Over the past two years, Hyundai has rolled out three variations of its newest-generation Sonata midsize sedan. Last year we tested the Sonata and Sonata Sport versions powered by gasoline and/or turbocharged gasoline engines. Recently we got our turn behind the wheel of the new second-generation Sonata Hybrid sedan.
The 2016 Sonata Hybrid features an all-new hybrid powertrain setup that features a more powerful electric motor and 10 percent increase in fuel efficiency. It starts with the smaller 2.0-liter Nu GDI direct-injected four-cylinder gas engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox houses a 38kW electric motor where the torque converter would normally be. The new Sonata Hybrid can now operate on battery power alone at speeds up to 75 mph. The gasoline engine is rated at 154hp and 140 lb. ft. torque. Combined the system is rated at 193hp with fuel economy listed as 39 mpg city and 43 mpg highway.
Hyundai engineers also managed to slip a smaller, lighter lithium-polymer battery pack into the trunk floor of the new Sonata Hybrid allowing for a 10 percent increase in truck space. The battery pack is also some 13 percent more efficient over the unit it replaces.
Hyundai designers have given unique front and rear fascia to each of the new Sonata sedan models and the Hybrid sees the addition of active air flaps in the front grille for enhance aerodynamics and increased fuel efficiency. Other enhancements include an underbody cover and aerodynamic rear spoiler as well as new wheel design for reduced drag. The new design features add up to giving Sonata Hybrid the lowest coefficient of drag in its segment.
While keeping the new car slick in the wind, designers never lost sight of the fluidic sculpture theme Hyundai has brought to all its new vehicles. There is no mistaking this vehicle for any other brand.
The new Sonata Hybrid offers all of the safety and infotainment technologies as its gas counterparts and these include forward collision warning, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, lane change assist, and lane departure warning. There is also high beam assist and smart cruise control and of course automatic stop/start capability.
Occupants are bathed in technology and comfort as the new Sonata Hybrid offers everything amenity and our Limited Ultimate tester arrived fully loaded. Some of our favorite features include ventilated front seating, Infinity premium audio system, navigation with 8-inch color touchscreen display, and SiriusXM Travel Link. Seating is comfortable and even rear seat passengers enjoy very good head- and legroom.
The new Sonata Hybrid rides very comfortably offering a very quiet driving experience. There is a Sport driving mode available and while the Hybrid powertrain does offer excellent acceleration and quick, torquey throttle response, the Sport mode is more of a state of mind than anything else. The beauty of this new hybrid powertrain is the seamless integration of the hybrid components. Gone is the shudder of the gas engine kicking in and there is no hesitation when pressing the accelerator. I was not a fan of the first-generation Hyundai hybrid system but engineers have fixed everything wrong with that initial design.
Pricing for the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid begins at $26,000. Our Limited tester starts at $30,100 and arrived in Limited Ultimate trim with a final window sticker of $35,765.
Dimensionally, the 2016 Hybrid is a little more than 1-inch longer and wider than the model it replaces but it stands head and shoulders above it. This is the model that can compete against the likes of hybrid midsize sedan models from Ford, Honda, and Toyota. Hyundai also offers the new Hybrid in a plug-in variant, however, these models have only been released in limited markets. Hyundai is back on the hybrid map.