The South Koreans have always had a war going on with the Japanese and they are still in the battle with their automotive brands of Hyundai and Kia. The new 2016 Hyundai Sonata hybrid is going to give Toyota a good fight for automotive supremacy in the sedan hybrid segment. According to Hyundai Motors, the new mid-size sedan will achieve 10 percent better fuel efficiency than the 2015 hybrid. The efficient sedan goes on sale this summer.
When the new Sonata Hybrid Limited was delivered, we could immediately tell there were some visual differences on the outside from their conventional siblings. The Hybrid comes with unique wheels and a more aerodynamic front and rear fascia that helps them achieve an extremely slippery 0.24 drag coefficient. The hybrid is attractive on the outside and rivals the more expensive Japanese luxury brands.
What’s new for 2016?
The new Hyundai Sonata Hybrid gets a new updated 2.0-liter gas engine paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission and a more powerful electric motor and clutch. This gives the mid-size sedan improved fuel efficiency.
The 2016 Sonata Hybrid Limited ($30,100) comes standard with leather seats, heated and ventilated front and heated rear seats, memory drivers seats and outside mirrors and rearview camera. It also features iPod/USB and auxiliary input jacks, SiriusXM satellite radio and Bluetooth phone connectivity with phonebook transfer and voice-recognition.
This 2016 Sonata Hybrid Limited trim came with the Ultimate package upgrade ($4,500) that adds a suite of safety and convenience features. It comes with forward collision and lane departure and blind-spot warning systems help keep drivers aware of what’s going on. It comes bundled with active cruise control with stop-start technology and rear parking assist with rear cross-traffic warning.
Ultimate package also includes an enhanced 8.0-inch navigation system with downloadable apps, HD radio, Infinity premium audio with next-generation Blue Link telematics and a panoramic sunroof. Total MSRP including destination on this tester: $35,765.
Inside, the 2016 Sonata Hybrid is spacious and comfortable with excellent materials and the mid-size sedan leads the competition in passenger space and front-seat head and legroom. It’s a pleasant place where you really do want to spend time commuting. Even our larger passengers commented on the comfort they had in the back.
There’s much luxury inside with the Limited’s heated steering wheel, leather seating and heated and ventilated eight-way power driver and six-way power front passenger seats with power lumbar support. The Sonata Hybrid Limited also has heated rear seats. The hybrid features dual-zone climate systems and comes with air vents for the rear passengers.
The cabin is a quiet place on the road and wind noise is kept to a minimum. This can sometimes be an issue with hybrids as they cruise with the gas engine off at highway speeds. The only complaint we have the interior is the seat belt buckle location. It’s too low and you have to crank your body around to find it and get it latched.
We noticed the newly designed trunk where the lithium-ion battery pack fits underneath. There is more room now and my wife commented on the deep trunk for loading her tall boxes this week. There’s 10 percent more trunk capacity than the 2015 hybrid at 13.3 cubic feet.
Let’s check out what the hybrid system is about.
Hybrid technology and fuel mileage specs
It starts with the heart of the 2016 Sonata Hybrid which is a downsized 2.0-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine. It comes mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that is coupled to a more powerful 38 kW electric motor and clutch. Hyundai says the hybrid operates on electric power alone at speeds up to 75 mph by decoupling the gas engine from the rest of the drivetrain.
The gas engine delivers 154 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque, the electric motor 38 kW (51 horsepower) and 151 pound-feet, for a combined 193 horsepower. EPA fuel economy ratings are estimated at 39 mpg city, 43 highway, 41 combined in Limited trim. That’s up more than 10 percent over the 2015 model. The Hybrid Limited’s rating is slightly lower due to the extra weight of additional features and the higher rolling resistance of its 17-inch wheels and tires. How does the hybrid handle on the road?
Quiet and comfortable are the two words we will use to describe the ride in the Sonata Hybrid. The cabin is almost eerily quiet as we were underway at lower speeds this week. Getting up to highway speeds, the hybrid system delivers instant torque from the electric motors that gives the sedan a responsiveness that a typical gas engine does not.
It’s not a sport sedan even though Hyundai includes a driver-selectable “Sport” mode. It seems to be there more for show than go. The hybrid delivered average performance in the mountains as we pushed it hard up the hill. With a car load of adults and cargo, the heavier Limited felt a bit underpowered.
The suspension and steering are well balanced and kept us comfortable even on rough pavement and dirt roads.
We put the cross-traffic assist to the test as we backed out of our driveway. It sounded an audible alert when the neighbor came roaring over the hill and didn’t slow down. It’s a valuable feature that can save getting hit when backing out of parking paces, garages or driveways.
The Hyundai Sonata Limited Hybrid delivers excellent fuel efficiency (over 40) while providing average performance. The Limited features a superior level of luxury in this segment and an impressive list of standard features and technology for the price. Sonata has eye-catching looks both inside and out and the quiet ride makes a long commute seem short. The available safety features add an extra level of security for the driver.
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