2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited

20151005_133532The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid has been on sale in America for about four and half years, and shares its drive train and some design elements with the KIA Optima Hybrid.  The two cars combine to occupy second place (in America) in hybrid sales to Toyota’s Prius.  The Hyundai has more conventional styling than a Prius, and in fact is an attractive sedan.  I received one for testing last week; a Starlight Silver unit with a gray leather interior.

The M.S.R.P. for my 2016 test unit was $35,765.00, freight included, and it was the top-of-the-line Limited model.  The options on the loaded Limited were a panoramic sunroof package ($4,500.00), carpeted floor mats ($125.00), and first aid kit/floor mats/wheel locks ($215.00).  Standard equipment on this model included heated front and rear seats, the leather (seating, steering wheel, and shift knob), 400-watt Infinity 8-speaker stereo, backup camera, navigation with 8” screen, power driver’s seat and eco-spoke alloy wheels.  Also on hand was tilt/telescope steering column, satellite radio, radar cruise control, power windows/locks/mirrors, pushbutton starter, keyless entry, Bluetooth/USB connectivity, navigation system, blind spot monitor, and heated mirrors with lighted signal stripes.

20151008_074546The hybrid power setup in the Sonata starts with a 2.0 liter, four cylinder gas engine and adds a permanent-magnet AC electric motor (total system power is 193 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm).  The car accelerates from zero to 60 in 8.4 seconds.  A six speed automatic transmission with a manual mode delivers power to the front wheel drive sedan.  EPA mileage ratings for the Sonata are 39 city/43 highway, 41 overall, and the fuel tank holds 15.85 gallons of regular gasoline.

As I mentioned, the Limited Hyundai is rather good-looking, with bold chrome strips on all four sides, chrome door handles, racy lighting on all corners, and two-toned “eco-spoke” gray alloy 17” wheels fitted with P215/55R17  Kumho Solus KH25 all season radials.  The Starlight Silver paint had some metallic in the finish, and the panoramic sun roof was evident from outside the car.

I spent a lot of time driving the Sonata around northern Colorado, and the ride was great.  Wind noise was minimal, and passing and accelerating from a light was a snap.  One thing that was quite balky was the gas gauge, which barely moved in a downward direction.

Weight of the Sonata is 3,560 lbs., not much for a hybrid.  The company uses a 270 volt lithium-polymer battery pack (warrantied for life), something normally found employed in a plug-in vehicle.  Thus, it is in the trunk, yet the trunk holds 13.3 cubic feet of luggage.  Wheelbase of the car is 110.4”, length is 191.1”, width is 73.4”, and the height is 57.9”.  With the battery in the trunk, the passenger volume is maintained at 106.1 cubic feet, like the Hyundai gas-powered sedan.

At the asking price of $35,765.00, I feel the Sonata Hybrid deserves a hard look from a perspective hybrid car shopper.  It’s attractive, roomy, fuel efficient, and well-appointed.

2015 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×4

20150921_183023Recently I was chosen to examine the 2015 Cherokee Latitude 4 x 4 by Rocky Mountain Redline of Dacono, CO.  They graciously brought the Jeep by my house and had a copy of the window sticker along – it was $33,825.00, including freight and several options.  I’ll get into that list later, but at first glance I was surprised to see all of the black chrome trim work on the Jeep, and as the test unfolded a lot of my friends made favorable comments about the look.  A gloss black appearance was featured on the grill, the window trim, roof rails, wheels, and the fascia application.  Along with the Granite Crystal metallic clear coat paint, the vehicle therefore presented an aggressive, business-like look.

The Ohio-built Jeep Cherokee is not to be confused with the Grand Cherokee – this is a mid-size crossover that was introduced for the 2014 model year and was co-developed by Chrysler and Fiat.  It is 182″ long, 73.2″ wide, 65.7″ high, is mounted on a 106.3″ wheelbase, and has ground clearance of 8″.  Weight of the model I drove was 4,044 lbs.  As of this writing, it should not be driven on the streets of South Carolina, because it can only wade through 19″ of water.  That’s actually pretty good, but the weather in SC is pretty bad.20150921_183352

I enjoyed testing the Jeep in Colorado, and was pleased about the extra punch provided by the 3.2 liter (197.7 c.i.d.) Pentastar V-6 with 271 horsepower at 6,500 rpm.  The torque rating is 239 lb. ft. at 4,400 rpm.  Smooth acceleration was effected through the single-speed Activ Drive I four-wheel drive system and the new 9-speed, Chrysler-built transmission that adds economy to the Jeep’s EPA ratings – they are 28-highway, 20-city, and 23-combined miles per gallon.  My reading came in as expected and just a little above the combined figure.  For the four-wheel drive system, a floor dial is on hand with up to five traction control settings.  They are auto, snow, sport, sand/mud, and rock, and the management system is referred to as Selec-Terrain.

The loaded Jeep Cherokee Latitude has as options the following items: customer preferred package ($600.00) – 18″ x 7″ gloss black five-spoke wheels, black trim work and P225/60R18 Continental ProContact steel radials; safety tech group ($1,045.00) – blind spot monitor, rear park assist and multi-function power mirrors; comfort/convenience group ($1,745.00) – remote starter, power lift gate, remote entry and go, power cloth buckets and XM satellite radio; V-6 engine ($1,745.00) –  includes start/stop feature for economy plus dual exhausts ; UConnect ($600.00) – 8.4 infotainment screen with navigation capability.  All the items were in addition to a base price of $27,095.00 and a freight charge of $995.00.

The total Jeep package was impressive, with V-6 power in an advanced power train, deluxe interior with room for five people plus 25 cubic feet of cargo, acceptable fuel economy and list price, and all the amenities except leather and moon roof.  In other words, everything that you expect in a Jeep, and have since 1941.