Text and Photos by Emily Chung
I’ll be honest, my complaint with the early generation Hybrid technology was that I never felt like I was driving a car… more like I was playing a video game. There wasn’t much response or feedback from the road. Well, the technology has come a long way and one of the first hybrids I ever road tested was the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid a few years ago. I was looking forward to having it again for a road test, and you know what? I really enjoyed my time with it!
The 2016 Hyundai Sonata is sharp looking, and it carries Hyundai’s signature hexagonal front grille. I didn’t quite love the wheels on our model tested (17” aluminum alloys) but I did like the sleek wrap around front headlights. The Daytime Running Lights are an LED strip, and adds a sporty feel to the sedan.
The rear LED tail lamps echo the front headlights in design and I like the outline detail in the lens (which isn’t on the gas powered Hyundai Sonata).
The 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid’s centre stack repeats the hexagon design, and at first glance looks busy but all buttons and switches were intuitively laid-out.
The instrument cluster is simple and gives you the most important information – speed, fuel level, and battery status. You have the option of customizing the centre to display battery/engine power flow, navigation, audio, trip information, etc.
Hyundai is known for adding lots of value to their price point and our model tested (Limited trim) included leather seats, power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated rear seats (yes!), and a panoramic sunroof, among other things. The 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid felt quite spacious already and the panoramic sunroof just added an even more ‘open’ feel. Loved the sunshine!
Dual zone climate control is quite common in vehicles now, and Hyundai offers a ‘Driver Only’ option with the Sonata Hybrid. This way, air flow only comes out of the driver side vents. Smart!
The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid has built-in sunshades for the rear passengers. Although I could have noted this in the ‘interior design’ section of the review, I wanted to pull this out as a special feature because I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen suction-cup sunshades being used in vehicles. This isn’t recommended as they become flying hazards if you get into a collision. Remember the young woman killed by her laptop during a vehicle collision (Surrey, BC – 2009)?
The suction cup shades seem to be common in vehicles with child car seats… flying hazards and little kids, not a good combination. Built-in sunshades usually come with minivans or luxury vehicles, and I love that the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid has them too.
If your hands are full, approach the trunk with the keyfob in your hands, pocket or purse and wait a few seconds – the trunk will automatically unlock and pop up (watch the video in this post to see how it works). You still need to lift the trunk lid, but it saves you the hassle of digging for your keys.
Under the hood/Basic Maintainance
The engine bay seems quite crowded but most of the area is covered by plastic shields. The windshield washer fluid fill neck is up high and easily accessible. The coolant fluid reservoir is also placed at the top so you can see it easily and discern its level even with a quick glance.
Remember that the 12V battery is located in the trunk, in case you need to jump start the vehicle! In case you don’t know, this battery is what powers your starter when you start the engine (some people assume the hybrid battery does this job – not so).
Child Car Seat
If you are installing a rear-facing child car seat, you should have sufficient room to get the correct angle without losing too much space in the front passenger seat (depending on the size of your child car seat, of course!). The rear seats have a bucket shape and the UAS anchors are positioned slightly higher than the seat bench so you may need to use pool noodles to get the correct recline angle.
In terms of a forward-facing child car seat, the headrests are removable to make it easier to install the tether strap. The headrests also don’t protrude very much so you may be able to get the child car seat flush with the vehicle’s seatback without removing the headrests.
Many hybrid vehicles compromise the trunk space to accommodate their battery, and one of the best things about the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is that there is ample room in the trunk. That’s because Hyundai’s lithium-polymer battery pack fits under the trunk floor. It does get narrower towards the rear, but we had enough space for overnight bags during our family road trip.
The 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid didn’t disappoint, I expected a comfortable family-friendly sedan that was fuel efficient and had power when I needed it. At its price point, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid offers a lot of value, and should be a serious consideration if you’re in the market for a hybrid sedan. At the time of writing, the 2017 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is available starting from $29,649 CAD.
2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited
2.0L “Nu” GDI 4-cylinder engine + 38 kW electric motor
6-speed automatic transmission
Seating Capacity: 5
Road Test Terrain: 80% city, 20% highway
Tested MSRP: $33,799 CAD