PINEHURST, NY — May 27, 2020 — The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid we had this week was something of a surprise. Every week our car is a surprise, really, but this one was different. It looked different; it reacted differently right from the ‘start’ button; and it was a mystery to unravel from that moment until now.
We are big Hyundai fans as you know, but this one was different. It was a Sonata, of which we have driven, evaluated, and praised many, but this one was a Hybrid, also, of which we have had, okay, several. This is a good sized four door sedan, with lots of head and leg room, front and back, and lots of trunk space way in the back. Upon investigating how that is possible with batteries taking up space, I learned that Hyundai has relocated the batteries to make more room. Ah, innovation. And that’s not all. Hyundai has put a ‘solar panel’ on the roof to help charge the batteries. How’s that for innovation? The panel generates about 205 watts of electricity, which the company says is enough to add about 2 miles of range to the car per day. It charges the 12-volt and hybrid batteries directly, and Hyundai claims it can add about 700 miles of total range to the car on average over the course of a year. It doesn’t sound like that much right now, but almost always, this new technology leads to improvements and more innovations that improve the car’s performance, mileage, government standards; well, you get the picture. I am pretty sure solar panels are the start of something big. Wasn’t it Dick Tracey in the comic section of the Sunday paper who said, “The man that controls the sun, controls the world”?
Our Sonata Hybrid came with a 2.0-liter gasoline direct-injection four-cylinder engine with 150 horsepower and 139 pounds-feet of torque. Nothing to write home about, but it performed well around the Pinehurst area. It’s mated to an electric motor that puts out 51 hp and 151 pounds-feet of torque via a hybrid six-speed automatic transmission. That gives the car a net system output of 192 hp, and that’s much better.
BUT, let’s talk about how battery power affects mileage. When it arrived in our drive way, it said we could go 459 miles. I drove it around town and for errands for three days and it still said I could go 451 miles. That caught my attention. The Sonata Hybrid gets 45 mpg local, 51 mpg on the highway, and averages 47 mpg all around. Are you a commuter around Washington or Atlanta’s beltway. You might really want to look at the Sonata Hybrid, and not just for mileage. Safety and price are below.
I expected the battery power to be what we usually get – really quiet start and same quiet at low speed, with the motor kicking in when we turned out of the driveway. Mileage would be improved, of course, and other than those things, pretty much like any four-door sedan. Quiet start was right, but instead of something on the dash to tell me the car was started, all the panel lights came on, just like when you start a gasoline engine car, and you ‘knew’ the car was ready to go. No gear shift here. Three buttons in a row marked R, N, and D were your choices, with a slightly larger button just to the left marked “P”. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. Also, coupled with a 6 speed transmission, the car moved through the gears very smoothly.
From a driver’s point of view, the Sonata Hybrid is simple and intuitive. Seat positioning controls are on the side of the driver’s seat where we Americans are used to finding them. There are memory buttons for two driver’s seat positioning. The climate control, radio tuner, navigation, are all where you would expect. There is a built-in phone charger in the ‘catch all’ space in front of the gear shift area. Simply lay you phone in the space and it’s charging. How convenient! Front seats are heated and airconditioned, and all the seating surfaces are leather. There is a 12.3” Color LCD Cluster and a 10.25” Touchscreen Navigation System.
The camera systems in the Hyundai’s in general are great, and the Sonata Hybrid is another example. Turn on your left turn signal and the round speedometer display shows you the left side and rear of your vehicle. Right turn signal? Opposite circular display on the right side of the dash and car. No turning to sharp into something.
Drove modes? Four – Custom, Sport, Eco, Smart. I usually choose Smart and let the car decide what I need. Almost always in driving locally, it goes to Eco.
Okay, so far we have ‘quiet’, easy to drive, comfortable, great gas mileage, things like that. How about price?
Out Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is so new is form and function, the monroney that came with it had as a price TBD (to be decided). It isn’t even supposed to be for sale until about ‘right now’. When I looked on the Hyundai website, it still had 2019 Hybrid pricing. More digging and I found the price for you Sonata Hybrid to be, drum roll please, $33,500. Are you kidding me? Wow, what a lot of car for a tremendous price.
But wait, there’s more! I haven’t touched on safety – until now. I have never been shy is saying that Hyundai seems to lead the industry with safety innovations and the Sonata Hybrid is no exception. Of course we Blind Sport Collision Avoidance Assist; Rear Cross Traffic Avoidance Collision Assist; Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection; Parking Collision Avoidance Assist-Rear; ‘Around View’ Monitor and Front and Rear Parking Sensors. Backing out of a parking spot here in Pinehurst, I got a first-hand opportunity to see how the rear view camera, warning, and braking system worked. A car came buzzing up a little too briskly for downtown Pinehurst, but the car saw, alerted and stopped me before I could back into the path of the car. NICE! I also got to use the surround camera when pulling the car into the garage. Again, a picture of the car in the garage with highlighted areas of car corners entering into ‘no man’s’ land is a wonderful way to center the car away from any problems.
Did I mention the Bose Premium Audio system with 12” speakers? Wonderful sound.
Overall, I have to say that, once again, I was impressed with what Hyundai has done with the new Sonata Hybrid – size, quiet, handling, technology, safety, and, think about it, priced at $33,500, this is a tremendous amount of car for the money. Kudo, Hyundai! What will you think of next?
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HYUNDAI DEALERS in the environs of Pinehurst, NC, and New Rochelle, NY:
10732 US Hwy 15-501
Southern Pines, NC 28387
Central Avenue Hyundai
111 South Central Avenue
Hartsdale, NY 10530