The year’s best plug-in sedan: 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid

A weeklong road test of Hyundai’s new plug-in hybrid Sonata turns up a surprisingly nimble and fuel efficient ride.


LOS ANGELES, February 23, 2016 – Hyundai’s first launch into the electric space has begun in a very good way with its affordable, fuel efficient 2016 Sonata Plug-In Hybrid. Come along on a weeklong road test of a 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In.

In fact, our tiny slice of LA in the 90046 is one of the best places to test partially and fully electric vehicles (EVs). Public charging stations abound here although most of them have an EV plugged into them at all times so waiting around to get charged can be a problem.

2016 Sonata Plug-in Hybrid
2016 Sonata Plug-in Hybrid has sophisticated Euro sedan appeal.

However, plug-ins such as Hyundai’s new Sonata Plug-In Hybrid and its small list of competitors (Chevy’s Volt, Ford’s Fusion Energi and Honda’s Accord Plug-In Hybrid) are truly the bridge between pure gas and pure electric. These cars have two fuel tanks: one for gas and one for charging the electric battery.

2016 Sonata Plug-in Hybrid
Charging the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid

In the case of the 2016 Sonata Plug-In Hybrid, this means this mid-sized near luxury sedan takes about three hours to fully charge (using a Level 2 charger) and goes about 27 miles via its electric motor and 9.8kWh lithium polymer battery capacity before kicking into its petrol-powered 2.0-liter engine with six-speed automatic transmission.

The car’s 50kW electric motor also helps deliver a boost of power at higher engine speeds to decrease the need on fossil fuels. In the end, this plug-in gets about 40 mpg (or 99 MPGe) combined for a total driving range of about 600 miles on two “full tanks.”

2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), Interior
2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid interior brings ergonomic design.

What about price? Interestingly, this plug-in has the potential of qualifying for an almost $5,000 in federal tax incentives. At a starting price of $34,600, this makes a well-equipped Sonata Plug-In Hybrid come in around $30K.

Here are just some of the standard features found on the base 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid: 17-inch alloy wheels, Dimension premium audio system, hands-free “smart” trunk tech, eight-inch touchscreen navigation, blind spot detection system with rear cross traffic alert, chrome exterior door handles, dual automatic climate control, heated front seats, power driver seat with lumbar support, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, iPod input, USB jacks, HD radio technology, Sirius satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity and Hyundai’s “Blue Link” telematics.

MY16 Sonata Hybrid Plug-In
2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid is equipped with Blue Link.

The fully-loaded Sonata Plug-In Hybrid Limited costs $38,600 and adds forward collision warning, lane departure warning, rear parking sensor, HID Xenon head lamps, “smart” cruise control, electronic parking brake, leatherette interior door panels inserts, woodgrain interior trim, ventilated leather seating surfaces, driver seat memory, six-way passenger seat, heated steering wheel and Infinity premium audio system.

2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), Interior Touchscreen Display
8-inch touchscreen display on the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid

From the outside, this new plug-in version of Hyundai’s best-selling Sonata doesn’t look any different except for the unique badging, which signifies you have upgraded to an eco ride. Certainly, the Sonata’s sleek and sporty exterior rivals sedan designs from BMW and Mercedes-Benz and most certainly has a more sophisticated Euro look than Ford Energy, Honda Accord and Chevy Volt.

2016 Sonata Plug-in Hybrid
The sculpted side lines of the 2016 Sonata Plug-in Hybrid

Inside, the 2016 Sonata is uber cozy and, again, reminds us of a quality European-designed interior, especially BMW. In fact, perhaps Hyundai’s highly ergonomic minimalist design has surpassed BMW’s more stodgy interiors.

MY16 Sonata Hybrid Plug-In
Ergonomic central controls in the 2016 Hyundai Sonata

The 2016 Sonata’s driver’s cockpit is a study in supremely comfortable design with super cozy seat, feel-good leather steering wheel, digital gauges, thumb-based controls and crisp screens all perfectly placed for superior driving fun.

The oversized touchscreen embedded with Hyundai’s “Blue Link” infotainment system along with rear view camera, blind spot detection and HD/satellite sound system delivers an out-of-this-world brand on in-car information and entertainment.

MY16 Sonata Hybrid Plug-In
Unique EV digital gauges on the 2016 Sonata Plug-In Hybrid

What about performance? We have road tested all of Hyundai’s 2016 Sonata models and this new Plug-In Hybrid car has exactly the same fun-to-drive experience. Acceleration in this quasi EV is a bit slower than a pure gas Sonata, but not by much. Steering and handling are nimble, responsive and make driving especially thrilling. Spot-on braking and a tight suspension work together to give the 2016 Sonata one of the best rides on the roads today despite its hybrid status.

After our weeklong road test, we discovered Hyundai’s first plug in – the 2016 Sonata Plug-In Hybrid – to be one of the most affordable, most fuel efficient and most fun-to-drive plug-in “electric” vehicles to charge, park, drive and own in LA.



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