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2017 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader February 2017

Like its kissing cousin, the Sonata sedan, the 2017 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid offers buyers a roomy, comfortable and safe way to transport up to five passengers. It excels in the areas of safety and technology, and it comes with one the industry's best warranties. This second-generation model doesn't have the visual "pop" of the original, but it's still a handsome, if somewhat generic, design. The Sonata Hybrid is competitively priced against the Honda Accord Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Ford Fusion Hybrid and Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, though its fuel economy falls a bit short of that of the segment leaders. For drivers who want a car that can run fully on electric power, there's a plug-in hybrid model.

Is it worth a look? We certainly think so, especially with all Hyundai has to offer. 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 2017?

For 2017, the base Sonata Hybrid gets a new 7-inch high-resolution touchscreen audio system with HD Radio plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

What We Like

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

What We Don't

Still can't top fuel economy of some rivals; generic styling; driver-assist options only available on top trims

How Much?

$26,835-$35,500 (Hybrid); $35,435-$39,600 (Plug-In Hybrid)

Fuel Economy

The Sonata Hybrid comes standard with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to a 38kW electric motor for a combined output of 193 horsepower. Fuel economy estimates are up to 38 miles per gallon in the city and 43 mpg on the highway. The engine is 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 using a 6-speed automatic and front-wheel drive, the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid returns about 39 mpg when in standard hybrid mode and up to 99 miles per gallon equivalent (mpge) when operating in conjunction with the electric motor. More important, 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: the 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 ($26,834) and you'll get 16-in alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless ignition and entry, a 7-in color touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, automatic headlights, a backup camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a 6-speaker stereo with a USB input and HD Radio.

Upgrade to the Hybrid Limited ($30,935) 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 ($35,435) 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 ($39,435) 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 2017 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.

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 its 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

2017 Honda Accord Hybrid -- The Accord Hybrid offers impressive technology, a roomy interior, sharp handling and, most importantly, up to 49 mpg. There's also an available plug-in version.

2017 Kia Optima Hybrid -- The Sonata Hybrid's livelier, more attractive mechanical twin touts a sportier look than the Sonata's. Otherwise, most items are identical -- right down to the available 10-year warranty.

2017 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.
2017 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: New Car Review - Autotrader