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If you’ve missed the big news, Hyundai just introduced the 2016 Sonata Hybrid and Sonata Plug-In Hybrid! While we have already seen the Sonata Hybrid, the Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) is a first for Hyundai.
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2016 Sonata Hybrid

The news of the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid particularly interested me as I previously owned the Ford Fusion Energi, which is also a Plug-In Hybrid. I was excited to see how the two compared and to learn more about the vehicle.
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Exterior

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From first look, you’ll notice some distinct changes in the exterior from the gas-powered Sonata to the hybrid models. The Sonata hybrid models received a more “tech” look by adding a unique larger grille, front and rear bumpers, front fenders, front and rear lights, chrome side sill moldings, Hybrid badging and new eco-spoke alloy wheel designs. These functional changes to the front and rear fascia for the 2016 Sonata Hybrid highlight its efficiency and the advanced technology below the surface.
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Hyundai also introduced a new exterior color, Seasport Mist, which is exclusive on the PHEV. How gorgeous is this color?

2016 Sonata Plug in

I normally stick to basic white or black vehicles, but would definitely consider this paint color as it is very subtle and simply gorgeous… especially with the ocean reflecting off of it!

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As I made my way around the vehicle I couldn’t help but open the trunk. In fact, that is the one feature that impressed me the most, and was actually one of the main reasons I ended up getting rid of my Fusion Energi. As most of you know, trunk space inside a PHEV is usually small. You can hardly fit a stroller, let alone anything else you may need, which makes it less ideal for parents with smaller children. The Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid features a battery that is actually placed below the trunk floor, which provides 13.3-cubic-feet of cargo area. If that doesn’t impress you, you’ll be happy to know the rear seats are capable of a 60/40 split, allowing additional hauling capabilities.
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Interior
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Once inside, you’ll immediately notice how much interior space the Sonata Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid have. It’s honestly a parent’s dream come true. I tend to prefer cars to CUV’s/SUV’s but could hardly justify owning a car due to the lack of space to fit my family. Not only is the interior spacious inside, but you can easily fit car seats in the rear with ample leg room for both driver and front and back passengers.

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The instrument cluster provides easy to view comprehensive operation information. However, there are several things I wish were just integrated on the front instrument cluster without having to scroll through the multi-info display options. One major complaint of mine is that the EV range isn’t on the main screen from the get-go. I had to scroll through the multi-info display to find my EV mileage range on the PHEV. For a plug-in it would be nice to have this automatically on the front of the instrument cluster, maybe integrated into the vehicle energy gauge as opposed to having to scroll through to see it.

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Technology

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The technology the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid vehicles offer are impressive and top of the line. The PHEV is available with Hyundai’s Blue Link App integrated into the vehicle. Owners can manage and monitor the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle remotely via an exclusive Blue Link smartphone app. With the app, owners can access real-time data from their Sonata PHEV and perform specific commands like starting the engine and locking doors. Plus, users can search for points of interest using Google with voice or text and have the directions when they start their Sonata Plug-in Hybrid.
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The most useful feature of the app is managing the car’s charging schedule. The owners are given vehicle charging options that they can select while in the car, but users can also manage them remotely via smartphone. Immediate charge is the simplest option, as charging begins as soon as the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid is plugged in.

Blue Link

Remote Control Services:

  • Start or stop charging
  • Set up charging schedule with days of the week and time
  • Climate control and defroster

Connected Car Services:

  • Vehicle diagnostics/status
  • Existing battery level
  • Real-time electric range
  • Real-time fuel range
  • Charge status
  • Plug status (in/out)
  • Time left until fully charged
  • Refresh to retrieve status
  • VIN (Vehicle Selection) base availability of PHEV app features

Safety Features
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Hyundai engineers implemented many active safety technologies for the 2016 Sonata Hybrid to assist drivers and help prevent accidents. No longer reserved for luxury cars, advanced safety technologies such as Forward Collision Warning, Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Change Assist and a Lane Departure Warning System are all available in this midsize sedan.

However, the most impressive safety feature has to be the “Virtual Engine Sound System” which is an exterior sound synthesizer that’s embedded into the bumper that warns pedestrians a vehicle is coming to avoid walking out in front of an oncoming vehicle (particularly blind people). Pretty awesome, right?

Features Worth Mentioning
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Sometimes it’s the little things that truly matter the most. As a mom I can tell you how excited I was to hear that Hyundai’s hands-free Smart Trunk comes standard on the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid. If you’ve ever tried juggling a toddler and groceries at the same time, you will know how this feature really helps our sanity. Plus, it helps to not have to dig those keys out of our purse. I don’t know about you but I can ever find them no matter how big or small my purse is.

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During my drive of both the hybrid and PHEV, I was intrigued as to what the ECON button actually did for the vehicle. I turned it on and off and never noticed a thing, the air stayed the same temperature. So during lunch I decided to speak to someone from Hyundai and learned that the button actually maximizes energy efficiency of the vehicle. When the ECON button is activated the air only pumps from the front air vents and will slowly increase or decrease to the temperature you set. I have never seen anything like this, and thought it was pretty neat. I mean, if you are going for that super eco-friendly vehicle, then this is a great option to have when controlling the air temperatures inside the vehicle.

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Final Thoughts
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Although the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid is very technologically advanced, it pretty similar to the regular Sonata Hybrid from the driver’s seat, but with the additional benefit of all-electric range. The Sonata Plug-In Hybrid really made me reconsider purchasing another PHEV, especially with the 24 miles EV range (which is the highest out of it’s competitors). From the quiet cabin, spacious interior, impressive trunk space, to the attractive exterior, Hyundai sold me!
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The 2016 Sonata Plug-in Hybrid will be available in California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont in the Fall of 2015. The 2016 Sonata Hybrid will be available throughout the U.S. this summer and will offer a lifetime warranty on the hybrid battery. Yes, you read that right… a lifetime!
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Sonata Hybrid SE is expected to achieve an estimated 40 mpg in the city, 44 mpg on the highway and have a combined EPA rating of 42 mpg, which is more than a ten percent improvement from the 2015 model. Pricing has yet to be released.
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Sonata Grille