Hyundai has been big on hybrids, having offered hybrid-powertrain variants of the midsize Sonata sedan since 2011. Now, for 2016, the South Korean automaker’s first plug-in hybrid joins the lineup. Similar to the 2016 Sonata Hybrid, the new model can be plugged into an electrical outlet, in order to keep the battery as fully charged as possible, thus increasing usable range. The plug-in sedan is offered only in certain states, suggesting that the automaker hopes to satisfy specific state emissions mandates.
What's New for 2016
The Sonata Plug-in Hybrid is all-new, joining the regular hybrid and conventional gasoline-engine versions of the popular midsize sedan. A larger electric motor than in the regular Hybrid produces 32 percent more power, according to Hyundai, using a battery pack that’s five times the size of the Hybrid’s.
Choosing Your Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid
In the Plug-in Hybrid, a 2-liter four-cylinder engine is coupled to a 50kW electric motor. Working alone, the gas engine produces output of 154 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. Total system output is 202 horsepower, sent to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Hyundai claims that the Plug-in Hybrid can travel up to 27 miles on battery power alone. The 9.8 kWh lithium polymer battery pack is about five times bigger than the battery used in the regular Sonata Hybrid.
Using a 240-volt Level 2 charger, the battery can be recharged in less than three hours. Charging from a regular 110-volt household outlet (Level 1) takes close to nine hours. Fuel economy is estimated by the EPA at 99 MPGe combined in EV mode, and 40 mpg (city/highway) in charge-sustaining mode.
The Plug-in Hybrid looks very much like the gas and hybrid Sonata models. Subtle design cues distinguish the Plug-in, including a unique grille, a charging port on the left front fender, model-exclusive exterior colors, an Eco-spoke alloy wheel design, chrome side sill moldings, and available (all-new) Blue Pearl leather seats. Inside, the instrument cluster provides additional information about the Plug-in Hybrid’s functions, with a charge indicator atop the dashboard. A Blue Link smartphone app can manage and monitor the Plug-in Hybrid remotely.
Nine airbags are standard, including a new driver’s knee airbag. Also standard are a rearview camera, blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert and lane-change assist, and an individual tire-pressure display.According to Hyundai, the Plug-in Hybrid will only be available in the following states: California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Two trim levels are offered:
Priced at $34,600 (plus destination charge) in base, trim the Plug-in Hybrid is $8,600 higher than Hyundai’s regular Hybrid. As a plug-in vehicle, the plug-in sedan qualifies for federal and state zero-emissions incentives, where applicable. This includes a $2,500 federal tax credit and a battery-capacity credit, as well as local incentives, such as California's $1,500 Clean Vehicle Rebate and single-occupant high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane access. Picking a Limited adds $4,000 to the price, but includes some valuable safety features.
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