Hyundai Introduces New Sonata Hybrid, and Plug-in Version

Hyundai Sonata Plugin Hybrid at NAIAS

by Bradley Berman

Hyundai unveiled a redesigned version of its Sonata Hybrid sedan today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The 2016 Sonata Hybrid’s 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine offers a 10 percent jump in fuel economy compared to the outgoing model, which gets 38 mpg. The boost will allow the Sonata Hybrid to compete head-to-head with the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Ford Fusion Hybrid—two mid-size gas-electric sedans that already get better than 40 mpg.

Sales of the Sonata Hybrid in 2014 trailed behind the gas-electric versions of the Camry and Fusion. Nonetheless, the Sonata Hybrid features a six-speed automatic transmission, which many drivers believe provides a more capable drive than the competing CVT-based hybrids.

In Detroit, Hyundai also corrected the lack of a plug-in option that is available on Fusion and Honda Accord models. On Monday, the Korean automaker launched the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid, which can go about 22 miles on electric power alone, before bringing its gas engine online.

The 50-kilowatt electric motor used on the plug-in Sonata is 32 percent more powerful than the one used in the regular Sonata Hybrid. When the 9.8-kWh battery pack runs out, the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid is expected to get 40 mpg combined mileage. The anticipated fuel economy rating is an impressive 98 MPGe.

The Sonata’s 154-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, when combined with the electric motors, delivers 202 horsepower.

The hybrid versions of the Sonata can be identified by unique front and rear fascias, and aerodynamic wheels. The result is a slippery drag coefficient of 0.24. The plug-in hybrid version is further distinguished by a unique grille and a charge port on the front driver’s side. Both models will arrive in dealerships later this year.

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