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Hyundai thinks new 2020 Sonata sound feature will keep drivers calm in traffic

Detroit Free Press logo Detroit Free Press 12/11/2019 Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press
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PHOENIX, Arizona — Forget roaring engines and squealing tires. Your next car could sound like a gentle rainfall or crackling fire. On the inside, anyway.

It’s early, but the Hyundai 2020 Sonata midsize sedan has a feature that is a strong candidate for 2020’s goofiest and most endearing: Nature Sounds.

Sonatas with the optional navigation system have built-in settings for sounds including “lively forest,” “open-air cafe,” “calm sea waves” and more.

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That may seem like the noise generators some people use to offset the city’s bustle so they can sleep, but Hyundai ‘s not worried about people nodding off behind the wheel.

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a black car on display: The 2020 Hyundai Sonata's navigation system generates a variety of calming environmental sounds. © Stephanie Brinley The 2020 Hyundai Sonata's navigation system generates a variety of calming environmental sounds.

The sounds are intended to be calming, helping the driver to unwind on the way home regardless of traffic snarls.

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There’s not much chance of falling asleep during “lively forest” for sure. It’s replete with what sounds like parrot screams in a rain forest. Listening to it driving through the Arizona desert was odd, but nowhere near as odd  as the crunching footsteps in “snowy village,” which also includes a rather disconcerting child’s giggle that seems to emanate from the back seat. Maybe the trunk.

a close up of a car: The 2020 Hyundai Sonata's navigation system generates a variety of calming environmental sounds. © Stephanie Brinley The 2020 Hyundai Sonata's navigation system generates a variety of calming environmental sounds.

It might not be your cup of tea, but that’s one of the beauties of modern, electronics-laden cars: Automakers can add some features at virtually no cost, just a couple of hours to write new software.

And I’ll bet some drivers will love Nature Sounds, even if only to mess with their passengers.

Contact Mark Phelan at 313-222-6731 or  mmphelan@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan. Read more on autos and sign up for our autos newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Hyundai thinks new 2020 Sonata sound feature will keep drivers calm in traffic

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