It’s no doubt that electric cars are the future of the automotive world, despite gasoline prices falling here in early 2015. We all know that in just a few months, the prices will be right back up to nearly $4 per gallon (well over $4 in some areas) and we’ll all be back to griping about refilling our tanks. But as we transition toward electric cars, some buyers need a stepping stone, and that’s where the new 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid comes in to play.
On the outside, the Sonata Plug-In features the new and more upscale Sonata Hybrid body, which features a class-leading 0.24 coefficient of drag. The only real way to tell the plug-in variety from the standard hybrid is the plug-in port on the front, driver-side fender and some badges. The Sonata Plug-In Hybrid will share its color palette with the base hybrid, which includes just two colors: Graphite Blue Pearl and Seaport Mist.
Inside the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid, you’ll find standard cloth seating in either grey or beige, but there is optional leather. Buyers can go one more step up in upholstery and opt for the Blue Pearl leather, which adds in contrast stitching and accent pieces. Available premium options include an electronic parking brake, driver seat memory, LED interior lights, ventilated front seats, power front seats with adjustable driver lumbar, and Smart Cruise Control.
Technology is also plentiful on the 2016 Sonata Plug-In Hybrid, with the Blue Link App leading the charge. This app links you smartphone to the Sonata and access the car’s data, and performs various commands. One of the app’s biggest features is to allow you to schedule the car’s recharging for off-peak hours, for those of you who have varying power rates, but it also offers manual start and stop charging, climate control, vehicle diagnostics, existing battery level, real-time electric range, charge status, plug status (in or out), time left until recharged, refresh to retrieve status, and VIN. Other standard features include SiriusXM radio, iPod, USB and auxiliary ports, and Bluetooth connectivity. Optionally, buyers can add in an eight-inch navigation system, HD radio, and an Infinity audio system with next-gen Blue Link telematics.
The part of the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid that interests buyers most is its drivetrain. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, Nu engine that produces a respectable 154 horses and 140 pound-feet of twist. This gasoline-powered engine mates with a 50-kW electric motor pushes the total system output to 202 ponies at 6,000 rpm, but torque remains unspecified. This electric motor sits in the place of the torque convertor in the Sonata’s six-speed automatic transmission.
Fuel economy and range are what it’s all about for the Sonata Plug-in, as it delivers an anticipated 22 miles of electric-only driving, and 38 mpg city, 43 mpg highway, 40 mpg combined, and 93 mpg-e. Recharging the battery takes just 2.5 hours on a 240-volt charger or five hours on a 120-volt outlet.
Hyundai has yet to establish a price, but it the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid will be available later in 2015 in select markets.