BRAINS & BEAUTY: 2020 HYUNDAI SONATA HYBRID LIMITED
With electric cars trending as rapid as a pubescent teenager on TikTok, hybrids are still the monarch of the streets, at least for the time being. With Hyundai being one of the few remaining manufacturers that strive to advance its hybrid technology, they’ve concocted a zesty cocktail of electric energy and fuel-sipping technology.
Carrying the same sensual design as its non-hybrid twin, the Sonata Hybrid looks pretty darn good from any given direction. Highlighting more than just a sweet face, there are specific schematics to the hybrid scheme that makes a wee bit more special. Explicit to the hybrid design, there is a revamp grille and new design to the front and rear bumpers to help integrate some of its aerodynamic gadgets under its sheet metal. By designing a flat covered undercarriage and tweaking its designed elements, the Sonata Hybrid is more slippery than a banana peel on a sheet of ice.
With a streamline look and performance numbers that will raises an eyebrow; the hybrid faces another slippery slope that carries more show than go. Performance attributes behind its hybrid powertrain are adequate for the average commuter – there is no sense of urgency when behind the wheel and considering it takes about 8-seconds to 60-mph, you won’t have to worry about doubling up on your heart pills. Equipped with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an electric-motor generator that drives the front-wheels, the hybrid sees a boost in horsepower with a 192-combined rating. Being 12-more horsepower than its peachy 1.6-turbocharged engine and 1-more horsepower than the entry-level 2.5-naturally aspirated four-cylinder, the hybrid won’t have much to prove should they all line up for a quick dash in the streets.
For the most part, the Sonata Hybrid is all smooth sailing. Its chassis is structure for the confining’s of a smooth and un-thrilling ride. Most of its handling is left to the electrically assist functionality that tends to think more for the driver than the driver to think for itself. When we, the driver finally grasp control, it’s about as entertaining as steering a camel… wee!
Seeing advancements to the hybrid system, Hyundai focused a lot of attention on their technology. But when it came down to real-world application, it sort of makes the Sonata a teensy bit annoying. Unlike most hybrid powertrains that uses a continuous variable transmission to manage its power distribution, the Sonata Hybrid uses a conventional six-speed automatic. While the shift points are smooth, they can also be clunky. We can feel the slowness between each shift and there can be a harsh jitter between shift points that will spark out of the blue. With four available drive modes, none of them offered a simple normal mode; it defaults to Eco and offers Sport, Smart and Custom modes.
Aside from our little pesky scenario, the hybrid does a decent job at doing what it does best – sipping fuel. Naturally however, with our headquarters based in the desert, we have learned that hybrids and temperatures over 100-degrees don’t mix well. We had a great start with our morning and evening commutes, seeing a return of 47-mpg from our office in downtown to the northern part of the city into the suburbs. Yes, we’re that basic. It was during the weekend with our errands list as long as a CVS receipt and temps soring beyond the comforts of 115-degrees, our 47-mpg dwindle to a sad 39. In our attempt to bring back some saving grace and see if the Sonata Hybrid could achieve its rated 51-mpg on the highway, we trucked onward with a 200-mile highway test which resulted in a 6-mpg difference. We only averaged 45.8-mpg on the highway and 43.1-combined.
Even though we couldn’t quite achieve its EPA rating of fuel consumption, its 450-mile fuel tank capacity will be sure to outlast our bladder.
With only three-models available for the hybrid powertrain, the Sonata Hybrid Blue starts at $27,750. Our test subject seen here takes it to the top Limited grade starting at $35,500 and gets all the same luxury spoils as we had in the1.6-turbo Limited sometime back. Upgraded with a 12.3-inch digital customizable cluster, a 10.25-inch touch screen infotainment with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, a full 360-degree surround view camera, a digital key (only available through Android devices) and advancements to its standard safety features like Highway Driving Assist, it’s like the Sonata is entering a premium luxury brand world.
Swapping one piece of technology for another, the one thing the Limited trim didn’t carry over from its non-hybrid twin is its Smart Park feature that will automatically park for you with the push of a button on the key fob. However, the Limited Hybrid does feature a nifty solar panel roof. Only available on the Limited model, the solar roof can provide enough power to supply up to 2-EV miles per day and roughly 700-miles a year. Living the desert where it’s sunny 363 days of the year, we may see a benefit to that. The solar roof can also work as a trickle charger for the on board hybrid battery when the vehicle is shut off.
As the sedan world starts to trickle to the cliff of no return, as we’ve seen already from Ford and General Motors, Hyundai is at least keeping things spiced up. And with the Sonata Hybrid offering stylish cues with nifty fuel-sipping hybrid technology, it is in for the long haul – hope you used the restroom.
VEHICLE: 2020 HYUNDAI SONATA HYBRID LIMITED
BASE PRICE: – $27,750
AS-TESTED: LIMITED – $36,430
ENGINE: 2.0-LITER FOUR-CYLINDER & HYBRID ELECTRIC
HP | TORQUE: 192-HP | 210LB-FT OF TORQUE
TRANSMISSION: 6-SPEED AUTOMATIC
DRIVETRAIN: FRONT-WHEEL DRIVE
MPG: 45 | 51 | 47 – (CITY | HIGHWAY | COMBINED)
AS TESTED MPG: 43.1-MPG COMBINED | 45.2-MPG HIGHWAY (200-MILES AT 75-MPH)
FUEL RANGE: 470-MILES
0-60 MPH: ±8.0 SECONDS