TURNING UP THE HEAT: 2021 HYUNDAI SONATA N LINE
When was the last time you thought your family sedan was cool? “Cool Nissan Altima” – said nobody. Not to make a dig to Nissan, but seriously, the mid-size sedan has never really had a “cool” factor. And with nearly 60% (give or take) of the consumers flocking toward crossovers, sedans are becoming a thing GenZ’s think are driven by their grandparents. Thankfully Hyundai has something to say about it and are turning up the heat in the sedan market.
Having already dipped our toes into the Hyundai Sonata, we had determined that Hyundai was setting new heights in both style and technology. Little did we know what they had in store for us when the N Line entered the picture. Taking pointers from its more youth-oriented Veloster N, the Sonata is attempting to up its cool factor like Dad trying to wear Abercrombie Fitch. Settle down Pops and put your New Balances back on. In all fairness, the Sonata is pulling it off. The N Line gets into the sporty spirit with its more aggressive front-end design encompassing an updated grille, bumper and larger cooling vents. Even the tail end gets some Mercedes-AMG looking quad-tipped exhaust. Get it Sonata, grrrr…
We see similar upgrades made to the interior – Hyundai replaced the standard front seats for a sportier snug fitting with suede inserts, red stitching and an embossed ‘N’ logo. With the N Line being just a step down from the Limited, Hyundai did cut a few of the luxuries like the heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, 360-view camera and its nifty Smart Park feature. At least the important bits are still in play like the panoramic sunroof, heated front seats and the whimsical 12.3-inch LCD cluster display with the10.25-inch infotainment system featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. By offering up a supreme level of sportiness that follows the N lineup, the Sonata manages to maintain its daily comfort of a mid-size sedan. The front seats, while more aggressively suited, are quite comfortable. The back seat is enormous and ample enough to even cross our legs in an impatient fashion.
Since the popularity of the Veloster N has amped the industries excitement, Hyundai has made it a point to introduce some sort of new hotrod N Line version to their entire line up. With the Elantra N Line first in line (pun not intended) the Sonata was next to follow. We may feel a little bit of sorrow for their engineers and the late hours they may endure; however, considering the impressiveness that follows behind their most powerful Sonata yet, keep doing what you do best.
Shared between the all-new Genesis GV80 and Kia K5 GT, the Sonata N Line gets a heavily boosted 2.5-liter turbocharged engine that punches out a firm 290-horsepower – that’s nearly 100-more horsepower than its base 2.5-liter naturally aspirated engine and 110-more horsepower than its premium 1.6-turbo found in the Limited. Setting eyes on the Honda Accord 2.0T and Mazda6 2.5T, the Sonata is over here dancing the tango while those two are still doing the chicken dance. The Sonata is quicker by half a second to 60-mph through its new eight-speed automatic transmission and with the help of its easy to activate launch control system, you can look quite eccentric while doing it too.
With 311lbs-ft of torque surging through the front wheels, the Sonata does brings give us a blast of the past with a hint of torque steer when we get a little heavy footed. After all, it is a tall order to manage the steering, the braking and that much power through one mediator. The torque steer isn’t significant enough that you’ll suddenly find yourself in a lane not of your choosing, but it does provide a subtle reminder that when the foot goes down, two hands on the wheel will be required.
With the engineers fiddling with the chassis, the N Line gets thicker anti-roll baser and a firmer suspension setup. Even though the suspension is firmer and riding on 19-inch wheels with the optional summer tire package, the ride is modest with a sporty influence. It sustains road comfort with reputable steering application. Even the brakes are bigger on the N Line with 13.6-inch in the front and 12.8-inch in the gear. So, when the roads get to be in more favorable for the driver with tight, twisty bends, go ahead and engage that Sport mode and take that corner a little quicker, the Sonata can take the heat, it’s begging for a little action.
Being one of the more expensive suitors in the segment, the Sonata N Line pushes the boundaries of $34,000 – opening it to more compelling rivalry… even against in own kind with the 250-horsepower, rear-wheel drive Kia Stinger and Genesis G70. As for mid-sizes sedan go, the Hyundai Sonata N Line brings some joyful life back into a dying segment.
Vehicle: 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line
Base Price: $33,300
As-Tested Price: $34,305
Engine: 2.5-liter Turbocharged Four-Cylinder
HP | Torque: 290-HP | 311 lb-ft of Torque
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic
Drivetrain: Front-Wheel Drive
MPG: 23 | 33| 27 (City | Highway | Combined)
As-Tested MPG: 23.0-MPG City (Highway MPG testing is currently suspended due to high fuel prices)
Fuel Range: 428 miles
0-60 MPH: ±5.0 seconds
90% of the reviews give me sticker shock, but this sounds like a deal! 6sp manual possible in the future?
It is always a bit shocking – we have to remind ourselves how much technology is now incorporated into these things. I have a 2021 Kia Sorento 2.5T SX X-Line in the driveway with a $46,000 sticker price. I used to own the first generation Sorento EX that was near top trim and it was about $25,000 back in 2006.
As for the Sonata, to answer your question, no manual is seen in the future. Sort of like the Honda Accord Sport, less than 1% of consumers purchase manuals. So it’s not worth it to the manufacturers to have a manual option.