The 2020 Hyundai Sonata turned heads with its styling, at least when you compare it to previous models. Now, building on the style and substance of the standard car, the new Sonata Hybrid makes its debut at this year’s Chicago Auto Show. In the past, previous generations were feasible alternatives, but lagged behind frontrunners like the Toyota Camry Hybrid if you wanted a midsize sedan. The 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, which finally arrived after months of teasers and spy photos, aims to change the game.
Unlike some older hybrids, including the Sonata, what’s remarkable with this new model is just how normal it looks. At first glance, you wouldn’t immediately tell that it’s a hybrid. You still get the striking looks of the conventional model, including the LED strips running up the hood and the taillight that stretches across the center of the trunk. That said, there’s more than meets the eye, and you start noticing the details once you look a bit closer.
New solar roof increases range
There is one “hybrid” badge on the back, as well as a solar roof that Hyundai claims will net drivers 700 miles of extra range each year as you drive. Real-world testing will shake out those claims and it’s likely you’ll see figures like that in places like Phoenix, where we’ve spotted the Sonata Hybrid testing before. Still, even if the added range is just a fraction, free miles are free miles.
Unlike the 2020 Hyundai Sonata, the hybrid variant uses a different powertrain. Here, you get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 150 horsepower and 139 lb-ft of torque, coupled to a 51 horsepower electric motor. The Sonata’s 192 combined horsepower figure puts it behind the Toyota Camry Hybrid (208 horsepower) and the Honda Accord Hybrid (212 horsepower).
Rather than use a CVT, however, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid sticks with a six-speed automatic transmission instead. The unit features “Active Shift Control Technology,” which is meant to help match the engine and transmission speeds to the electric motor for smoother shifts. Using a system to match the two speeds also helps reduce mechanical drag and improve efficiency.
The Sonata Hybrid passes the 50 MPG mark
Speaking of efficiency, the 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid does trade blows with its Japanese rivals when it comes to fuel economy. The most efficient Blue trim manages 50 City / 54 Highway / 52 Combined mpg, matching the Toyota Camry Hybrid. What’s more, it bests the Honda Accord Hybrid by a substantial 4 mpg. If you opt for the more luxurious trims instead, that fuel economy figure drops to 45 City / 51 Highway / 47 Combined instead.
The interior doesn’t scream “hybrid” either, with the same features as the non-hybrid models (save the solar roof). The model comes standard with a 10.25-inch infotainment system that supports both Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Qi wireless smartphone charging. A 12.3-inch instrument cluster is also standard, as are heated and ventilated front seats.
Hyundai moved the battery pack under the floor, improving cargo space by 2.5 cubic feet over the previous model. The 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid also offers more front headroom (40 inches) and front legroom (46.1 inches) than Toyota or Honda.
As with the standard Sonata, the hybrid model comes with a range of standard safety features like forward collision avoidance, lane keep assist, high beam assist and rear cross-traffic alert.
Pricing info expected soon
Hyundai hasn’t announced pricing information yet, but we should know more before the 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid goes on sale this spring. Hyundai will build the Sonata Hybrid at its Asan, Korea plant.
Stay tuned to TFLcar.com for more updates from the 2020 Chicago Auto Show!