Road Test: 2022 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited
Smooth, Quiet and 50+ MPG
While the looks are what catches the eye in the 2022 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited, it is the efficiency that raises an eyebrow. Hyundai has electrification figured out, with the Sonata Hybrid reaping the benefits in what may be the best hybrid sedan you can buy.
In a very short few years sedans have lost their favor with car shoppers. The ubiquitous SUV, crossover or truck have become the belle of the ball, getting all the attention while the poor four-door sedan is like the kid that gets picked last for the baseball team. This is sad, but completely unwarranted as some of the best vehicles Clean Fleet Report reviews are sedans—and the 2022 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited is one of those.
The front-wheel drive Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is powered by a 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder engine producing 150 horsepower (hp) and 139 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque. The 39 kilowatt (kW) electric motor adds 29 hp and 151 lb.-ft. of torque, for a total system 192 hp and 210 lb.-ft. of torque.
The shift-by-wire 6-speed electronic automatic, which is engaged by pushing buttons on the center console, has a Shiftronic mode and paddle shifters. The Drive Mode Select helps you get the most performance and fuel efficiency from the hybrid system with choices of Smart, Normal, Sport and Custom. The system defaults to Normal when restarting the engine if you have been in Sport mode, otherwise it remains in the last mode setting. For the most performance, opt for Sport, where the steering effort is increased and there is added responsiveness of the engine and transmission. Normal and Smart will give the best fuel economy Through the touchscreen you can configure a Custom setting.
The torque comes on smoothly at a low 1,800 rpm and pulls strong to 5,000 rpms giving respectable acceleration with 0-60 times around 8.0 seconds. This is ample power to get up to speed, but it is not a sports sedan, even though the hybrid system is peppy and the handling is quite good for the five-passenger sedan weighing in at 3,530 pounds.
The EPA estimates fuel economy to be 45 mpg city/51 highway/47 combined, numbers that make Clean Fleet Report smile, as we are happy to drive a car that is a serious fuel sipper. During our week in the Sonata Hybrid, we drove 345 miles through Southern California, averaging 49.3 mpg. Our freeway fuel economy test loop of 210 miles, with the adaptive cruise control set to 65 mph, averaged a very impressive 55.8 mpg. On shorter legs, if even for a brief time, we touched 60 mpg.
The slippery aerodynamics are partially due to the deflectors of smooth underbody panels that block air going to the engine when in electric mode, and tiny rear lamp fins to improve air flow, resulting in a 0.24 coefficient of drag. Since this is not a plug-in hybrid, the Sonata Hybrid doesn’t have a dedicated EV mode. But you are rewarded for a light touch on the accelerator pedal, as it runs in electric mode when cruising on the highway, and much of the time when driving in town. Fuel economy numbers reported by Clean Fleet Report are non-scientific and represent the reviewer’s driving experience using the dash gauge computer. Your numbers may differ.
The Sonata Hybrid has a solid and confident ride on the 17-inch wheels and the 215/55 Michelin Primacy all-season tires. The ride is comfortable, with little wind noise, and only the harshest road imperfections transmitted sounds to the cabin. Cornering was capable when pushed, but it isn’t sporty, so searching-out mountain corners should be replaced with hitting the open road. Kia does make two very capable sporty sedans, the Stinger and the K5, that will satisfy your carving needs. If you opt for the Sonata with the gasoline-only engine, there are 18-inch and 19-inch wheel options.
The power-assisted steering was direct and gave good road feedback. The regenerative brakes (the system that puts electricity back into the battery when coasting or stopping) had a progressive feel, producing straight and true stops.
A safety feature on the Sonata Hybrid is a whirring sound when driving at very slow speeds in EV mode. This sci-fi sound is there to warn pedestrians that a completely silent vehicle is approaching from behind. It works exceptionally well at crosswalks and in shopping center parking lots.
Not Bland, Not Boring
When the Sonata was redesigned in 2020, it had a look all to itself. The four-door coupe with a fastback roof is only the start of what makes it so distinct. It’s highlighted by a distinctive LED head light design, which is edged by a very unique and compelling daylight running light strip. The light strip runs up the fenders from beneath each headlight, then becomes a chrome strip that extends to the outside rearview mirrors. The strip appears to be chrome during the day, but at night, it lights up.
The 2022 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid comes in three trim levels—Blue, SES and Limited. Clean Fleet Report was driving the highly optioned Limited, which had the standard solar panel roof that charges the 12-volt and hybrid batteries, producing two miles of electric driving range for every six hours the car is left in the sun. Over the course of a year, Hyundai says it could add more than 700 miles of driving range. The solar roof means getting a sunroof is not possible, but we feel it is a good tradeoff for this added level of high tech wizardry.
Clean Fleet Report’s Sonata Hybrid was painted in Shimmering Silver, with the smooth sides having a tasteful chrome strip around the windows. The swept-back coupe look leads to a distinctive rear end design dominated by an LED strip, stretching from edge-to-edge of the trunk lid. This horizontal lighting connects the brake lights, which have small air flow fins. Additional exterior colors include Nocturne Black, Portofino Gray, Hyper White, Calypso Red, Oxford Blue and Hampton Gray.
Spacious, Classy Interior
The interior’s clean lines are handsome and refined, giving an upscale look and feel. Our Gray-on-Gray seats and the Dark Gray dash color scheme had soft touch materials, with some of the plastic surfaces having a pleasant grain feel. The Limited, which is the top trim level, comes standard with leather-trimmed, heated and ventilated front seats. The driver’s seat has 8-way power adjustments with lumbar and memory, while the passenger gets 4-way power adjustments.
The fastback roof design requires taller passengers to duck when entering the back seat, but once there, the seats are comfortable with sculpted backs and ample head and leg room. The rear side window privacy shades were a nice touch. By placing the batteries under the seat, the trunk room was large with a low lift-over for easy loading. Oddly, the hands-free power trunk lid did not have an inside handle which meant, when closing it, your hand could get dirty touching the car’s exterior.
The low slung dash has a 10.25-inch horizontal color touchscreen, housing the navigation, surround view camera and the Bose premium audio system with 12 speakers. This great sounding system has SiriusXM, AM/FM/HD radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Bluetooth, aux and USB ports complete the audio system. The leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel has controls for audio, telephone, and the adaptive cruise control. For ease-of-use, we would have liked to see a channel sector knob to accompany the volume knob.
Other features are a 12.3-inch color LCD instrument cluster that includes easy-to-read gauges with white backgrounds and black numbers, a proximity key with push button start, dual automatic temperature control, a color head-up display, heated and power side mirrors with turn signals, rear vents and USB charge port, carpeted floor mats, adjustable front passenger seatbelts and wireless phone charging. The cabin was quiet with Hyundai adding soundproof glass on the windshield and front door windows, thicker carpet and sound absorption materials throughout the car.
Technology features continue with the Hyundai Blue Link app, which provides access to vehicle systems, including remote start and the Digital Key. The Homelink auto-dimming rear view mirror is an integrated transceiver (a transmitter and receiver) that can be programmed to activate radio frequency (RF) devices such as garage doors, estate/community gates, entry door locks, home/office lighting, security systems or other RF devices. Make sure to check-out the four different ways to open the Smart Trunk.
Safety and Warranties
The Sonata Hybrid comes with an extensive list of standard safety features. They include front, knee and side air curtain airbags, lane keeping assist, blind spot detection, forward collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic avoidance assist, hill start assist, around view monitor with parking sensors, rear parking collision avoidance, a tire pressure monitoring system and electronic stability control. One very cool feature is, when using the right or left turn signal, a camera comes on showing the front and side views of the Sonata, depending on which direction is being turned.
The 2022 Sonata Hybrid earned a Five Star, their highest safety rating, by the National Highway and Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the Sonata Hybrid their Top Safety Pick.
The 2022 Sonata Hybrid comes with these warranties:
- Hybrid Systems – 10 years/100,000 miles
- Powertrain – 10 years/100,000 miles
- New Vehicle – Five years/60,000 miles
- Complimentary Maintenance – Three years/36,000 miles
- Roadside Assistance – Five years/Unlimited miles
- Anti-perforation – Seven years/Unlimited miles
The 2022 Sonata Hybrid comes in three trim levels, with these base prices that include the $1,045 freight charges.
- Blue – $28,395
- SEL – $31,145
- Limited – $36,745
Clean Fleet Report’s Sonata Hybrid Limited, with $195 in options and the $1,045 freight and handling fee, had a final MSRP of $36,790.
Observations: 2022 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited
The 2022 Sonata Hybrid Limited ranks highly at Clean Fleet Report with its stellar fuel economy, sleek design, classy interior, well-earned safety ratings, long list of standard features, the innovative solar roof, and of course the excellent warranty. And all of this for a base price under $29,000.
Is the Sonata Hybrid enticing enough to sway you from a SUV or crossover? Go into a Hyundai dealer for a lengthy test drive and see how this hybrid sedan fits your lifestyle. You just may be surprised.
Make sure to opt-in to the Clean Fleet Report newsletter (top right of page) to be notified of all news stories and vehicle reviews.
Story by John Faulkner. Photos by John Faulkner and Hyundai.
The Shrinking Midsize Competition
Road Test: 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid
Road Test: 2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid
Road Test: 2022 Kia K5
Road Test: 2020 Subaru Legacy
First Drive: 2016 Nissan Altima
Road Test: 2019 Chevrolet Malibu
Road Test: 2020 Volkswagen Passat
Road Test: 2020 Honda Insight
Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at email@example.com.