Hyundai will return to the midsize hybrid sedan fight once more, with a gas-and-battery version of its stylish new Sonata.
We’re already big fans of the eighth-generation Sonata, thanks to its cool new looks and pleasant interior. The hybrid model should broaden its appeal too, bringing a higher level of parsimoniousness to the package.
SEE ALSO: 2020 Hyundai Sonata Review
The current Sonata range features two four cylinder engines: a 1.6-liter turbo and 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated unit. The Hybrid splits the difference, adopting a 2.0-liter non-turbo engine. On its own it produces 150 hp and 139 lb-ft. Hyundai pairs it with a 51 hp electric motor, with net horsepower clocking in at 192. That’s slightly down on the max net ratings of the Camry and Accord (208 and 212 hp, respectively). However, both Japanese cars use more powerful electric motors (118 and 181 hp).
Surprisingly, the Hybrid sticks to an automatic transmission, but a six-speed unit compared to the eight-speed found in other Sonatas. Hyundai has equipped it with Active Shift Control (ASC), which both smooths gear changes and increases their speed.
In Blue trim level, the Sonata’s demure power figures translate to a best-in-class 54 mpg highway rating. Its combined figure of 52 mpg matches the Camry Hybrid: the Hyundai comes up 1 mpg short of the Toyota’s 51 city rating. Hyundai is quoting a bladder-busting 686 miles of range between fill-ups. That too is with the Blue trim: SEL and Limited models will achieve 45 mpg city, 51 mpg highway and 47 mpg combined.
Helping the Sonata slice through the air are unique active air flaps behind the grille, plus a redesigned spoiler out back. Much of the bottom of the car is flat too, which contributes to the Sonata’s 0.24 drag coefficient. The Hybrid adopts the smilier lower front bumper design of the base Sonata instead of the frowny, more aggressive design found on other trims.
Hyundai has moved the hybrid battery, freeing up 2.5 cubic feet of trunk space versus the previous Sonata Hybrid. The move also means nearly zero changes in interior space over the regular Sonata, outside of a fractional decrease in rear headroom. The roof does gain solar panels however, which Hyundai says charge the 12-volt and hybrid batteries, so we’d call that a net positive.
SEE ALSO: 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid Review
The Hybrid comes with the same features as other Sonatas. This includes the standard 8.0-inch touchscreen (a 10.25-inch item is optional), dual Bluetooth support, and Hyundai’s SmartSense safety suite. SmartSense includes adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot assist and forward collision emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Highway Driving Assist (HDA), which centers the car and keeps a set distance from the car in front, is an available option.
Also optional is the Hyundai Digital Key. HDK uses a dedicated app to allow owners to access their Sonata via their smartphone instead of a key. What’s more, they can also share the key with others. Digital keys can be customized: owners can limit certain vehicle functions, or the available timeframe of a key. HDK is only available with Android phones however.
The new Sonata Hybrid will go on sale this spring. We’ll have pricing details closer to launch.