The best Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid now come from Hyundai. Here’s why. Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG – Aug 5, 2015 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid - $26,825 incl. D&H to start (Limited starts at $31,325 incl. D&H) while offering owners an excellent 40/44 mpgUS city/highway rating in base SE trim and 39/43 mpgUS city/highway from the Limited. The Sonata Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV-24) offers a 24 mile all-electric range and an estimated 40 mpg combined rating as a pure hybrid. What makes a car or truck the best vehicle for your drive? Is it based on handling prowess? If so, the new Mazda MX-5 or a BMW M would probably be everyone’s choice. Is it based on the most comfortable ride? Maybe the Buick LaCrosse or Audi A6 would be a great buy? Most modern interior? An Audi A8 L certainly fits the bill. Best performance? A Chevrolet Corvette Z-06 or Dodge Challenger Hellcat might be a consideration. Maybe it is maximum utility? A full-sized pickup like the Ford F-150 or Nissan Pathfinder CUV would be high on the list. If it were raw efficiency, the VW eGolf, VW Jetta TDI or Toyota Prius c would more than likely be in most drives. Best looking? The Jaguar F-Type would certainly be a great addition. Best warranty? How about a Hyundai Elantra or Kia Optima? Maybe it is price that drives one to judge a car or truck to be the best? In that case, a Nissan Versa or Mitsubishi Mirage would be the proper choice. A new automobile purchase co-mingles all of the attributes listed above and adds even more to meet the needs of a particular purchaser. In the case of the mid/full sized hybrids - Ford Fusion Hybrid, Honda Accord Hybrid, Lexus ES 300h, Toyota Avalon Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid, and the latest all-new 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, all provide excellent efficiency with the most modern appointments, smooth ride, decent passenger volume and are not prohibitively priced. So why do I think the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is better than the rest? Read on. 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and PHEV-24 Trims The 2nd gen Sonata Hybrid like its predecessor arrives in just two trims, the SE and Limited. The SE includes 16” alloys, LED taillights, side mirror turn signal indicators, rear lip spoiler, projector headlights, auto on headlights, driver blind spot side mirror, heated side mirrors, solar glass, chrome exterior door handles, proximity key with push-button start, door handle welcome light, hands-free Smart Trunk Opener, cloth seats, 6-way manual passenger seat (height-adjustable), tilt & telescopic wheel with cruise and audio controls, electroluminescent gauges with 4.2-inch color LCD display, dual auto climate, cluster hood stitching, 5” color display audio, rearview backup camera, iPod/USB & Aux input jacks, XM sat radio, Bluetooth with phonebook transfer and Blue Link Telematics system. 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Projector Lamp and LED light bar up close. The Limited trim includes all of the above plus Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross-traffic Alert, 17” alloys, HIDs, Leather-wrapped wheel & shift knob, heated wheel, Leatherette door panel inserts, leather seats, power driver seat with lumbar support and memory, power pass. seat (6-way), ventilated front seats, heated front & rear seats, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, rear window manual sunshades, auto-dimming mirror with HomeLink with compass, metal door sill plates, auto up/down front passenger window and floor-console mounted rear vents. The one and only option pkg. is the Ultimate Package ($4,500 USD) for the Limited Trim which includes Forward Collision Warning, Lane Change Assist and a Lane Departure Warning, auto high beam, rear parking sensors, panoramic sunroof, Radar CC, LED interior lights, Infinity premium audio with HD Radio, SiriusXM Travel Link and the 8” display with NAVI. While pricing has not yet been released for the Sonata PHEV-24, it will be available in California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont later this year. New owners will be eligible for a $4,919 federal tax credit. Local incentives including the clean vehicle rebate in California is worth an additional $1,500 off plus Green Clean Air Vehicle Decals for single occupant HOV lane access is also included with its purchase in that state. 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and PHEV-24 Design Based on the full-sized 2015 Sonata, the 2016 Sonata Hybrid incorporates features that make it a better looker and as aerodynamic as the lowest Cd car on the road today. The all-new 7th generation Sonata provided an even sleeker coupe like profile than its predecessor in the form of Fluidic Sculpture 2.0. The Hybrid continued this direction. 2015 Sonata vs. 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Front End Comparison The 15 Sonata’s 4 chrome or body colored grille slats have been replaced with a larger more prominent 5 thin flat chrome slats within a taller hexagonal wing grille trimmed in chrome on all trims. The grille incorporates an air shutter as well. The Hybrids lower intake is much thinner. The headlamps have been reshaped and incorporate a more prominent and straighter internal structure, the fog lamp cutouts are completely chrome trimmed and create an air-curtain effect around the front wheel opening. The forward corner edges have been aero-tabbed for a cleaner Cd. Moving to the profile, the 2016 Sonata Hybrid incorporates a slightly different chrome rocker panel inlay vs. the Limited and Sport Sonata’s, the wheels are aero tuned with smaller openings to decrease drag and the rear corners have been aero-tabbed. A reshaped rear spoiler have been added to reduce drag further. 2015 Sonata vs. 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Profile and Rear End Comparison Out back, the tail lamp assembly inlays have been changed and a lower rear diffuser has been added to reduce aerodynamic drag. Even the Panoramic roof has been reworked to be stronger and quieter. All together, the new exterior design including the full underbody panels have reduced the Sonata Hybrids drag coefficient to just 0.24 from the std. Sonata’s 0.27. This is the cleanest aerodynamically designed conventional, hybrid and diesel powered vehicle available. 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and PHEV-24 Interior The 2016 Sonata Hybrid is no different than the regular Sonata other than the multitude of Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid displays available. Large and very comfortable for the many years on the long road ahead. The 2016 Sonata Hybrid is for all intents and purposes a full sized car and larger than any of its direct competitors. This is the Sonata’s main advantage and nothing from the mid-size class can match it. The cabin is surrounded by soft touch materials and rich looking inlays. Buttons and controls are placed on the center stack, which is angled toward the driver to make the controls easier to reach. For taller drivers. Shorter drivers may have to reach a bit. The SE incorporates a smallish 5” central display screen that is out of proportion to match the larger front dash face. Even the much larger hi res 8 inch screen with NAVI appears too small. A 12 inch would be a more logical choice in a car this large inside as the lower controls size are not large enough to fill the lower control panel. More rear seat room than any of its competitors. The woodgrain inlays on the Limited are to glossy cheapening the interior by comparison to a less reflective inlay that could have been used. On the noise reduction front, the Sonata Hybrid’s low drag cuts back on wind noise although I never reached speeds over 65 mph. Like the std. 15 Sonata, the hybrid includes sound deadening materials in the dashboard, under the floorpan, and an underbody tray made of fibrous glass expansion board improves aerodynamics while reducing unwanted road noise. Despite the few aesthetic shortcomings, the interior is quieter and more comfortable than ever before during my few hours behind the wheel and in the passenger seat. That is a true usable flat floor and big width trunk space. The best addition to the hybrid lineup is the fact the trunk is not only completely usable, it has compact car volume at 13.3 cu. ft. 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Price, Efficiency and Size Competitive Comparison Column1Column2Column3Column4Column5Column6Column7Column8YearMakeModelStarting Price ($ MSRP)EPA City/Highway (mpgUS)Passenger volume (cu. ft.)Cargo Volume (cu. ft.)Total Volume (cu. ft.)2016HyundaiSonata Hybrid SE$26,00040/44106.113.3119.42015HondaAccord Hybrid$29,30550/45103.212.7116.02015FordFusion Hybrid SE$25,99044/41102.812.2115.02015LexusES 300h$40,92040/39100.112.1112.22015ToyotaAvalon Hybrid$36,47040/39102.314.0116.32015ToyotaCamry Hybrid LE$26,79043/39102.713.1115.8 In this competitive comparison, both the Accord and Camry Hybrid require a long reach to the wheel and the front seat lower cushions are too short for taller driver long distance driving comfort. The ES 300h can match the HSH if equipped with the lower seat cushion extender. The Fusion Hybrid has the comfort but its hip, shoulder and rear seat knee room are much more cramped by comparison. Out back, none of these competitors have the rear seat room although the Accord Hybrid has a more comfortable recline angle and seating position. A 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid on the Pacific. 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and PHEV-24 Infotainment Along with the standard infotainment listed in the trim breakout section above, the 8.0” NAVI offers an enhanced display with light touch sensitivity, a map and music split screen display and the ability to record SiriusXM presets 1-6. When switching to a preset station, you can rewind the station up to 22 minutes to listen to the full song or catch the broadcast already played. All 2016 Sonata Hybrids equipped with navigation will also support Pandora and SoundHound applications as well as “Eyes Free” Siri integration plus Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto. The NAVI equipped Hybrid and PHEV-24 includes a coasting guide control which will alert the driver to coast to a stop or slow down ahead with the following attributes enabled: Eco mode, a destination chosen, and speeds between 37 and 99 mph. 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and PHEV-24 Drivetrain The 2016 Sonata Hybrid uses an atkinsonized 154 hp and 140 lb. ft. of torque 2.0L GDI I4 coupled to a 38 kW and 151 lb-ft. of torque electric motor running at 270V - system power = 193 hp - that is clutched into six-speed AT. Powerful enough and well mannered. The 1.62 kWh lithium-polymer battery pack has 13 percent more energy capacity, 24 percent higher power density and is 21 percent lighter. Thanks to the smaller overall packaging, the traction battery now fits underneath the trunk floor in the spare tire well allowing for a flat trunk and the available 60/40 split-folding rear seats in the Limited trim. This 6-speed AT now uses an electric oil pump allowing full glides up to 75 mph by decoupling the gasoline engine from the rest of the drivetrain. The Hybrid SE with the 16” alloys is geared to provide 1,950 RPM at 60 mph. The larger 17” alloys tires have a smaller diameter and provide 1,980 RPM at 60 mph. The PHEV-24 – both trims arrive with the 17” alloys - has a shorter final which pushes RPMs up to 2,095 at 60 mph. The PHEV-24 is electrically powered by the same motor, clutch and transmission as the Hybrid but with a higher Voltage, the traction motor is rated at 50 kW fed at 360V from the 9.8 kWh traction battery. Total system total system output is 202 hp although it is driving a heavier vehicle. Hybrid SE: 3,497 lbs Hybrid (Limited): 3,560 lbs PHEV-24 SE: 3,787 lbs PHEV-24 (Limited): 3,810 lbs. The PHEV-24s onboard 3.3 kW charger when connected to a Level2 charging station can bring the PHEV-24 from flat to full in under 3-hours. On a 120V outlet, expect between 8 and 9 hours charging time. Charging status and scheduling can be checked or set from the Blue Link smartphone app. A full hybrid, its 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 3rd gear shifts are smoother than the previous generation. The PHEV-24 for whatever reason is smoother than the Hybrid when accelerating. The PHEV-24 can also be placed in HEV mode which saves the remaining charge for when you decide to use it. A city destination beyond the PHEVs all-electric range as an example. Row of brand new 2016 Hyundai Sonata PHEV-24s ready for launch from Hyundai U.S. HQ in Fountain Valley, CA. 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and PHEV-24 Chassis The 2016 Sonata Hybrid and PHEV-24 is composed of more than 50% advanced high-strength steel which improves torsional rigidity by 41% and keeps the car light. This also improved the ride, handling and NVH compared to the first gen Sonata Hybrid. Up front, a std. MacPherson strut with performance shock absorbers and 23 mm stabilizer bar (24.2 mm Plug-in Hybrid) is provided. Out back, an independent multi-link with coil springs, performance shock absorbers and 17 mm stabilizer bar is standard. Ride is soft enough for expansion joints but it will bottom with a sharp impact on larger potholes for example. Handling has been improved with less body roll. Brakes include 12.0 and 11.1 in. ventilated discs up front and out back respectively. Stopping power is adequate and feel is better than most hybrids although it is not as linear as a std. hydraulic system on a conventional car. The column mounted Electric Motor-Driven variable Power Steering (MDPS) system provides a little better on-center feel although steering overall is still vague. Fortunately, the turning diameter of 35.6 ft., curb-to-curb, works well even with the longish 110.4” wheelbase. 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and PHEV-24 Safety Passively the Sonata Hybrid includes front, side, side curtains and a driver’s knee airbag. Actively, Electronic Stability Control, Vehicle Stability Management, Traction Control, ABS and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System with individual tire pressure display and a rearview camera is also standard. 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid NHTSA Crash Test Ratings The IIHS has not yet tested the 2016 Sonata Hybrid although the 2015 Sonata performed well enough to earn a Top Safety Pick. 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and PHEV-24 Warranty Another plus that the Sonata Hybrid and Sonata PHEV-24 offer is the over the top excellent warranty. None of its competitors even come close! New Vehicle 5-year/60K mile Powertrain 10-year/100K mile Hybrid-related Components 10-year/100K mile Lifetime Hybrid Battery Warranty Anti-Perforation 7-year/Unlimited Roadside Assistance 5-year/Unlimited 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and PHEV-24 Efficiency and Impressions The hot new Sonata PHEV-24 is the best PHEV available on the market today and makes my family’s own Prius PHEV-11 look pretty bad in the comparison. Pricing has not yet been released which may or may not make or break this super PHEVs chances. In other words, competitors PHEV offerings could have a bad day when this is released. Depending on price of course. I drove the PHEV-24 30+ miles on 54% of the SOC consumed - 96% to start and down to 42% at the mandatory driver change point. With HEV cut-in at 16%, the range indicated would have been approximately 50 miles with the 2+ percent odometer shortfall. I have never doubled an EPA rating in anything on my first time out and there were three people in the car! Driving the slow speed light to light PCH from Huntington Beach to Dana Point certainly helped but still. 2016 Hyundai Sonata PHEV-24 First Drive Results This is hot! When taking the Sonata HEV out on a 25+ mile mostly slower speed traffic jammed highway loop, 68+ mpg was indicated. And this was completed with three adults on board. The final detail on this excellent result will have to wait until we complete a full avg. fuel consumption display (aFCD) calibration run which is currently scheduled for early next week. 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid First Drive Results This is hot too although I have no idea how this result yielded an ECO score of just 6? So here is how the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid (HSH) stands vs its competitors. The HSH has middle of the road ride and handling quotient compared to its competitors. Accord and Fusion are slightly better. Camry and Avalon are slightly worse with too much body roll. The HSH is quieter than all of its competitors as their eCVTs rev up harshly creating a lot of NVH when climbing, accelerating or when running at higher speeds. The HSH is much larger and more comfortable than all of its competitors other than the ES 300h which can match it in drive comfort when equipped with the lower seat cushion extender but not overall size for a long distance journey. The Accord Hybrid rear seats are slightly more comfortable. When it comes to efficiency, the Sonata PHEV-24 takes all of its PHEV and HEV competitors to the woodshed for distances out to 600 or so miles. The Accord HEV and Camry HEV will best the HSH in the city. The rest will not. The Accord can also best the HSH in slow to intermediate speed highway drives as well. At higher speeds (65+), the HSH will best the Accord and place the rest far in its rear view. The HSH looks ok but it does not quite come up to the sharp looking Fusion or glitzy Accord faces. Lexus' Spindle Grille is in the eyes of the beholder and the Camry with the tacked on plastic look just ok. HSHs face and rear end need work here while the Avalon falls to the bottom. Pricing has yet to be disclosed on the Sonata PHEV-24 but with the HSH available at $26k to start - discounts will be available soon, the HSH buries its competitors including the Fusion S and SE trims. They lack what comes std. on the HSH. Camry offers less for more and the Accord and especially the Avalon Hybrid and ES 300h are simply priced too high to compete. Regarding safety, we will have to wait on the IIHS and that tough Small Overlap to decide who takes this attribute. Right now, the recently “fixed” Camry sits on top with its advanced safety components and beefed up structure. The Accord HEV is just a notch behind although the 2016 receives all the advanced safety equipment to launch it back to the top. Avalon falls short while the ES needs new LATCH anchors. The Fusion sits at the bottom. The HSH warranty places the rest of its competitors at an extreme disadvantage. Even when competing against the slightly less expensive and smaller Prius, it only bests the HSH in efficiency. Everything else the Prius falls way short. Looking forward, the all-new 2016 Malibu Hybrid, upcoming 2016 4th Gen Prius and lower priced and refreshed 2016 Honda Accord may mix up the rankings again but today the all-new 2nd generation HSH is the best hybrid money can buy. A Hyundai Sonata PHEV-24 on the Pacific. I really enjoyed this launch as you can well imagine.