Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited Review
An attractive, smart, green option from Hyundai
Web2Carz Senior Staff Writer
Published: July 27th, 2016
Hybrid and alternative powertrains are the future of the automotive industry. While the majority of cars sold today are still powered by a sole gasoline engine, hybrids are getting better and better and becoming more common. The 2016 Sonata Hybrid improves upon an already solid hybrid offering from Hyundai. The Sonata Hybrid is not alone. Joined by cars like the Honda Accord Hybrid, Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Toyota Camry Hybrid (among others) it competes in a segment that is quickly becoming crowded.
Despite the tough competition, the Sonata Hybrid has some serious merits, and we were excited to get behind the wheel. We got to spend a week with the Sonata Hybrid to see how it stacked up against the competition and see how the hybrid powertrain changed the car from its regular, gasoline-powered brethren. Here are our impressions.
Having driven a non-hybrid version of the Sonata earlier this year, we kind of knew what to expect: a smooth ride, precise steering and strong, progressive brakes. What we were not expecting was the slow acceleration. The Sonata Hybrid is not a fast car. In Eco mode, it's almost painfully slow, but Eco mode isn't made so you can mash the throttle. Once out of Eco mode the Sonata Hybrid keeps up with traffic well, but the car's acceleration isn't impressive.
Beyond the acceleration, it performs almost exactly the same as the regular Sonata. Steering is precise and well-weighted and the ride is smooth and comfortable. When you're cruising along, you don't really think about what's powering the car, you just enjoy the smooth ride.
- Ride Quality: Suspension provides plenty of cushion over bumps and cracks in the road. The Sonata walks the line between sporty and comfort.
- Steering: Precise and well-weighted. Though the Sonata Hybrid is certainly no canyon carver, its steering instills confidence in the curves.
- Acceleration: In Eco mode taking off from a stop is almost painful. In any of the other modes, the car does better but it's still no speed demon.
- Braking: The brakes are strong and progressive. You can feel the regenerative braking kick in.
- Handling: The Sonata Hybrid handles pretty flat in the corner and is easy to maneuver in tight spaces despite being a somewhat large sedan.
Technology & Safety
Hyundai certainly gave the Sonata Hybrid plenty of bells and whistles with Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system, Bluetooth connectivity, Sirius XM, dual automatic climate control, heated and cooled front seats and heated rear seats, and much more as standard equipment for the Limited trim level. The car we drove also had lane departure warning, automatic high beam assist, rear parking assistance and adaptive cruise control, among other things.
- Infotainment Screen Size/Quality: The 5-inch color touchscreen is of high quality and images and graphics are clear, but it could stand to be a little larger.
- Bluetooth Phone Pairing: Our phone paired easily and reconnected seamlessly with the car upon reentry.
- Voice/Sound Quality: Sound quality on calls was crisp and clear on both ends with no interruptions. The optional Infinity sound system in the car we drive does a wonderful job of pumping out music and radio at basically any volume.
- Controls: The controls of the Hyundai are simple and easy to use. While we love the ease of use, the large buttons on the dash can look a bit dated compared to other systems out there. If you're after function instead of style, these are the perfect controls.
- Safety: The Sonata Hybrid comes with vehicle stability management with traction control, ABS brakes with brake assist, blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert and plenty of airbags, making the Sonata Hybrid as safe as it is efficient.
Exterior Design & Styling
While not as attractive as the standard Sonata, the hybrid version of the car is still handsome thanks to the stylish exterior details. It features aggressive lines and HID headlights up front, a few creases along the body and large wraparound taillights in the rear. In short, the Hyundai Sonata looks good. The only complaints we had were the taller grille with the black bumper section and the oddly shaped five-spoke wheels. Does every hybrid have to have weird design changes? We think not.
- Front: The front of the Sonata features aggressive-looking-headlights, attractive LED running lights and a large grille and black plastic section below the grille that we assume houses some of the sensors for the car. While it's overall attractive, the black plastic cheapens everything.
- Rear: The taillights are large but not too large and the black section at the bottom of the bumper may be a little too thick for our tastes.
- Profile: In profile, the car is simple, with lines sloping up towards the rear. The ugly five-spoke wheels kind of ruin the side view for us.
Driver & Passenger Comfort
The interior of the car is one of its high points. It's very spacious, materials feel of high quality for a vehicle at this price point and the electronics are all about making your drive as comfortable and easy as possible. The seat warmers will just about set your bottom on fire and when you turn the seat to cooling, you can feel it right away.
Legroom in the front and rear of the car is abundant. This would be a wonderful car for a long road trip, as there's plenty of room for all passengers and also plenty of trunk space for their gear. Also, the rear seats in the Limited trim level are heated as well, keeping everyone in the car warm and happy.
- Front Seats: Supportive, well-padded and bolstered. Also adjusting them was easy and the memory system standard on the Limited trim level allows you to program in where you want your seat to return.
- Rear Seats: The rear seats are similarly supportive and there's plenty of rear legroom, though taller passengers may want to ride up front.
- Visibility: Front, rear and side visibility are good. No pillars are too thick and they're all well-placed.
Storage & Cargo Room
The Sonata Hybrid features all the same cubbies and compartments as the regular Hyundai Sonata, and that's a good thing. There's plenty of places to put your keys, change, cell phone, notepad or anything else you might carry with you. The door pockets and glovebox are also reasonably sized and the trunk spacious. If you want a car with plenty of room for your stuff, this is a smart choice.
- Storage: Multiple compartments around the gear shifter and the center armrest has a good sized compartment beneath it. Even the rear passengers have room for storage thanks to large pockets on the back of the front seats.
- Trunk/Cargo Room: The trunk's 13.3 cubic feet of space should be plenty for groceries, luggage or whatever you need to take with you.
Overall, we enjoyed our time with the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. It handled everything we threw at it and allowed us to feel very confident on the road in just about any situation. It's a competent highway cruiser, easy to handle in the city and getting close to or over 40 mpg all the time is great for your bank account.
The Sonata Hybrid is a solid choice for midsized sedan shoppers. It's comfortable, spacious, efficient and pretty enjoyable to drive. The main things we'd like to see change are the car's acceleration and ugly wheels that ruin an otherwise attractive car.
Price & Specifications
Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder paired with an electric motor
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with manual shift mode
Drivetrain/Layout: Front-wheel drive, front engine
Power Output: 193 combined horsepower
Fuel Economy (mpg): 39 city / 43 highway
Base Price: $30,100
As Tested: $35,765 (incl. $825 destination fee)
Standard Features: Vehicle stability management w/ traction control; ABS w/ electronic brake force distribution & brake assist; 4-wheel disc brakes w/ integrated regenerative braking; front, front side impact, side curtain and driver knee airbags; blind spot detection system w/ rear cross-traffic alert; rearview camera; tire pressure monitor w/ individual tire pressure indicator; 17-inch Eco-Spoke alloy wheels and P215/55R17 tires; HID headlights & LED daytime running lights; rear lip spoiler & LED taillights; proximity key entry w/ push button start; color LCD trip computer w/ hybrid technology display; leather seating surfaces w/ power front seats; heated and ventilated front seats and heated rear seats; integrated memory system for driver seat & side mirrors; leather-wrapped heated steering wheel; dual action temperature control & floor console-mounted rear vents; auto dimming rearview mirror w/ compass & HomeLink; 60/40 split folding rear seat & rear side window sunshades; premium door sill plates; 5-inch color touchscreen audio display; Sirius XM w/ 90-day trial; Bluetooth hands-free phone system; Hyundai Blue Link telematics system; Blue Link connected car complimentary trial; emergency tire puncture repair kit in lieu of spare tire
Options on our test vehicle: Panoramic sunroof w/ tilt and slide; high-gloss window surround; lane departure warning; forward collision warning; automatic high beam assist; rear parking assistance system; smart cruise control w/ 8-inch touchscreen display; Infinity speakers w/ multicasting; Sirius XM Travel Link; LED interior lights; carpeted floor mats; cargo net; first aid kit; all-weather floor mats; wheel locks
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, click here: 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.