What's New on the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

2016 Sonata Hybrid

With the start of each new model year, car buyers are left with important questions about what has changed. More specifically, you may be wondering whether the latest model is worth the extra cost or the newly discounted previous model is a better deal. If the car in question is the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, you will find several reasons to spring for the newest version. In fact, when you ask what's new on the 2016 model, the short answer is "everything."

Plug-In Option

Sonata Plug-In Option

The most significant change comes in the form of a new plug-in version. Currently, the 2016 Sonata Plug-In Hybrid is only offered in California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont (the states with zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) regulations). This model qualifies buyers for a federal tax credit up to $4,919, as well as state incentives such as access to the HOV lane and discounted utility rates. As more states implement ZEV regulations and add electric charging stations, the plug-in option may be offered in more areas.

Redesigned Components

Engine

Every component of the drivetrain has been redesigned to improve efficiency. The 2.4L Atkinson-cycle engine of the 2015 has been replaced with a 2.0L DOHC direct-injection 4-cylinder engine. This change reduced the horsepower and torque slightly, (though the electric motor has gained 4 hp) but resulted in better fuel efficiency. The plug-in version features a 9.8-kWh battery pack compared to the 1.6 kWh of the standard Sonata Hybrid, and even that 1.6 kWh is a 13 percent increase over the 2015 model.

Better Fuel Economy

Sonata Fuel Economy

The most significant change comes in fuel economy. The 2016 model gets the same gas mileage in the city that the 2015 model achieved on the highway — 40 MPG in the city and 44 MPG on the highway, compared to 36 and 40 MPG. The plug-in model gets a combined 40 MPG and an EPA-estimate 99 MPGe in all-electric mode. Best of all, these numbers are achieved without the help of a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Sonata Hybrid's traditional 6-speed transmission makes up for any slight dip in fuel efficiency with a superior driving experience.

The aerodynamic design of the Sonata Hybrid also contributes to its fuel economy. Thanks to features such as its active front grille shutters, smooth underbody panels, and low-profile rear spoiler, this vehicle boasts a class-leading 0.24 coefficient of drag. Unique wheels and a unibody structure composed of more than 50 percent high-strength steel complete the package.

Technology Upgrades

Tech Updates

Between the standard and optional technology available in the 2016 Sonata Hybrid, you will find more than enough to justify spending a little more for the hi-tech new model. Every trim, except the base-model SE, includes Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Rear Cross-traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist. Even the base model sports a rearview camera, dual-zone climate control, and a hands-free smart trunk.

If you opt for the Hybrid Limited, an extra $4,500 will get you the Unlimited Package, which includes Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Automatic High Beam Assist, rear parking sensors, and Smart Cruise Control with stop/start capability. This package also upgrades the 5-inch audio touchscreen to an 8-inch touchscreen navigation system.

Roomy Interior

Sonata Hybrid Interior

The 2016 model of the Sonata Hybrid is a little larger than its predecessor, which translates into a more spacious interior with 119.4 cubic feet of total volume (compared to 115.9 cubic feet in the 2015 model). Head, shoulder, leg, and hip room have all increased in the rear seats, and maximum cargo volume has increased from to 12.1 to 13.3 cubic feet. Thanks to these new dimensions, the Sonata Hybrid leads its class in interior volume.

Energy Gauge

If you are driving a hybrid, you probably care about fuel efficiency. To help with that, the 2016 Sonata Hybrid features a vehicle energy gauge and battery state-of-charge meter, instead of the usual tachometer and temperature gauge. You will also see information tailored to the hybrid experience, such as energy flow. At the end of each trip, drivers also receive a "driving style" rating to let them know how efficiently they used the throttle and brakes. This information divides the trip into three categories (economical, normal, and efficient) and lists the percentage of time spent in each.

Energy Gauge

Those looking for a hybrid that's best-in-class in more areas than one should consider the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Its fuel economy, spacious interior, and technology keep it competitive even when compared to conventional vehicles. To make it even more attractive, this vehicle starts at $26,000 for the base-model SE — lower than the original MSRP of its predecessor, despite all the updates.

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