Really, what else could Hyundai do? Hybrids aren’t the sole domain of traditional sedans anymore, let alone cars in general, and with green competition on the rise, something needed to be done to sweeten the pot.
The 2018 Sonata Hybrid, arriving roughly a half year after the mid-2017 debut of the refreshed 2018 gas-only model, offers buyers an extra 2 mpg on the highway, but that isn’t enough to fend off competition from the likes of Toyota and Honda (among others). As sales of almost all midsize sedans roll downhill, it’s growing harder and harder to justify a large price premium for green technology. Sonata volume declined 27.7 percent in the U.S. over the first quarter of 2018.
Interested in the new Sonata Hybrid? Put some cash back in your wallet, and try not to think about the Honda Accord Hybrid.
For the 2018 model, entry price drops by $500, coming in at $26,285 after a $885 delivery charge. That price gets you a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, 38 kW electric motor, and a 1.76 kWh lithium-ion juice box, putting the power to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic. Fuel economy rises to 42 mpg combined, up from 40 mpg.
While the Sonata Hybrid’s entry price undercuts that of the Toyota Camry LE Hybrid by $2,310, it does not best the revamped 2018 Accord Hybrid. That model starts at $25,990. There’s barely any pricing daylight between the two models, but the Accord boasts 212 net horsepowerÂ â€” a step up from the Sonata’s 193 hp. In terms of mileage, the Accord Hybrid’s 47 mpg combined figure tops the Sonata by 5 mpg.
Perhaps Hyundai didn’t chop enough. Traditionally, a Korean automaker’s job is to undercut the price of its Japanese rivals, and that rule gains added importance in today’s auto market.
We’ve told you how well the Sonata line fared in year-to-date sales, but the situation doesn’t become clear until you add in the competition. Over the first three months of 2018, Accord sales sank 11.8 percent, while Altima sales dropped 14.3 percent. Only the Camry has reason for optimism, as sales of that model line rose 8.8 percent, year to date. At a glance, it seems that Camry is gobbling up a larger share of the segment’s dwindling buyers.
What about higher-end Sonata Hybrids, you ask? Climbing the three-rung ladder adds a heaping of goodies, including a panoramic sunroof and standard driver assist features. Pricing for the Limited rises $400 over the 2017 model. You’ll have to spring for the Limited with Ultimate Package for all the niceties, though â€” a roster that includes automatic emergency braking. At $35,235 after delivery, the top-end trim slots between that of the Accord Hybrid Touring ($35,600) and the Camry XLE Hybrid ($33,145). At this end of the price scale, the Sonata Hybrid fares a little better, but only in relation to Honda.
There’s one advantage the Toyota and Honda models lack, however, and that’s a plug-in hybrid variant. A refreshed plug-in Sonata debuted alongside its hybrid sibling at February’s Chicago Auto Show, but pricing, for now, remains a secret.