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2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid vs. Honda Accord Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid

The new Sonata Hybrid is a looker with a cool solar roof, but can it stand up to tough competition from Honda's and Toyota's efficiency-heavy-hitters?

The new Sonata is a looker, and the hybrid version with its solar roof makes it even better.

Hyundai

It used to be that if you wanted a wildly efficient hybrid midsize sedan that wasn't going to cost you an arm and a leg, you either went down to your friendly local Honda dealer for an Accord Hybrid or you went across the street to your friendly local Toyota dealer and snagged a Camry Hybrid.

Well, as old Bob said, "The times, they are a'changin," because a new fighter has entered the game, and it comes from Hyundai. Spoiler alert: it's the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid -- newly introduced at the Chicago Auto Show -- and at first glance, it should have the other two quaking in their sensible shoes, but how do they actually stack up when you look at the numbers?

Let's find out.

Powertrain

Well, let's get this out of the way. All three of these cars are powered by four-cylinder gasoline engines mated to a hybrid-electric powertrain. It's unlikely that any of the three are going to realign your perception of automotive acceleration, so the name of the game here is efficiency, and that's something that they all do well.

To start, the Hyundai is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that, on its own, makes 150 horsepower. Add in the output from the hybrid system, and you get a combined rating of 189 hp. The Sonata Hybrid's engine gets mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, which, in a world of eight- and ten-speed autos, doesn't sound that cool, but it works. 

Powertrain

Model Engine Transmission Power Mileage (City/Hwy/Combined)
2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 2.0-liter I4 Six-speed auto 189 50/54/52
2020 Honda Accord Hybrid 2.0-liter I4 CVT 208 48/47/48
2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid 2.5-liter I4 CVT 212 51/53/52

The Sonata Hybrid returns a borderline-silly city economy figure of 54 mpg highway, 50 mpg city and 52 combined. That highway figure, by the way, basically roasts every other gasoline-powered midsize sedan on the road today, something that is no mean feat.

Compared to the Sonata, the power figures for both the Accord and Camry make them seem like veritable hot rods -- 208 and 212 horsepower, respectively -- but they do give up ground when it comes to fuel efficiency. The Accord Hybrid offers up 48 mpg city, 47 mpg highway and 48 mpg combined. The Camry does it a little better with a very respectable 51 mpg city, 53 mpg highway and 52 mpg combined.

Keep in mind; these figures are all for the base-ish spec hybrid models. Things get a little worse as you pile on the electronic doodads, gewgaws, farkles and whatzits. Weight has a penalty, and there's no such thing as free lunch.

Tech and safety

Listen, these cars are all made by brands known for giving buyers a lot for their money, so the safety kit on hand on all three models is nothing if not respectable. In the Sonata, you get forward-collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring and more as standard. If you open your wallet a little further, you can have Hyundai's Highway Driving Assistant, which pairs cruise control with lane-keep assist.

In Toyota-town, you get Toyota Safety Sense P as standard. This includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, and automatic high beams.

The Accord gets the Honda Sensing suite of driver-assistance features as standard. It includes lane-keep assist and departure warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition.

From a non-safety tech perspective, we have to give the crown to the Sonata right off the top because it comes with a freaking solar roof panel. That's weird, wild, Syd Mead future car stuff, and we love it. It's also the newest platform and has the best infotainment system in terms of response and ease of use. The optional 10.25-inch touchscreen is an excellent addition, too. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration are standard.

Honda offers its reasonable-but-not-amazing infotainment system with sweet touches like physical volume knobs and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration as well. Toyota, which until recently stubbornly lived in the infotainment dark ages, now offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but its system is the least snappy or pleasant to use.

Interior dimensions

Another critical factor to consider with these kinds of vehicles is driver and passenger comfort. While things like seats are more subjective, interior dimensions go a long way toward ensuring that your fancy new hybrid midsizer is a nice place to be.

When it comes to headroom, the Hyundai, with its lack of a moonroof, reigns supreme. Front-seat passengers are treated to a full 40 inches and back-seat occupants are in pretty good shape too, with 38.4 inches. Things in the Honda aren't bad either, with 39.5 inches front and 37.3 inches rear. The Toyota loses out in this category, with just 38.3 inches front and 37.6 in the rear, though its front figure drops to 37.6 inches if you get a moonroof.

Interior dimensions

Model Headroom (Rear) Legroom (Rear) Cargo volume (Cubic-feet)
2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 40 (38.4) 46.1(34.8) 16
2020 Honda Accord Hybrid 39.5 (37.3) 42.3 (40.4) 16.7
2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid 38.3 (37.6) 42.1(38) 15.1

The Hyundai is also king in front-seat legroom. Front passengers get a whopping 46.1 inches and rear-seaters get 34.8 inches in which to stretch out. Honda's rear-seat passengers fare better with 40.4 inches, while the folks up front have to make do with 42.3 inches. Toyota is the smallest with 42.1 inches in the front, but falls in the middle of the pack with 38 inches rear.

When it comes to hauling stuff around, you're going to be best off with the Accord and its spacious 16.7 cubic feet of trunk space. Next is the Hyundai with an even 16 cu. ft., followed by the Camry with just 15.1 cu. ft.

The takeaway here is that 2020 is a good time to be in the market for a stylish, safe and efficient hybrid sedan. You'll be hard-pressed to go wrong with any of these three, but if we had to pick, we're suckers for the Sonata's styling and that solar roof.