Just like the popular Sonata sedan, the 2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid offers room for five, a sophisticated interior and a sporty design. Only with the hybrid model, buyers also get exceptional fuel economy. The latest Sonata Hybrid doesn’t have the visual “pop” of the first generation, 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 the segment leaders. 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 2018?
For 2018, the Sonata Hybrid receives an extensive reworking of its front and rear end, new wheel designs, a new center stack, steering wheel and infotainment features plus blind spot monitoring, lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert. The steering and suspension settings have also been recalibrated. New options include automatic emergency braking, adaptive headlights, lane-keeping assist, Qi wireless phone charging and adaptive cruise control.
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; driver-assist options only available on top trim
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 for the SE trim are 40 miles per gallon city and 46 mpg highway, while the Limited returns 39 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway. The engine is mated to front-wheel drive and a standard 6-speed automatic transmission.
Standard Features & Options
The Sonata Hybrid is offered in two trim levels: SE and Limited.
Choose the Hybrid SE ($26,385) and you’ll get 16-in alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, blind spot monitoring, lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, a 7-in color touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, automatic headlights, a backup camera, proximity key with push button start, a hands-free smart trunk opener, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a 4.2-in color LCD trip computer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and heated side mirrors with turn signal indicators.
Upgrade to the Hybrid Limited ($31,385) and you add a panoramic sunroof, larger alloy wheels, leather upholstery with heated and ventilated front seats, dual power front seats with driver memory settings, wood grain interior accents, power up/down front passenger window, SiriusXM, LED adaptive headlights, split-folding rear seats and the Bluelink Connected Car Service, Connected Care and Remote packages.
An optional Ultimate Package includes adaptive cruise control, rear parking sensors, a forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, driver attention warning, lane-departure warning, automatic high beams, rear parking sensors, a heated steering wheel, rear manual side window sunshades, a navigation system, Qi wireless phone charging, a 10-speaker, 400-watt Infinity sound system and an 8-in color touchscreen.
In government crash testing, the 2018 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 offers 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’s Ultimate package to get adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist or more. Still, if you have the budget, the Sonata offers virtually every safety feature you can imagine.
Behind the Wheel
On the road, the Sonata Hybrid offers 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 last generation, 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
2018 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.
2018 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.
2018 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.
For its added luxury features, we think Limited’s extra few thousand dollars over the base model makes it the right choice. The Limited also opens the door to some nice upgrades, including such advanced safety features as automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.