Published on March 5th, 2016 | by Nicolas Zart


2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid Review — You Can Have It All

March 5th, 2016 by  

Following our review of the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, we were looking forward to the 2016 Sonata Plug-in Hybrid, PHEV. The experience hasn’t disappointed us. The 2016 Hyundai Sonata PHEV brings a competition in a growing plug-in hybrid market and a relief that you can have it all — well, almost everything. Finally, a little bit of Italian design flare in the electric car market!

  • Quick Specs & Info

4.5 Stars over 5

2016, Hyundai, Sonata PHEV Class: Sedan, Plug-In, PHEV

Curb Weight: 3497 lbs.

Base Model: $34,600–$38,600 As Tested: Sonata PHEV Limited $38,600
Drivetrain: Plug-In Hybrid, PHEV, 9.8 kWh battery pack City/Highway/Combined MPG: 39 / 43 / 41, we got a 38.5 overall average  –
Engine/Electric Motor: 2L 154HP @ 6000, 140 lb-ft @ 5000, Electric 50 kW (68 hp) @ 1770–2000, 151 lb-ft @ 0-1770 rpm, 270-volt, 75 MPH. Combined 202HP @ 6000 MSRP $38,600


2016 Hyunday Sonata PHEV

As much as we were pleasantly surprised with the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid test drive, the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) delivered even more. The Sonata is the company’s second-best-selling model, after the Elantra. In its PHEV version, the Sonata adds even more fuel frugality by letting you choose which mode to use — hybrid or all-electric mode. It is easy to see how this car will drive predominantly on electricity alone.

The Sonata PHEV strikes the best balance between comfort and the right amount of luxury I’ve seen so far. Not only is it a well packaged car with a firm, yet not punishing, chassis; it is a perfect everyday car you can run on electricity with longer trips over the weekend using its gasoline engine.

Competition includes the Kia Optima, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion (including the Energi), Toyota Corolla, and Chevy Volt, but it’s easy to see how the Sonata PHEV can beat all of these for people with particular preferences and requirements.

Strong Points

2016 Hyunday Sonata PHEV-6 2016 Hyunday Sonata PHEV-5

The Sonata PHEV uses the same new platform as the Hybrid and comfortably seats 5 people. Its turning radius is very good for a sedan that size. Although Hyundai gives the Sonata PHEV an average electric range of 27 miles, we got over 30 hypermiling it. We particularly enjoy starting our drive in the city in EV mode, switching to hybrid mode on the highway and back to EV mode once off highways. The Sonata PHEV acts as a series PHEV, meaning the engine is sometimes only used to charge the battery pack, leaving the electric motor powering the wheels alone under moderate accelerations when the car accelerates, slows, or idles. This drive mode is ideal when you have an even mix of city and highway. Hyundai’s Battery Charge mode recharges the car to 100% or only as much as possible within a range of charging hours.

Just like the Hyundai Hybrid, the PHEV has a great infotainment system that is intuitive, easy to reach, and played nicely with our iPhones and iPods.

The Sonata PHEV manages to give you more all-electric miles than its closest competition at a slightly lower price. It also has an impressive 0.24 aerodynamic drag, helping its EV range and overall range considerably. We achieved an overall average 99 MPGe.


2016 Hyunday Sonata PHEV-4 2016 Hyunday Sonata PHEV-3

Without repeating what we previously wrote for the Hybrid, it is hard to find faults with the Sonata PHEV. The car hits the right amount of luxury, comfort, and now fuel efficiency at a very reasonable price. Naturally, EV enthusiasts would enjoy more electric range… and who here isn’t an EV enthusiast?

Test Period Length and Limitations: We drove the car for 7 days under various conditions, 25% highways, 80% city, and 5% cruising between cities on moderate-speed roads. All in all, we drove it for 375 miles, very happy miles.


2016 Hyunday Sonata PHEV-2

Hyundai has a serious winner with the Sonata in its hybrid and PHEV version. The company put a lot of efforts into making this car a perfect choice for many drivers. We were impressed with the luxury feel for its price point, the handling without being harsh, and the attention to details, coupled with a well laid out and intuitive infotainment system. Considering its price and how well packaged it is, the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid gets a 4.5 plugs out of 5 from us.

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About the Author

Nicolas was born and raised in classic cars of the 1920s. It wasn't until he drove one of the first Tesla Roadsters that the light went on. Eager to spread the news of that full torque, he started writing in 2007. Since then, his passion led to cover renewable energy, test drives, podcasts, shoot pictures, and film for various international outlets both in print and online. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he has forged in those industries. Today he focuses most of his writing effort on CleanTechnica, a global online outlet that covers the world of electric vehicles and renewable energy. His favorite tagline is: "There are more solutions than obstacles."

  • Mike333

    I’m missing the drive section.
    Acceleration, braking and handling, road feel.

    Also, radar collision prevention?

  • Wayne Williamson

    Very much enjoyed the video, and looks like this a very good alternative to buying an ice….
    I do agree that some video of things like under the front hood and under the trunk would be a good idea.
    It also appears you have attracted a ff proponent that is following and has nothing to say…lets see if the down arrows work;-)

    • FF proponent? Not sure about that, but I do like the potential, and that’s another story. This Hyundai is a good alternative for people sitting on the fence, and it’s a car that shoots in that direction. We’ll have to see where the new EV/PHEV and FCV offshoot goes into.

      As far as video shoots of under the hood, well, there isn’t much to film or talk about. It’s pretty much what you see is what you get. I’m more interested in what does it feel for someone who knows little about the car and sitting on the fence.

      As to my personal tastes, well they are well voiced on my social media networks.

  • Any pictures of the trunk space and pass through capability or lack there of?

    • The trunk on the hybrid was decent, and of course the PHEV takes a bite out of that. The Hybrid trunk was the same as the sedan, if I recall well.

  • GaslessGasp

    This is more shill than review, and makes no mention of the fact that Hyundai gave you the car (with a full tank of gas) to review!!

    The lack of upfront honesty completely undermines any value of this review

    • Yes, car makers give you cars with a full tank and a full battery charge. I never thought I needed to chew that out, but I will consider it next time.

  • Graphite Gus

    with all the pending introductions, the next three years are going to be the MOST interesting in the car market for a very long time – since the model T!

  • MarTams

    It didn’t come close even to an older Volt model! Only an antipatriotic Trump fan that would buy this old tech!

    • It’s not meant to be a Volt replacement. If you know what the Volt relies on, its Voltec 2.0 now, the comparison isn’t even close. But stay tuned for the 2016 Volt test drive.

  • Jamset

    growing plug-in hybrid market?

    Some EV fans will not like to hear that!

    • Joe Viocoe

      The BEV market is growing faster.

      They both have lots of room to grow.

      • Jamset

        Some BEV fans hate hybrids, even though Musk calls them amphibians.

        And even though most nations do not have a supercharging network.

        • It’s a toss up, honestly. My personal tastes lies squarely with pure BEVs, but I speak to many and there are a lot of people who like hybrids and PHEV. They sit on the fence. They need gentle nudges to step over the EV fence. In the meantime, this was a good car when you consider the price point, how well put together it is and the package.

          And no, I never read press releases. I’ve never been interested in them, nor do I pay much attention to them.

          • Bob_Wallace

            For the next few months at least, PHEVs are the best choice for some people. If you’re a single car household, have a daily drive routine within the battery range of the PHEV, and take only a few long trips a year a PHEV is a pretty good option.

            Until Bolts and Mod3s are for sale the only long range EV is expensive. Out of the range for most.

            If you drove a limited range EV and rented ICEVs for long trips you probably would just as well off with a PHEV.

          • That’s exactly how many folks think out there. Not too many are bleeding edge, even at this late stage of EV adoption. many folks are not ready to give up the security blanket of a gasoline engine for that “just in case” trip they feel they will have.

            PHEVs is a great way to get them addicted to driving on electricity. Does anyone remember the range anxiety fiasco GM pumped out years ago? It turned out to instill a gasoline anxiety amongst Volt owners who drive somewhere in the vicinity o 90+% on electricity alone. I think it’s a terrific way to bring them onboard.

  • Otis11

    Wow… you are just ready to lavish on praise aren’t you?

    Please give us an honest, discerning review that’s worth reading. This press release stuff isn’t worth our time.

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