Hyundai has released a few new details about the 2016 Sonata Plug-In Hybrid, its answer to competing mid-size sedans that can run on electricity for a first set of miles. The Sonata joins the Ford Fusion and Honda Accord in a growing field of mainstream mid-size models offering a plug-in option. What do we now know about the Sonata PHEV?
Availability: The plug-in hybrid Sonata will go on sale in fall 2015, with inventory available in dealerships in these states: California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. In other states, dealerships will not carry stock of the Sonata PHEV, but customers will be able to make special orders. Hyundai executives believe that the vast majority of sales will be made in California.
Price and Incentive: The big question of the plug-in Sonata’s price tag will remain unanswered until right before the car goes on sale in the fall. Based on company statements about the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid competing against the Ford Fusion Energi and Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid, the price should be between $35,000 and $40,000. According to Hyundai, the Sonata PHEV will qualify for a federal tax credit of about $4,900. In addition, California buyers should qualify for a $1,500 rebate.
Power Specs: The 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid uses a 2.0 liter four-cylinder GDI engine capable of 154 horsepower (115 kW) and 140 pound-feet of torque. The engine—the same as found in the Sonata Hybrid—is connected to a six-speed automatic transmission with a 67-horsepower motor providing electric motivation. Total output is 202 horsepower.
Since the introduction of the Hyunda Sonata Hybrid (without a plug) in 2011, the company has been committed to a six-speed automatic transmission, which it believe provides a more natural driving feel than the CVTs used in most hybrids and plug-in hybrid.
Range and Efficiency The Sonata’s 9.8 kilowatt-hour battery is bigger than other mid-size sedan plugin hybrids. The Accord uses a 6.7-kWh unit, and Fusion Energi carries a 7.6-kWh pack. The larger pack will mean a longer all-electric range of about 22 miles, compared to about 13 and 19 respectively for Honda and Ford. Efficiency when running on gasoline, after the battery is depleted, is expected around 40 miles to the gallon. That beat’s the Fusion’s 38 mpg on gas, but is not as good as the Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid’s impressive 46 miles to the gallon on gasoline.
The Chevy Volt, a smaller vehicle, is the leader in terms of electric range. The upcoming 2016 model will offer about 50 miles purely on electricity before the gas engine is used. On the other end of the spectrum, the Toyota Prius model with a plug only provides about 11 miles of electric range (with some use of gasoline), although it provides class-leading fuel efficiency of 50 mpg, after the battery is depleted.
Design and Space: The look of the Sonata’s hybrid versions—both with and without plugs—is very close to the base model. The gas-electric model carries a unique front and rear fascia, and aerodynamic wheels, which helps it achieve a low drag coefficient of 0.24. The plug-in hybrid version takes on a unique grille and a charge port on the front driver’s side. Other PHEV flourishes include special front fenders, front and rear lights, chrome side sill moldings, hybrid badging and new wheels.
The Sonata Plug-in Hybrid also adds a battery charge indicator on top of the dashboard for viewing state-of-charge level from outside the car. That's a useful tool while the car is charging. The Sonata PHEV manages to retain 9.9 cubic feet of cargo space, compared to bigger compromises from the Fusion Energi at 8.2 cubes and the Accord PHEV with 8.6. cubic feet.