Hyundai is ready to dethrone Toyota as the hybrid king.
Hyundai has arrived at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show with two new versions of the Sonata. The 2018 Sonata Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid models have both been given a significant overhaul that aligns with the recently refreshed Sonata, each adopting its new front and rear fascia and updated interior design. Both the Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid have been differentiated from the standard Sonata with 16 or 17-inch eco-spoke wheels. We love how Hyundai made the latest hybrid models stand out without changing the Sonata formula.
The regular Sonata Hybrid will be powered by a 2.0-liter Nu GDI four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that houses a 38 kW electric motor and clutch instead of a traditional torque converter. The engine produces 154 hp and 140 lb-ft of torque. The electric motor adds 51 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. Total output is 193 hp and torque is unspecified. Fuel economy is also unspecified, but estimates are around 39 mpg in the city, 45 mpg highway, and 42 mpg combined. The Sonata hybrid should have a driving range of around 650 miles and the car can travel up to 75 mph on electric power alone. This is a huge advantage over similar hybrid models from Toyota.
The Plug-In Hybrid takes efficiency even further. The two cars will drive similarly, but the Plug-In version adds a 9.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack that's more than five times larger than the regular hybrid's battery. This will allow the Sonata Plug-In to travel up to 27 miles on electric power alone and recharge in under two hours on a level two charger. Hyundai says that most consumers will be able to do their daily commute without using a single drop of fuel and the car will have a range of around 590 miles. The plug-in will use the same engine and transmission as the normal hybrid, but the bigger battery means that total output will be 202 hp.
Of course, both cars will come with a host of great features such as standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Sonata is one of the safest cars on the road. Seven airbags come as standard as does blind spot detection with rear cross traffic alert. Automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist and automatic high beam assist will also be available as options. Hyundai will also offer some nice luxury touches such as an available hands-free Smart Trunk, electronic parking brake, driver memory seat, rear window sunshades, ventilated front seats, power front seats with adjustable driver lumbar support and smart cruise control with stop-and-go capability.
These are some seriously good looking hybrid models and other manufacturers should take notice. Toyota's hybrid models seem ancient by comparison thanks to Hyundai's decision to allow for pure electric driving at real-world speeds and the simple inclusion of CarPlay and Android Auto.