2020 Hyundai Sonata Safety Tech Driveway Test | Excellence in abundance

Nanny features aren't hyper-sensitive, and adaptive cruise behaves like a human

2020 Hyundai Sonata driver tech 1
  • 2020 Hyundai Sonata driver tech 1
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • 2020 Hyundai Sonata driver tech 1
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Hyundai offers one of the most comprehensive suites of standard driver assistance and safety tech features on the market, but just as importantly, those features are extremely well executed. Although I got to experience them far more during a road trip in the Hyundai Palisade, the all-new 2020 Hyundai Sonata certainly seems to benefit from them to the same extent.

First, let's go over everything that's included: forward collision warning with pedestrian and cyclist detection, automatic emergency braking, a driver inattention warning system, lane keeping assist with lane centering, a rear occupant alert system, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control. All but the base SE get a blind-spot warning system, which is upgraded in the Limited with the complete, multi-faceted array of blind-spot tech that we named Autoblog Technology of the Year.

Unlike the Kia Telluride that technically took home that award, Hyundai's version provides a slightly different Blind-View Monitor display in the all-digital instrument panel. Rather than just taking over the middle trip computer area with either the left or right view (depending on turn signal direction), the Hyundai system takes over the speedometer when turning left and tachometer when turning right. While I never found myself checking on left turns (my mirror settings, the blind-spot warning light in the mirror and my peripheral vision seemed to do the job), I did find that I was glancing down when signaling right. There's also a blind-spot indicator in the Limited's head-up display, which is a very nice feature (shown below). As we found during Tech of the Year testing, these layers of warning provide for driver preference while not sacrificing safety or constantly alerting you in Chicken Little fashion (cough, Subaru, cough).

Indeed, the Hyundai system's lack of false alarms, excessive beeping and just general competence are a main reason for this praise.

Take the driver inattention warning system. Rather than the facial-recognition technology found in our long-term Subaru Forester that has been driving our editors bonkers, the Hyundai system just silently does its thing. The only way you know it's on is due to a graph in the instrument panel (photo below), which you don't have to show, that indicates your current awareness level. Mine was quite high as the graph shows, which should explain why I've never had the system in any Hyundai warn me to grab coffee or take a break or pay attention to the damn road (Mercedes' similar system that's been around for ages has yielded a similar result). By contrast, the Subaru will bing and bong if you lean too much on the center console armrest.

The Limited also upgrades the adaptive cruise control to full Hyundai Drive Assist functionality, which essentially adds steering control. It does an excellent job of staying in the lane in a natural way, resisting "ping-ponging" between the lines, and even working on winding roads. Even the base system accelerates and brakes in a natural way, and as I discovered with the Palisade, works pretty well in the rain, too.

Thankfully, I didn't get the opportunity to test the forward collision warning system, but given that I live in Portland, the inclusion of pedestrian and cyclist detection is very much welcome. There are a lot of both around here.

One final feature I also didn't get to try: the Limited's new Remote Smart Parking Assist that'll apparently bring you your car James Bond Z8-style by pressing a button on the key fob. That seemed like something I should have someone demonstrate for me first, and since relying on Jim Halpert, Captain America and Debbie Downer would be insufficient, I figured I'd save that for another day. If it's like the rest of Hyundai's driving tech, expect good things.

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