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2015 vs. 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: What's the Difference?

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Doug DeMuro April 2016

If you're looking for a fuel-efficient midsize sedan, we suspect the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is on your shopping list. After all, it's one of the few hybrid midsize models on the market -- and we think it's one of the best. This year, the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid has been fully redesigned with some major changes compared to the outgoing model. But what exactly is new? And is the latest Sonata Hybrid worth the premium over its predecessor? We've created a close comparison of both models in order to find out.

Exterior

On the outside, the Sonata Hybrid has clearly grown up. While its design isn't hugely different from its predecessor's look, the latest Sonata Hybrid is a little larger and offers a slightly more-upscale appearance compared to the outgoing model. Still, this is an evolution and not a revolution, so some shoppers may not be able to tell the two models apart unless they're parked next to one another.

Interior

It's the same story inside the Sonata Hybrid as it is on the outside: The cabin is a more grown-up space, trading in last year's uniquely stylized center control stack for a more traditional one with a wider, more substantial feel. Like most redesigned models, the Sonata Hybrid has also grown on the inside: It features more front and rear seat room in virtually every direction. There's more space in the trunk, too. And we think the quality of materials is a little better in the new model, which reflects its evolved design.

Mechanicals

The outgoing Sonata Hybrid used a 199-horsepower 2.4-liter hybrid 4-cylinder, which was mated to front-wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy was rated at 36 miles per gallon in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.

The new Sonata Hybrid is more efficient. It uses a 193-hp 2.0-liter hybrid 4-cylinder, which is also mated to a 6-speed automatic and front-wheel drive. But the latest model receives up to 40 mpg city/44 mpg hwy, which is a big boost compared to the outgoing model.

Features & Technology

When it comes to features and technology, the latest Sonata Hybrid offers some major upgrades over last year's model. The biggest changes come to the safety features, with the 2016 Sonata Hybrid now touting forward-collision warning, a blind spot monitoring system, rear parking sensors and lane-departure warning, none of which you could get in the outgoing model.

But that isn't the only change. The latest Sonata Hybrid also touts a wide range of new comfort and convenience features, such as a larger 8-inch touchscreen, automatic high beams, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and adaptive cruise control -- none of which you could get in the outgoing model. Simply put, the new Sonata Hybrid is an improved car for drivers who are interested in gadgets and equipment.

Driving Experience

On the road, the latest Sonata Hybrid makes some major improvements compared to the outgoing model -- all in keeping with its more grown-up interior and exterior design. The new Sonata Hybrid is smoother than the outgoing model, more comfortable over bumps and more stable compared to its predecessor. We also prefer the new Sonata Hybrid's brakes to the outgoing model's, as they feel a little more like traditional car brakes -- a problem for many hybrid vehicles.

As for similarities: Handling is about the same as the outgoing model in that it's predictable and competent but fraught with vague steering and understeer. And acceleration is roughly the same, though we suspect the new model may be a tick slower than the outgoing version due to its slightly larger size and slightly smaller engine.

Safety

In federal-government crash tests carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, both the new Sonata and the outgoing model earned a perfect 5-star overall score. In tests carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the new Sonata had a leg up over its predecessor, earning all Good ratings and a Top Safety Pick+ score. The outgoing model earned mostly Good ratings but scored Marginal in the firm's challenging front small-overlap crash test.

As for safety equipment, the 2016 Sonata Hybrid has some major advantages over the outgoing model. While the old Sonata Hybrid offered everything you'd expect -- anti-lock brakes, side-curtain airbags, a backup camera, and traction and stability control -- the new version touts a wide range of new safety options, including a blind spot monitoring system, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning and rear parking sensors. For drivers interested in safety, these features -- plus the improved IIHS rating -- will give the latest Sonata Hybrid an advantage over the outgoing model.

Conclusions

The 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid makes some important improvements over its predecessor. In addition to offering evolved interior and exterior styling with a more modern look, it touts a smoother and more comfortable ride, more interior room, better fuel economy and a long list of new comfort, convenience and safety features. Simply put, the latest Sonata Hybrid is worth the premium over the outgoing model unless you're on a very tight budget.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 vs. 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: What's the Difference? - Autotrader