It’s a squirm. Or maybe a shift, or a wriggle: the sensation, in a hybrid car, of the gasoline and electric propulsion systems combining, blending or switching between the power sources currently driving the wheels, as clutches clamp and decouple, polarities switch and reverse, electrons stream to and fro, and motors and generators come online and off.
Despite these happenings beneath the skin of machines like the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, engineers have reduced the perceptible sensation of all of it to a mere squirm, felt occasionally. If you’ve got the climate control fan on, or some Kenny Loggins playing at even a little volume on the radio, you won’t hear the whirring of the motors, or the grumble of the gas engine, kicking in and out, when you’re driving gently to moderately.
Hybrid powertrains engineered not to feel like hybrid powertrains help sell hybrid cars to shoppers not interested in compromise. Sonata Hybrid even has a six-speed automatic transmission, like, with gears, instead of the syrupy CVT gearbox that typically finds itself in this sort of fuel-saver.
And so, again, the second hybrid-powered generation of the Sonata seeks to move Hyundai further into the mental vault of hybrid family sedan shoppers, partly, by integrating their hybrid technology into a package that’s compelling for reasons beyond fuel consumption and emissions figures.
For instance, building on the strengths of the latest Sonata, the 2016 Sonata Hybrid gets a first-rate interior. The Limited-grade tester got plenty of space, enhanced with a light color palette for a feeling of openness and room. The massive glass roof overhead adds to the effect. It’s a spacious, airy and pleasant place, complete with generous rear seat space, especially in terms of legroom. Two 5”11 or taller occupants could sit behind each other with heaps of room to spare.
Up front, the flat and far-ahead dash is clean and tidy, free of bulbous lumps and gaudy curvatures, and showcases a big and responsive touch-screen, front and centre. It all sits far enough away from front-seat occupants to enhance the feeling of spaciousness notably, with only a slight reach for controls as the consequence. There’s a clean and cohesive look to the styling elements, interfaces and controls, and to the blending of high-tech readouts, buttons, and a smattering of wood trim, aluminum and leather dispatched towards an upscale atmosphere.