- Both offer a choice of engines, including a hybrid.
- 2021 Hyundai Sonata includes a class-leading powertrain warranty.
- Honda Accord is a frequent Kelley Blue Book Best Buy.
2021 Honda Accord
Base price: $25,725 / Read our 2021 Honda Accord review
What we like: Excellent reliability and resale value; roomy; standard safety and driver assist features; choice of engines, including a hybrid
What we would change: Add all-wheel drive option; some tech features need to be updated; transmission can be hesitant during passing maneuvers
Overview: A standard-bearer among midsize sedans for several decades, the 2021 Honda Accord is a car that does everything well. It’s easy to drive, the build quality is top-notch, and there are trim levels, engine choices, and options to satisfy nearly every buyer. The base 1.5-liter turbo provides plenty of power for passing and acceleration, and the Accord handles very well while also providing its occupants with a smooth ride. An upgrade 2.0-liter turbo provides even more oomph, and the hybrid returns 50 mpg. As expected from Honda, the looks of the Accord are rather conservative, but inside there is plenty of room for five passengers and a good-sized trunk. Standard features include dual-zone climate control and an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Also standard is the Honda Sensing suite of driver-assist features. One demerit is that the Accord is not offered with all-wheel drive for poor-weather driving confidence. With its stellar reputation for reliability, the 2021 Accord is expected to have high resale value.
What’s new for 2021: A somewhat shocking omission in recent Accords, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (both wired and wireless) are now available in the Accord, and an 8-inch touchscreen becomes standard equipment. The front of the Accord has been mildly restyled as well, and the hybrid’s throttle response has been improved.
Features and technology: With five trim levels (four hybrid trims) and three engine choices, Honda has its bases pretty well covered. The base LX comes fairly well equipped, with an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual-zone climate control, 17-inch wheels, a full-width folding rear seatback, dual USB ports, and a 160-watt sound system. Also standard is the Honda Sensing suite of driver assist features. Base hybrid models also include remote start and 60/40-split rear seats.
Next up is the Sport, which adds 12-way power front seats, 19-inch wheels, a 180-watt sound system, and both LED foglights and LED headlights. The Sport Special Edition adds to that leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a 4-way power-adjustable passenger seat, among other things. Moving up, options include wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, a moonroof, and a 10-speaker/450-watt premium audio system with SiriusXM satellite radio. Top models get ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, a head-up display, a navigation system, and an adaptive damping suspension, among other things.
What does the future hold: Honda’s always been a conservative company, so we don’t expect anything particularly radical, although we would like all-wheel drive as at least an option. Expect modest refreshing and additional driver-assist features as they become available. Find a 2021 Honda Accord for sale near you
2021 Hyundai Sonata
Base price: $24,595 / Read our 2021 Hyundai Sonata review
What we like: Choice of engines, including a hybrid; lots of standard safety and driver-assist features; front legroom; class-leading warranty
What we would change: Add all-wheel drive as an option; add a knob for radio tuning; its looks are not for everyone
Overview: No fresh-faced youngster itself, the 2021 Hyundai Sonata represents the South Korean sedan’s eighth generation, each one better than the last. The newest addition to an already capable lineup is the sporty new N Line, but the Sonata is offered with everything from the base four-cylinder up to a hybrid that earns 53 mpg on the highway. While its bold exterior looks may not be to everyone’s liking, the 2021 Hyundai Sonata is comfortable and quiet inside, and its ride and handling balance sportiness with comfort. Standard features include a suite of safety assist functions and an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. One thing we are particularly keen on is Highway Drive Assist, a semi-autonomous driving system that comes standard in the Limited trim and is optional on the SEL Plus. As with every Hyundai, the 2021 Sonata includes a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, and as an added bonus, standard maintenance comes free for the first 3 years of ownership.
What’s new for 2021: Changes to the 2021 Sonata are relatively modest, with the most significant being the new N Line trim, with a turbocharged engine, a dual-clutch automatic and high-performance tires. Other than that, the SEL Plus is now available with 19-inch wheels and now includes a 6-way power-adjustable front passenger seat. Also, the SEL, SEL Plus, and Limited trims get Safe Exit Warning.
Features and technology: With five trim levels and four engine choices, Hyundai offers a range of 2021 Sonatas for the midsize sedan shopper. The base SE model includes an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility, a 6-way manual-adjust driver seat, and LED headlights and taillights. Also included is Hyundai’s comprehensive suite of active safety and driver-assist features, including lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and forward-collision alert. The next up SEL adds blind-spot monitoring, heated front seats, an 8-way power driver seat, dual-zone climate control, an enhanced infotainment system, and Blue Link remote vehicle access.
Also optional is the Convenience Package that adds a 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster, a panoramic sunroof, wireless phone charging, a second-row USB port, and other things.
Aside from its 2.5-liter turbocharged engine, the new N line adds optional high-performance summer tires, a paddle-shift dual-clutch 8-speed automatic, sport seats, and 19-inch alloy wheels. The top Limited models include a panoramic sunroof, a leather interior, a surround-view camera, a heated steering wheel, a 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation, and a 12-speaker Bose audio system.
What does the future hold: Depending on how consumers respond to the exterior styling of the 2021 Sonata, it may receive mild touch-ups, but otherwise expect more safety and driver-assist features as they become available. We would also like to see all-wheel drive added as an option. Find a 2021 Hyundai Sonata for sale near you
Accord vs. Sonata: Strengths comparison
Accord Benefits: Reputation for reliability; better handling; higher resale value.
Sonata Benefits: Bolder styling; longer warranty; more engine choices; more updated tech features.
Accord vs. Sonata: Which is better?
Fortunately for consumers, the 2021 Honda Accord and 2021 Hyundai Sonata are both exceptional midsize sedans, with lots of features and abundant options for trim and engine choices. There’s good reason that the Honda Accord has been a best-seller for decades, but in this case, we have to give the edge to the Sonata. It’s not that there’s nothing wrong with the 2021 Accord, as it’s as solid as can be. But the 2021 Hyundai Sonata just has a little more presence, a little more choice, and a bit more style. Find a 2021 Honda Accord for sale or Find a 2021 Hyundai Sonata for sale
|2021 Honda Accord||2021 Hyundai Sonata|
|Engine||1.5-liter I4, turbocharged||2.5-liter I4|
|Horsepower||192 hp @ 5,500 rpm||191 hp @ 6,000 rpm|
|Torque||192 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm||181 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||33 mpg (30 city/38 highway)||32 mpg (28 city/38 highway)|
|Also Available||2.0-liter I4, turbocharged; 2.0-liter I4 + electric motor||1.6-liter I4, turbocharged; 2.5-liter I4, turbocharged; 2.0-liter I4 + electric motor|
|Basic warranty||3 years/36,000 miles||5 years/60,000 miles|
|Powertrain Warranty||5 years/60,000 miles||10 years/100,000 miles|
|NHTSA Overall Safety Rating||5 Stars||5 Stars|
|Max Seating Capacity||5||5|
|Wheelbase||111.4 inches||111.8 inches|
|Overall Length||196.1 inches||192.9 inches|
|Width||73.3 inches||73.2 inches|
|Height||57.1 inches||56.9 inches|
|Turning Diameter||38.2 feet||35.9 feet|
|Headroom, Front||39.5 inches||40.0 inches|
|Headroom, Rear||37.3 inches||38.4 inches|
|Legroom, Front||42.3 inches||46.1 inches|
|Legroom, Rear||40.4 inches||34.8 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Front||58.3 inches||57.9 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Rear||56.5 inches||56.1 inches|
|EPA Passenger Volume||105.6 cubic feet||104.4 cubic feet|
|EPA Cargo Volume||16.7 cubic feet||16.0 cubic feet|