Hyundai is making some big changes to its Sonata sedan. The question at this point is whether we're talking about an extensive facelift, or an entirely new generation. These spy photos offer evidence for the latter, namely with a potential all-wheel drive setup.
A heavily camouflaged prototype was spotted recently undergoing winter testing, and our photographer got lucky with a couple of shots. A close look at the windshield shows paperwork with 2.5 GDI AT AWD clearly visible. 2.5 GDI and AT aren't out of place here, as the current sedan features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with an automatic transmission (AT). AWD, however, points to this particular prototype having an all-paw powertrain. That's a feature not available on the current Sonata, and it's not exactly a simple thing to add.
It's also not impossible. The Sonata's platform is shared by many vehicles under Hyundai's umbrella, including the Santa Fe which turns all four wheels. Still, such a change in powertrain raises the question of whether Hyundai will consider this an extensive update or a new-gen Sonata. Previous reports suggested the South Korean automaker could skip a Sonata refresh entirely, instead offering a new sedan with a completely different look.
Speaking of design, we're treated to some wonderfully up-close shots in this new collection of spy images. Camouflage is still heavy, but we're able to peek through openings at the front to see the current grille will give way to straighter lines. That will bring a completely new fascia with new lights, a new hood, and possibly updated fenders. Camouflage on the doors could be a ruse, but a new rear fascia with fresh taillights appears to have even more straight lines.
Gallery: Hyundai Sonata Facelift New Spy Photos
The interior is still a mystery, but we're treated to a glimpse inside with a single photo from the passenger side. Covers abound, suggesting significant changes for the greenhouse. We can see a large digital screen for the driver, possibly connecting with a center screen in the middle. As with the exterior, this is a significant departure from the current model that suggests more than just a facelift is coming.
If we are talking about a next-gen Sonata here, it could be quite a while yet before the covers come off. This is only our second official sighting of a prototype, so we could be looking at a 2025 model with a debut late this year or sometime in the first half of 2024.