New vehicle bodies riding on old platforms tend to have the same shortcomings as previous cars. Hyundai unveiled the last week, and now we're learning a bit more about the new platform it rides on.
Hyundai this week has seen fit to deliver some details about the third-gen platform that underpins the 2020 Sonata. The Sonata won't be the only vehicle on this platform -- Hyundai says there are other vehicles destined for this chassis, but it didn't delve into specifics yet.
As with many new platforms, Hyundai's latest relies on hot-stamped steel and a few other tricks to reduce its weight, thereby improving potential fuel economy. Hot stamping is a process that allows ultra-high strength steel to take complicated forms. This steel is thinner than lower grades, reducing overall weight, yet it has better crashworthiness than those lower grades.
Crashworthiness and safety were, obviously, key parts of the platform's development. Hyundai says the chassis is better suited to absorb energy in a collision, reducing the risk of those forces making their way to the driver and passengers. Hyundai specifically mentioned the wheels and tires, which are designed to move outward in a small-overlap collision (like the one IIHS uses in its tests). Not only does this prevent possible cabin intrusion, Hyundai says it also reduces the likelihood that the car will spin after a collision, thereby mitigating secondary collisions with other nearby vehicles or objects.
This new platform helped give the Sonata its style, too, and it should also improve its driving dynamics. But putting the heavier bits lower in the chassis, the center of gravity gets lower, which makes it feel more connected to the road -- improved lateral stiffness should help that, too. When all that stuff gets lower, Hyundai can lower the hood and roof height, too, giving the car a sleeker appearance. Extending the wheelbase but shortening the overhangs means it should be pretty roomy, too.
Hyundai says the 2020 Sonata goes on sale later this month in Korea. Those of us in the US will have to wait until fall to take a crack at this new mid-size sedan.