This sweet little sedan has a secret and we can’t stop smiling about it.
🎵“I’m gonna soak up the sun…” 🎶 is an anthem in our house. It usually means that we are heading to the pool to unplug and get some vitamin D. But in this case, it’s a fitting anthem for the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Because it has a solar panel roof. It literally soaks up the sun and then uses that power to charge the battery.
If you like to invest in innovation in order to encourage it, this could be your next car. Here’s what you need to know:
- The solar panel is only available on the top level Limited model
- A sunroof is not an option with the solar panel
- The solar panel is estimated to add about 2 miles per day on average
- Hyundai estimates that in super sunny climates you could do better, adding about 1,200 miles a year
- The Limited model, the only one with a solar roof, is estimated to get about 47MPG
1200 free miles a year? I’ll take it. And if you live someplace sunny enough to gain that much mileage you probably don’t want or need a sunroof, anyway.
What We Loved
- The solar panel roof
- The space-age whirring sound (versus engine noise) the Sonata Hybrid makes at low speeds or when backing up
- Gorgeous leather seating. Really, truly gorgeous
- Heated and cooled front seats
- Head up display
- The oversized 10.25” infotainment display
- Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
- Wireless charging, 2 USB ports and an oversized cubby under the center console
- The trunk is full-sized — no compromised space to accommodate the battery!
- Blindspot cameras that display in the driver’s instrument cluster (they activate when turn signals are used)
- Bose premium sound system
- Adaptive cruise control
- All this luxury is standard in the Limited model
The Solar Roof is Just the Start of Hyundai’s Innovation Engine
While yes, the solar roof is cool, there are other innovative things that are not so obvious. For instance, there are 4 drive modes including “smart” mode, which adapts to your driving needs, giving you the power you need when you need it, such as when passing a truck on the highway, but maximizes fuel economy when it can. There is also sport mode and paddle shifters so you can take advantage of the Sonata’s 192 combined horsepower when you want to.
To maximize fuel economy the Sonata Hybrid is more aerodynamic and has some new lighter-weight components. And to maximize interior and trunk space, the battery was designed to fit under the rear passenger seat. And it works; rear seat legroom is great and the trunk is huge.
For drivers who want maximum efficiency? The Blue model (the entry level) is estimated to get 52 average MPG while the SEL and Limited models are estimated to get 47MPG. We averaged about 44 MPG on our test drive even with mostly sunny days, but we used the air conditioning a lot.
The Cool Factor Continues Inside the Sonata Hybrid
There are a lot of really cool features in the Limited model that we test drove, including:
- A digital key, or phone-as-key that allows you to download an app and open, start, drive and lock the car; you can also give your code to another driver (your teenager, for instance) and when you want to, revoke the code.
- A super-wide 10.25” navigation screen that can display up to 3 different things at a time— so, navigation, radio and climate all at once. This system also has an ambient noise function so you can choose to listen to the sounds of the ocean or the forest while you drive. I particularly liked the cafe sounds… something I’ve been missing lately.
- Head up display that shows speed, speed limit and navigation, including turn by turn directions when you’re using the built in navigation system
- Blind spot cameras display the view in your blind spot. They activate when you hit your turn signal; the image comes up in your instrument cluster. I especially love this feature; it makes merging and turning so much safer.
But…this Car! Redesigned for 2020, the Sonata is Simply Gorgeous
And it might have people rethinking buying a sedan. The front end is framed by steely-eyed headlights that are framed in light and chrome. The nautilus-inspired wheels are a stand out; these got comments from everyone who saw the Sonata Hybrid during my test drive. And with a sleek new grille and chrome that sweeps the expanse of the car to the rear and a sleek turned-up spoiler framed by the Sonata’s tail lights, the entire look is elegant but futuristic.
What Does This Car Cost?
We don’t know for sure yet. But here’s our best guess: The fully loaded Sonata Limited is priced at about $34,000, which includes the panoramic sun roof, head up display, leather seating, delivery charge and all the perks. The hybrid system typically adds about $1,500-$2,000 to the price, so we expect the Sonata Hybrid Limited to be be priced at about $36,000 or so. The Blue and SEL models will likely fall into the $25,000-$30,000 range.
The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is definitely a car for innovation-driven early adopters. And, it’s a great one for sun seekers who need a lot of style and want to put all those extra rays to good use. So go ahead, soak up the sun!