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2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid was new.


Performance: 7.7

The 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid delivers underwhelming power, according to some automotive writers. Others find the Sonata Hybrid’s power in line with hybrid competitors. They disagree about its quickness, with some saying it has eager acceleration and others calling it slow. Reviewers note it has a supple ride over uneven pavement.

  • "My night with the Sonata was my first prolonged experience with a hybrid, and I really enjoyed it. I thought the car drove really well; it handled bumps and potholes better than I expected." -- AutoWeek
  • "As befits a car designed to haul people, the 2016 Hyundai Sonata's ride is smooth on all kinds of pavement, the cabin is quiet at all speeds and the steering and suspension are set to get you there without wearing you out. It's not an exciting car to drive, but the Sonata Hybrid goes where you point it with no drama, and feels stable and secure around turns." -- Edmunds
  • "Hyundai engineers said that they had been aiming for a perfect blend of high fuel economy and driving performance. After about an hour behind the wheel, I wasn't particularly sure that they got either one right." -- Jalopnik
  • "Drivers, though, won't really notice a difference from these changes while on the road; the driving experience remains almost identical with the type of humdrum experience we've come to expect in many a hybrid sedan." -- Cars.com

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 Sonata Hybrid features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that combine to produce 193 horsepower. The Plug-in Hybrid, available in late 2015, features a more powerful electric motor and a total horsepower of 202. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. The Sonata Hybrid gets an EPA-estimated 39/43 mpg city/highway, which is outstanding for a midsize sedan, but middling for a hybrid. The Plug-in Hybrid gets 99 mpg-e and has an all-electric range of 27 miles, according to the EPA.

Critics find that the Sonata Hybrid runs quietly, but some say the engine is weak. Several test drivers find that the Sonata Hybrid accelerates quickly, but others disagree. The transmission is responsive and shifts smoothly, according to reviewers, and they add that the transition from electric to gasoline power is seamless.

  • "The powertrains of both versions are commendably smooth, as well. Pure-electric power gets the Sonata off the line briskly, and the transition to internal-combustion propulsion is all but imperceptible." -- Car and Driver
  • "The engine ignition and operation are quiet, though power is a little less than adequate in my eyes. I was pushing the pedal down more than halfway just to get going. There's really no point in jamming on it to pass someone, you'll just have to wait until the next gap." -- AutoWeek
  • "We haven't yet put a stopwatch to it, but acceleration seems to be in the same range as the previous model and on par with other members of the hybrid family sedan segment. The six-speed automatic is smooth-shifting, and it could be a bonus if you find the constant engine rpm drone of CVT-equipped competitors annoying." -- Edmunds
  • "The rate of charge in [Battery Charge] mode is very quick. It is faster than plugging into a 240-volt charging station, which takes approximately three hours to deliver a full charge (it takes about nine hours on a standard 120-volt outlet). I got roughly 40 percent of the electric range back within 12 minutes of driving, which rivals quick charging stations." -- Cars.com (Plug-in Hybrid)

Alternate Fuels/Charging

The Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid, which will arrive in late 2015, features a lithium polymer battery pack and can be charged with a standard 120-volt outlet or at a 240-volt charging station. With a 120-volt outlet, charging time is just under nine hours, and that falls to just under three hours at a 240-volt charging station. The Plug-in Hybrid also has a Battery Charge mode that adds electric range to the battery while the Sonata is in motion. Reviewers praise the fast charging times of the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid.

Handling and Braking

The front-wheel drive 2016 Sonata Hybrid provides a smooth ride, according to test drivers. They find the steering could be more responsive, but they point out that the vehicle has an excellent turning radius, which helps maneuverability. While some critics think the brakes are decent, most dislike them, saying that they are slow to respond and require firm pedal pressure to engage.

  • "The braking response of the Hybrid was quite spongy, too. It reminded me of what your typical car feels like after about 20 minutes of track time--you have to press much harder and much sooner than you would expect to in order to get normal braking results. While I'm somewhat accustomed to regenerative braking systems, this one was much more like sticking your foot in a bowl of jelly than most." -- Jalopnik
  • "The ride is great. It absorbed almost everything I threw at it. Bumps make a little noise, but if you just concentrate on the seat, there's barely any movement. Steering … is a little vague and numb. It's easy at least, and if you're not into corner carving, probably no big deal. On the other hand, you're reading Autoweek, so you're probably an enthusiast. Make this a second, road-trip car. Don't sell the Miata just yet." -- AutoWeek
  • "And the turning circle is tighter, so all of this extra efficiency is even easier to move around town." -- Autoblog

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