2017 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Review
Edmunds expert review
The 2017 model year marks the second year of the new generation Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. It now shares the same stiffer platform, roomier interior and more traditional styling of the recently redesigned regular Sonata, along with a new hybrid powertrain for even greater fuel economy. Hyundai sweetens the deal with this year's model, adding a handful of audio, entertainment and telematics upgrades, including a new 7-inch high-resolution touchscreen display standard on all models. (An optional 8-inch touchscreen is still available.)
But the Sonata Hybrid's main appeal has always been fuel economy. Special alloy wheels, active air shutters behind the grille, and a streamlined tail design are recent changes that reduce the Sonata Hybrid's fuel consumption, enabling the base Sonata Hybrid SE, for example, to return an EPA-estimated 42 mpg in combined driving. Beyond the hybrid mechanicals, the Sonata Hybrid gives you the same advantages of the regular Sonata: a smooth ride, a roomy interior and solid value. Even the trunk is still pretty big for a hybrid, a configuration that usually sacrifices cargo space to accommodate battery packaging.
Even so, this is a class with rapidly evolving options. The Honda Accord Hybrid has more power, better fuel economy (48 mpg) and additional driver safety aids this year. The Ford Fusion Hybrid is another excellent choice, and both the Honda and the Ford also offer sportier driving performance than the Sonata. Other smart choices include the Toyota Camry Hybrid, which is a very close rival to the Sonata in terms of performance and personality, and the redesigned Kia Optima Hybrid, which is mechanically related to the Sonata but features Kia's own styling and design.
Ultimately, you won't go wrong with any of these fuel-sipping family sedans. Yet the Sonata Hybrid presents its own compelling case of features and value, making it a match for the class all-stars and worthy of a spot on your green-car list.
Standard safety equipment on the Sonata Hybrid includes antilock brakes, stability and traction control, side curtain airbags, a driver-side knee airbag, front seat side-impact airbags and a rearview camera. Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system, also standard, includes emergency assistance, automatic collision notification and remote access features. The Limited trim adds a blind-spot monitoring system. Add the Ultimate package option to the Limited and you get rear parking sensors, a lane departure warning system and a forward collision warning system.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Sonata Hybrid Limited stopped from 60 mph in 119 feet, which is a bit shorter than average for the class.
Since hybrids are ultra-quiet when operating in full electric mode, Hyundai equips the Sonata Hybrid with a "virtual engine sound system." It broadcasts the sound of a gas engine via front-mounted speakers when the car is operating in all-electric mode at speeds lower than 20 mph.
In government crash tests, the 2017 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid earned a top five-star rating for overall crash protection, along with five stars for both front-impact and side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not specifically tested the Sonata Hybrid, but it similarly gave the regular Sonata a top Good score in all of its safety tests.
What's new for 2017
Trim levels & features
The 2017 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is available in SE and Limited trim levels. The regular Sonata and Sonata Plug-In Hybrid are reviewed separately.
The SE's standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, LED daytime running lights, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless ignition and entry, a rearview camera, a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, Hyundai's Blue Link telematics and emergency communications, and a six-speaker audio system with a CD player, HD radio, a USB interface and an auxiliary input.
Stepping up to the Limited gets you 17-inch wheels, xenon headlights, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, leather upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, ventilated front seats, heated front and rear seats, an eight-way power driver seat, a six-way power front passenger seat, driver memory settings, wood-grain-look interior accents, rear-seat climate control vents, 60-/40-split fold-down rear seats and manual rear window sunshades.
The Ultimate package for the Sonata Hybrid Limited includes added safety features (see Safety section), a panoramic sunroof, automatic high-beam headlight control, adaptive cruise control, an 8-inch touchscreen, upgraded Blue Link smartphone integration, a navigation system, and an upgraded nine-speaker Infinity sound system.
The 2017 Sonata Hybrid is powered by a 2.0-liter engine paired with an electric motor, a combination that yields 193 horsepower. Power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Energy captured from regenerative braking is stored in a trunk-mounted lithium-ion battery pack.
In Edmunds testing, a Sonata Hybrid Limited accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds, an average pace for the class.
This powertrain helps the Sonata achieve more than 40 mpg combined. The Hybrid SE is EPA-rated at 42 mpg combined (39 city/45 highway), while the slightly heavier Hybrid Limited gets a 40 mpg combined rating (38 city/43 highway).
The Sonata Hybrid is unusual for a hybrid sedan in that it gets better efficiency on the highway than in the city. That's the result of a hybrid system with a less powerful electric motor than the others (reducing city efficiency) and the tall final gear ratios in the automatic transmission (boosting highway fuel economy).
Befitting a car designed to carry people, the 2017 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid's ride is smooth on all manner of pavement, and the cabin is quiet at highway speeds. This is a car that will get you to your destination without wearing you out. It's not an exciting car to drive, certainly, but the Sonata Hybrid heads where you point it with no drama.
The six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and offers a nice alternative to the sometimes-droning continuously variable transmissions (CVT) that are the norm for hybrids. Less impressive is the feel of the Sonata Hybrid's brake pedal. It's grabby when you first push on it, especially at highway speeds, which is followed by a long, disconcerting dead period as you press down harder. Actual braking performance is fine, but some other hybrids have a more natural feel to their brakes.
Like the regular Sonata, the 2017 Sonata Hybrid features the same clean, hexagonal center stack array housing the infotainment display and controls and climate controls. Materials quality and fit and finish are excellent, and you'll find plenty of storage space for personal effects.
The optional 8-inch touchscreen has crisp graphics and straightforward menus, although some drivers might find that it's a bit of a stretch to reach comfortably. A unique gauge cluster displaying various hybrid system readouts is one of the few visible indicators that you're driving a gas-electric car.
The Sonata Hybrid's cabin is roomy and comfortable. The seats are supportive and nicely padded, and the cabin itself is remarkably quiet. There's plenty of head-, legroom and shoulder room and a vast backseat, although rear headroom is tighter than in the hybrid's competitors.
The trunk holds 13.3 cubic feet of cargo, which is above average for the class, and the Limited trim level's folding rear seats provide additional flexibility.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.