2016 Sonata Plug-in Hybrid

Styling

The look of the Sonata’s hybrid versions—both with and without plugs—is very close to the base model. The gas-electric model carries a unique front and rear fascia, and aerodynamic wheels, which helps it achieve a low drag coefficient of 0.24. The plug-in hybrid version takes on a unique grille and a charge port on the front driver’s side. Other plug-in hybrid flourishes include special front fenders, front and rear lights, chrome side sill moldings, hybrid badging and new wheels.

Performance

Sonata Plug-in Hybrid uses a six-speed automatic transmission with Hyundai’s Transmission-Mounted Electrical Device (TMED) and a 50-kW electric motor in place of a torque converter. The 50-kW electric motor is 32 percent more powerful than the motor used the in regular Sonata Hybrid and allows EV operation at higher speeds.

A 2.0-liter four-cylinder GDI engine coupled with the electric motor allows the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid to operate just like the Sonata Hybrid once the onboard battery charge is depleted. The Sonata Plug-in Hybrid’s engine produces 154 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. The total system output is 202 horsepower at 6,000 rpm.

This gives the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid more oomph than any other plug-in hybrid on the market, except the 212-horsepower Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid. Regarding power, the plug-ready Sonata handily beats the Volt’s 149 ponies and the sluggish Prius Prime, which manages 121 horses.

Efficiency/Range

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid can travel about 27 miles purely on electric power before the gas engine is called into service. Its 9.8-kWh lithium polymer battery pack—while significantly smaller than packs found in the Chevy Volt and Honda Clarity—is slightly larger than 8.8-kWh and 8.9-hWh packs respectively found in the Prius Prime and Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid.

The Sonata Plug-in Hybrid delivers an estimated 99 MPGe combined in EV mode. After the battery is depleted, the vehicle still managed a very efficient 39 miles to the gallon, which helps the vehicle provide a total driving range of 590 miles.

Charging

The Sonata Plug-in Hybrid (like its competition) uses a 3.3-kW charger. That’s fast enough to fill up an empty battery from a 240-volt source in about two and a half hours. However, buyers can get away without installing a 240-volt home charging station—and simply use the provided cord set for a standard 120-volt outlet. That pushes a full charge to about five hours, which on most days is completely adequate. Remember, if you don’t have time for a full charge, the car will still efficiently operate like a 39-mpg midsize hybrid.

Owners can manage the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid’s charging schedule via an exclusive Blue Link smartphone app. Drivers with attractive time-of-use electric rates can schedule charging to occur off-peak when rates are the lowest.

Passenger/Cargo Room

The Sonata offers comfortable and spacious seating, front and back. Interior features are well designed and intuitive. Bins and storage areas are thoughtfully arranged.There’s a distinctive instrument cluster, providing drivers with additional EV information. In addition, a charge indicator is located on top of the dashboard to make it easy to see the state of charge from outside the vehicle.

Hyundai’s hands-free Smart Trunk is standard on the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid, as are an abundance of cutting-edge infotainment features. The list of available options include an electronic parking brake with automatic vehicle hold, a driver memory seat, heated steering wheel, LED interior lights, ventilated front seats, power front seats with 4-way adjustable driver lumbar and Smart Cruise Control featuring full-stop capability.

Safety

While the plug-in hybrid version of the Sonata has not been tested, the similar conventional hybrid Sonata earned a perfect score of five stars across the board in tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Good (the highest rating) across the board for IIHS testing. The vehicle comes standard with seven airbags, including a new driver’s knee airbag. Electronic Stability Control, Vehicle Stability Management, Traction Control, ABS and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System with individual tire pressure display, and a rearview camera are also standard. Projector headlamps are standard while HID headlamps are available.

Hyundai engineers implemented many standard active safety technologies—including Blind Spot Detection and Lane Change Assist—for the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid. Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning are also available.

Price

Pricing for the Sonata plug-in hybrid starts at $35,400, including destination. The Premium trim, which adds high-tech driver assistance features, nicer appointments and upgraded audio bring the price to $39,400. Sonata PHEV buyers will be eligible for a $2,500 federal tax credit. Local incentives may also be available, for example, the clean vehicle rebate in California is an additional $1,500 and Sonata Plug-in Hybrid is eligible for California’s Green Clean Air Vehicle Decals that allow access to the HOV lanes.

Purchase Process

The Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid is available in all 50 states. Some locations might not have extensive inventory, considering that nationwide sales of the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid average fewer than 200 units per month.

Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid specifications

Availability: Now
Base MSRP: $35400
Est. tax credit: $2500
Technology: Plug-in Hybrid
Body type: Sedan
Seats: 5
EPA Range: 27 miles electric + gasoline
Battery size: 10 kWh
Charging rate: 3.3 kW

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