2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Pros vs Cons. Should You Buy?
Hybrid sedans are becoming more competitive as time goes on, and the 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid reflects this growing rivalry. Technology and style are the biggest highlights on this year's Sonata, which essentially carries over unchanged from the previous model year. Why no seriously changes? Well, we think this is a case of "If it ain't broken, don't fix it."
There is nothing genuinely wrong with the 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. In fact, our complaints about it are more like minor qualms. What don't we like? We'll get into more detail about that later, but here's a brief synopsis: Some of the cabin's materials aren't up to par with the competition, and the cabin can get noisy at highway speeds. See, like we said, our complaints will seem mild.
What we like about the 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid will absolutely take up a good chunk of this review. From its impressive fuel economy to the totally advanced glass solar panel, we have no shortage of things to cover. Be sure to read through to the end, as we will compare the Sonata Hybrid with its top rivals and give you our final verdict after that.
What's New for 2021?
As we have already mentioned, no significant changes have been made to the 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. The seventh generation was just introduced in 2020, which constituted a series of important updates. The super-thrifty base Blue trim level pushed boundaries with its impressive 52 mpg combined. The plug-in was discontinued due to its lack of popularity, and the 'Nu' motor Hyundai devised achieved a higher compression ratio of 14.0:1 compression ratio (it was previously 13.5:1). The direct injection fuel system was upgraded to get an impressive pressure of 5,100-psi. What does this mean? fewer losses in pumping and better exhaust gas recirculation, ultimately creating an even more efficient hybrid than before.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid – The Pros
1. The High Fuel Economy
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid has nearly unrivaled fuel economy. EPA estimates peg it for 48-52 mpg combined depending on which trim you have equipped. And the even better news? Real-world tests show that these EPA estimates hold up in everyday driving scenarios. The optional solar panel (which we will cover in a moment here) helps by charging the hybrid battery pack and the 12-volt battery and can add somewhere around 2 miles of driving each day.
2. A Comfortable Ride Quality
The Sonata Hybrid's ride quality is above average for this segment. The vehicle manages to feel highly controlled while also being compliant. The well-tuned suspension dispatches small bumps with ease but does not let the ride quality get float-y or bland. Just give it a spin on a curving mountain road and see for yourself.
3. Easy-to-use Technology
Technology is hit-or-miss in newer vehicles. With Hyundai, it is a hit. Hyundai makes their tech user-friendly while not compromising on quality. As far as screen size goes, the infotainment system has a standard 8-inch screen or a 10.25-inch on the line-topping Limited trim (but optional on the mid-tier SEL trim, mind you). Having an 8-inch screen as standard in this segment is an industry lead, and the 10.25 inch makes for a nice upgrade. The wide screen display works well with various features, including smartphone app integration.
4. A Spacious Cabin
The Sonata Hybrid might not seem big from the outside, but the cabin is remarkably spacious for being a mid-size sedan. Front seat occupants have more than enough space, and you can easily fit two full-grown adults in the rear. The sloping roofline does not cut off as much head space as it does in some of the Sonata Hybrid's rivals, as the slope is a bit less steep of a decline.
5. The Solar Panel Roof
Want to add a few miles of extra driving each day? Opt for the solar panel roof. It spans the length of the roof, from the line where the front windshield meets to where the roof slopes downward into the rear glass. As we already mentioned, it can charge both the hybrid's battery pack and the 12-volt battery at the same time. While this is not a new concept (as Toyota played with it on the Prius about a decade ago), it is one that is not well-used in the hybrid segment. This is a technology Hyundai is running with, showing how focused they are on efficiency.
6. Standard Smartphone App Integration
Smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto comes standard on all trim levels. It happens to look great on the 10.25-inch infotainment screen's wide display. This does not always translate well on competitors' systems, but Hyundai makes it resemble what you might see on a tablet.
7. Voice Controls Recognize Natural Speech Patterns
Keeping up with the trend of excellent technology, the Sonata Hybrid has a voice control system that actually recognizes natural speech patterns. It is able to comprehend your commands for the radio, phone, and using the built-in navigation system (which is also user-friendly in nature). While some of the Sonata Hybrid's rivals struggle with voice controls, Hyundai nails it.
8. Many Advanced Driving Aids
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid has a huge list of standard advanced driving aids. This list includes forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, a drowsy driver mirror, a rear passenger reminder function, a blind spot monitoring system, and lane keep assist. Blind spot monitoring does not come standard on most of Hyundai's rivals and is normally something you have to pay extra to get. This definitely amps up the vehicle's value.
9. A Spacious Cargo Area
The Sonata Hybrid has a trunk that is both large and versatile. The load height feels just ride, and the trunk itself is deep, offering plenty of space. There are rear seat access levers placed in the cargo area for an easy time folding the seat down. The hybrid battery is placed so that it does not take up cargo space.
10. Superb Warranty Coverage
Warranty coverage is another spot where Hyundai shines. The 5-year/60,000-mile limited warranty is above industry average, as is the 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Almost no rival automaker offers such generous warranties, so this adds to the Sonata Hybrid's overall value.
Reasons Not to Buy a 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid – The Cons
1. Lower-quality Interior Materials
One of the things that slightly takes away from the 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid's excellence is the lowered quality of its interior materials. There are too many hard plastic surfaces, and there are a lot of them done in a monotonous gray tone that just looks tacky compared to everything else in the vehicle.
2. Road and Wind Noise
Wind and road noise will make their way into the cabin when you get moving at highway speeds. If you need to roll your window down while going over 60 mph, you might need to crank your music up a bit as well just to hear it clearly. Other cabins in this segment are better muted, and the hybrid powertrain gets growl-y at higher speeds as those engines are wont to do.
3. Somewhat Slow to Accelerate
Hybrid powertrains are also notoriously slow when it comes to acceleration, as they aren't trying to use up a ton of gas to get moving. It takes the Sonata Hybrid about 8.3 seconds to get from 0 to 60 mph, which means that merging onto highways and passing other vehicles might take more forethought than what it would otherwise.
4. Limited Rear Visibility
The sloping roofline, coupled with some thick roof pillars on either side, make rear visibility limited for the driver. There are some blind spots as well, so you will likely be grateful that a rear-view camera and blind spot monitoring system all come standard and can help out as needed.
How It Stacks Up to the Competition:
2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid vs. 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid
The competitively priced 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid is a top rival for the Sonata Hybrid. The Accord Hybrid is the industry leader when it comes to fuel economy, sliding in just slightly above the Sonata Hybrid. Its cargo space and cabin are cavernous enough and make clever use of storage spots. Unfortunately, the regenerative brakes make for a longer stopping distance than what you get on the Sonata Hybrid. Also, the hybrid powertrain gets loud when you take it up to a higher speed.
2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid vs. 2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid
The 2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid has nearly the same fuel economy as the Sonata Hybrid, falling just short of matching it. The cabin is seriously cozy and full of nice-looking, nice-feeling materials that speak to its quality. And rear visibility is unhindered, making for an all-around excellent vantage point in the cockpit. Unlike the Sonata Hybrid, though, the ride quality gets float-y when it gets up to a higher speed.
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is a top contender in the hybrid mid-size sedan segment this year. After its 2020 overhaul, it will be hard for competitors to best this vehicle. Its upfront cost is highly justifiable and includes many more things than what most rivals offer. And the long-term cost is equally doable with Hyundai's generous warranty coverage and given how much you will save at the fuel pump. We do recommend getting the solar panel roof for that extra charging and drive time!
• Why buy a 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid? w/ pros vs cons