There’s really only one thing you need to know about the redesigned 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.
My wife likes it.
I can’t remember if it was her first trip in the car, or maybe the second. She turned to me and said, “Why don’t we get one of these?”
My wife is picky but practical. She’s always wanted a hybrid because she likes the idea of getting great mileage. But she’s also made it clear that she wants more out of a car these days. It has to look good both inside and out. The Sonata Hybrid delivers on all counts.
Let’s start with the mileage. One of the weak spots for the old Hyundai was that the mileage wasn’t on par with the other Hybrids in its class. The new model gets 39 mpg city, 43 mpg highway and 41 mpg combined which is nearly 10% better than last year’s model. The improvement came by decreasing the gasoline engine and increasing the electric motor. The result is a combined 199 horsepower. Nothing spectacular, but it fits in fine with the other hybrids. My week with the car yielded two sets of mileage numbers. For the first half of the week I drove very carefully. I was able to get about 45 mpg, which is even better than expected. The second half I stopped caring and ended up with a one week total of 41 mpg. That puts it on par with cars like the Toyota Camry Hybrid or the Ford Fusion Hybrid. However its number still lags behind the Honda Accord Hybrid’s 50 mpg city/45 mpg highway and 47 mpg combined.
But I think that the Sonata Hybrid gets the nod in the looks department. Hyundai updated the styling on all the Sonatas last year except the hybrid. The 2016 gets the improved styling. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a mid-sized four door sedan. There aren’t many cars that break new ground in this group. Still, the Sonata does it well. I like the big mouth grill and the slanted headlights. The styling improvements aren’t huge over the old model, but they do a nice job updating and modernizing the car. The Accord isn’t bad, I just don’t think it looks quite as modern as the Sonata.
I think the Sonata Hybrid also gets the nod over Honda in the price category. My test car was the upper range Limited model (there is a base SE) and stickered at $35,765 which included the $4,500 Ultimate Package (with stuff like panoramic sunroof, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, automatic high beam assist, smart cruise control with stop/start capability, navigation). I had a 2015 Accord Hybrid last year and it didn’t offer as much for the same price.
Moving inside, it’s just as attractive as the outside. I will say that the control section of the dash has a lot of buttons. Many manufacturers are getting away from buttons, moving more and more things to the display interface. If you want less, you’ll be disappointed. On the other hand, if the display ever goes out, you can still control the climate system, plus I think Hyundai has done a good job with the layout. The display interface has the usual collection of information: navigation, info, various apps like Pandora and Soundhound. It has a touch screen rather than a controller on the center console, but it worked well and was easily within reach. In front of you is a speedometer and a power meter. It helps guide your driving to increase your mileage. Back seat is comfortable, although it doesn’t give as much leg room as the Accord, the Camry or the Fusion.
One thing that did impress me was the trunk. Despite having the hybrid batteries underneath, it still had plenty of room. In fact, the trunk is slightly bigger than the competitors.
If you like the Sonata Hybrid and want even better mileage, you can wait until later this year when Hyundai brings out a plug-in version. It will supposedly be rated at 93 mpg. Right now we still don’t know the price, but it will likely cost a bit more for that extra mileage.
There’s one other area where the Hyundai gets an advantage. That’s in the warranty department. You get a standard 5 year/50,000 overall warranty and a 10 year/100,000 mile warranty on the drive train. That easily beats the competition.
Honestly, if you’ve decided you want a mid-sized hybrid, the 2016 Hyundai Sonata has to be on your list. After all, my wife like it and that’s all I need to know.