For 2016, the Hyundai Sonata has only a few changes, but those changes have made the Sonata, in particular the second generation Sonata Hybrid, a more engaging vehicle with subtle styling updates, plus powertrain enhancements, better fuel economy and added features. The changes make the Hybrid stand out from the gasoline version – especially at the top-of-the-line Limited trim level.
Interestingly, again, the 2016 Sonata Hybrid comes in just two colors, Graphite Blue Pearl and Seaport Mist in the two trim levels, SE and Limited. Wanting to put their new ‘best foot’ forward, Hyundai sent us the new Sonata Hybrid Limited in the very nice Graphite Blue Pearl with a Gray on Blue-Gray interior for a week-long road test. Our Limited had a base MSRP of $30,100.
Powertrain and Mechanical
The Sonata Hybrid has a revised powertrain for 2016 with improved performance and fuel economy. The powertrain is anchored by a smaller 2.0-liter Nu GDI four-cylinder engine coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission – with ShiftTronic – that houses a more powerful 38 kW electric motor and clutch.
Sonata Hybrid’s Transmission-Mounted Electrical Device (TMED) delivers the same responsive, engaging driving characteristics Sonata owners expect while improving fuel economy through the use of the larger electric motor. It is even possible for Sonata Hybrid to operate solely on electric power at speeds up to 75 mph by decoupling the gasoline engine from the rest of the drivetrain.
The Nu engine produces 154 horsepower and 140 lb.-ft. of torque with the electric motor producing 38 kW (51 horsepower) and 151 lb. ft. of torque. The net Hybrid output is 193 horsepower at 6,000 rpm.
The lithium-polymer battery pack capacity is 1.62 kWh, a 13 percent improvement, and the battery pack now fits under the trunk floor, which allows for a flat trunk floor as well as available 60/40 split-folding rear seats. Locating the battery pack beneath the trunk floor gives Sonata Hybrid best-in-class passenger volume at 106.1 cu. ft.
All Sonata vehicle suspensions have MacPherson Struts with coil springs up front and an independent multilink design rear suspension with column mounted Motor-Driven Power Steering. Standard on the hybrid series are 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels mounted with P215/55/R17 tires.
Features on Sonata Hybrid
Standard features found on our Sonata Hybrid Limited included HID Xenon Headlights and LED Daytime Running Lamps, Rear Lip Spoiler and LED Tail Lamps, Dual Fold-Away Power Heated Mirrors, Remote Keyless Entry and Push Button Start, RearView Camera, Full-Power Front Seating with leather surfaces, Heated and Ventilated Front Seats with Heated Rear Seats, Dual Automatic Climate Control, and Rear Side-Window Sunshades. A Color Touchscreen Audio Display heads up the Hyundai BlueLink Telematics System and includes SiriusXM Satellite Radio and Bluetooth Hands-Free Phone System.
The only package offered is the Ultimate for $4,500. It loads up the Limited to a near premium level starting with a Panoramic Tilt/Slide Power Sunroof, Automatic High Beam Assist, Smart Cruise Control with Start/Stop, Rear Parking Assistance, Electronic Parking Brake with Vehicle Hold, and LED Interior Lighting. The infotainment system was upgraded with the 8-inch Color Touchscreen Display, Navigation, HD Radio, SiriusXM Travel Link and the 10-Speaker Infinity Premium AM/FM CD/MP3 audio system with subwoofer and 400-Watt amplifier.
Also included were the optional safety features including Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Smart Cruise Control with spot/start capability, Rear Parking Sensors, Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Rear Cross-traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist and Forward Collision Warning (FCW) with Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB).
Adding a couple of extra accessory items like Carpeted Floor Mats, All-Weather Floor Mats, First Aid Kit and Wheel Locks, our 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited priced, delivered, at $35,765.
The 2016 Sonata Hybrid is a very good drive and has room inside, lots of room both front and back. The seating front and rear is very supportive and comfortable. The 2016 trunk has 13.3 cubic feet of room (10 percent more than 2015) thanks to the new more compact lithium battery pack laid flat under the floor of the trunk.
The integration of the gasoline engine and electric motor to provide the hybrid drive is one of the better ones on the market – in any segment. They engage quickly and almost seamlessly as you drive. The automatic transmission nicely enables the integration of power and – with Sport Mode engaged – amps up the performance noticeably.
We are not normally hybrid folks, but we would consider this one if we were in the market for a mid-size sedan.
Top Safety Pick+ Rating
The 2016 Hyundai Sonata has been awarded a 2015 Top Safety Pick+ rating with the addition of the available front crash prevention system that is rated by IIHS as Superior – the top rating available in the industry
The complement of Standard safety equipment on the 2016 Sonata includes Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Traction Control System, seven airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag, four-wheel disc brakes and ABS with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist and Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).
Why Hybrid is Best Choice
Stepping back a couple of paces, we think that the Sonata Hybrid is the best choice in the mid-size 2016 Sonata lineup that now offers three powertrain options – gasoline, hybrid and the new plug-in hybrid. In fairness, we have not yet driven the plug-in hybrid, but given its markedly higher cost, the fuel economy advantage does not work for us.
The Plug-In Hybrid costs over $4,000 more, does not include the Panoramic Sunroof, Rear Side Window Sunshades or Heated Rear Seats. And the battery pack – located between the rear seat and trunk – eliminates the 60/40 fold down rear seat and reduces trunk cargo capacity by 25 percent.
Conversely, we would choose the Hybrid over the gasoline version for the relatively small cost difference (on a Limited) of under $2,400. We think it drives every bit as good and the fuel economy is measurably better – up to 25 percent in the city.
Hybrid Warranty Coverage
If there is any doubt about warranty on the hybrid – you need to know that the 10-Year/100,000-Mile Powertrain Warranty applies to all of the hybrid system components plus you get a Lifetime Battery Warranty and 5-Year/Unlimited-Miles 24-Hour Roadside Assistance.
The 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is a winner – particularly the Limited. Go test drive one. You will like it.