Automotive journalists convened in Southern California to test drive the all new 2016 Sonata Hybrid & Plug-in Hybrid this week. There are a number of changes that have been made to the front fascia and grille of the 2016 Sonata Hybrid. It’s a larger more substantial look and there’s been expansion to the rear bumper as well. In addition to looking different the 2016 Sonata Hybrid is more aerodynamic and fuel efficient than in years prior.
In fact the 2016 Sonata leads in the pack in having the lowest drag coefficient in the industry, matched only by the Tesla S at .24. Most hybrid and plug-in hybrid drivers will care nothing about drag coefficient. Most folks will care about horsepower but they may or may not articulate it as such and every hybrid or hybrid plug-in driver will care about fuel economy.
The 2016 Hyundai Sonata hybrid gets 42MPG combined with city and highway and the plug-in hybrid gets 93MPGe
The Plug-in Hybrid will be eligible for a $2,500 fixed federal tax credit and a variable federal tax credit based on battery capacity that will also be over $2,000, a $1,500 clean vehicle rebate in California and Sonata Plug-in Hybrid is eligible for California’s Green Clean Air Vehicle Decals that allow access to the HOV lanes with just the driver in the vehicle. The plug-in hybrid is the sort of car that buys people time when they live in cities like Los Angeles that have atrocious traffic and frequently empty HOV lanes. In keeping with the fact that a Sonata hybrid or Plug-in Hybrid buyer is buying a lifestyle it’s important to note that there are features Sonata Hybrid drivers are going to love. There’s a ton of space for drivers, passengers and luggage in both the hybrid and the plug in hybrid models. Of course you lose some of the trunk space with the plug in hybrid to battery but it’s still a satisfyingly large trunk with over 13 cubic feet for the hybrid and nearly 10 cubic feet of storage for the plug in model.
Noting that Plug-in car buyers are often fond of tech, the folks at Hyundai deliver with a smartphone app that allows users to lock and unlock the car, start it, control the charging schedule and many other things including climate control. Speaking as the owner of a hybrid electric vehicle I can attest to the fact that playing around with efficiency settings is a lot of fun. I had the opportunity to drive the hybrid and the plug in hybrid but unfortunately was only a passenger while we were driving in full electric mode. Both vehicles were noticeably more powerful in sport mode but I’d hesitate to say that it’s more pleasant. For highway driving I can see the appeal of sport mode but when you’re in a sedan like the Sonata there’s a lot of pleasure to be had enjoying a slower pace and a less stiff drive in the city. One of the highlights of the 2016 lineup is the availability of the Seaport Mist which features a blue interior. Some people love it, some people (me) feel like it’s reminiscent of an Oldmobile Cutlass and feel nostalgic, still others don’t like it at all.
I’d not hesitate to recommend the 2016 Sonata Hybrid as a purchase or a lease. Pricing has not been announced yet but 2015 pricing began at $26,000 and if there won’t be a dramatic spike in pricing (I’ve heard it will be only an incremental increase) it makes a lot of sense. The 2016 Sonata Hybrid Plug-in is pure joy and I’ll be excited to see how it’s priced and if a lease makes sense.
In addition to having 10 year warranty Hyundai is offering a lifetime battery warranty for the original owner of the vehicle. Journalists were very curious about the battery warranty and wanted to know if it had to be a complete failure to be covered or if a partial failure to charge would qualify it for a replacement. We were told any failure of the battery would covered by warranty. If you’ve ever owned a hybrid vehicle this is a very important feature for folks who like to own their cars for up to a decade or more.
The only downside to these cars is the blind spot notification in the limited editions. The car beeps at you when you’re changing lanes if someone is in your blind spot. The beeping is loud and often oversensitive with alerts when there are vehicles two lanes away. When you test drive the car be sure to check this feature.
If you’re in California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island or Vermont get ready to see the 2016 Plug-in Sonata on the road later this year. If you’re in other states the hybrid Sonata will leave you looking at Hyundai and smiling.
Here’s the blue interior.