxury mid-size car. At a glance, you may think that the new Sonata has a similar design to other car manufacturers such as Lexus, Mercedes, or BMW. If you say that, then Hyundai has reached its goal. The new Sonata has been designed with just one simple word in mind: sharp. The front view of the car can be described as bold and elegant. It has a really wide wing-shaped front grille that makes the car look steady and powerful. The headlamp has also followed the shape of the grille, which is wide and sharp. The design for the front bumper is quite simple and does not have many curves. It also has a simple, sharp fog lamp to add to the sporty image of the car. The higher-end model for YF has added HID headlamps and 17-inch sport rims, which also contribute to the sporty image of the car. In the side view, the car has a really high shoulder line and a long window frame that moves downward at the back of the car.

1.2. Elantra's sporty and modern appearance

In contrast to the Sonata, the Elantra reveals a sporty and modern personality with large, aggressive front grille openings dominated by Hyundai's mark. The side profile is dominated by a high beltline that stretches to the rear. A chrome line goes from the side mirror all the way to the C-pillar and integrates with a sharp-looking H-tail lamp design. Elantra's 18-inch alloy wheels give this vehicle a further modern look. The sporty image is completed with dual exhaust and a rear trunk lip. The Elantra's image is designed to replicate a sports car in a 4-door sedan package. Hyundai has done a great job capturing a sporty and modern look for the Elantra. The small and large details come together to give the vehicle a design edge above its predecessors and most vehicles in the segment. With its parametric-pattern grille and dual LED headlamps at the front, full low and high beam modules, and dynamic accent light, strong wedge line, and 17-inch alloy wheels, the Elantra looks like a compact sports sedan. The lighting design continues along the side of the vehicle with an H-tape impression. The coupe-style roofline is enhanced by a plane to the rear where an integrated deck lid spoiler and arrow-like light signature complete the look. The Elantra is lower, longer, and wider than the previous generation and presents an elongated and assertive profile. With H-link rear suspension low in the body, the Elantra poses dramatically improving the overall proportions and driving confidence.

2. Interior Features

Both cars have a navigation system and rearview camera, which are available on Limited trims, and the rear camera has a sonar indicator (vehicle is getting closer to an object) and a backup warning system that is available in the navigation package. The Sonata's rear camera also comes with a rearview camera. Both the Sonata and Elantra have an available premium audio package which includes a center channel and external amplifier (that's a 360-watt amp and a 400-watt for Elantra and Sonata, respectively) and an auto defogger. The Elantra has a 7-speaker system, but no satellite radio is included. This is not a problem for the Sonata, as the price is only $115 above the Elantra, but it includes a 400-watt premium audio system and a navigation system. Now the audio system is obviously better than the Elantra's, and the navigation system itself is a 6.8-inch high-resolution screen (Elantra is a 6.5-inch) with a multi-touch surface, DVD, Bluetooth capabilities, and a user-friendly interface with high-speed search. The Etch 3.8 GT Navi package has the same features but also includes a 64 GB flash drive, allowing the user to put music from the flash drive into the car's hard drive. This is obviously above the Elantra, as the flash drive is much more efficient than the CD-ROM drive for music storage. Furthermore, both the Sonata and Elantra have SiriusXM Satellite Radio and Blue Link (which are complimentary for three months). However, Bluetooth users may find that the premium audio system makes Bluetooth music sound more crisp and clear. [3]

The Hyundai Sonata and Elantra may be different in sizes, but they share a lot of similarities. That said, the Sonata has more or less the same features as the Elantra, but there is a technology that is available for the Sonata. The Elantra has a standard driver interface which has a trip computer and a fuel efficiency monitor (if the car is automatic) within the gauge cluster. All of these features are also available for the Sonata, but the Sonata also has an available Integrated Memory System which provides Sonata Limited drivers with an exterior mirror and driver seat memory function.

2.1. Sonata's spacious and comfortable cabin

The 2023 Hyundai Sonata is one of the largest midsize sedan vehicles on the market today. This exceptional vehicle has many features which bring it above the rest, from a V6 engine to an onboard hands-free communication system. One of the many standout features this vehicle has to offer is its spacious and comfortable cabin. The Sonata offers plenty of headroom and legroom throughout the vehicle. The front seats are possibly the most comfortable in the entire midsize sedan class, and the back seats also have the same level of comfort with extra good bolstering and plenty of legroom even when the front seats are adjusted all the way back. The cabin is rich with attractive high-quality materials, and the interior layout is easy and pleasing to the eye. The Sonata also offers a variety of interior features, which include an available panoramic sunroof, available manual rear side sunshades, and plenty of beverage holders for all passengers. Other clever features include an available automatic defogging system, which detects and gets rid of condensation buildup on the windshield and front door windows, a proximity key and push-button start, dual automatic temperature controls, an auto up/down for the driver's window, an interior door handle welcome light, and an available integrated memory system for the driver's seat and side mirrors. This vehicle's cabin is surely a cut above the rest. A comparison that can be made on the Sonata's comfortable and spacious cabin is that of a living room. A living room is where homeowners and guests spend a large amount of time, and the comfort and impression of the furniture and setting is something that lasts. In the same sense, a cabin is where the driver and passengers spend a lot of time, and the comfort and impression of the interior setting is something that lasts. The Sonata's cabin has made a bold statement and has left an impression in the midsize sedan segment.

2.2. Elantra's advanced technology and premium materials

Upon closely inspecting the Elantra, you'll notice the abundance of soft-touch surfaces and high-quality trim. The use of premium materials is evidently a strong focus in the Elantra's design, with the leather-appointed seats on the Elantra Premium offering a premium look and feel similar to that of the Sonata from a base model perspective. However, the Elantra offers high levels of material quality even on its base model Active variant. The increased use of high-quality materials ties in with Hyundai's desire to approach the Elantra as an alternative to smaller European cars known for their high-quality interior materials and trims. This innovative approach has seen the Elantra presented with an International Forum Design (iF) award for its interior design. A feature of the Elantra that should not be overlooked is the segment-leading level of NVH that has been achieved through the use of increased sound-deadening materials and improved isolation from road and engine noise. The Elantra offers lower levels of interior noise than the majority of its competitors and is significantly quieter than the Sonata due to its smaller size, which allows better isolation of the cabin from exterior noise. Furthermore, the Elantra offers a heightened level of safety equipment as the smaller sedan is available with active safety technologies not found in its larger stablemate. However, this will be discussed in greater detail upon the comparison of both models' safety features.

The Elantra sports an equally modern interior. However, compared to the Sonata, it's designed with a driver-focused layout. It's clear that the Elantra GMT platform is focused on enhancing performance, use, and driving dynamics as the Elantra features a caliber of inner-drive and performance development technologies. However, the Elantra offers a decentralized information center, with radio, heating, and cooling controls all easier to reach because of the driver-centric layout. This is compared to the centrally located controls of the Sonata. Both models offer steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, again similar in their design, however, differing in functionality. The steering wheel on the Elantra is a tilt and telescopic wheel, allowing adjustment for a more comfortable driving position. This is only a minor advantage over the Sonata, as its top-spec models also feature a tilt and telescopic steering wheel with a memory function.

2.3. Sonata's additional luxury options

When comparing Sonata and Elantra, there is a price difference of approximately $6000 between the 2.0L A/T Elantra Elite and the 2.4L A/T Sonata. However, when considering the extra features of Sonata such as ESC, TCS, VDC, two extra airbags, leather interior, power seats, alloy pedals, trip computer, full-size alloy spare wheel, and a more powerful and economical 2.4-liter, 130kW/228Nm engine, it becomes clear that Sonata offers great value for money in its class. These features come as standard on Sonata and are not available on Elantra.

Sonata has been designed to provide an incredibly comfortable yet stylish ride, and one of its additional luxury features is Electronic Stability Control (ESC). It also has Panic Brake Assist, which senses emergency braking situations, as well as ABS, TCS, and ESC to increase brake force. The car is equipped with 6 airbags - front, front seat side mounted, and full-length curtain - to ensure maximum protection for all occupants. Additionally, Sonata has a trip computer that provides instant and average fuel consumption, distance to empty, and average vehicle speed readouts. These additional features not only improve safety but also enhance the car's good looks and economy compared to Elantra.

3. Performance and Efficiency

The Elantra features two new engines this year. Returning is the 2.0-liter four for most trim levels, but it's the new 1.6-liter turbo that has garnered the most excitement. Delivering 201 hp, it's quite potent, and the fuel efficiency is greater than the base engine. Hyundai claims the 1.6T gets the best fuel efficiency in its class, capped at 35 MPG. With either engine, the Elantra provides a quieter and softer ride quality than the previous model, and its steering and handling reflects that, offering good but not sporty response. A new transmission dubbed the Smartstream Intelligent Variable Transmission is featured on 1.6T models, providing wide-ratio coverage and superior efficiency over a conventional automatic. This engine and CVT combination is peppy and competitive, but if you're looking for an efficient, economy car at a lower price point, the Elantra's base engine and the money saved on options could be an attractive alternative to a midsize sedan. Overall, the Elantra excels in fuel economy and delivers a good compromise between performance and efficiency, especially in the mid to high-level trims.

The Sonata shows impressive performance for a family sedan. The base 2.4-liter four is great, but the 3.3-liter really moves the car quickly. Both engines are refined and powerful. The transmission shifts smoothly, although not as responsively as a gearless CVT. The steering feels secure but over-assisted, controlling the car with precision. Braking is powerful and secure. At 24 miles per gallon, or 22 with the 3.3, fuel economy is not a strong point for this car, but it runs on regular unleaded. Also, certain models feature a new fuel-saving push-button automatic engine start/stop function. This halts engine operation when coming to a stop and restarts the engine upon releasing the brake, netting small fuel economy gains. This feature can be disabled.

3.1. Sonata's powerful engine options

The Sonata lineup is powered by a mix of normally aspirated and turbo engines, starting with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that's standard in most trims. It's a smooth, relatively refined powerplant that's capable of moving the Sonata around without too much strain, but the more interesting options are the turbocharged engines. The SEL Plus and Limited come with a 1.6-liter turbo four that's borrowed from the smaller Elantra. With 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque, it's a decent upgrade over the base engine, but the small increase in output doesn't feel worth the extra cost to us. Far better is the 2.5-liter turbo four that's exclusively available in the N-Line model. This engine produces 290 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque, which transforms the character of the Sonata significantly. Not only is it far quicker than any other version of the car, it's genuinely fun to drive, with strong, linear power delivery and a meaty exhaust note. Unfortunately, the N-Line's price tag and tight supply mean it's relatively rare on dealer lots, but it's the engine to get if you're considering a Sonata. All engines mate to an eight-speed automatic transmission, which is standard across the lineup and delivers smooth and well-timed shifts. No matter the engine, the Sonata delivers competitive fuel economy, but as always, gas mileage will vary depending on how you drive and which trim level you choose.

3.2. Elantra's impressive fuel efficiency

The Elantra has always been known for its impressive fuel efficiency, and the 2023 model is no exception. One of its most distinct features is the available Eco model. This is powered by a 1.4L turbocharged GDI 4-cylinder engine capable of delivering 128 horsepower and 156 lb-ft torque. It also has a 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Although this is not the most powerful engine available with the Elantra, it boasts an impressive 32 MPG in the city, 40 MPG on the highway, and 35 MPG combined. This is extremely fuel efficient and could lead to substantial savings over the life of the vehicle. The standard engine for the Elantra is the 2.0L Atkinson Cycle 4-cylinder. This is capable of 147 horsepower, 132 lb-ft torque, and is mated to an Intelligent Variable Transmission. The MPG is also very good with a reported 33 MPG in the city, 43 MPG on the highway, and 37 MPG combined. Both of these engines will be very cheap to run and make the Elantra a great choice for those with fuel economy in mind.

3.3. Sonata's smooth and responsive handling

New to the 2023 Sonata is a standard feature called Driver Selectable Steering Mode (DSSM). DSSM is a segment first; the system allows the driver to choose the steering force level from three operating modes - comfort, normal, and sport. The comfort mode is ideal for parking in tight spaces and city driving, while the sport mode is tuned for higher speeds and more winding roads, and the normal mode is ideal for a mix of driving conditions. Consumers can now have more control over the feel of the car based on personal preference. Completing the new steering system is a re-engineered column-mounted motor-driven power steering (MDPS) that now has better on-center feel, more natural elasticity build-up at turning angles, and improved torsion bar stiffness; all critical factors in the precision and feel of a car's steering system. With features aimed at giving the driver the feel of a responsive sports sedan, the new Sonata truly boasts some of the best handling capabilities in the midsize car segment.

One of the most fundamental aspects of a car's performance is its handling. And when it comes to handling, few cars can compete with the 2023 Hyundai Sonata. The 2023 Sonata combines the latest technology with quality engineering to provide a vehicle that can adapt to changing driving conditions, leading to a more rewarding driving experience. The foundation for the Sonata's handling capabilities lies in its fully independent suspension that has been refined over the years by Hyundai engineers who determined the optimal damping rates and spring rates for the vehicle. This leads to a Sonata that is easy to control, stable, and predictable under all driving conditions, reducing the likelihood of driver error.

4. Safety and Technology

Both the Hyundai Elantra and Sonata are awarded with 5-star ANCAP safety ratings. They share fundamental safety technologies together that include Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with pedestrian detection and Cyclist detection, Lane Following Assist (LFA), and Blind-spot Collision-Avoidance Assist. This collection of technologies is made under the umbrella of Hyundai SmartSense, which is Hyundai's cutting-edge driver assistance system that ensures the highest levels of safety and convenience on the road. The Sonata has been built with a robust body structure, high driving stability, and a comprehensive range of safety equipment. It has been designed to achieve top safety ratings in all regions. Some of the safety equipment that puts Sonata ahead of Elantra is the inclusion of Safe Exit Warning (SEW). This is a system that alerts the driver or passengers of any hazards approaching from the rear before exiting the vehicle. Another feature is the Remote Smart Parking Assist (RSPA) that allows the car to be remotely parked or departed from a tight parking spot. This is an advanced technology feature that is rarely seen in vehicles within the same class or price range.

Table of Contents: 4. Safety and Technology 4.1. Hyundai SmartSense Safety Features in Both Models 4.2. Sonata's Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems 4.3. Elantra's Connectivity and Infotainment Options

4.1. Hyundai SmartSense safety features in both models

To ensure a maximum level of safety in the event of an accident, both the Sonata and Elantra come standard with the SmartSense safety system. However, because the Sonata is the more premium model, it comes with more advanced safety features. The Elantra comes standard with Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) (pedestrian detection available). The Sonata has the same features. Elantra's Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) and Driver Attention Warning (DAW) are also in the Sonata. Where the Elantra has a Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance Assist (BCA) with Rear-Cross Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, the Sonata comes standard with those features as well as a front and rear parking assistance system and surround view monitors. The Elantra has Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop and Go, but that is limited to the more expensive Sonata trim levels. Both come with 8 airbags standard.

4.2. Sonata's advanced driver-assistance systems

Honda offers a similar system called Traffic Jam Assist, which is a part of Honda Sensing. This feature only operates at speeds up to 45 mph and may stop responding if it does not detect hands on the wheel. So while both systems operate within the same speed range, Sonata and Tussan's system may be more functional than Honda's, considering it is possible to wiggle the steering wheel or "briefly take your hands off the steering wheel," according to Hyundai, without completely turning off the system.

Sonata's SmartSense is referred to as Highway Driving Assist 2. This is an advanced driving assistance system that supports drivers on multiple fronts, from driving on highways to handling rush-hour traffic. This system can control the steering wheel to keep the vehicle in the center of a lane and regulate vehicle speed, using state-of-the-art smart cruise control. Song Ho Lee, head of the Advanced Driver Assistance System Development Group, said, "Highway Driving Assist 2 is a state-of-the-art technology that integrates the best ADAS feature and Level 2 Partially Automated Driving Control into a single system."

4.3. Elantra's connectivity and infotainment options

Elantra has full age capabilities where phone calls and message sending is just one button away and there is no need for additional downloads or logins. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both easily accessible in Elantra, both available with just a USB connection enabling greater phone capabilities to translate to safer and easier driving. Functions such as voice recognition, on-screen dialing, and contacts list are what make phone calls so easy in the Elantra. Elantra then adds steering wheel-mounted controls and on-screen messaging viewing ability to further improve message sending (Hyundai, 2021). The Elantra is then able to receive and send HMC service messages to further improve navigation and connectivity to the vehicle. Coming to more specific usage of the vehicle, Hyundai has focused on improving the connectivity of radio media to the vehicle. With the ways to play music becoming increasingly complex, Hyundai has simplified this into one app where Proprietary Music Streaming App allows direct accessibility of music streaming services into Elantra.


[1] K. Wang, A. Zhang, H. Sun, et al., "Analysis of recent deep-learning-based intrusion detection methods for in-vehicle network," IEEE Transactions on ..., 2022. github.io

[2] A. Kim and E. McGoun, "K-Pop and K-Car: The Underpinnings of 21st-Century Korean Cultural and Industrial Successes," Central European Management Journal, 2022. sciendo.com

[3] I. Martínez, "The Future of the Automotive Industry," 2021. [HTML]

2023 Hyundai Sonata vs. 2023 Hyundai Elantra

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