The seventh-generation Hyundai
Sonata is gaining two new variants for the 2016 model year: a hybrid to follow up on the sixth-generation’s hybrid model and a plug-in hybrid that offers even greater efficiency.
Stylistic changes for the hybrid siblings exist, but they’re subtle. The front and rear fascia get slightly different treatments and the rear quarter panels have blockier, backswept sides that trade aesthetics for aerodynamics if only by a little. Similarly, the hybrid models get wheels with broad spokes meant to reduce drag. In fact, Hyundai says the new model in hybrid form has the same drag coefficient as the Tesla Model S.
Generally, the hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants of the new Sonata look like their gasoline-only siblings. The sixth-generation Sonata made a splash by introducing Hyundai’s “fluidic” design language and the new Sonata wears the latest “Fluidic 2.0” design that will appear on all future Hyundai models.
What Else is New?
The biggest single change to the lineup for this year is the addition of a PHEV model. Hyundai uses a lithium ion polymer battery rather than the lithium ion packs in the Fusion hybrid and Accord hybrid or the nickel metal hydride technology Toyota still uses in the Camry Hybrid. This go-around, Hyundai’s battery pack is better at holding and dispensing energy.
Estimated gas mileage from the EPA isn’t available for the plug-in hybrid yet, but the regular hybrid is supposed to return 40 MPG around town, 44 MPG on the highway and a combined average of 42 MPG. Hyundai estimates that the plug-in hybrid model will offer an average of 40 MPG between city and highway driving. If that holds true, it will be enough to beat the Ford Fusion Energi, but behind the Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid. Then again, the PHEV Accord is relatively scarce because of a limited supply, so this car might make for a reasonable compromise.