2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Preview

FAST FACTS
  • Redesigned for 2016
  • New and improved gas-electric hybrid drivetrain
  • Plug-in hybrid version debuts with 22-mile electric driving range
  • Upgraded convenience, infotainment, and safety features

Introduction

Redesigned for 2016 and introduced at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show (NAIAS), the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid adds a new plug-in hybrid variant offering up to 22 miles of electric-only driving range and a recharging time of as little as 5 hours with a standard 120-volt household power outlet. Unlike other Sonatas, these versions of the car will be built in South Korea and exported to the United States.

Exterior Features

Aerodynamic adjustments to the front and rear styling, as well as unique aluminum wheels, separate the Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid models from other Sonatas. According to Hyundai, both versions of the new Sonata Hybrid boast a coefficient of drag measuring 0.24 cd, the same as a Tesla Model S. Graphite Blue Pearl and Seaport Mist will be exclusive paint colors for these models.

Interior Features

Because the Sonata Hybrid's battery now fits beneath the cargo floor, the car offers a 13.3 cu.-ft. trunk. The plug-in version's trunk is smaller due to the larger battery. Instrumentation includes unique information screens related to the cars' hybrid drivetrains, and Blue Pearl leather seats are a specific option for these versions of the Sonata.

Optional Features

Hyundai plans to offer several convenience, safety, and infotainment options for the new Sonata Hybrid models. Additionally, these vehicles are offered with leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, rear-window sunshades, and more.

Under the Hood

A new gas-electric hybrid powertrain debuts in the 2016 Sonata Hybrid. It pairs a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with a 38-kW electric assist motor, a more powerful Lithium-ion battery pack than last year, and a 6-speed automatic transmission. Net horsepower measures 193.

Hyundai says it is possible for the Sonata Hybrid to operate at speeds up to 75 mph without requiring the gasoline engine to start, and the automaker predicts a 10% improvement in fuel economy, expecting the Sonata Hybrid to return 42 mpg in combined driving.

The Sonata Plug-in Hybrid has the same 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic transmission as the Sonata Hybrid, paired with a more powerful 50-kW electric motor and a larger 9.8-kWh Lithium-ion battery pack. Combined output for this powertrain is 202 horsepower, and the bigger battery supplies an electric-only range of 22 miles on a single charge. After the battery reaches a minimum state of charge the 4-cylinder gasoline engine automatically starts and the car continues its journey.

Using a standard household power outlet the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid recharges in about 5 hours, according to Hyundai. Upgrade to a 240-volt charger and that time is cut in half. A charge indicator located on the top of the dashboard makes it easy to determine if the vehicle is finished charging, and this version of the car is offered with an exclusive Blue Link smartphone app that provides remote management of the charging system and other functions. Hyundai predicts EPA ratings of 93 MPGe and, when operated solely on the gas-electric hybrid powertrain, 40 mpg in combined driving.

Safety

With a standard driver's knee air bag the 2016 Sonata Hybrid provides 7 air bags. A reversing camera is also standard this year. Options include a blind-spot detection system with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and lane-change-assist system, and a forward-collision warning system.

Technology

With the Sonata Hybrid's Smart Trunk feature the owner simply needs to stand near the trunk with the passive entry key fob for 3 seconds and the trunk will open automatically, making it easier to load. A smart cruise control system is also available for this model and includes full-stop capability. Additional upgrades include a navigation system, premium audio system, and next-generation Blue Link connectivity, apps, and services. Apple Car Play and Google Android Auto will also be available, Hyundai promises.