The Sonata Hybrid is the efficiency-minded, gas-electric version of Hyundai's popular midsize sedan. It offers a high level of content in a stylish wrapper, but many competing hybrids feature significantly more impressive fuel economy.
The Sonata Hybrid gains an updated powertrain for the latest model year. It delivers improved fuel economy and more torque while also being more compact than the outgoing setup - resulting in extra trunk space. A feature-packed, range-topping Limited trim level is another new addition.
Most hybrids are all about fuel economy, and the Sonata Hybrid is no exception to the rule. However, it goes about its high-mileage mission in a slightly different manner than most other gas-electric vehicles, giving it a unique set of strengths and weaknesses that should be fully considered by prospective buyers.
While nearly all other hybrid vehicles are thriftier in the city than on the highway, Hyundai specifically designed the Sonata Hybrid for maximum freeway mpgs. It returns 36 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway, meaning the sedan could be a good fit for those who spend a great deal of time on the open road.
The Sonata Hybrid is motivated by a direct-injection 2.4-liter four-cylinder gas engine that pairs with an electric motor that's been upgraded with more power for the latest model year. A new starter generator and an improved battery pack are two other recent revisions.
With both its gas and electric powerplants running, the sedan produces 196 horsepower and a healthy 235 lb-ft of torque - the latter up from 195 lb-ft in last year's model. That's more torque than any other hybrid on the market, and, uniquely, its sent to the front wheels through a smooth-shifting conventional six-speed automatic transmissions. Rival hybrids use continuously variable transmissions (CVT), which some drivers find unpalatable due to the delayed "rubber-band" acceleration and high noise levels associated which such gearboxes.
For all of its advantages, the Sonata Hybrid falls short in terms of overall fuel economy. Competitors like the Ford Fusion Hybrid carry significantly more impressive EPA mileage ratings.
In order to visually separate the Sonata Hybrid from the gas-only car, the hybrid model features unique headlights and taillights, a more aerodynamic front fascia, hexagonal grille, eco-spoke wheels, Hybrid Blue Drive badging and exclusive hybrid-only paint colors. Despite these differences, both models feature many of the same organic exterior cues and an overall look that sets them apart from the rest of the midsize segment.
Inside, the sedan features a special instrument cluster with eco-display options that's inset in an attractive, flowing dashboard. Standard tech equipment includes a Bluetooth hands-free phone system with audio streaming and an optional Blue Link telematics service with voice text messaging, points-of-interest web search download, automatic collision notification and more.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Sonata Hybrid is available in base and Limited trim levels.
The base model comes standard with dual-zone automatic climate control, power windows and locks, heated front seats, a 106-watt, six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo system with Aux and USB inputs, a 4.2-inch TFT screen, Bluetooth connectivity, automatic headlights, LED taillights, fog lights, Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system, a proximity key, push-button start and 16-inch alloy wheels.
The Limited ups the ante with 17-inch wheels, a full-leather interior, heated rear seats, a rear backup camera, a 400-watt Infinity sound system and a navigation system.
Every Sonata Hybrid model comes standard with dual front, front side and side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems, active front head restrains, electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.
The Sonata Hybrid can be cross-shopped against the 47-mpg Ford Fusion Hybrid and the proven Toyota Camry Hybrid.