2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Review

The Sonata Hybrid's compelling features and value make it a match for the class all-stars.
7.5 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Dan Frio
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is the gas-electric hybrid counterpart to the regular Sonata sedan. It has all the typical Sonata traits we like, such as a roomy interior and a generous list of standard features, and then adds great fuel economy of more than 40 mpg.

For 2018, the Sonata Hybrid receives a broad swath of updates, too. They include updated front and rear styling, new LED headlights, new wheel designs, and a fresh look for the dashboard and instrument panel. There's also a host of new driver aids such as standard blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keeping assist, and automatic emergency braking, along with new wireless phone charging and a USB charge port for rear passengers.

From a mechanical standpoint, Hyundai says it has retuned the suspension and steering to improve the Sonata Hybrid's handling and feel. The hybrid powertrain is unchanged, though. While an EPA-rated 42 mpg is quite good, it still comes up a little short of some rivals' figures. The new Toyota Camry Hybrid LE, for example, gets 52 mpg combined.

Overall, though, the Sonata Hybrid presents its own compelling case of features and value, and we think it's worth checking out if you're shopping for a sedan with strong green-car cred.



What's new for 2018

For 2018, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid gets a refreshed look at the front and rear, new 16- and 17-inch wheel designs, LED headlights, and recalibrated suspension and steering settings for improved handling. There are also a handful of tech and driver safety upgrades, including blind-spot warning and automatic emergency braking, and in-car features such as wireless phone charging and improved navigation.

We recommend

Fuel economy is nearly the same for SE and Limited trims, so it's really about getting desired features and options. We recommend the SE. Its long list of convenience and safety features makes it a great value. Tech lovers might prefer the Limited, but we think the SE will satisfy most buyers.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is available in SE and Limited trim levels. The regular Sonata and the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid are reviewed separately.

Both trim levels are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor for a combined 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 battery pack.

Standard equipment on the SE includes 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, heated side mirrors, a hands-free trunk, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, push-button start, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a rearview camera, a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and a six-speaker audio system with USB and auxiliary inputs. Driver aids include blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

Stepping up to the Limited adds 17-inch wheels, LED headlights that bend in the direction of turns, a panoramic sunroof, power-adjustable front seats with heating and ventilation, driver-seat memory settings, 60/40-split folding rear seats, leather upholstery, wood-grain-look interior accents, rear-seat climate control vents, HD and satellite radio, and a three-year complimentary subscription to Hyundai's Blue Link remote services.

The Ultimate package for the Sonata Hybrid Limited includes additional driver aids such as automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams and rear parking sensors. Other upgrades include a heated steering wheel, rear window shades, an 8-inch touchscreen navigation system, wireless phone charging, and a premium 10-speaker Infinity sound system.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited (2.0L inline-4 hybrid | 6-speed automatic | FWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted in 2016, the current Sonata Hybrid has received some revisions, including improved touchscreen displays, Apple and Android smartphone integration, and additional driver aids. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's Sonata Hybrid, however.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall7.5 / 10

Driving

7.0 / 10

Acceleration7.5 / 10
Braking5.0 / 10
Steering7.0 / 10
Handling7.5 / 10
Drivability8.0 / 10

Comfort

7.5 / 10

Seat comfort8.0 / 10
Ride comfort7.0 / 10
Noise & vibration8.0 / 10

Interior

8.0 / 10

Ease of use9.0 / 10
Getting in/getting out8.0 / 10
Roominess7.5 / 10
Visibility8.0 / 10
Quality7.5 / 10

Driving7.0

The Sonata Hybrid's performance is unremarkable, but the six-speed automatic transmission is a delight compared to CVT automatics found in most hybrids. Handling is decent, but braking action is nonintuitive.

Acceleration7.5

It's smooth leaving a stop thanks to initial electric-only power. The gas engine-electric motor combo gives strong midrange, but with our measured 0-60 mph acceleration run of 8.5 seconds, the Sonata Hybrid is slower than main rivals. The traditional six-speed automatic shifts nearly imperceptibly.

Braking5.0

The brake feel is disappointing. Blame it on the regenerative braking. The pedal is initially grabby, especially at highway speeds, followed by a long, disconcerting dead period within the pedal stroke. Panic stops from 60 mph in our testing were decent, needing just 119 feet.

Steering7.0

The Sonata Hybrid goes pretty much where you point it. We noticed little difference between the Eco and the Sport steering modes. It errs on the light side of assist, which drivers will appreciate around town.

Handling7.5

The Sonata Hybrid has a surprisingly willing chassis; this thing doesn't hate corners. It worked well at our test track and on twisty roads, where it proved hospitable to driver inputs. The low-grip tires do squeal early in corners, though.

Drivability8.0

If not for the "even-horrible-for-a-hybrid" brakes, this car would rate higher. The electric-only start-off gives smooth getaways, the transmission makes subtle shifts, the steering is light and easy, and the outward views are decent.

Comfort7.5

The front seats are comfy. The ride is decently smooth until you hit a big bump. Wind, engine and tire noise is well-damped, except the tires are quite loud over surface changes.

Seat comfort8.0

The front seats are quite good. The cushions are on the firm side, but the side bolsters are soft and don't dig in. The leather could be more supple. The rear seatbacks have a near-perfect angle.

Ride comfort7.0

In most situations, the Sonata Hybrid feels like it's softly sprung. The ride is unobtrusive, and it soaks up smaller pavement ripples easily. But in contrast to other Sonatas we've tested, big bumps upset the cabin dramatically.

Noise & vibration8.0

Levels of wind and road noise are well-controlled, though the tires can get noisy when the road surface changes. The engine is restrained, both in power and sound. There's some suspension noise when driving over larger bumps.

Interior8.0

The Sonata Hybrid's interior isn't as stylish as some in the class, but the controls are easy to learn and use. Entering and exiting the car are easy enough, and outward visibility is better than most.

Ease of use9.0

The controls are simple yet logical, with easy-to-read gauges. The flat, expansive center stack has large buttons and grippy knobs. The optional touchscreen is user-friendly. The audio tuning knob, though, is far away from the driver.

Getting in/getting out8.0

The wide-opening front doors make things easy. The seats' side bolsters don't hamper entry and exit. The rear doors have a large entryway. You only need to duck your head slightly to avoid the roof.

Roominess7.5

Front headroom is hampered by the optional panoramic sunroof, but it's still good enough for average-size adults. There's excellent elbow room. The back seat is roomy, although headroom is tighter than in some rivals.

Visibility8.0

The Sonata Hybrid has excellent outward views. Blind-spot detection and rearview camera come standard for 2018. Lane departure warning and rear parking sensors are optional.

Quality7.5

Hyundai knows how to make nice-looking interiors. The Limited's leather upholstery, though not overly supple, feels high-quality. The only weird issues on our test car were a creaky rearview mirror and some squeaks from trim pieces over big bumps.

Utility8.0

While most hybrids inevitably sacrifice some trunk or interior space to make a home for the battery pack, the Sonata Hybrid still manages to retain a good bit of usable space. It doesn't give up much trunk space to the regular Sonata, and it's a bit better than many hybrid sedans.

Technology

Hyundai's infotainment system is one of the better and easier ones to use. Colors and graphics are sharp and clear, virtual buttons are large, and the system responds quickly to touch and voice commands. For 2018, the navigation system adds a bird's-eye map view.

Audio & navigation

A six-speaker audio system comes standard, but the 10-speaker Infinity system is an excellent sonic upgrade. Shame it's only available in the Limited's optional Ultimate package, as is the larger 8-inch touchscreen. The nav system now features a bird's-eye map view.

Smartphone integration

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard features. Wireless device charging is available, but only in the Limited's Ultimate package. Rear passengers will be pleased to see a USB port available for charging a phone or device.

Driver aids

Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert now come standard, but a key feature such as automatic emergency braking is limited to a top-trim option package. This isn't good enough when some competitors offer a full suite of driver aids as standard equipment.

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.