$25,500 - $30,500

2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid was new.


Performance: 7.2

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid has decent overall performance without truly excelling in any area. Its fuel economy is low for a midsize hybrid, though the plug-in version is a little more eco-friendly. The Sonata Hybrid moves fine from a stop, but it's short on power when you need heavy acceleration. The car's ride quality is comfortable, and it has balanced handling.

  • "No matter what trim you select, the powertrain is the same. It's a 2.0-liter gas I4 mated to an electric motor that puts out a net 193 horsepower. Thanks to a lithium-ion battery that's 9.0 percent larger than before (1.76 kWh versus 1.62), fuel economy is up by 1 mpg in both city and highway driving to 40 and 46, respectively." -- CNET
  • "Befitting a car designed to carry people, the … Hyundai Sonata Hybrid's ride is smooth on all manner of pavement, and the cabin is quiet at highway speeds. This is a car that will get you to your destination without wearing you out. It's not an exciting car to drive, certainly, but the Sonata Hybrid heads where you point it with no drama." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "Both the Sonata Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrids were the type of alternative vehicles we could actually live with. Steering has been firmed up to give more road feel, without the numb, dead spot that tends to live on center. We found a normal tip-in that didn't make us feel that we were putting all our foot into the accelerator before we were able to get underway." -- Left Lane News (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The 2018 Sonata Hybrid has a 2.0-liter engine and an electric motor that generate a combined 193 horsepower. The Sonata Plug-In Hybrid has a more powerful electric motor that boosts the combined output to 202 horsepower. All models come with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Sonata Hybrid gets up to 40 mpg in the city and 46 mpg on the highway, which are low estimates for a hybrid in this class. The plug-in model gets a combined 99 mpg-e city/highway, and it can go 28 miles on electric-only power.

Thanks to the electric part of the powertrain, the Sonata Hybrid accelerates quickly from a stop, though it requires more effort for merging with and passing cars at high speeds. The transmission earns praise for its smooth shifts and quiet operation.

  • "The six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and offers a nice alternative to the sometimes-droning continuously variable transmissions (CVT) that are the norm for hybrids." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "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 (2016)
  • "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 (2016)

Handling and Braking

The front-wheel-drive Sonata Hybrid provides a comfortable ride, even over uneven pavement, and steering provides decent feedback from the road. Still, the Sonata Hybrid isn't sporty. The hybrid-specific regenerative brakes take some getting used to since they have an unnatural feel compared to traditional brakes.

  • "On the road, the Sonata Hybrid offers surprisingly peppy performance -- unusual for a hybrid midsize sedan -- with a good cornering feel and communicative steering. Indeed, we'd consider these models to be the driver's choice among fuel-efficient midsize sedans, outshining even the excellent Honda Accord Hybrid. With that said, the Accord Hybrid gets better gas mileage. Despite its driver-focused feel, the Sonata Hybrid is quite comfortable over bumps and jarring road surfaces." -- Autotrader
  • "Overall, the Sonata's comfortable and quiet regardless of what model you pick, and Hyundai has finally gotten steering feel down to where it's actually pretty good for this class." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "Less impressive is the feel of the Sonata Hybrid's brake pedal. It's grabby when you first push on it, especially at highway speeds, which is followed by a long, disconcerting dead period as you press down harder. Actual braking performance is fine, but some other hybrids have a more natural feel to their brakes." -- Edmunds (2017)

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