Road tested: 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid


SEATTLE — March 23, 2016 — Hyundai continues to refine the Sonata, making it one of the most sought-after mid-size sedans on the market. Its hybrid model helps bridge the gap for buyers who love its style, comfort and amenities but want quite a bit better fuel economy than the petrol-powered variants offer.

What makes the Sonata so attractive to buyers is the amount of value it brings to the table when compared to the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Mazda 6 and even the Ford Fusion. In fact, the only car that is in the same ballpark with regards to value is its close cousin, the KIA Optima.

There’s a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine which is paired with an electric motor and develops a total of 193 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. It’s fed into a six-speed automatic transmission which is smooth, has a sport mode and is a great fit, overall with the engine setup. While the car won’t break any 0-60 times in its class, there’s still plenty of gusto here as a daily driver.

When we look to the inside, we see a cabin that’s well-appointed, simple, not overly pedestrian and actually comes across as looking rather swank for a car in this class. The use of leather and simulated wood-grain panels help it feel cozy and sporty at the same time. Additionally, you’ll find one of the roomiest interiors out of any mid-size sedans going.

Its infotainment system is nearly identical to what we find in KIA product which is great because it means you’ll get the same great-sounding Infinity/Harmon Kardon audio that really is one of the best-sounding stock systems in any car out there. Of course, there’s support for AM/FM/Satellite/Bluetooth/CD/Mp3 as well as an auxiliary input as well.

MY16 Sonata Hybrid

What you’re rewarded with is a sound system that produces convincing lows, solid mid-range response and highs that are clean and crisp without ripping your ears off. Again, the relationship between Hyundai and Harmon Audio is a great one as is evidenced by the way they’re implemented into KIA/Hyundai vehicles.

The touch screen is ultra-responsive and demonstrates very little lagginess when using it. Onboard navigation is easy to use and straightforward, using the touch-screen.

Rear leg room is more than adequate for teens or even adults for most rides around town or even up to an hour or two car ride. Seat comfort is among the best you’ll find in this class and there’s plenty of creature comforts, including cup holders to keep folks satisfied. The trunk is rather large – big enough for some luggage and a couple sets of golf clubs. If you need more room, it does open up into the rear passenger area.

When it comes to handling, let’s just say that isn’t exactly this cars’ strongest point. It does handle itself modestly well, however, there is a bit more body roll than we’d like to see and the brakes feel rather spongy for the most part. They do stop the car okay but the tactical feedback seems to get lost in the shuffle during hard braking.

Here’s the rub for the buyers of this kind of a car – a hybrid – they’re looking for a car that’s mostly familiar to them. It has a gasoline engine and for the most part, it seems “normal”. It doesn’t have the limited range of a full electric car, has nearly the range of a diesel but doesn’t pack the diesel price-tag.

All in all, Hyundai has absolutely nailed this car. It does most things very well – sans the braking – and starts off at well under $30k. Sure its outer body styling can be a tad polarizing but let’s be honest – most people these days don’t buy cars merely for its looks anymore. With more folks all the time becoming more “green conscious”, the Hybrid market is going to keep ratcheting up and with this car, Hyundai looks fully ready to capitalize on that market segment.

If you’re looking for a mid-size sedan that achieves over 40 miles per gallon, looks good and has some nice tech inside, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better value anywhere.

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