By on July 19, 2018

Exclusivity is not a word often associated with Hyundai, and with good reason. Like Nissan (but even more so), Hyundai’s reputation is built on a foundation of mass-produced vehicles with inherent value. And, even in the world of green cars, it seems that game plan can’t change.

So, it’s no surprise to see Hyundai take a hatchet to the price of its 2018 Sonata Plug-in Hybrid. In dropping the model’s entry price by $1,350 and adding one mile of electric driving range, Hyundai hopes it’s enough to attract the attention of would-be buyers. It needs to. In June, the model sat at 21st place on the public’s PHEV shopping list.

Starting now, a Sonata PHEV will set you back $33,350 before a $885 destination charge, while the Limited model grows $250 to $38,850 before destination.

For the base sticker, you’ll see the same 2.0-liter inline four and 50 kWh electric motor, the latter of which is good for 67 horsepower. The transmission remains a six-speed automatic. Hyundai now claims an EV driving range of 28 miles, up from the 27 advertised when the 2018 model debuted at the Chicago Auto Show. Any improvement is a good one, we suppose.

While cutting the entry price obviously adds value to the base model, the Limited’s slight price hike brings many new features aboard — LED headlights with “Dynamic Bending Light,” automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, a heated steering wheel, Driver Attention Alert, a wireless charging pad, and a USB port for rear seat passengers.

In a market awash with plug-ins, how has the Sonata fared? Not well, compared to other low-priced PHEVs. Granted, the 2018 model launched well after its Hybrid sibling, meaning that buyers could only source the old-style previous-generation model (even as the stock gasoline-only Sonata’s new design became old hat).

In June, Hyundai sold just 62 Sonata Plug-in Hybrids, a year-over-year drop of 29.5 percent. Over the first half of 2018, the model’s volume shrank by 28.9 percent. Even the plug-in version of the Kia Optima sells better. Year to date, Ford sold more than ten times as many Fusion Energi sedans.

The base Fusion Energi SE, which carries a range of 21 electric miles, stickers for $31,400 before destination — nearly two grand less than the new, cheaper Sonata PHEV.

[Images: Hyundai]

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6 Comments on “Plug-in or Not, Hyundai Doesn’t Want to be Seen as the Expensive Choice...”

  • avatar

    Automakers need to do a better job in making it easier for people to buy plug in vehicles. They need to partner with local companies to get charging stations installed at people’s houses. Home Depot and Lowes have installation services for so many things, automakers are going to have to do the same.

    • 0 avatar

      For the small batteries in the PHEV I don’t think it’s all that important to get charging stations installed. These cars can fully charge in 5 hours or so on standard 110V. The point of these cars isn’t to drive 100 miles on battery power, it’s to handle a typical commute on battery power then recharge overnight. And if you need to run some errands after work or go on a roadtrip you’ve got a gas engine to facilitate that.

      Paying $700 for an L2 charger is a waste in that scenario. Heck, even with the 24KWh battery in my 2015 Leaf a L2 charger isn’t really necessary, though it’s useful.

  • avatar

    I would gladly pay more for more horsepower. I imagine a bigger motor + battery would cover that price drop, add range, and give these kinds of cars decent acceleration without affecting gas mileage. I want a hybrid for my next car, but it’s gotta run a 14 second quarter mile and burn regular gas. I honestly don’t think such a car exists.

    • 0 avatar

      There is a Hybrid Mustang coming, but as I read elsewhere that you’ve recently become a father (a big congrats on that, BTW), that may not fit your practical needs so much as it would your performance needs.

    • 0 avatar

      It won’t do a 14-second quarter — and how often do you do that, really? — but my C-Max Energi got an 8-second 0-60 time in tests, and that feels pretty quick to me. The Ford hybrid system claims 195 HP combined, which must rank high among car-based hybrids.

  • avatar

    Unless gas prices go up more (and stay) up, most drivers (not in high gas price areas) won’t see a return on a PHEV.

    Even a regular hybrid system take years to see a return; however, a 48V mild hybrid system would benefit the typical daily driver.

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