Both the 2017 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid come in both base SE and Limited trims. All trims come with the same 2.0L 4-cylinder engine paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission and an electric motor powered by a lithium polymer battery. In the Hybrid, this combination is good for 193 horsepower. The system does an impressive job optimizing for fuel economy, and is rated up to 40 mpg in the city.
The Plug-in Hybrid's system has a more powerful motor and battery, so total system output comes in a bit higher at 202 horsepower. The battery, once charged is good for 27 miles on electric power alone. Once that charge is expended, the vehicle can recharge the battery itself through regenerative braking and engine output, a rarity in the plug-in hybrid world. Charging the battery at home using 240 volts takes as little as 3 hours.
The Hybrid SE models are well-equipped and start at $26,000. Hybrid Limited starts at $30,100. The Plug-in Hybrid does carry a premium price for the technology. SE models start at $34,600 and Limiteds begin at $36,698. Many localities offer tax incentives that can bring that price down.
The Hybrid SE model comes with alloy wheels, heated power mirrors and LED brakelights. Inside there's premium fabric upholstery, a 6-speaker MP3-capable audio system with a 5-inch touchscreen interface, proximity keyless entry, dual-zone climate control, power door locks and windows and cruise control. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration are both standard. Metal and chrome interior accents give the cockpit a premium feel. Standard safety features include front, first and second-row curtain and drive's knee airbags, tire pressure monitoring and a backup camera.
Upgrade to the Limited trim and the wheels become 17-inch alloys, the wipers become speed-sensitive automatic, the headlamps are HID, and the seats are now leather-wrapped, heated and ventilated. The interior gets woodgrain accents. Safety features in the Hybrid Limited include blind spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert.
The Plug-in Hybrid SE comes even better equipped, and includes power-adjustable heated front seats, cross-traffic alert and lane-change assist, and a premium audio system.
The Plug-in Hybrid Limited comes with an Infinity audio system, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure and front collision warnings, features that are optional on the Hybrid model.
Hyundai follows up its redesign of the Sonata midsize sedan with a one-two-punch combo of efficiency. First is the jab that is the hybrid variant, followed up with right cross of a plug-in hybrid model that boasts fantastic EV range. Like the opener, these electrified models boast excellent dashboard tech, a very modern suite of available driver aid and safety systems, and a more mature design that -- while maybe a bit less exciting than the previous generation -- is sure to appeal to a broader audience.
Just behind the more mature fascia of the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, the engine room is home to a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle gasoline powerplant making 154 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. It's not alone; the combustion engine is mated to a 38 kW e-motor that adds 51 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque to the mix, bringing total system output to 193 horsepower. The hybrid power flows through a six-speed automatic transmission before meeting the road at the front wheels.
The 2.0-liter hybrid powertrain boasts really good midrange torque, which makes the sedan feel responsive around town and allows for smooth passing without much drama. The six-speed automatic transmission can be a bit of a fun-damper. The gearbox can take a second or so to downshift when more immediate passing power is required and seems to get a bit confused when asked for spirited performance on twisty B-roads. To be fair, most owners don't buy hybrids for their performance chops, so I won't knock the Sonata too much here.
The Good The 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid's powertrain offers good midrange torque and respectable fuel economy. The plug-in model adds 27 miles of electric range to the mix. The sedan's driver aid suite is highlighted by one of the smoothest adaptive cruise control systems I've tested in a while.
The Bad The Sonata Hybrid seems to lack the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity that is boasted by the non-hybrid model.
The Bottom Line Whether you go plug-in or self-contained, the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is a solid performer in this class and an excellent tech value.
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