Unveiled last month in Seoul, the all-new 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid made its first appearance in U.S. trim here at the Detroit Auto Show along with an even greener Sonata Plug-In Hybrid variant. Both models are based on the conventional Sonata that was completely redesigned for the 2015 model year. 

The 2016 Sonata Hybrid boasts an all-new powertrain that pairs a 154-horsepower direct-injected 2.0-liter/4-cylinder gasoline engine - six more than the 2.4-liter multi-point injected engine used previously -- with a new and more powerful electric motor that raises the e-pony count from 47 to 51. The motor, which replaces the conventional torque converter, is still fitted inside of Hyundai's Hybrid-specific 6-speed automatic transmission but now energized by a larger 1.62 kWh lithium-polymer battery that has 13.3 percent greater capacity than the unit it replaces. By repositioning the pack underneath the trunk floor, Hyundai engineers also were able to achieve a 10.5 percent gain in total cargo space.

Also: See our complete coverage of the 2015 Detroit Auto Show

Full parallel hybrid

Like its predecessor, the Hybrid Blue Drive system in this new gas/electric Sonata is a full parallel hybrid that permits it to operate in any of three modes. The package features stop/start circuitry to save fuel under idle conditions as well as regenerative braking to help replenish the battery on the fly. Despite having more total power, the new Sonata Hybrid boasts significantly better fuel economy, netting the U.S equivalent of 42 mpg EPA combined versus 38 mpg of the current model.  

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While the Sonata Plug-In shares the standard Hybrid's 154-horse/2.0-liter gasoline engine, it features a larger, 67-horsepower motor in the transmission. The motor is linked to a larger 9.8kWh lithium-ion battery pack that allows up to 22 miles of pure EV operation - which Hyundai says is the most of any midsize PHEV sedan. The pack can be charged in five hours using a standard 120V outlet or half that time on a 240V Level 2 charger. Based on internal testing, Hyundai expects the Sonata Plug-In to earn a 40-mpg combined rating from the EPA and deliver 93 MPGe combined in EV mode. 

Adding a touch of distinctive style 

Visually, the 2016 Sonata Hybrid and Plug-In signal their eco-emphasis in several ways, starting with a bolder and more angular hexagonal grille treatment flanked by HID headlamps and slim-line LED running lamps. Chrome lower door moldings and streamlined alloy wheels highlight the profile view while the tail boasts new LED lights and a drag-reducing diffuser. Less visible but highly functional are full underbody fairings that further optimize airflow. The Plug-In also sports a charge-port door on its left front fender as well as dedicated instrument cluster and a Blue Link smartphone all that allows remote monitoring and control  of a variety of functions. 

Also: Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards of 2015

The 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and will arrive in showrooms in early summer with the 2016 Sonata Hybrid Plug-in due later on in the year. Pricing, packaging and EPA stats will be released closer to their actual on-sale date. 

Check out our Midsize Sedan Buyer's Guide for a look at what's new and what's next on the midsize sedan scene or go straight to the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Editor's Page.


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