2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

The Sonata Hybrid is the efficiency-minded, gasoline-electric version of Hyundai's popular midsize sedan. It offers a high level of content in a stylish wrapper, and for the first time, offers class-competitive fuel economy in the hybrid segment.

Recent Changes
The Sonata Hybrid is essentially brand-new for the most recent model year. Not only is it based on the most recent revision of the Sonata, but it also gets a completely overhauled hybrid system and now comes in two flavors: traditional hybrid and plug-in .

Overview
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 40 mpg in the city and 44 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-injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline-burning engine linked to an electric motor. The system produces a combined 193 horsepower and an unspecified amount of torque. On paper, the figure should be north of 200lb-ft. The electric motor alone produces 151lb-ft and the gas engine contributes another 140. Due to the way the parallel hybrid system is designed, the two would not be delivering their maximum torque output simultaneously, so those values cannot simply be added together.

The 56 kW battery pack is capable of powering the Sonata Hybrid up to a top speed of 75 mph without the aid of the gasoline engine, however its range in electric mode is limited.

Life Aboard
Inside, the sedan features a shapely dashboard that echoes the exterior design and a special instrument cluster with eco-display options that helps the driver achieve the highest possible gas mileage.

The Sonata Hybrid is offered with Hyundai's Blue Link telematics service, which can be spec'd to provide voice text messaging, point-of-interest web search and download, and automatic collision notification in addition to traffic, weather, restaurant and nearby gas station information. A dedicated application can transform a compatible smartphone into a remote control that can be used to turn the car on and off, turn on the rear defroster or set the climate control settings, functions that owners in cold climates will be sure to appreciate.

The Sonata Hybrid offers seating for up to five passengers and 13.3 cubic feet of cargo space.

Trim Level Breakdown
The Sonata Hybrid is available in two trim levels: SE (base) and Limited. Only one additional package is available on the Limited model.

Due to the limited upgrades available, the Sonata Hybrid SE comes very well-equipped. Standard features include automatic projector headlamps, LED DRLs, heated and folding exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals, speed-sensitive windshield wipers, 16" alloy wheels, cloth seating surfaces, manually adjustable front seats, a fixed rear bench with ski pass-through, an AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD/MP3 audio system controlled by a 5" color touchscreen, and iPod/USB inputs.

Moving up to the Limited adds Xenon HID headlamps, a blind spot detection system, 17" wheels, leather seating surfaces, power-adjustable ventilated front seats with memory, a 60/40-split folding and heated rear bench, a leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, rear seat HVAC vents, auto-up/down front windows with illuminated switches, and an auto-dimming interior rearview mirror.

The next step up is the Ultimate package for Limited, which adds a suite of safety equipment and a few high-tech features. Additional equipment includes a navigation system with an 8-inch touchscreen display, an Infinity premium audio system, HD and SiriusXM radio, rear parking sensors, smart cruise control with start/stop, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, automatic high beam assist, a panoramic sunroof and LED interior accent lighting.

Occupant Safety
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 restraints, a rear-view camera, electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.

Buyers who opt for the Ultimate package on Limited models also get rear parking sensors, smart cruise control with start/stop, lane departure warning, forward collision warning and automatic high beam assist.

Key Competitors
The Sonata Hybrid can be cross-shopped against a large number of gasoline-electric mid-sizers including the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the Toyota Camry Hybrid and the Honda Accord Hybrid.