by Larry Lark, Herald Special Sections Writer
If you mainly use your car for running errands around town, or live close to your work, you might be able to run exclusively electric in the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid Limited.
The beauty is – if your plans happen to change when life happens – no big deal. The car runs as a hybrid and delivers close to 40 miles per gallon. It seats five adults, comes with a trunk that provides plenty of storage room and looks like a real car.
Built in Asan, South Korea, the Sonata Hybrid is powered by a 2.0-liter Nu four-cylinder, GDI engine coupled with an electric motor mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Combined, the two generate 202-horsepower at 6,000 rpm and are rated at 40 miles per gallon down the highway by the EPA.
You could close your eyes (I’m speaking figuratively) and not know you’re driving a hybrid. The Sonata accelerates quickly, has plenty left passing at freeway speeds and doesn’t lug down when climbing hills.
The Plug-In capability provides the additional benefit of all-electric range. A 9.8 kWh lithium polymer battery pack, roughly five times larger than the Sonata Hybrid’s battery, provides owners with an extended, all-electric range of approximately 27 miles. Charge times range from less than three hours at a 240V Level-Two charging station, to less than nine hours using a standard 120V outlet.
Sonata looks anything but a hybrid or electric vehicle. But there are differences from a plain Sonata. Visual changes to the Plug-in Hybrid’s exterior include a charging port on the driver front fender, unique grille, front and rear bumpers, front fenders, front and rear lights, chrome side-sill moldings, Hybrid badging and an eco-spoke alloy wheel design. My tester received a Pewter Gray Metallic coat of paint.
Comfort and convenience features
will not disappoint – but rather, impress. We’re talking leather seats that are heated and ventilated, heated steering wheel with cruise and audio controls, smart cruise control, navigation system, rear-view camera, Bluetooth, Infinity speakers with subwoofer and amplifier and Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system.
What does the telematics system do? Via a Smartphone app, owners can access real-time data and perform specific commands like starting the engine and locking doors. Plus, users can search for points of interest using Google with voice or text and have the directions ready when they start their car.
The Sonata Plugin Hybrid Limited comes standard with seven airbags, electronic stability control, vehicle stability management, traction control, ABS and a tire-pressure monitoring system. LED headlamps are standard while HID headlamps are available.
Hyundai engineers implemented many active safety technologies for the 2016 Sonata Plug-in Hybrid Limited to assist drivers and help prevent accidents. No longer reserved for luxury cars, advanced safety technologies such as forward-collision warning and lane-departure warning are also available in this midsize sedan.
Other technologies that add to the Sonata’s safety include a blind-spot monitoring system, lane-change assist, lane-departure warning, and rear cross-traffic alert.
2016 HYUNDAI SONATA PLUG-IN HYBRID
BASE PRICE: $38,600
AS TESTED: $39,610
Base price includes destination charge. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. Prices may vary at local dealerships.