How much stuff can you stuff into a Hyundai Sonata? After living with one for a few months, the answer is ‘so much more than expected!’.

What we love
  • Cubic capacity in the boot is huge
  • Limo-like rear leg room
  • Works as a pseudo moving van

What we don’t
  • Rear seats need an internal release
  • A cover for the centre storage would be nice
  • Boot needs bag hooks

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Alright, let’s address the elephant in the room. The 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line is not a mid-size car, as its sales classification suggests. It’s large.

But Hyundai is not alone, as plenty of other medium cars have slowly crept up in size to the point they are what we’d consider large. Small cars have grown to medium car proportions. Light cars are now the size of small cars.

Size creep is endemic in the automotive industry.

To give you a bit of an idea how big the Sonata is, it’s just 5cm shorter than the last Aussie-built VF Commodore or FG X Falcon sedans, from nose-to-tail. Its wheelbase is almost an exact match for the Ford (actually 2mm longer).

The Sonata also has the VF Commodore licked for boot space with 510L compared to the Holden’s 496L claim, but falls just short of a Falcon’s 535L claim.

To see how the Sonata stacks up against the Commodore and Falcon, some of its current competition, and against its own first generation, check the table below.

Length Width Height W/base Boot
2021 Sonata 4900mm 1860mm 1445mm 2840mm 510L
Toyota Camry 4905mm 1840mm 1445mm 2825mm 524L
Hoden Commodore VF 4950mm 1898mm 1471mm 2915mm 496L
Ford Falcon FG X 4949mm 1868mm 1494mm 2838mm 535L
Skoda Octavia 4689mm 1829mm 1470mm 2686mm 640L
1989 Sonata 4680mm 1751mm 1411mm 2650mm 473L

As for packing, loading and using the Sonata, how did it handle daily life from a practical point of view?

I’ll admit, I was surprised. A weekly shop with half a dozen green bags was no sweat. The only real issue I found was a lack of bag hooks, meaning your groceries have free rein to slide around the boot.

I’m the world’s biggest bag hook fan, and overseas the Sonata does come with a fold-away bag carrier. Couldn’t be too hard to add, surely?

Access to the boot is via a button on the key fob, a release inside the interior, or by pressing the top insert of the boot badge (that one took some time to figure out). The Sonata N Line also has a ‘smart boot’ function, which opens the boot hands-free if you stand at the back of the car while it’s locked.

Smart boot was usually a bit of a pain. Stand near the car chatting to a neighbour and the boot will spring open. Wash the car with keys in pocket, boot open, and filled with suds… I turned this function off pretty quickly.

The lucky Sonata got to head off for short getaway trips, and handled luggage for two with room to spare. The boot aperture is wide, making it easy to load, though there is a small lip to lift over to get things in and out.

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The real test hit when it came time to move house. While a four-door sedan isn’t ever going to be a replacement for a moving van, all of our small odds and ends got shoved into boxes and shoved into the Sonata.

While box size varied, most hit around the 40x30x60cm mark, and it was easy enough to pack the car with a dozen at a time. What you see below was the first run divided across the boot and back seat (and go easy on my ragtag assortment of boxes). That’s not too bad for a humble sedan.

It’s also possible to fold the rear seats, with a 60:40 split folding backrest. This is possible from levers at the top of the boot aperture.

Unfortunately, the rear backrests aren’t spring-loaded, so don’t fold themselves, meaning you need to race around to the cabin to push the backrests flat. The boot levers are the only way to fold the seats, too, you can’t do it from in the cabin.

Realistically, though, the rear seats are much better at handling humans than cargo.

Key details 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line
Engine configuration Four-cylinder turbo petrol
Displacement 2.5-litre (2497cc)
Power 213kW at 5800rpm
Torque 422Nm at 1650–4000rpm
Transmission Eight-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drive type Front-wheel drive
Weight 1636kg (kerb)
Power to weight ratio 130.2kW/t
Estimated range 741km
Sales category Medium car
Key competitors Toyota Camry | Skoda Octavia | Mazda 6

For work runs around the Drive office, the Sonata became the limo du jour, as I snagged any opportunity to rack up extra wheel time and back seat hours.

I can say with absolute first-hand authority that the rear of the Sonata is as spacious and comfy as you’ll find. It’s big back there, and in some dimensions feels more spacious than those aforementioned large cars.

Leg room in the rear is huge, width across the back is generous, too, and three adults can make long haul trips side-by-side without threatening to disband and never speak to each other again. Centre passenger does get a floor tunnel to straddle, and the middle seat is a touch higher and less accommodating.

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Rear head room works fine for me, but I’m only 169cm tall. The swept-back roof line and the space given up to house the panoramic sunroof blind do creep into noggin space a little. Taller passengers may notice this more.

Rear seat amenities count up things like rear window sun blinds (manual at the sides, powered at the rear), outboard heated rear seats, rear air vents in the console, a fold-down armrest with cupholders, and a single USB power outlet.

I reckon just one rear seat USB is a little stingy, given on a long trip every rear seat traveller is likely to have one (or maybe more) device that could use a USB top-up after hours of scrolling YouTube, Instagram, and Tik Tok streams.

The Sonata also misses out on rear seat climate control, which I’ll admit is still somewhat rare for the segment, but can be found in Skoda and Volkswagen’s class offerings.

Fuel Useage Fuel Stats
Fuel cons. (combined, claim) 8.1L/100km
Fuel cons. (combined, on test) 8.9L/100km
Fuel type (minimum) 91-octane
Fuel tank size 60L

Up front, and storage for smaller bits and pieces has mostly been handled by the large open receptacle at the bottom of the centre stack. This plays host to the wireless charge pad, too, but I’ve left this switched off and given my keys and phone (when plugged in) this space as their own.

I’m not really a pack rat, so that’s the extent of my carry-on. There’s a slightly smaller amount of centre console space under the armrest than you might expect, but just right for a pack of hand sanitiser wipes (how very 2021 of me). The glovebox tends to be right-sized for the chunky owner’s manual, but not too much more.

If I could change anything, I’d have a swing-away lid over the centre storage. I’m always reluctant to leave anything on show in a car interior, and little cover here (like you’d find in a Sorento) feels like a missing piece of the puzzle.

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Kez Casey

Kez Casey migrated from behind spare parts counters to writing about cars over ten years ago. Raised by a family of automotive workers, Kez grew up in workshops and panel shops before making the switch to reviews and road tests for The Motor Report, Drive and CarAdvice.

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