Hyundai announced a mid-cycle update for the 2018 Sonata in the spring of 2017, but at the time, only the gasoline-powered models were redone. Now, Hyundai has brought the hybrid and plug-in hybrid models up to speed with design changes that align them with their gas brethren.
The exterior and interior redesigns are more extensive than is typical for a mid-cycle refresh. Up front, there’s Hyundai’s new grille, which is making its way across the lineup and has already been applied to the new Accent, the Elantra GT hatchback, and the redesigned Santa Fe. The hood and front bumper are reshaped as well, while the lighting elements move higher up in the fascia.
The rear is also heavily reworked. Hyundai shifted the license plate from the trunklid to the resculpted bumper and hid the trunk release inside a large Hyundai logo. The taillights have a new design, and the Sonata name is spelled out with large capital letters. The hybrid models separate themselves from the rest of the lineup with a subtly different color scheme on the taillamps, a rear hybrid badge, and special 16- or 17-inch wheels.
The interior isn’t as changed as the exterior, but Hyundai shifted a few things around and upgraded some of the materials. Hyundai axed the CD player, redesigned the shift knob and HVAC buttons, and tweaked the vents.
As on the standard Sonatas, the hybrid and plug-in hybrid have also received a stiffer suspension and retuned power steering. In addition to those chassis changes, safety is a major focus on the new Sonata hybrids. Blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert and lane-change assist are standard, automated emergency braking and lane-keeping assist are available, and adaptive LED headlights are available. Additional tech highlights include a new rear USB port, Qi wireless charging, a hands-free trunk release, memory for the driver’s seat, and adaptive cruise control.
The powertrains on both the plug-in hybrid and hybrid models remain unchanged. The base for both powertrains is a 2.0-liter inline-four that makes 154 horsepower and 140 lb-ft of torque. On the hybrid, the four-cylinder engine works with a synchronous AC motor good for 51 horsepower, along with a 1.76-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. In total, the system produces a max of 193 horsepower at 6000 rpm, its output delivered via a six-speed automatic transmission. Hyundai estimates the Sonata hybrid will return 39 city mpg, 45 highway mpg, and 42 mpghttps://www.caranddriver.com/photo-gallery/ combined. By comparison, the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid Sonata, the turbocharged 1.6-liter four, is EPA-rated at 28 mpg city, 37 mpg on the highway, and 31 mpg combined.
The plug-in hybrid has a beefier electric motor and a battery pack with increased capacity. The PHEV’s motor makes 67 horsepower for a total output of 202 horsepower, and the lithium-ion battery pack can hold up to 9.8 kWh of energy. According to Hyundai, the Sonata PHEV can drive in electric mode for up to 27 miles and will recharge with a Level 2 charger in less than three hours.
The Sonata hybrid will appear in showrooms in the first quarter of 2018; the plug-in model will be available in the second quarter.