After refreshing the standard model last year, Hyundai unveils refreshes of its Sonata hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants today at the 2018 Chicago auto show.
While their powertrains go unchanged, the Sonata Hybrid and Sonata Plug-in Hybrid get the same heavy changes in exterior and interior design that was bestowed upon the non-hybrid Sonata last summer.
The cars’ front and rear fascias are redesigned, with the trunk lid now wearing the name ‘Sonata’ spelled out in wide-set letters as the conventional model.
The Sonata hybrid and PHEV’s grilles, hoods, headlights, taillights and front fenders also are changed for ’18. New wheels, designed with ‘eco spokes’ for good aerodynamics, are available in 16- and 17-in. sizes.
Inside, the center stack, steering wheel, and infotainment system get updated, with the latter’s navigation system the recipient of a new bird’s-eye-view map and Here’s HD real-time traffic service.
Hyundai also adds a Qi wireless charge pad to models equipped with navigation, while rear-seat passengers get a dedicated USB charge port.
Advanced-driver-assist safety (ADAS) technologies include newly available automatic emergency braking and lane-keep assist, while blindspot detection with rear cross-traffic alert and lane-change assist becomes standard.
For improved ride and handling, Hyundai makes several suspension tweaks, adding a new antiroll bar for added stiffness and a new rear-trailing-arm design for improved rigidity. Its bushings have been retuned for better responsiveness, the automaker says, adding steering-assistance feel also has been re-calibrated.
The Sonata Hybrid continues to make 193 hp total from its 154-hp 2.0L gasoline direct-injected 4-cyl. paired to a 51-hp (38-kw) electric motor and 6-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy remains rated at 42 mpg (5.6 L/100 km) combined.
The Sonata PHEV still can travel 27 miles (43 km) on electric per EPA standards and uses the same 2.0L GDI 4-cyl. and 6AT as the hybrid, but paired with a 67-hp (50-kW) electric motor, giving it total system horsepower of 202.
Hyundai notes the Sonata PHEV is distributed in California and states following California’s emissions regulations (CT, ME, MD, MA, NJ, NY, OR, RI, VT), but can be ordered at any Hyundai dealer in the U.S. The PHEV is eligible for a $4,919 federal tax credit, Hyundai says.
The ’18 Sonata Hybrid is going on sale in first-quarter 2018 in the U.S. and the PHEV is available in the second quarter of this year. Both are assembled at Hyundai’s Asan, South Korea, plant.
WardsAuto data shows Sonata Hybrid sales fell 44.1% last year to 9,815 units, while Sonata plug-in deliveries declined 23.5% to 1,066. Toyota’s Prius was the top-seller in both U.S. segments in 2017, although the standard Prius’ 75,311 units represented a 33.8% decline from 2016. Sales of the Prius PHEV rose 746% from its introductory year of 2016 to 20,936.
In other news announced in Chicago, Hyundai says it is rolling out its Shopper Assurance program at dealerships nationwide. The automaker launched the program – which includes transparent pricing, a faster purchase process and a 3-day money-back guarantee – last October in Dallas, Houston, Miami and Orlando markets.
“Additional Hyundai dealers continue to join the program daily with the majority expected to participate within the next few months,” Hyundai Motor America says in a statement, noting expansion of the program officially begins Feb. 9.
Per research Hyundai commissioned, it says results have been positive. In the four markets where Shopper Assurance has been available, some 56% of buyers said it played a role in their decision to purchase a Hyundai vehicle, with 43% of participating dealers in the four markets seeing an increase in website visits, the automaker says.