The 2017 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid is the fuel efficiency leader of the Sonata lineup. But despite its stellar numbers, with gas prices hovering around $2.50 a gallon as of this writing, it's hard to justify the price premium.

Pricing and Equipment

The 2017 Sonata Plug-In Hybrid is available in two trim levels. The base model is priced at $35,485; while the Limited model has an MSRP of $39,485 (with both prices representing an $11,000 price premium over their respective gasoline-only models). Even the base model is well-equipped, with standard features like:

  • Eight-inch touchscreen with navigation, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto
  • Bluetooth phone and music streaming capability
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Keyless ignition
  • Rear view camera
  • Auto on/off headlights
  • Auto start/stop
  • Heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob

At a $4,000 more than the base model, our Limited tester also came with leather seating, ventilated front seats, a memory function for the driver's seat and outside mirrors, a power passenger seat, an electronic parking brake, and HID headlights with automatic high beams.

Limited models also come with a suite of advanced safety features including forward collision warning, lane departure warning, rear parking sensors, and adaptive cruise control with stop/start capability.

All 2017 Sonata Plug-In Hybrids use a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that, combined, deliver 202 system horsepower. Unlike most hybrids that employ a buzzy CVT, Hyundai's system uses a conventional six-speed automatic to put the power to the road with an EPA-estimated 99 MPGe combined for electric + gasoline, and 39 miles per gallon combined in gasoline-only mode.

Performance Pros

Hyundai Sonata Plug In Hybrid
  • The transition from electric mode to the internal combustion engine is seamless.
  • Despite the fact that we were only able to partially charge the system (we couldn't get the supplied charger to work), we still managed a vehicle-measured 52.5 miles per gallon in a combination of city and highway driving.
  • The Sonata Plug-In Hybrid delivers a smooth ride, easily absorbing most bumps and road irregularities.

Performance Cons

  • The weight of the additional batteries makes the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid feel ponderous when cornering.
  • Although slightly more expensive ($36,105), the Sonata's platform-mate, the Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid, has a longer electric range (29 versus 27) and a higher combined MPGe estimate (103 versus 99).
  • The steering has a nice weight, but it offers very little feedback to the driver.

Interior Pros

  • The infotainment system is intuitive with redundant analog buttons for the major functions, reducing driver distractions.
  • There's plenty of room for two adults up front and three in back.
  • The Blue Pearl leather option, available at no additional cost on the Limited model, livens things up a bit, while adding a touch of elegance to the interior.

Interior Cons

Hyundai Sonata Plug In Hybrid
  • Due to battery placement, cargo space is just 10 cubic feet, six less than the gasoline-only Sonata and three cubes less than the Sonata Hybrid.
  • Even with a boost from the electric motor, straight-line acceleration is disappointing, especially compared to the brand's own Ioniq models.
  • The Sonata's latest dash layout lacks the excitement of the previous sixth-generation model.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

At a time when manufacturers are seemingly vying for ever more complex infotainment systems, Hyundai's impresses with its intuitive interface and throw-back redundant buttons.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

Even with a $4,919 tax credit from Uncle Sam, the Sonata PHV is not a cheap vehicle, especially for the range-topping Limited. If saving fuel is really that important, we recommend sacrificing some of the Sonata's size and picking up the much more affordable (and better to drive) Ioniq.

The Bottom Line

The Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid's smooth ride and excellent EPA numbers can't mask the fact that with gasoline prices hovering around $2.50 a gallon, as of this writing, it's hard to justify the additional cost.