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2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Road Test Review

Lyndon Bell
by Lyndon Bell
June 22, 2015
5 min. Reading Time

While an all-new Hyundai Sonata débuted for the 2015 model year, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid soldiered into 2015 based upon the previous iteration of the car. Now, before you think Hyundai has suddenly developed a case of resting-on-laurel-itis, keep in mind that the current Sonata Hybrid trailed the previous version of the Sonata into production by about year.

This is just how Hyundai does it—OK?

That said, you’ve still got plenty reasons to consider the Sonata Hybrid, even though a replacement model is obviously waiting just offstage. Among them, Hyundai knows you know the 2015 Sonata Hybrid is something of a lame duck, so you’ll find some pretty sweet lease deals, financing, and discount offers on the car. But even without the added enticement of money in the trunk, if you’re shopping in the mid-size Hybrid sedan category the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid should be on your list.

Here’s why…

Models and Pricing

Hyundai offers the Sonata Hybrid in two trim levels; the $26,000 base, and the $29,500 Limited.

Standard features for the base Sonata Hybrid include; automatic headlights, LED running lights, foglights, LED taillights, heated exterior rearview mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, LED interior illumination, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, heated front seats, steering wheel mounted secondary controls, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, and Hyundai’s’ Blue Link telematics.

(Yeah, we’re amazed how much you get for the money too.)

To all of the above, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited adds, 17-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, a power adjustable driver’s seat and an auto dimming inside rearview mirror. Optional features for Sonata Hybrid Limited include a panoramic sunroof, navigation, a seven-inch touchscreen, and a nine-speaker audio system.



The design of the sixth generation Hyundai Sonata was a revelation when it debuted at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show. The old car’s squared off lines were replaced with gracefully fluid arcs and curves for both the overall design and detailing of the new one.

With the ensuing years, the appearance of the car has been further developed and as a result is somewhat less dramatic. But many would concur; the look of the Sonata Hybrid is still quite pleasing to the eye.

The basic 2009 design is still there, but enhanced with subtle modifications, all of them better. Most prominently, the overly busy grille of that original 2009 car has been toned down into a more reasonable trapezoidal shape, one actually conferring a degree of gravitas.

Inside, the Sonata Hybrid exhibits a great deal of style. Taken at once, the sweeping arcs puts one in mind of a bird with its wings extended. The flowing lines also create two separate compartments for the driver and the front passenger. The winged look is even repeated in the shape of the spokes of the steering wheel.


Features and Controls

With so many standard features, you’d expect the driving environment to be quite cluttered. While the Sonata Hybrid does present a lot of buttons, dials, and switches to its driver, they’re arrayed in such a logical fashion, and integrated so nicely into the interior design; you won’t feel overwhelmed by them all.

The seven-inch touchscreen dominates the center stack while doubling as a focal point for the interior treatment. The climate control system features a nice pictographic for directing airflow, and the presence of nice large round dials for fine adjustments are a welcome sight.

Behind the steering wheel, a pair of large round gauges comprise the instrument panel with specific displays unique to the Sonata Hybrid. In addition to monitoring the functions of the Hybrid powertrain system, the gauges offer fuel consumption and battery charging information to help you maximize fuel economy by adjusting your driving style accordingly.


Comfort and Cargo

The seats in the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid offer a handsome appearance and suitably firm support. However, the sleek design is a bit lacking when it comes to the seat cushion. A bit on the shorter side, and offering no extension capability, taller people might find they don’t provide adequate thigh support. On the other hand, legroom is quite generous.

The back seat offers admirable legroom, particularly if the people riding up front don’t might scooting up a bit to help you out. The seats themselves are nice and firm and supportive enough for all day driving. The gracefully arching roof does eat into available headroom for passengers seated in the back, so you’ll want to ride your tallest passenger up front. Shoulder room is generous all around; four people can travel in the Sonata Hybrid without feeling like they're all mashed up together.

As for cargo capacity, fitting the hybrid powertrain, while improving fuel economy, does diminish trunk space. After all, the battery pack has to go someplace. Thus, the Sonata Hybrid has to make do with 12.1 cubic feet of cargo capacity compared to the standard Sonata’s 16.4 cubic feet.


Safety and Crash Test Ratings

After NHTSA crashed it into stuff, frontal impacts left the Sonata seeing four stars, while side impacts garnered five. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety rated the Sonata Hybrid as “Good” (its highest rating) in all crashes, save the very difficult to pass frontal offset small overlap test, in which the hybrid Hyundai was deemed “Acceptable” (the IIHS’s second-best rating).

Standard safety features include ABS, traction control, stability control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, active front head restraints, and Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system, which can be used to summon roadside assistance. Blue Link also phones for help if the Sonata Hybrid is in a crash. Further, the service can lock and unlock the Sonata’s doors remotely. Blue Link also snitches on the kids if they speed, exceed posted curfews, or go outside a pre-determined geo-fenced radius.


Engine/Motor and Fuel Economy

Power comes from a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine mated to an electric motor, which is fed by a lithium ion battery pack. Total system output is 199 horsepower. This is fed to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy for the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is rated at 36 miles per gallon in the city, 40 on the highway, and 37 miles per gallon combined.



Interestingly, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid feels considerably faster than it actually is. Acceleration from zero to 60 is quoted at 8.4 seconds. And while the number can’t really be qualified as glacial, a number of the Sonata Hybrid’s competitors can make the run with fewer ticks of a stopwatch.

One visceral advantage the Hyundai has over the competition is its traditional six-speed automatic transmission, as opposed to the continuously variable transmission found in most of the Sonata Hybrid’s rivals. The transmission shifts add more drama to the accelerative event, making it feel more engaging. Not to be overlooked is the electric motor’s role in giving the Sonata a nice little extra kick off the line.

Still, it can be argued that anyone buying a Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is very likely more concerned about value, equipment, and fuel economy than outright performance. Additionally, stability, ride quality, and relative levels of quiet might well be considerations too. In this regard, the 2015 Hyundai Hybrid is right there with the best of them.

If any aspect of driving the Sonata Hybrid might come across as a bit weird to you, it’s the same one you’ll get driving pretty much any hybrid. This is the pedal feel you get from the braking system—owing to the electricity generation function built into the braking system to help recharge the battery packs. While it does detract from the feel of the brakes, it has no effect on the stopping power of the Sonata Hybrid.


Final Thoughts

As hybrids go, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is spacious, relatively quiet, safe, and all-in-all a good choice in terms of a four-door family sedan. You’ll get the fuel economy of a much smaller car, while enjoying the utility and attributes of a mid-size sedan.

Further, we’re talking about a Hyundai here, so you’re going to get way more than your money’s worth in terms of comfort and convenience features. When you start talking value for the dollar, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid ranks very highly.

Now, with that said, pretty much every one of the Sonata Hybrid’s competitors come across as more refined. They also deliver better fuel economy. Granted, they’re going to want to see you break off more change to take them home, but they’ll treat you a bit better for having done so too.

Still, there’s that whole value thing to consider; especially with Hyundai offering $5,000 off MSRP, or $2000 off with 0% financing, or a $239 a month lease deal for 36 months with $2199 down. Oh, and then there’s the lifetime hybrid battery pack warranty, 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, etc., etc., etc.


Pros and Cons

Pros: Handsome styling, pleasant interior, strong value for the money, outstanding warranty coverage

Cons: Competition bests it in fuel economy, seats could be more comfortable, rear seat headroom a bit tight, 2016 model will be all-new…



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