2018 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid gives a choice: lower price or more tech

Hyundai has lowered the cost of its popular Sonata Plug-In Hybrid, with the 2018 car dropping more than $1.3k versus last year's prices. The hybrid also lifts the all-electric range compared to its predecessor, with that rising by a mile to 28 miles, while a better-spec Limited model adds more standard technology including wireless charging.

Two versions of the car will be offered for the 2018 model year. Most affordable is the 2018 Sonata Plug-In Hybrid PHEV, which pairs a 2.0-liter gas engine with a 50kw electric motor, joined by a 6-speed automatic transmission. It starts at $33,250 plus $885 destination; last year, the entry-level model was $1,350 more.

The second trim, the 2018 Sonata Plug-In Hybrid Limited, sticks with that powertrain, but actually rises a little in price compared to 2017's car. It's now $250 more, starting at $38,850 plus the same $885 destination. However, Hyundai has ramped up on the standard-fit gadgetry.

So, the Limited trim hybrid now gets automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection as standard, along with LED headlamps with dynamic bending light. There's lane-keeping assistance and driver attention alerts. In the cabin, the steering wheel is now heated, and there's wireless charging for Qi-compatible smartphones. Finally, the rear seats get a USB port of their own, for charging purposes.

As a plug-in hybrid, the car is eligible for the $4,919 federal tax credit, too. Other incentives vary depending on state.

The 1 mile increase in electric range isn't going to set the hybrid world alight, but it's nonetheless welcome. Hyundai uses a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Atkinson Cycle engine and a 67 horsepower electric motor, with the latter now 32-percent more powerful than the regular Sonata Hybrid. The battery in the PHEV is bigger, too: 9.8 kWh, which is five times the size.

Plugged into a 240V Level 2 charger, it'll be completely charged in 2 hours 42 minutes. On a regular 110V domestic outlet you're looking at an overnight charge, meanwhile. In electric mode, the 2018 Sonata Plug-In Hybrid is expecting a 99 MPGe EPA rating, or 39 MPG in hybrid mode. Total range is 600 miles, when electric and gas propulsion is combined.

Outside, there are a number of changes to differentiate the car. The hood and front fenders have been redesigned, with the new family grille, and at the rear there's a reworked deck lid. 17-inch eco-spoke alloy wheels are included, again with a new design, and there's new tinting to the headlamp bezels and clear outer lenses for the rear lamps.

On the inside, there's a new center stack design and instrument cluster, along with a leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel. An 8-way power driver seat with lumbar support is standard, and both front seats are heated; there's dual automatic climate control, too. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on the 7-inch infotainment system, which also has SiriusXM, HD Radio, and Bluetooth.

The Limited trim throws in rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, leather seats, a power passenger sweat, and ventilated front seats. It also gets navigation and an 8-inch touchscreen, together with an Infinity audio system and SiriusXM Travel Link. Both cars are available at Hyundai dealerships now.