Plug-in hybrids offer best of both worlds

2016 Hyundai Sonata PHEV charging
Plug-in hybrids, like the new Hyundai Sonata PHEV, offer the benefits of an electric vehicle without the range anxiety. Photos by Benjamin Yong.

There are a lot of things to like about pure electric vehicles: they don’t require any gasoline, they’re easier on the environment, and most are relatively affordable. But even with today’s more advanced technology, range anxiety is still a concern, not to mention it’s not always possible to have easy access to an outlet or charging station. That’s where plug-in hybrids come in.

Rather than relying solely on electricity, plug-in EVs, like Hyundai’s new 2016 Sonata Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) for instance, have an onboard internal combustion engine that kicks in when stored electricity is depleted so you’re not left stranded.

2016 Hyundai Sonata PHEV exterior

2016 Hyundai Sonata PHEV

The Sonata PHEV is the company’s first stab at such a vehicle, coming as a follow-up to the standard hybrid that has been available for some time. With the ability to travel up to approximately 40 kilometres using zero fuel on a full charge, it works great for those short trips around town.

2016 Hyundai Sonata PHEV charging port


Topping up juice is easy  — find the port located on the driver side front fender, and then connect either the cable from a public charging station or the included adapter stored in the trunk. If the other end is attached to a Level Two, 240-volt power source, recharging takes less than three hours. Using a standard household 120-volts requires roughly eight hours.

2016 Hyundai Sonata PHEV engine


Compared to standard hybrid, this Sonata has a 32 per cent more powerful 50-kilowatt electric motor, and a much (five times) larger 9.8 kilowatt-hour battery. Combined with the 2.0-litre four-cylinder gas engine, total system output is 202 horsepower.

2016 Hyundai Sonata PHEV instrument cluster


Those with compatible smartphones can download the Blue Link app to control certain functions on their PHEV, such as remote starting the car, locking/unlocking the doors, setting the temperature and scheduling when charging starts and ends if the Sonata is plugged in. Users can also check the existing battery level as well as real-time electric and fuel range.

The 2016 Hyundai Sonata PHEV is available now, and starts at $43,999.

Other plug-in hybrid options

2016 Audi A3 e-tron (from $39,200)

2016 BMW i3 REX (from $45,500)

2016 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid (from $87,700)

Posted by Benjamin Yong

Benjamin Yong is a freelance journalist and communications professional living in Richmond, B.C. He is often found writing about cars and the auto industry, amongst other things, or driving around in his work-in-progress 1990 Mazda MX-5. Twitter: @b_yong Instagram: @popuplights