The base price for a 2020 Sonata Hybrid in Canada is $40,099, $27,750 in the US.
With little effort, the Sonata will average 5L/100km or 47 mpg.
The Hyundai Sonata is all-new for the 2020 model year.
A week spent with the new Hyundai Sonata Hybrid has further confirmed what I’ve thought for a while: Hybrid technology is still the most eco-friendly way to get around unless you drive a full EV.
Hybrid > PHEV
I sometimes feel like I’m fighting the wrong battle. Here, on Motor Illustrated, I’ve made my views on plug-in hybrid technology fairly clear. In brief, the supplemental weight burden from its system’s components and the price premium completely cancel out any and all benefits to having 30-40km of electric driving range.
Real-world fuel efficiency is what we should be considered. And by real-world, I don’t mean Newport Beach, I’m referring to Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal at any point in the year. This is where a car like the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid works because it will consistently average, in this case, 5L/100km or 47 mpg. A PHEV will deliver 2.3 Le/100km or 103 MPGe while there’s a charge in the battery. Once it’s done, you’re looking at 5.6L/100km or 42 mpg. In the real world, this means that the PHEV will have cost $5,000-10,000 more for nothing.
The Sonata Hybrid’s 1.62 kWh battery won’t allow you to travel long distances under EV power alone but you’re saving loads of weight. Here’s an example: The IONIQ PHEV is almost 200 kg (440 lbs) heavier than the IONIQ hybrid. As a reminder, weight is the enemy of efficiency. Feathering the throttle will get you a kilometer or two of pure EV driving which for some is enough to leave their immediate urban neighborhood.
Plenty of performance
Furthermore, hybrids are no longer slow and boring. The Sonata Hybrid’s 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine and 38 kW electric motor combine to produce 192 horsepower, enough oomph to make passing maneuvers headache-free. Unlike most hybrids, the Sonata is blessed with a real 6-speed automatic transmission which nicely blends the familiarity of shift points into the drive.
On the road, the Sonata hybrid is very adept. The suspension might be a tad firmer than necessary but generally speaking, ride quality is excellent with a high level of refinement and comfort. Braking performance is equally good.
Hyundai, and Kia, have made a habit of foregoing styling evolution in favour of a more dramatic revolution whenever a new generation of a product is launched. This is certainly the case for the new 2020 Sonata and for the most part, a few visual elements are simply over-the-top. The accent lines that begin are the headlights and wrap around the side windows is out of place.
As always, design appreciation is subjective however I think all will agree that the Sonata Hybrid’s cabin is splendid. Materials, fit and finish and overall presentation are impressive. In fact, a few years ago, I would have believed anyone telling me that what we see in the 2020 Sonata Hybrid today was destined for Genesis. The seats are large and comfortable in the front while the rear bench is immense.
Storage as a whole is adequate and the same goes for the trunk which can handle up to 453 litres (16 cubic feet) of stuff.
Part of this reaction is due to the Hybrid Ultimate’s endless list of included features. The 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, heads-up display, the curved 10.25-inch touchscreen display, acres of leather, Bose audio, and more. In fact, at $40,099, the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is short of one element that can be found in vehicles cost 50% more and that’s massaging seats.
The upside to the Ultimate is that Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, satellite radio, a heated steering wheel, a wireless charger, LED lights, and more are all included. The downside is that, unlike the US where the Sonata’s incredible efficiency is offered as of $27,750, Canadians have to pay $40k.
Also part of the $40k price is the Solar Roof System. The roof panel invisibly and for free (relatively speaking) charges both the 12-volt and hybrid batteries with 205 watts of power. Hyundai says that its presence can increase the car’s range by up to 2 miles (3.2 km) per day for about 700 miles (1,300 km) on an annual basis. This is impressive. And, the roof happens to look cool to boot.
The move towards electrification is seeing car manufacturers attempting to feed every possible “demand” by offering hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and, sooner rather than later, EVs.
Interestingly, the number of PHEV cars is shrinking in favour of PHEV SUVs. In fact, now that the Ford Fusion is dead, that leaves the Hyundai IONIQ, Toyota Prius Prime, and Honda Clarity, and for a little while yet, the Kia Optima in the US. In this regard, the market will keep buyers away from making a PHEV sedan mistake.
As for hybrid cars, options are a little more numerous. And as obviously easy to say, Toyota’s lineup is hands down the most complete, best established and smartest. Honda’s Insight and Accord are good options too, on par with the Sonata, at least when the Hyundai is new.
I feel like I keep repeating myself but I still hesitate to say that Hyundai vehicles are still as good as they are, when new, to four years down the road. Mainly, for this reason, I would go for a Camry Hybrid which, incidentally, is available as of $33,819 in Canada.