Following our review of the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, we were looking forward to the 2016 Sonata Plug-in Hybrid, PHEV. The experience hasn’t disappointed us. The 2016 Hyundai Sonata PHEV brings a competition in a growing plug-in hybrid market and a relief that you can have it all — well, almost everything. Finally, a little bit of Italian design flare in the electric car market!
As much as we were pleasantly surprised with the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid test drive, the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) delivered even more. The Sonata is the company’s second-best-selling model, after the Elantra. In its PHEV version, the Sonata adds even more fuel frugality by letting you choose which mode to use — hybrid or all-electric mode. It is easy to see how this car will drive predominantly on electricity alone.
The Sonata PHEV strikes the best balance between comfort and the right amount of luxury I’ve seen so far. Not only is it a well packaged car with a firm, yet not punishing, chassis; it is a perfect everyday car you can run on electricity with longer trips over the weekend using its gasoline engine.
Competition includes the Kia Optima, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion (including the Energi), Toyota Corolla, and Chevy Volt, but it’s easy to see how the Sonata PHEV can beat all of these for people with particular preferences and requirements.
The Sonata PHEV uses the same new platform as the Hybrid and comfortably seats 5 people. Its turning radius is very good for a sedan that size. Although Hyundai gives the Sonata PHEV an average electric range of 27 miles, we got over 30 hypermiling it. We particularly enjoy starting our drive in the city in EV mode, switching to hybrid mode on the highway and back to EV mode once off highways. The Sonata PHEV acts as a series PHEV, meaning the engine is sometimes only used to charge the battery pack, leaving the electric motor powering the wheels alone under moderate accelerations when the car accelerates, slows, or idles. This drive mode is ideal when you have an even mix of city and highway. Hyundai’s Battery Charge mode recharges the car to 100% or only as much as possible within a range of charging hours.
Just like the Hyundai Hybrid, the PHEV has a great infotainment system that is intuitive, easy to reach, and played nicely with our iPhones and iPods.
The Sonata PHEV manages to give you more all-electric miles than its closest competition at a slightly lower price. It also has an impressive 0.24 aerodynamic drag, helping its EV range and overall range considerably. We achieved an overall average 99 MPGe.
Without repeating what we previously wrote for the Hybrid, it is hard to find faults with the Sonata PHEV. The car hits the right amount of luxury, comfort, and now fuel efficiency at a very reasonable price. Naturally, EV enthusiasts would enjoy more electric range… and who here isn’t an EV enthusiast?
Test Period Length and Limitations: We drove the car for 7 days under various conditions, 25% highways, 80% city, and 5% cruising between cities on moderate-speed roads. All in all, we drove it for 375 miles, very happy miles.
Hyundai has a serious winner with the Sonata in its hybrid and PHEV version. The company put a lot of efforts into making this car a perfect choice for many drivers. We were impressed with the luxury feel for its price point, the handling without being harsh, and the attention to details, coupled with a well laid out and intuitive infotainment system. Considering its price and how well packaged it is, the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid gets a 4.5 plugs out of 5 from us.