Hyundai’s sister brand, Kia, sells an EV version of its popular Soul hatchback, but until now, no Hyundai-badged car has offered the clean and green technology of a plug-in. That changed today with the introduction of the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid at the Detroit Auto Show.
Alongside a gasoline-electric version of the Sonata, Hyundai took the wraps off a midsize sedan that the automaker claims will cruise up to 22 miles without using a drop of gasoline. Gas prices may be at historic lows, but in most parts of the country, at least, fueling a vehicle with electricity remains far more economical than filling up at the pump.
The powertrain uses the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine as the new Sonata Hybrid, but boasts a more powerful electric motor and a larger-capacity battery. The so-called Transmission Mounted Electrical Device, or TMED, is a 50-kW electric motor hanging onto the six-speed automatic gearbox. It’s the most powerful setup in the Sonata lineup, with combined output of 202 horsepower.
A 9.8-kWh battery pack provides electricity. Plug into a 240-volt Level 2 charger and the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid gets a complete charge after about two and a half hours. Using a standard 120-volt outlet, charging time doubles to five hours. Owners can program and monitor charging remotely using a smartphone app.
Luxury trimmings like leather seats are optional on the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid, but Hyundai does include a few upscale features that are optional on lesser Sonatas. These include blind-spot monitoring and a hands-free trunk. A long list of luxury-grade extras – from a heated steering wheel to adaptive cruise control – is also optionally available.
Hyundai has yet to announce pricing for its first plug-in but promises it will be available in select East- and West-coast states this year. Buyers may pay a premium, but most will help compensate for the extra cost with federal tax credits expected to be $4,500 per vehicle.
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