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First Drive: 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited

2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited

Hybrid technology has come a long way over the years, especially when we look back at the original 1997 Toyota Prius – yikes. In this current generation almost every Automaker has some sort of hybrid or electric car in their line-up trying to outdo its competitors in the latest of advance technology. Even Hyundai jumped in on this band wagon launching the Sonata Hybrid in 2011. Now that the new and improved Sonata has been taking the market by storm, it’s time for an all new Hybrid version.

To separate the hybrid from the ordinary Sonata, there are subtle differences between the two like the headlight housing, a different front grille and sharper looking LED taillights. With our featured Limited dazzling us like royalty in White Diamond, we were upgraded with 17-inch alloys and HID headlights that give the Sonata an overall pleasing look from any given angle.

Unlike the normal Sonata where there’s multiple trims, there are only two versions of the Hybrid available, a base SE ($26,000) or the Limited ($30,100 – featured here.) Either way, we’ll find the same power plant under the hood. Ditched for 2016, the 2.5-liter was replaced with a 2.0-liter direct injected engine making up 154 horsepower and 140lb-ft of torque. The lithium-polymer battery also got bigger for 2016 making for a combined 193-horsepower and 151lb-ft of torque. Paired with a traditional, but unconventional six-speed automatic, the Sonata can reach a cruising 60 mph in just over 8 seconds (same as the sampled 2.0T Sport.) This six-speed autobox may seem unorthodox considering hybrids generally get a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission); however, it’s not like the normal auto we see in the standard Sonata, no, this one is a bit odd and finicky. It’s hesitant in its gear selections and takes a while to downshift in abrupt situations. Just a few more tweaks and Hyundai may have a really good system on their hands.

The Hybrid system here is a surprisingly good system for being still a young piece of technology for Hyundai. The transformation from electric to gas goes unnoticed and is constantly switching to EV mode while at highway cruising speeds to optimize the most fuel efficiency. We do wish there was an option to manually put it in EV mode, but the system does a good job of figuring itself out for the most part.

As we know, hybrids aren’t traditionally known to be good to drive and even more so be better than their regular gas engine brothers. However, the Sonata is something a bit different. Surprisingly the Sonata Hybrid is lighter than the Sport we tested a while back weighing 3560lbs which is about 50lbs less. Since the batteries are nestled near the rear of the car, this adds a near even weight distribution which gives the Sonata a hearty, well planted feel. This shows in the handling with decent receptiveness from the steering wheel, the steering itself is pretty lifeless and you don’t feel much for the road, but there is decent dexterity expressing that the Sonata knows how to take a corner.

On the road, the Sonata is quite smooth in its gestures. The suspensions copes well with the rough stuff with smooth-like-butter attributes and there is little road noise inside the cabin. Inside, we were surprise with our extraordinary colorful Blue Pearl leather interior; transitioning from the White Diamond exterior it was quite the contrast that works well. The interior seating is top notch with excellent fit and finish, the seats were extremely delightful with loads amount of room.

Since our tester arrived as the top trimmed Limited, we were cocooned in an asylum of ease and comfort with a power adjustable driver and passenger seat, heated front and rear seats, ventilated front seats, and a Heated Steering Wheel. With the added $4500 Ultimate Package, we just became down right spoiled with Lane Departure Warning, Panoramic Sunroof, Adaptive Cruise Control with Automatic Stopping, an 8-inch Navigation and many more features.

The overall interior design does give us mixed feelings – we liked the old Hyundai’s that had a groovy design scheme. This just seems a bit too boring. However that’s not to say it isn’t nice, the interior setting is very soothing, the controls are nicely laid out, that 8-inch navigation is an absolute peach, and who doesn’t love a pano glass roof opening up all that natural light.

Opting for the Limited Sonata Hybrid does damper the MPG’s just a tad over the base SE Hybrid. The Hybrid Limited is EPA estimated at 39/43/41 (city/highway/combined). Since we took our Sonata on a 900 mile road trip that consisted of nothing but highway travels, our MPG average struck close to home at 42 mpg (just 1 mpg over its EPA rating) and an astonishing 620 miles of range on regular fuel.

Coming close to the $36,000 mark, the Sonata Hybrid Limited is an astounding piece of engineering that’s valued remarkably well. We say, ditch getting the standard Turbo and spring for the Hybrid – it’s just as quick and much more efficient – and in our eyes, is much better looking.

Price (As Tested):
2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited: $30,100
Destination: $825
Featured Options:
First Aid Kit: $30
Wheel Locks: $55
Carpeted Floor Mats: $125
Ultimate Package: $4,500
Grand Total: $35,635


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