Wednesday, June 3, 2015

First Drive: 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid & Plug-In Hybrid in Huntington Beach, California

The amazing team at Hyundai invited me to Huntington Beach, CA to drive their new Sonata Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV). After being invited by Hyundai to their Sonata factory in Alabama last year, how would the hybrids fair against their purely gasoline-powered cousins? Take a drive up and down the Southern California coast with me and find out.

The morning started at the Hyundai America Headquarters in Fountain Valley, California. It was fitting to begin our day here at the impressive environmentally friendly building. Hyundai thinks green even though they tend to favor the color blue (as do I). There was no better place to showcase the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid.

Before we take the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid out on the road, let's take a quick tour around the car.

A very sleek, streamlined body helps the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid add a 10% improvement on fuel economy over last years model.

Even the eco-spoke alloy wheels help to give the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid a class-leading 0.24 drag coefficient that is the same as the Tesla Model S.

The Hybrid comes in several trims including SE, Limited and Limited Ultimate and the plug-in comes in base and Limited versions only. The lower trims offer blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and a rearview camera. The high-end trim adds forward collision warning and lane departure warning.

One look at the roomy cockpit makes you want to sit down and take a drive. The 2016 model is actually longer than last year's for even more leg room.

The view driving down the California coast! A few dark clouds on an otherwise perfect day in Southern California!

The control panel is neatly laid out. All of the displays are easy to see and all of the controls are easily within reach. The infotainment center has a large screen that is bright enough to even see in direct sunlight. Navigation is standard on the plug-in and the hybrid's Limited Ultimate trim. There is also USB ports, bluetooth connectivity and satellite radio. There is also "Blue Link" on the plug-in only. This smartphone app features remote start, door-locking, climate-control presets and more.

Taking a look under the hood of the hybrid and you get a 2.0-liter GDI four-cylinder engine that gets 44 mpg on the highway, 40 mpg in the city and 42 combined. The battery sits in the tire well and allows for a full trunk space. The plug-in has the same engine but gets more horsepower and the battery generates more power as well. This means 40 mpg combined but with the battery you can expect 93 MPGe.

But how is the ride itself you ask? Well, let me tell you that the road was simply just sucked up by the hybrid and the plug-in. The car handles well through the twists and turns of Pacific Coast highway and more than enough power on the I-5 freeway. The cabin is quiet and the ride is smooth as can be.

The panoramic sunroof was perfect for the drive along the coast. There is something that makes you feel more alive when the windows are down, the sun is shining upon you and you can smell the ocean.

My friend and fellow blogger Nicole Wakelin loves cupcakes and makes sure she finds cupcakes on all the media trips. So, since we were in my neck of the woods, I made sure we stopped at B. Candy for a 6 pack of their mini cupcakes! It's all made in house and some of the best cupcakes you will ever have! It also helped that this was actually on the set driving route!

The drive took us down to the Torrey Pines golf course for lunch! The only public course that is part of the Pro Golfers Association (PGA) Tour was an incredible place to stop for lunch!

The 2016 Sonata Hybrid and the plug-in are fantastic vehicles! A smooth ride with lots of room, great fuel economy, friendly to the planet, advanced safety features and enough tech items to keep any gadget person happy all make this a highly recommended family vehicle or even the daily to and from work vehicle.

Hyundai isn't releasing pricing details until some point closer to launch.

*Disclaimer: Hyundai paid for all of my expenses to test drive the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and plug-in but all of the opinions are strictly my own.*

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