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2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2016

Although the Hyundai Sonata was fully redesigned last year, the fuel-efficient Sonata Hybrid was not. Instead, it soldiered on for one more year before Hyundai gave it a thorough overhaul for 2016.

So what's new with the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid? Quite a bit. There's updated styling, of course, that now matches the standard Sonata with a few unique hybrid touches thrown in. There are a few new features, too. But most importantly, the Sonata Hybrid offers a revised powertrain that includes stronger fuel economy figures than the outgoing model, making it a closer competitor to major rivals such as the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Honda Accord Hybrid. For drivers who want a little fully electric power, a new plug-in hybrid model has even been added to the lineup.

Is it worth a look? We certainly think so, especially with updates for the latest model year. If you're looking for a fuel-efficient midsize sedan and the Sonata Hybrid wasn't on your shopping list before, it should be there now.

What's New for 2016?

The Sonata Hybrid is fully redesigned for 2016. In addition to a new look inside and out, the Sonata Hybrid touts new features and a revised powertrain that delivers better gas mileage than before -- along with an all-new plug-in hybrid variant.

What We Like

Excellent gas mileage; smooth ride; roomy interior; more luxurious design

What We Don't

Still can't top fuel economy of some rivals

How Much?

$27,000-$31,100 (Hybrid); $35,600-$39,600 (Plug-In Hybrid)

Fuel Economy

The Sonata Hybrid comes standard with a 193-horsepower 2.0-liter hybrid 4-cylinder that returns up to 40 miles per gallon in the city and 44 mpg on the highway. It's mated to front-wheel drive and a standard 6-speed automatic transmission.

The Sonata Plug-In Hybrid uses a 154-hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder mated to a 67-hp electric motor for a total peak of 202 hp. Also mated to a 6-speed automatic and front-wheel drive, the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid returns about 40 mpg when in standard hybrid mode and up to 99 miles-per-gallon equivalent (mpge) when operating in conjunction with the electric motor. More importantly, we suspect, is its range: The Sonata Plug-In Hybrid can travel up to 27 miles on electric power alone.

Standard Features & Options

The Sonata Hybrid is offered in two variants: SE and Limited. Meanwhile, the Plug-In Hybrid comes in two entirely different trim levels, an unnamed base model and a top-end Limited version.

Choose the Hybrid SE ($27,000), and you'll get 16-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless ignition and entry, a 5-in color touchscreen, automatic headlights, a backup camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a 6-speaker sound system with USB input.

Upgrade to the Hybrid Limited ($31,100), and you add larger alloy wheels, leather upholstery with heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, dual power front seats with driver memory settings, xenon headlights, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, split folding rear seats and sunshades for the rear windows. An optional Ultimate package includes a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, rear parking sensors, a forward-collision warning system, lane-departure warning, automatic high beams, a navigation system, an Infinity sound system and an 8-in touchscreen.

Meanwhile, the base-level Plug-In Hybrid ($35,600) includes 17-in alloy wheels, automatic headlights, keyless ignition and entry, an 8-in center touchscreen, a backup camera, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a power driver's seat, and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity.

Step up to the range-topping Plug-In Hybrid Limited ($39,600), and you add xenon headlights, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, rear parking sensors, a power passenger seat, a heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, automatic high beams and an Infinity sound system. The Sonata Plug-In Hybrid offers only one option: a unique interior package with a blue interior.

Safety

In government crash testing, the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid earned a perfect 5-star overall score. In tests carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the sedan earned a Top Safety Pick+ rating -- the firm's highest.

As for safety features, the Sonata Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid offer virtually everything you might want, but some are pretty pricey. For instance, while side-curtain airbags, a backup camera and anti-lock brakes are standard, you'll have to upgrade to the Hybrid Limited for a blind spot monitoring system, parking sensors or rear cross-traffic alert. The Plug-In Hybrid offers those features standard but requires you to pay extra for adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning or more. Still, if you have the budget, the Sonata offers virtually every safety feature you can imagine.

Behind the Wheel

On the road, both the Sonata Hybrid and the Plug-In Hybrid offer surprisingly peppy performance -- unusual for a hybrid midsize sedan -- with a good cornering feel and communicative steering. Indeed, we'd consider these models to be the driver's choice among fuel-efficient midsize sedans, outshining even the excellent Honda Accord Hybrid. With that said, the Accord Hybrid gets better gas mileage.

Despite its driver-focused feel, the Sonata Hybrid is quite comfortable over bumps and jarring road surfaces. The car has certainly grown up compared to the outgoing model, as it now boasts more supple seating surfaces, more interior room, and a smoother ride and driving feel. With the possible exception of tight rear headroom, we have few bad things to say about the Sonata Hybrid's driving experience, whether you're behind the wheel or just along for the ride.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Honda Accord Hybrid -- The Accord Hybrid offers impressive technology, a roomy interior, sharp handling and, most importantly, up to 50 mpg. There's also an available plug-in version.

2016 Kia Optima Hybrid -- The Sonata Hybrid's livelier, more attractive mechanical twin touts a sportier look than the Sonata. Otherwise, most items are identical -- right down to the available 10-year warranty.

2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid -- The most-popular hybrid midsize sedan was recently revised to offer improved styling, more features and better gas mileage than before. It's definitely worth a look.

Used Toyota Avalon Hybrid -- The Toyota Avalon Hybrid (and its upscale Lexus ES twin) is a handsome full-size hybrid sedan that offers similar gas mileage to the Sonata Hybrid but a larger interior and a nicer ride. Prices are higher, though, so you may have to consider a used model.

Autotrader's Advice

We think the plug-in hybrid model is too expensive to justify its price tag, especially with an electric range of only 27 miles. As such, we'd go for the Sonata Hybrid, and we'd pick a Limited model to get as many features as we could. We'd stop short of the Ultimate package, though. It's tempting, but it's a little too pricey for our tastes.

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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.
2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: New Car Review - Autotrader